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Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

How to save energy through both societal and individual actions.

Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby AdamB » Mon 20 Dec 2021, 16:25:48

jedrider wrote:I see nothing wrong with 'complexity'. It was never our problem as some have stated. Our problem is with the exponential. It is 'complicated' unless one understands it and, then, it is simple: We're doomed.


Obviously. It is so apparent since the time we decided to start burning stuff that it is amazing that people even have to mention it. Kick back, enjoy, and wait for the end (one way or another) as everyone else must.
What does a science denier look like?

Armageddon » Thu 09 Feb 2006, 10:47:28
whales are a perfect example as to why evolution is wrong. Nothing can evolve into something that enormous. There is no explanation for it getting that big. end of discussion
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby Pops » Tue 21 Dec 2021, 11:26:13

jedrider wrote:I see nothing wrong with 'complexity'. It was never our problem as some have stated. Our problem is with the exponential. It is 'complicated' unless one understands it and, then, it is simple: We're doomed.

The exponential takes care of itself really. We aren't going to "de-grow" voluntarily.
In any event we are definitely doomed to be more local.
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby Doly » Thu 23 Dec 2021, 11:37:11

The body is actually a great example. It is very complex and resilient, it can handle everything from feast to famine — as long as everything is functional.

But if a few specialized cells in the pancreas succumb to a few wayward cells of the immune system, it's all over.

Global supply chains are similarly complex, increasingly specialized (monopolized) and vulnerable to failures in the critical path. And each link in the chain has its own supply chain and weak link choke points.


Well, yes, you can make any verbal metaphors you like and they often sound all right.

But to those of us with a maths degree and some experience modelling, some of those metaphors just don't work so well. You can compare the human metabolism to global supply chains because you can think of the chemicals the body produces as products, and food and oxygen as raw materials. But the problem is that our global industrial civilization, unlike a human body, doesn't have a very efficient homeostasis. If you were feeling generous, you could compare it to a tree, which is much more open-loop, and a tree may lose leaves and branches and it's still part of expected normal life for a tree. But even a tree is pretty good at maintaining its internal state within reasonable parameters. If global industrial civilization was like a plant, it would be more like a colony of pond scum that produced lots of waste products and with dead patches because the colony is so primitive it can't even keep conditions for its own life reasonable stable in all places (think of abandoned industrial parks - efficient homeostasis would be if they were usually dismantled and the parts used somewhere else or recycled).

The aim is for us to progress from pond scum into something more like a tree, and to dream that eventually it might possibly become something like the human body.

I appreciate this might seem confusing, because JIT may sound more like a human body, aiming to produce exactly the amount of a certain chemical needed, just when it's needed. But it's more like the pond scum being made up of lots of different species, and some of those species living in a very tight symbiotic relationship. Maybe at some point in the future the pond scum will evolve to multicellularity.

The point I'm trying to make, and I appreciate it isn't very clear when you try to put it in words, is that in a human body the feedback loops close rather nicely, which makes the human body very resilient and stable. But in global industrial civilization there are lots of potential feedback loops that don't close in a nice way but may close in a disastrous way (when something is completely abandoned or destroyed), and the ones that do close are often very tightly coupled, which isn't necessarily a good thing.
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby Pops » Thu 23 Dec 2021, 14:11:10

Doly wrote:Well, yes, you can make any verbal metaphors you like and they often sound all right.

It was your metaphor, I just pointed out the error. :)

The point I was attempting is that the global supply chain is becoming more, not less fragile because of increasing specialization and monopolization. As the critical path "narrows" due to fewer options, failures increase.

An actual example: a big portion of our inflation currently is in used cars. Used car pries are up due to new car supply impacted by a shortfall in microchips. Automakers canceled orders due to covid and chip factories can't get back to speed fast enough. Why? Microchips are increasingly produced in only few areas by a few companies with little competition, long lead times and high demand. Computers, phones, network devices all experienced growth spurts during lockdown and usurped the automakers place in line. BUT, because there are few competitors, supply can't easily expand. The one big manufacturer becomes even more powerful even thought the economy suffers.

A similar example was the mask shortage at the start of the pandemic. 3M dominated the market and maximized efficiency for a certain number of masks per year. It was not profitable to maintain huge manufacturing capabilities (or warehousing) in "normal" times even though PPE is indispensable in a black swan event— and everyone knew there would be one. When demand soared 3M couldn't respond and because there were few competitors with extra capacity, no other company could either.

Everywhere you look we are suffering from efficiency.

So, my point is a system can be either complex or simple but complexity alone doesn't tell you anything about it's fragility. That can be measured by resiliency, redundancy, elasticity, and those are all the opposite of the holy grail of efficiency and maximum profit.

I believe degrowth is inevitable because we are entering the fizzle-end of the population bomb. Resources allowing, economies grow when population increases and my guess is the opposite holds true as well, but that's just speculation.

Can degrowth occur with stable or declining global population? I kind of think we've been soaking in it for a while even with a relatively slow growing population. Just as some finance talking heads say we have already entered a depression because interest is lower than inflation, I've ranted for a while that GDP growth has been lower than debt growth for 30 years, the last 12 most dramatically. We've been paying the rent with the credit card because we've fairly long ago reached the point of diminishing returns from complexity.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-polic ... -shortage/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-polic ... utomakers/
https://www.consumerreports.org/buying- ... 160576456/
https://www.npr.org/2021/09/24/10396208 ... ed-dealers
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby Doly » Sat 25 Dec 2021, 17:12:37

The point I was attempting is that the global supply chain is becoming more, not less fragile because of increasing specialization and monopolization.


And the point I was attempting to make, which is kind of hard to do without throwing some maths around, was that specialization and monopolization, in themselves, aren't responsible for fragility. Otherwise, humanity would have never been able to progress at all.

What is responsible for fragility is moving too far away from an optimal level of integration of different parts of the economy, and this optimal level can be reached at any level of specialization.

As the critical path "narrows" due to fewer options, failures increase.


True, if specialization results on reducing options, but it doesn't have to. I agree that it's what's happening in our current economy.

That can be measured by resiliency, redundancy, elasticity, and those are all the opposite of the holy grail of efficiency and maximum profit.


Efficiency isn't the opposite of resilience. You can have efficiency and resilience. Again, the human body is an example of both.

I agree that pursuing maximum profit goes against resilience. The main problem, as I see it, is that money is uni-dimensional, resilience isn't.

I believe degrowth is inevitable because we are entering the fizzle-end of the population bomb.


I don't think population in itself is the main issue. The world could comfortably support current population and even some more, at the average standard of living of Brazil, which isn't fantastic, but it certainly covers for basic needs and then some.

The main issue has been a very uneven industrialization.

Resources allowing, economies grow when population increases and my guess is the opposite holds true as well, but that's just speculation.


Our industrial economy has grown a lot faster than population has increased.

Part of the reason for my LTG modelling was to answer questions such as whether the common assertion made in peak oil circles that population would go down in a big way when reaching the limits to growth is likely to be true. What my modelling suggested was that the answer is "no". It may go down a little, but in the first place, in most places population is already at replacement levels or close to them, so there is no population explosion. Secondly, I assumed that people strongly resist not eating, which historical precedent suggests is very true. So the resources of society will turn towards maintaining agricultural output at levels consistent with survival, at the expense of industrial and services output. So the conclusion was that standards of living would drop noticeably, and life expectancy would drop somewhat, but not dramatically.

We've been paying the rent with the credit card because we've fairly long ago reached the point of diminishing returns from complexity.


Complexity in the areas where we've gone more complex is not helping. Which doesn't mean that more complexity in other areas couldn't be helpful. The problem is that we don't have the social mechanisms to alter the situation in helpful ways.

I don't know if you are familiar with the Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov. I've been recently thinking about it, after they made a TV series based on it. It's based around the idea that an academic called Hari Seldon turns social sciences into something pretty accurate and can make accurate predictions, and predicts the fall of the Galactic Empire the story is set in. Seldon calculates that the fall is inevitable, but it's possible to shorten the period of decline and make civilization rebound faster. I was thinking that one of the ideas implicit in the story is that, if you really had a good model of the world, you would also be able to work out the best path forward, no matter how bad the situation was. Obviously something like the LTG model isn't good enough, in the sense that you could make some policy recommendations based on it, but you couldn't work out how to make those policy recommendations happen, or, if it was impossible to implement those policies, to work out what would be the next best thing. The interesting thing about the TV series is that it seemed happy to go there, but, since my understanding of art is rather limited, I'm not sure if it's a good or a bad sign.
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby Pops » Sat 25 Dec 2021, 22:18:16

Thank you Doly for the thoughtful answer.

Doly wrote:
pops wrote:The point I was attempting is that the global supply chain is becoming more, not less fragile because of increasing specialization and monopolization.


And the point I was attempting to make, which is kind of hard to do without throwing some maths around, was that specialization and monopolization, in themselves, aren't responsible for fragility. Otherwise, humanity would have never been able to progress at all.

What is responsible for fragility is moving too far away from an optimal level of integration of different parts of the economy, and this optimal level can be reached at any level of specialization.


Not sure what an "optimal level of integration" looks like but here is what specialization and monopolization looks like: one single point of failure:
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., or TSMC produces half of the custom microchips in the world and an estimated 90% of the most powerful, it is a near monopoly in a huge, specialized market. Their inability to ramp production and a lack of competitors able to do so is a big economic problem right now. They've singlehandedly shut down automaker lines due to lack of supply. Too few new cars and trucks (and tractors) means higher demand for used cars, the price of which is the leading driver of the current inflation spike right after fossils.

"TSMC is just absolutely critical,” says Peter Hanbury, a semiconductor specialist at the Bain & Co. consulting firm. “They basically control the most complicated part of the semiconductor ecosystem, and they’re a near monopoly at the bleeding edge.”

https://time.com/6102879/semiconductor- ... tage-tsmc/
or just google chip shortage.


Efficiency isn't the opposite of resilience.

True, you can have neither. A monopoly might be much less than efficient as well as fragile but if it has eliminated the competition what is the alternative? The JIT model of efficiency doesn't make manufacturing or any thing else necessarily more efficient, it just eliminates the cost associated with warehousing. Which is fine until a link in the chain fails. and having a monopoly at one or more steps make them especially more fragile.

I agree that pursuing maximum profit goes against resilience.

There we go.


pops wrote:I believe degrowth is inevitable because we are entering the fizzle-end of the population bomb.


I don't think population in itself is the main issue. ...The main issue has been a very uneven industrialization.

I think the central idea of this thread, maybe the whole site originally, if not environmental apocalypticism in general, is that environmental overshoot and resource depletion either require or inevitably result in degrowth. Collapse, voluntary or otherwise. Not sure about uneven industrialization.


pops wrote:Resources allowing, economies grow when population increases and my guess is the opposite holds true as well, but that's just speculation.


Our industrial economy has grown a lot faster than population has increased.

Right, doesn't negate the point. Replacing muscles with fossils multiplied the work one person and a mule could do by 100, 1000. That allowed us to specialize and do great things with our minds rather than boring things with our backs.
Population increased simply because those great things reduced the death rate faster than birth rate.

..
Thanks again for the discussion, I will respond to the balance once I have a piece of pie and rest my brain.
Merry Christmas
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby Pops » Sun 26 Dec 2021, 15:20:42

Doly wrote:but in the first place, in most places population is already at replacement levels or close to them, so there is no population explosion.

Yes, I've been arguing here forever that the tide is turning and at an accelerating pace.

Secondly, I assumed that people strongly resist not eating, which historical precedent suggests is very true.

LOL, pretty sure this was also the case with every person who ever starved to death.

So the resources of society will turn towards maintaining agricultural output at levels consistent with survival, at the expense of industrial and services output.

That would make sense but this is not a sensible world. Consider the Irish Potato Famine, the Russian famine of the 1920s and again in the 30s, the Chinese famine in the teens through the 40s, then the Great famine under Mao. All had some natural factors but all were made so much worse by a "society" that controlled the resources— either capitalists or anti-capitalists—and either hoarded them for the good of the powerful or in service to some ideological mirage.

So the conclusion was that standards of living would drop noticeably, and life expectancy would drop somewhat, but not dramatically.

Because we feed about half of our ag output to animals (who provide much less than half our diet) I'm sure we could easily feed 10 billion people in a sensible world. But there has never been any such world. Even without resource limits, distribution is very uneven now at the height of global development and many people still go hungry.

If resources became scarce the distribution will be infinitely worse, there is no doubt in my mind. Wealth is not absolute, it is relative. The rich world will not give up their iPhone so some third worlders can get a gruel ration. The ownership always controls, whether it is the capitalists or the politburo and their wealth is as out of proportion now as it ever has been.

Right now, this week, the WHO has condemned the rich world for hoarding vaccines to use as boosters when many poor countries are far from an effective first course level. The result they warn will be the prolonging of the pandemic. A pretty plain warning that should lead to different policy decisions. Do you think it will?

We won't share now, we won't when resources bite, the haves will hoard and the have-nots will be lucky to get thoughts and prayers as they die.

I don't know if you are familiar with the Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov. I've been recently thinking about it, after they made a TV series based on it. It's based around the idea that an academic called Hari Seldon turns social sciences into something pretty accurate and can make accurate predictions, and predicts the fall of the Galactic Empire the story is set in. Seldon calculates that the fall is inevitable, but it's possible to shorten the period of decline and make civilization rebound faster. I was thinking that one of the ideas implicit in the story is that, if you really had a good model of the world, you would also be able to work out the best path forward, no matter how bad the situation was. Obviously something like the LTG model isn't good enough, in the sense that you could make some policy recommendations based on it, but you couldn't work out how to make those policy recommendations happen, or, if it was impossible to implement those policies, to work out what would be the next best thing. The interesting thing about the TV series is that it seemed happy to go there, but, since my understanding of art is rather limited, I'm not sure if it's a good or a bad sign.

It's like all the movies where the lone virologist, meteorologist, geologist makes some big discovery but can't get the attention of TPTB. Until it is too late.

LTG was a part of a great consciousness raising, along with Ehrlich, Carson and Chief Dan George. Some policy changed and along with that a great reactionary wave was born as well. None of that is here nor there except we have taken away a few lessons... that we feature on our instagram feeds.

Really, I'm not as cynical as I'm sure I sound. I have great faith in humans on an individual level, it's when we gang up against one another that we get scary. You may remember Aaron who posted here for years, his motto wraps up the whole thing, he said;
Don't fear peak oil, fear people's reaction
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby careinke » Mon 27 Dec 2021, 02:26:33

The current economic system, will NEVER be able to implement degrowth or effectively battle Climate Change. The system is obsolete and frankly broken.

What does EVERY politician advocate, and all the proles believe is true?

Vote for me and the economy will improve and GROW!. The problem is the other party, or the illegal immigrants. or racial injustice, or taxation, or wealth inequity, or (pick you favorite devises topic).


All Fiat currencies become inflationary and eventually collapse, it's built right into the systems. Unfortunately, with the dollar as the worlds reserve currency the problem has become exponentially worse and will soon collapse.

Fortunately there is an alternative that MAY save us, but that is another thread.....

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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby theluckycountry » Mon 27 Dec 2021, 05:08:20

Pops wrote:The exponential takes care of itself really. We aren't going to "de-grow" voluntarily.
In any event we are definitely doomed to be more local.


Well that certainly happened with the covid lockdowns. Other aspects aside, closing borders, mandating people cannot leave home except for essential visits had (had) a massive impact on the globe. It was, de-growth, no matter how it was spun. It certainly had a long ranging effect on consumer sales, and supply, as we read every other day about "shortages" What is a shortage other than the absence of something we had grown to expect. De-growth.

Now if this was not an accidental consequence, but an agenda appended to a suitable proxy, then I would expect the lockdowns to return, or at the least, the shortages to grow worse. Fuel, oil, that has not been in short supply yet but lets see what the next two years bring? Like Price Charles and other mouth pieces say, this is one off opportunity to restructure the world, to make it more blah blah blah.

I would like to think there was a plan, rather than the world devolve into chaos in a decade or two.
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby Pops » Mon 27 Dec 2021, 10:23:58

theluckycountry wrote:Well that certainly happened with the covid lockdowns. Other aspects aside, closing borders, mandating people cannot leave home except for essential visits had (had) a massive impact on the globe. It was, de-growth, no matter how it was spun. It certainly had a long ranging effect on consumer sales, and supply, as we read every other day about "shortages" What is a shortage other than the absence of something we had grown to expect. De-growth.

Now if this was not an accidental consequence, but an agenda appended to a suitable proxy, then I would expect the lockdowns to return, or at the least, the shortages to grow worse. Fuel, oil, that has not been in short supply yet but lets see what the next two years bring? Like Price Charles and other mouth pieces say, this is one off opportunity to restructure the world, to make it more blah blah blah.


If it was a plan to affect retail sales I think it failed. For the year retail is up and for the holiday retail is up 8-10%. I can't find that adjusted for inflation yet, but inflation seems centered on energy, cars, food, outside those maybe 5-6%—still very high. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm

I would like to think there was a plan, rather than the world devolve into chaos in a decade or two.

Man, that is one of the more lucid statements on this site in recent times, very self-aware.

I think lots of folks are that way but choose to believe their hope is fact. They wind up believing god picks football winners and tornado victims, Bill Gates is behind CoVid and JF Kennedy is coming back to run with trump in '24 ... or whatever is the crazyness du jour.

I've no doubt that powerful people with similar aims can have influence. They lower taxes, reduce regulation, increase corporate political power, profit while killing thousands with legalized prescription drugs, etc. One could easily create a theory that the powerful are actually responsible for all the right wing conspiracies on FOX and elsewhere (trump) in order to advance thier agenda of reducing taxes, regulation, and corporate oversight... I mean, if the shoe fits.

People, especially people who feel powerless, have been inventing gods and devils since forever.
Sometimes the red pill is a placebo.
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby theluckycountry » Tue 28 Dec 2021, 03:02:28

Pops wrote:
I believe degrowth is inevitable because we are entering the fizzle-end of the population bomb. Resources allowing, economies grow when population increases and my guess is the opposite holds true as well, but that's just speculation.


It's not speculation pops


Image


Image

Japan is the classic case of what happens when a wealthy nation turns it back on children. The reason is obvious to me also, when their incomes started to dive after the bubbles burst the people didn't want to give up the luxuries they were used to. Less kids, more toys. The same phenomena has happened in most other western nations but the mass immigration from the third world sh*t holes, as your last President referred to them, has masked it.
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby theluckycountry » Tue 28 Dec 2021, 03:50:07

Pops wrote:
theluckycountry wrote:Now if this was not an accidental consequence, but an agenda appended to a suitable proxy, then I would expect the lockdowns to return, or at the least, the shortages to grow worse.


If it was a plan to affect retail sales I think it failed. For the year retail is up and for the holiday retail is up 8-10%.


Yes that's true, but as we both know, it can't continue indefinitely right? We can't go back to endless growth. So if there is a global plan, to confront climate change complaints, population issues and energy constraints, I would expect to see another drop down, then another and another. Just as all the peakoilers have been saying we need, a reduction in consumption to match the reduction in fossil energy right? "Power down", as Heinberg's last book was called, was just another lengthy exposition of "peak oil" with very little about the concept of powering down, it's like it was a secret but there it was as the major premise. His idea I think was energy credits or some such but no one in the G7 or at Davos listens to him. Frankly I don't think he has a clue, he's an academic and they make for poor planners in the real world. There is no plan, we are privy to at least.

Two steps forward and one back is the best way, tried and tested. Obviously the lockdowns couldn't go on for years, the whole system would have collapsed, and more importantly people would have lost hope and began cashing out, destroying the financial edifice. Expectations have to be managed pops. So if these Great Reset people in Brussels get their way we will need to see another great convulsion that slaps down consumption globally. You and I don't have to suffer though, it will be the people in the cities again mostly, the masses, just like last time in the lockdowns. I honestly can't see another solution aside from planned destruction, we have clearly passed the peak that allowed endless growth so it's all downhill now. That's the hardest part of all this pops, we have read about it and planned for it for years, decades some of us. And then one day it's here, upon us. What to we do, what should we think?

I'm no conspiracy nut but I know there are bonified conspiracies everywhere on the planet. How could all those dictators stay in power otherwise? North Korean and middle eastern dictators conspire to paint the USA as the great Satan and their people go along with it, they believe it! Now that's a powerful conspiracy. To me a conspiracy is simply any truth the government and media hide behind a curtain of lies to further their own agendas.
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Tue 28 Dec 2021, 09:15:05

With inflation as it is today you have to adjust for it when talking GDP growth. Is it really growth or is it just inflation.?
For example store A sold 100 shirts last year for $50 each generating $5000 of GDP. This year they only sold 90 of the same shirts for $62 each generating $5580 GDP which looks like 11.6% GDP growth but is really a ten percent reduction in productivity.
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby AdamB » Tue 28 Dec 2021, 10:04:05

theluckycountry wrote:Yes that's true, but as we both know, it can't continue indefinitely right? We can't go back to endless growth.


There is no such thing on this planet as endless growth, there is only growth, and people short sighted enough to mistake it for "endless" for lack of perspective.

theluckycountry wrote:"Power down", as Heinberg's last book was called, was just another lengthy exposition of "peak oil" with very little about the concept of powering down, it's like it was a secret but there it was as the major premise. His idea I think was energy credits or some such but no one in the G7 or at Davos listens to him.


Richard, supposedly a talented amateur violin player, who admits that smoking weed was an impediment to ever graduating college, should be listened to by....anyone? Mr Pol Pot himself, who thought the government rounding folks up and shipping them to the countryside was a solution?

Please..G7 or Davos....why would a homeless bum listen to him, let alone folks who can think for themselves.

theluckycountry wrote: Frankly I don't think he has a clue, he's an academic and they make for poor planners in the real world. There is no plan, we are privy to at least.


Learn more about your sources. Weed addled violin players are neither academics, nor does "have a clue" come from the weed, or playing the violin, so obviously folks shouldn't listen to him any more than they should peak oilers on the topic of geology.

theluckycountry wrote:I'm no conspiracy nut but I know there are bonified conspiracies everywhere on the planet.


Sure sounds like you've proven the former statement a lie with the latter.
What does a science denier look like?

Armageddon » Thu 09 Feb 2006, 10:47:28
whales are a perfect example as to why evolution is wrong. Nothing can evolve into something that enormous. There is no explanation for it getting that big. end of discussion
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby Pops » Tue 28 Dec 2021, 10:12:56

theluckycountry wrote:We can't go back to endless growth. So if there is a global plan, to confront climate change complaints, population issues and energy constraints, I would expect to see another drop down, then another and another.

I have no insight to how the owners think, I do believe some use money to keep score, obviously you need to be motivated by money to make a lot of it. As such it doesn't strike me as particularly likely they would conspire to deflate the bubble since much of their wealth is symbolic rather than concrete and will be the first thing to disappear. As the saying goes, it's hard to convince a guy of one thing if his livelihood yacht depends on the opposite.

I rather think that wealthy and powerful are more likely to be concerned with falling population. Google "declining population threatens" and there are millions of hits from NYT to WaPo to Musk saying "I think one of the biggest risks to civilization is the low birth rate and the rapidly declining birthrate," Not climate, not energy, not world hunger but fewer consumers is his personal Armageddon, even though in the next breath he talks about robots replacing workers.

Typically opposition to welfare (by whatever name: social programs, etc) is a conservative position. Though I'm pretty liberal I'm not all that excited about universal child care, parental leave, tax credit proposals. I do know the tax credits have helped a lot of poor kids during the lockdowns so there is that. But it seems to me we should be encouraging spoiled single child families with one bread-winner and one at home when the brat gets out of school LOL

As for the great reset, I don't watch Fox or listen to Alex Jones and the whole Hee Haw gang so I have no idea what plots and schemes they've come up with to provoke the mob. As per usual, the conspiracy disinformation is disseminated by and benefits the fossil interests and the corporate overlords that have already captured control and whose profit and power would be threatened by any "great" shift to "sustainability", "equity", carbon reduction, etc.
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby Doly » Tue 28 Dec 2021, 13:01:03

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., or TSMC produces half of the custom microchips in the world and an estimated 90% of the most powerful, it is a near monopoly in a huge, specialized market.


I know. My day job is in electronics. And TSMC isn't the one I find scariest.

When I talked about an optimal level of integration, I definitely don't mean that we are anywhere near it. Near-monopolies are probably inevitable in some cases, but ideally when they appear they should be very resilient, which isn't the case of TSMC. And in any case, there is no good reason for a company that produces custom microchips to be a near-monopoly, except that profits are driving the situation in that direction because of economies of scale. Ideally, we should have mechanisms to fight against making economies of scale too easy, instead of what we actually have, which is greasing economies of scale so that the bigger the company, the more profitable.

A monopoly might be much less than efficient as well as fragile but if it has eliminated the competition what is the alternative?


If the monopoly is what I would call a natural monopoly, that is, a situation where it really is better to have a centralized control (which I think happens with electrical grids, railways, and other companies that are essentially networks), the alternative is to have enough regulatory oversight. If there is no good reason for the monopoly to exist, then it would be a matter of breaking it down and eliminating the incentives that created the monopoly in the first place.

I think the central idea of this thread, maybe the whole site originally, if not environmental apocalypticism in general, is that environmental overshoot and resource depletion either require or inevitably result in degrowth.


Degrowth in economic terms, I would agree. In terms of population, as I said before, my modelling suggests that people don't die all that easily.

Consider the Irish Potato Famine, the Russian famine of the 1920s and again in the 30s, the Chinese famine in the teens through the 40s, then the Great famine under Mao.


True, bad governments can screw things up spectacularly. But in global terms, in order to see a global sharp population decrease, it would require worldwide bad government for a fairly long period of time. Maybe not impossible, but I think it's safe to assume unlikely.

If resources became scarce the distribution will be infinitely worse, there is no doubt in my mind.


If resources became scarce a lot of trade would go away. But the thing is, trade is directly responsible for a lot of famines in poor countries right now. They are encouraged to engage in agriculture for export, at the expense of subsistence agriculture. In the short term, with scarce resources and worsening climate, I'd certainly expect more famines. But once poor countries realise they are effectively on their own, subsistence agriculture would kick in and alleviate the famines.

The ownership always controls, whether it is the capitalists or the politburo and their wealth is as out of proportion now as it ever has been.


As Peter Turchin has noted, inequality doesn't keep going up and up. When a society collapses, it often reaches a point when the elites collapse as well, and then they lose their control and inequality goes down.

Right now, this week, the WHO has condemned the rich world for hoarding vaccines to use as boosters when many poor countries are far from an effective first course level. The result they warn will be the prolonging of the pandemic. A pretty plain warning that should lead to different policy decisions. Do you think it will?


No. But then, I've seen plenty of evidence that most of the world outside of Asia is incapable of making sensible public health decisions. And it doesn't even have to do with the rich hoarding their resources.

We won't share now, we won't when resources bite, the haves will hoard and the have-nots will be lucky to get thoughts and prayers as they die.


I agree that people won't share when resources bite. It's just that my study of history suggests that the have-nots tend not to go gentle, if they think they have the slimmest chance of survival.

I have great faith in humans on an individual level, it's when we gang up against one another that we get scary.


True. And if we have access to vast amounts of weapons, it can get truly scary. But history suggests very strongly that there is some sort of psychological limit to war. It doesn't matter what level of technology they were fought with or the destructiveness of the weapons, the deadliests wars have all reached the same peak of deadliness, in terms of percentage of the population killed, and it's the same as WWII. And when you try to look of the effect of WWII in a global population graph, it's a blip. No consolation to the relatives of those that died in it, but it's a consolation in cosmic terms.
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby Doly » Thu 30 Dec 2021, 11:13:31

Richard, supposedly a talented amateur violin player, who admits that smoking weed was an impediment to ever graduating college, should be listened to by....anyone?


Since we live in a world where the way you establish whether to listen to somebody is whether they have some official academic credentials or have achieved sufficient fame in some other way, it's pretty impressive how many people listen to Richard Heinberg. I'm not impressed by him because he couldn't do a population projection to save his life, but that has absolutely nothing to do with his studies or his drugs of choice.

I think the concept that most people have of "credibility" simply doesn't work. I was discussing in another board about "Foundation", which is a SF story about an academic called Hari Seldon that can predict the end of the Galactic Empire. And somebody was wondering why the Emperor would even be aware of the existence of Seldon, and I think he had a very valid point. Certainly, if somebody exists that is capable of telling with a decent level of certainty exactly how screwed we are, why should we assume that this person would acquire any significant credibility?
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby Pops » Sat 01 Jan 2022, 15:31:22

[Plea to Authority]

CHSmith, my favorite thinking doomer has a post up saying similar things about resilience vs efficiency (no wonder I like him)

Charles Hughs Smith] wrote:The greater the optimization, the greater the fragility as the breaking of any one link brings the entire system to a halt. Throwing in equipment and labor that the system isn't designed to use will fail.

Virtually every essential system has been stripped of redundancy, resilience, reserves and adaptability as the means to fully optimize inputs, processes and outputs. The system works well if every link in the dependency chain is working perfectly. Should one link go down, the entire system goes down.


And I've recently discovered this guy who talks my language
Low Tech Institute wrote:Efficiency vs. Resilience: Global Supply Chain Collapse – Part 1: The Problem
If you have been trying to purchase anything lately — from a car or laptop to holiday gifts, or you’ve been watching the news — you’ll be aware of the disruptions in the global supply chain. This is an example of the inverse relationship between efficiency and resilience in systems.


[/Plea]

LOL
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby AdamB » Sat 01 Jan 2022, 21:12:49

Doly wrote:
Richard, supposedly a talented amateur violin player, who admits that smoking weed was an impediment to ever graduating college, should be listened to by....anyone?


Since we live in a world where the way you establish whether to listen to somebody is whether they have some official academic credentials or have achieved sufficient fame in some other way, it's pretty impressive how many people listen to Richard Heinberg.


So...you are arguing that a popular opinion or claim is the sign of someone who should be listened to? You've just put Richard into the same category as the lat US President.
I'm not impressed by him because he couldn't do a population projection to save his life, but that has absolutely nothing to do with his studies or his drugs of choice.


You are correct of course. His demonstrated inability to learn and apply the most basic principles of economics and the geosciences to the peak oil issue mark him far more than his hobbies. His hobbies, substituted for more academic rigor, strikes me as an indication of...lack of ability when it comes to topics of academic rigor? We had a moderator around here just like this once. Claimed to be a biologist, because he had read alot. When I pointed out the cirriculum for even a bachelors degree included a very important course, the very language of science itself, well, obviously he hadn't paid attention to that one. He focused instead on just the components he was interested in, and the language of science itslf? He couldn't speak that, and didn't even understand it's value.
Certainly, if somebody exists that is capable of telling with a decent level of certainty exactly how screwed we are, why should we assume that this person would acquire any significant credibility?

"with a decent level of certainty exactly how screwed we are" sounds like Earth Day 1970, about the time folks like Dr. Ehrlich were proclaiming the Great Dieoff by the end of the 1980's. Heinberg was having his own moment in this regard back during his peak oil claim some 13 years ago now. Of course, if to you "exactly" means "within a century or two", we can fit all kinds of folks under the credibility umbrella.

The measure of credibility can be a tricky thing. What is your opinion on it of independent researchers, versus the less independent kind? I understand the advantages you have mentioned, what would you say are the top disadvantages? Budgets, or data, or just getting your work published?
What does a science denier look like?

Armageddon » Thu 09 Feb 2006, 10:47:28
whales are a perfect example as to why evolution is wrong. Nothing can evolve into something that enormous. There is no explanation for it getting that big. end of discussion
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Re: Degrowth Thread Pt. 2

Unread postby Newfie » Mon 17 Jan 2022, 12:50:13

Probably not the best place for this story but…

Sounds like Kuwait is running into some serious trouble that may soon require a rethinking of their model.

https://gcaptain.com/kuwait-one-of-the- ... unlivable/

Global warming is smashing temperature records all over the world, but Kuwait — one of the hottest countries on the planet — is fast becoming unlivable. In 2016, thermometers hit 54C, the highest reading on Earth in the last 76 years. Last year, for the first time, they breached 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) in June, weeks ahead of usual peak weather. Parts of Kuwait could get as much as 4.5C hotter from 2071 to 2100 compared with the historical average, according to the Environment Public Authority, making large areas of the country uninhabitable.


Will be interesting to see how this plays out. Probably not a lot they can do to stop local climate change. But adapt their infrastructure to hotter temps. But also maybe people will just move out.
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