[p2p-research] The end of growth?

Ryan Lanham rlanham1963 at gmail.com
Mon Aug 10 18:28:21 CEST 2009

Hi Michel,

I agree Japan is underestimated.

I personally have a great difficulty seeing forward now.  I'd like to say I
can visualize where the world is headed...or any nation I particularly care
about.  I can't do that.  Frankly that surprises me because I felt that it
was relatively easy to do so from 1980 until now.  Some things surprised
me...the rapid rise of China, for instance, but most did not.  From here, I
feel blind as a bat, and that is disconcerting.


On Sun, Aug 9, 2009 at 10:40 PM, Michel Bauwens <michelsub2004 at gmail.com>wrote:

> 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,
> Michel
> 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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