Based on the article below from Ugo Bardi, it is clear that as humans we behave like sheep or worse, lemmings, marching to our peril for some unclear reason. As an interconnected, mutually vulnerable world populace, maybe our best gene-saving response is to fall over the Seneca Cliff. It is a monetary path, driven by profits that will eventually, maybe soon, lead us to our demise. But unless, as Bardi suggests, governments or central bodies mandate change, societies that do not will follow the lemmings. Governments though will be hard pressed to catch on to this wisdom for they are driven by monetary economic forces.
Of course there will be stragglers and communities that took a different route to usher in the next era, sans money. Pro-activists who disengage to a resource economy will be insulated from the predictable consequences, though one might argue that even proximity to failing monetary societies is a risk for all.
To be optimistic, while governments will find it difficult to steward in the transition, individuals can more easily see this change for themselves. It requires a dramatic shift of lifestyle, yet one that will arguably be more fulfilling. It requires a move to a community that manages its own shelter, security, energy, food and water, in a sustainable fashion. Once there, we will recognize that we truly depend on resources for survival and as such, reprogram our consciousness.
For the rest of society, unless benevolent aliens arrive or there is a second coming that can pick up the pieces, it may be time to strap on the marching shoes. It’s not difficult to avoid the cliff, indigenous cultures did it, and we have new wisdom that will afford us a much more comfortable life within a sustainable community. What we need most desperately is initiative.
Why is economic growth so popular?
by Ugo Bardi
See full article here:
“When the new Italian Prime Minister, Mr. Mario Monti, gave his acceptance speech to the Senate, a few days ago, he used 28 times the term “growth” and not even once terms such as “natural resources” or “energy”. He is not alone in neglecting the physical basis of the world’s economy: the chorus of economic pundits everywhere in the world is all revolving around this magic world, “growth”. But why? What is that makes this single parameter so special and so beloved?
Let’s see, instead, another possible option for leaders: that of “stimulating growth”. What does that mean, exactly? In general, it seems to mean to use the taxation system to transfer financial resources to the industrial system. With more money, industries can afford higher prices for natural resources. As a consequence, the extractive industry can maintain its profits, actually increase them, and keep extracting even from expensive resources. But money, as we said, is not a physical entity; in this case it only catalyzes the transfer human and material resources to the extractive system at the expense of subsystems as social security, health care, instruction, etc. That’s not painless, of course, but it may give to the public the impression that the problems are being solved. It may improve economic indicators and it may keep resource flows large enough to prevent the complete collapse of peripheral regions, at least for a while. But the real attraction of stimulating growth is that it is the easy way: it pushes the system in the direction where it wants to go. The system is geared to exploit natural resources at the fastest possible rate, this strategy gives it fresh resources to do exactly that. Our leaders may not understand exactly what they are doing, but surely they are not stupid – they are not going against the grain.
The problem is that the growth stimulating strategy only buys time (and buys it at a high price). Nothing that governments or financial traders do can change the thermodynamics of the world system – all what they can do is to shuffle resources from here to there and that doesn’t change the hard reality of depletion and pollution. So, pushing economic growth is only a short term solution that worsens the problem in the long run. It can postpone collapse but at the price of making it more abrupt in the form known as the Seneca Cliff. Unfortunately, it seems that we are headed exactly that way.”