I read an article today that posited that U.S. citizens consume less energy than we did in the 1970s. My friend ECM made a similar argument recently, and I'd like to hope it's true. However, we still have a growing population and, what's more, a growing population that is getting used to "our" way of life. More cars, more calories, more electricity, more gadgets.
While I am still of the opinion that there is something morally wrong with such flagrant excess, it's much simpler to argue pragmatically. Resources such as we are able to use them now are finite. Egypt used to be an oil exporter, and now they consume as much as they produce. This among myriad other factors contributes to the instability in that region now. We (as civilized humans) continue to worship growth for its own sake, thinking via some twisted logic that it is necessary to keep us afloat. At best, this growth we think we need is being measured inaccurately. It takes into account the wrong factors (GDP instead of employment rates, for example) and refuses to take into account others (like the real price of dwindling resources).
The long-term solutions, according to some?:
1. harvest the energy of the sun (we're starting to do this; bring it on;... and yet, still, with our current growth rates, even this won't be enough eventually)
2. go gobble up other planets (not terribly feasible at this point, and there's a huge resource sink in making that happen)
Technology will continue to make some processes more efficient and less resource-intensive, but we're still using more and more and more. We will eventually find equilibrium - we always do. I'm only advocating that we find it sooner rather than later, mitigating as much of the misery that is going to accompany such a crash.
Okay, and the reason I started this blogpost in the first place.... Here are some quotations from JLC's latest post:
“It would appear that impressive economic growth does not, in fact, magically alleviate crushing poverty” and “Eventually, the natural resources feeding exponential economic growth provide a hard limit on that growth, as we see in Egypt and elsewhere around the world.” Also “How can we expect the price of energy to do anything but trend upwards as the supply of the cheap sources of that energy continue to trend downwards?”
Funk soul bruva, check it out now:
Right about now, about now, 'bout now, 'bout now.
Fuuuuuuuunkkkkkkkk sooooooooooul bruuuuuuuuuuuuuvvvaaaaaaaaaaaa.