Thursday, March 19, 2009

Crazy Rant #2: Has Human Civilization Crested?

Now I don't mean to be a spoilsport here, but let's think about this for a second. We as a species are facing two pressing crises: the economy and the environment. Is it just me or are these two crises...mutually opposed? I mean, my understanding is that what makes an economy grow is when you have constant population growth, which creates new demand for lots and lots of material goods. Funny, but the very thing that is destroying our environment is the constant population growth and the subsequent production of lots and lots of material goods created in order to satisfy new demand. Anybody else see a problem here?

Take the housing crisis, for example. A housing boom is great for the economy but bad for the environment. As more families come into the world, those families need houses, and they need houses equipped with electricity and appliances and heat and probably cars as well. All this demand creates jobs, but it uses up resources. By the same token, a housing bust is great for the environment but is seriously unpleasant for humans. There's just something about a lack of growth that really zaps our cultural mojo.

Obama says he's going to fix both the economy and the environment at the same time by creating "green" jobs. But any "green" jobs he creates are just going to be cancelled out by the old fashioned "non-green" jobs we're going to lose. You know what I'm saying? How are we really supposed to create new jobs that won't simultaneously dig us deeper into a planetary hole? How do we keep this baby going? As Yoggoth put it to me over the phone a couple of weeks ago: "What's the end game here?"


yoggoth said...

Technology may begin to increase efficiency at such a rate that pollution is decreased even with a positive growth rate.

Alternatively, wealthy countries will be able to adapt and the brunt of the negative affects will be felt in the third world. The US military has been planning for world destabilization caused by environmental depredation.

Who will save us from technology? Technology will.

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