Surely one of the three must be right, or closer to the truth, right? Sure. Dave, you win the Glaucoma Prize for being the Not-Quite-Blind Mouse! But I still hear that wheel spinning. Hmmm… what have we here? We have three VIP dudes talking climate. Why am I not ecstatic? You see, it’s kind of like...
three guys with an STD discussing the merits of prostitution and how to improve it so they can keep getting their STDs. (Let’s say Dave is merely “at risk” for fairness’ sake.)
You see, you can’t “fix” prostitution. It will always exist. There will always be at least a small number that actually choose to do it, but most will be some degree of forced, coerced or desperate. And the Johns and Johnettes, well... People really, really, really like sex and really, really, really like money. And economics is the same. Sex sells. When was the last time you saw an ad that told you something truly useful about a product instead of a guy or gal draped all over it half naked? It's the wheel I hear whirring, whirring, whirring. I hope you will, too, in time.
Just as prostitution cannot, will not, be ended because we wish it, and cannot, will not ever be healthy for the vast majority, economics is the same. Economics cannot be fixed because the flaws that it is based on are inherent. Money, power, desperation, force, greed, desire, all feed economic thought and, especially, economic actions. But it gets worse. While prostitution may exist because of the same basic drives, wants and needs, in many healthy communities where needs are met, there often is no prostitution, even if it is more because of social pressure than anything else. That is, I am contradicting myself: We can have communities without prostitution. That’s a step up from economics: It is impossible for neo-classical economics to produce a sustainable society. Besides, prostitution fills a basic drive. Economics creates the illusion of doing so. Better a prostitute than an economist, if you ask me. Far more honest a profession.
Oh, no I di’int! Oh, yes I did! I just went there. You need to, too, ‘cause if you don’t, we’re all pretty well screwed. (It's OK, you can smile. It was unintentional.)
Economics exists to perpetuate a process of wealth creation and accretion, and nothing more. Oh, sure, you have a pure scientist or two, but read the stuff! It's crackpot! Here's the biggest lie: Current economic thinking can define and guide the creation of sustainable systems.
Because elephants beget mices.
No, the principles of current economics cannot create a sustainable system when they have zero principles of sustainable systems within their number. Elephants to do not beget roses. Never will. For example, endless substitution. Economics never even addresses that there absolutely must be a final substitution beyond which all stops. Sustainable design begins with, so, how much shit we got? What can be done with it? How can we help it make more, faster, while recreating itself endlessly?
These two things are not the same. Elephants don't beget mices.
then fires this shot across their respective bows:Take, for instance, Paul Krugman, who crows, in a column called “Salvation Gets Cheap,” that “even under the most ambitious goals the [IPCC] assessment considers, the estimated reduction in economic growth would basically amount to a rounding error, around 0.06 percent per year.” Joe Romm touts the same number in “Climate Panel Stunner: Avoiding Climate Catastrophe Is Super Cheap — But Only If We Act Now.
…the idea that aggressive climate mitigation is going to shave precisely 0.06 percent off GDP growth is utterly fantastical.For one thing, as I’ve said before, the economic models from which IPCC and others draw these numbers are just this side of wild guesses, based on assumptions about economic growth, resource prices, and technological development decades in the future.
See where this is going? Such people believe this crap!
If we can't keep endless water flowing at rates we can survive on... ummm...
All because economists think steaks are tofu.
The times they are a' changin'... Why aren't we changing faster, fast enough? 1. You haven't figured out yet just how much the times are a' gonna change, 2. you love your stuff, and are far too comfortable, 3. ask Monsanto, 4. ask the Big Oil and their congressional call boys and girls, and... and... and...
Mostly, you just don't believe it can all go to hell. But it can, it is, it will.
Oh, and “renewable” energy, all those windmills and stuff we are supposed to transition to according to our Three Blind Mice? Rare Earth metals are also a limited resource. Very limited.
Why else? We are Beyond History. Growth (substitution, tech) can and will go on forever simply because it has for so long. It's a lie. We have recessions and depressions. But, yes, since the end of the Middle Ages, say 1200 AD, it's been an overall upward trend. 900 years of growth! Gosh, must be permanent!
But mostly, we just can't conceive of failure. We can't imagine actually being human. We put people on the moon, for goodness' sake. We own Nature, physics be damned. And, give up my lifestyle? It's my RIGHT as an American!!!!
― Albert A. Bartlett
Sorry for burying the lede. (I’m lying.) This simple little observation explains why we have used half the world’s recoverable oil, have water shortages globally and will be out of phosphorus by the end of this century. And it’s why we have Climate Change.
CH4 (methane/natural gas) is even worse, up nearly 300%!!!
I think it’s important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy. We are doing this because it’s like something else that was done, or it is like what other people are doing. Slight iterations on a theme.
“First principles” is a physics way of looking at the world. What that really means is that you boil things down to the most fundamental truths and then reason up from there. That takes a lot more mental energy.Notice Elon didn't start with economics or how it's always been done? He started with, what the frack is a battery and how the frack can we do it better? So, if our planet is dying by our hand, if everything we have has come from that planet, what *must* be the first consideration in every decision we make, period?
The planet. And not what we *want* from it, but what we *need* from it. And, hold on to your brains, before that we have to ask, what *can* the planet provide? That's a First Principle question. We don't look at historical production and extrapolate, we look at what exists in a space. That is our starting point, whether a balcony flower box or a farm or a bio-region. We need to know what is there first. This includes wind, sun, rain. I's called a resource inventory. (It will include human resources (How many people? What are their skills? Their limitations? etc.?) further steps down the line.)
This is what Mollison and Holmgren realized back in the '70's by merely observing. They teased out of the natural systems they observed underlying principles by which natural systems were organized, then listed them as ways for us to apply the same principles to our human systems. They also proposed a process to apply them that started with what Musk would do decades later: Look. Literally observe, but also look differently. What are the resources in this space? The energy? Let's quantify those first so we know what this space *can* do, *can* provide. Only after they asked what the Earth could do in any given space did they suggest asking what they need from it. Only then did they then say we could seek ways to harmonize the two.
Notice there is no discussion of wants? First things first. First Principles first. Body temp, food, water. Cover those first. Anything else is gravy.
But, by applying natural principles to human/natural systems they found they could speed up Nature's ways. Nature + Big Brained Non-Idiot Humans = More. This is not achieved by appropriating Nature, damaging Nature, but by using Nature's own processes to do what nature does faster, more productively. Nature builds soil very, very slowly as detritous, leaves, bird poop, etc., fall to the ground and are reduced. We can speed this up with mulching, composting, etc. Nature's ways, sped up.
As you hopefully were and/or are now aware, the opposite has been true for the entirety of modern human civilizations. We have sought to feed our wants for 10k years, and the result is we're flirting with extinction.
But, using natural to aid Nature, we can create abundance. Not profit, abundance. Not excess, abundance. And from abundance you can then choose to meet some wants so long as you do not fall back into the wants-first trap and start this craziness all over again.
How do we get from a crisis of over-consumption to meeting global needs and eventually abundance rather than excess? Perhaps you've already guessed. Nature's ways. Start with the resources available. Start with needs.
Everybody, off that freaking wheel! Economics is a Dead Man Walking. As are we if we don't get off that wheel.