[p2p-research] The end of growth?

Michel Bauwens michelsub2004 at gmail.com
Mon Aug 10 05:40:21 CEST 2009

Hi Ryan,

you are right, this is the only thing we can do,

I think the Feinberg text accurately frames some of the objective
constraints for the future, but is itself sufficiently open to recognize
that we may succeed the conversion in time, even if unlikely.

It's good to have different scenarios, but in the end, you're concluding
paragraph is all we can do. I'm only against 'easy' optimism which relies on
taking abstract potential as it's realization is only a small detail ....

I still remember from the seventies, AI was just a decade away, we were only
using 10% of our brains, the explosion of renewables would happen within the
decade ... 40 years later, we have moved backward, not forward, though we
are now in for more speedy development ... but there is no magic wand ..
it's not just a matter of engineering, but also of social forces wanting or
allowing certain developments ..

This being said, if Japan is indeed an image of the U.S., that would indeed
be great, but I fear that Japan's egalitarianism made a lot of things
possible that will be more difficult to achieve in the U.S.

Japan is way ahead in alternative currencies, renewable energies,
distributed hydro, and many other things, which stay unreported under the
surface, but are a preparation for the next phase,


On Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 12:22 AM, Ryan Lanham <rlanham1963 at gmail.com> wrote:

> The question posed was simple: Can growth continue post peak oil?  The
> essay's author say, probably not, and that explains much of the current
> reality.  That IS highly relevant to the world we live in.  Explaining cause
> for what is changing billions of lives is not a yawn for me.
> Setting aside anyone's pet theories of the universe, economics, social
> relations or the commons as separate questions from the question as to
> whether global economic growth can continue, the answer to the growth
> question seems to be...it depends on how much alternative energy comes on
> line and how quickly...unless we are willing to radically alter the climate
> even more than has been done to date.  If growth doesn't continue, then we
> are in for something none of us understand or likely can theorize
> accurately, because it will be largely new (for the modernized technological
> world.)
> That results in certain conjectures which are usually presented as
> inevitable or obvious outcomes.  My own view is little is inevitable or
> obvious from where we sit.  I don't believe we are at some tipping point
> toward the commons, libertarianism, socialism or toward anything else.  In
> fact, the best case can probably be made for global collapse without any
> order rising from it outside of one based on sheer power--the world as
> various shades of Somalia.
> I am of a mind the US drifts toward a few decades of Japanese-like slow
> techno-recession while oil declines and global warming accelerates.  What
> happens beyond that, I think is impossible to forecast and even that much
> could be wrong--there could be inflations or other forks in the road.  Lots
> of theories are out there and some will be more right than others, but there
> is no logic at present to any handicapping method.
> The questions as to why we are where we are, to me, remain interesting and
> far from obvious.
> I suppose that agree with those who say that from a moral standpoint the
> best one can do is frame what sort of world we want to live in and then try
> through personal action and (especially) example to attain such a world.
> For me, that is a world with real technological progress toward health and
> well-being for most humans without massive loss of life, without radically
> declining standards of living (given any reasonable assessment), and a
> sustainable model of co-existence with the planet in some form.  All those
> goals leave much open to question and hypothesis.
> So, after that, I am for trial, assessment, more collaborative assessment,
> and more trials and models.
> Ryan
> On Sun, Aug 9, 2009 at 10:54 AM, Paul D. Fernhout <
> pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
>> Michel Bauwens wrote:
>>> This is really a must-read essay!
>>> and how prescient they were ... it took us 40 years to recognize their
>>> truth, and climate change is the price we paid for not heeding the call
>>> of
>>> material limits ...
>>> But it is only a particular kind of growth that has become impossible,
>>> the
>>> kind that neoliberalism and friedmanism promoted that refused to take
>>> into
>>> account any externalities.
>>> A steady state economy, that recognizes that any input has to recycled
>>> back
>>> into the system to the degree that it depletes physically limited
>>> resources,
>>> has tremendous 'alternative growth' potential.
>>> This paragraph is key, it points out the the real cause was not the
>>> subprime
>>> trigger, but that the trigger itself was caused by the oil price crisis:
>>> "Until recently, the Peak Oil argument has been framed as a forecast: the
>>> inevitable decline in world petroleum production, whenever it occurs,
>>> will
>>> kill growth. But here is where forecast becomes diagnosis: during the
>>> period
>>> from 2005 to 2008, energy stopped growing and oil prices rose to record
>>> levels. By July of 2008, the price of a barrel of oil was nudging close
>>> to
>>> $150—half again higher than any previous petroleum price in
>>> inflation-adjusted terms—and the global economy was beginning to topple.
>>> The
>>> auto and airline industries shuddered; ordinary consumers had trouble for
>>> buying gasoline for their commute to work while still paying their
>>> mortgages. Consumer spending began to decline. By September the economic
>>> crisis was also a financial crisis, as banks trembled and imploded."
>>> Michel
>>> On Sun, Aug 9, 2009 at 12:16 AM, Ryan Lanham <rlanham1963 at gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>>  This is terribly reminiscent of similar themes in the 1970s.
>>>> http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5638
>>>> Ryan
>> Yawn. :-)
>> Solar power. Wind power. Geothermal. Biofuels from algae and seawater.
>> Passive solar homes. Etc. These are all ways to have abundance on Earth for
>> even billions of more people right here and right now (if we wanted to
>> grow).
>> Self-replicating space habitats built from asteroidal ore and sunlight
>> could support quadrillions of people around the Sun in space. How is that
>> for growth potential for you? :-)
>> The issue is, how do we get there from here in part (or whole) by using
>> peer communities and a free commons? Or other sorts of peer-compatible
>> technologies?
>> And that stuff about banks and jobs, I don't think anyone can blame oil
>> prices, sorry. Money as debt has serious boom-bust issues. Automation and
>> better design destroys jobs if there is satiated demand. The USA has a
>> history as an empire pushing a war racket for insiders, and that is all
>> falling apart and suffering from blowback (it's a surprise it lasted this
>> long). Market economies can not function once wealth is too concentrated (so
>> small businesses can not form or function or hire). A fundamental weakness
>> of the market is allowing systematic risk that privatizes gains and
>> socializes costs (as Alan Greenspan recently acknowledge in front of
>> Congress). Market also suffer from negative pollution externalities that are
>> literally killing us with cancer, etc. etc.. The market also ignores
>> encouraging positive externalities like community. Prussian-derived
>> schooling is strangling creativity and initiative in the young. Accumulating
>> general social stress levels from decades of neoliberalism have reached
>> enormous proportions. Oil? What's oil? :-) We have hundreds of years of coal
>> if we wanted to continue burning fossil fuels.
>> Peak Oil is a convenient way to shift the blame from Milton Friedman and
>> friends and all these other issues, isn't it?
>>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milton_Friedman
>> But with that said, Milton Friedman supported a "negative income tax" that
>> is related to a "basic income", so he had some good ideas, too. :-)
>>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_income_tax
>> --Paul Fernhout
>> http://www.pdfernhout.net/
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