Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What grows forever?

The universe may grow forever. But that's the only thing.

Oil Limits, Recession, and Bumping Against the Growth Ceiling
The issues we are confronted with today seem to be a subset of the issues foretold in the book Limits to Growth back in 1972. At some point, the economy cannot continue to grow as rapidly as it did in the past. It appears to me that the most immediate limit we are hitting today is inadequate low-priced oil, but there are other limits lurking not far away–inadequate fresh water and excessive pollution, for example. When the economy cannot grow as fast, or actually starts declining, recession sets in. Governments start having debt problems. Financial markets start behaving strangely.
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More from Gail Tverberg

There is No Steady State Economy (except at a very basic level)

We keep seeing statements from the Center for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy suggesting that a steady state economy is desirable. I would agree that growth in a finite world is not sustainable, but even continuation of our current level economic level, or a drop to an economic level two or three levels below that where we are today, is not sustainable.

We are consuming a huge amount of fossil fuels, and to maintain anything close to our current economic state, we would need to continue to consume a very large amount of fossil fuels. If a person stops and thinks about it, no level of fossil fuel extraction is sustainable, because we only have a finite amount of fossil fuels. At best, we would be talking about stair-stepping extraction–reducing it to a lower level than today, and holding it there for a while.
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1 comment:

  1. No simple answer? How about stop subsidizing waste. Make public transit free and gradually eliminate the private auto and concomitant sprawl. Move to the city, give the suburbs to the organic farms. Educate all children. Take the economic fear out of old-age. Birth-rate will drop to less than two per woman. If the people of Libya can rise up against a mass-murderer, then we can do this.