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Degrowth Thread

How to save energy through both societal and individual actions.

Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby Newfie » Sat 09 Mar 2019, 17:10:27

Going back to VT ‘s point that degrowth can only happen in a country of decreasing population.

1-Perhaps, but it would be damn smart to recognize that the economic model needs to change prior to the population decreasing and make plans to adapt to that change.
2-What seems to be occurring in the USA (and EU) is to artifificially grow the population by immigration. Thus artificially sustaining the unsustainable growth economy.
3-China and Japan both seem on the brink of,or past, peak population, they are fighting the degrowth economy, trying to ride the old model.
4-We year a lot about how AI is I’ll take jobs and out people out of work. If that is the case then Napan should be leading the AI race because they have 125 jobs for every applicant. AI should alleviate that problem. Why don’t we hear about that?
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby Ibon » Sat 09 Mar 2019, 17:33:48

Newfie wrote:Going back to VT ‘s point that degrowth can only happen in a country of decreasing population.

1-Perhaps, but it would be damn smart to recognize that the economic model needs to change prior to the population decreasing and make plans to adapt to that change.


Yes of course BUT...... the damn smart part you mentioned doesn't come before the consequences, it happens after the pain of consequences. The damage already baked in the cake up until then is a tragedy but not avoidable.....

except for that wisdom that happens at around 30 seconds before midnight.....

I don't think you can change course until external events force our hand. Otherwise why didn't we already?
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby Newfie » Sat 09 Mar 2019, 19:51:23

Agreed Ibon. But being the eternal optimist (snorts coffee through nose) I keep hoping that somehow we can ignite a thoughtful and useful movement that will act to decrease future suffering. I know the chances are small, but better a small chance than no chance.

And in the meantime I’m living the life, in a very green way of course. LOL
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby onlooker » Sat 09 Mar 2019, 20:44:22

I think Newfie you may be referring to this "It's only on the brink that people find the will to change."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BP-pqhXvI7Y
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby Pops » Thu 14 Mar 2019, 16:55:22

vtsnowedin wrote:With the rapidly rising world population we have experienced over the last two centuries the need to supply resources to new people each year has made the pro growth argument the winner by default. Only if, and when, we reach a stable or declining population can non growth strategies work without spreading hardship.

This was my point originally, or sorta.
You can hardly help but have increasing production with increasing population if for no other reason than greater numbers allow greater specialization, efficiency and absolute production.
Likewise, stable or decreasing population will inevitably result in stable or lower production i.e.: declining growth. You only need so many houses, toilets, t-shirts.
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby Newfie » Thu 14 Mar 2019, 17:24:36

Pops wrote
.
You only need so many houses, toilets, t-shirts.


And this is where Consumerisim and Conspicuious Consumption come in. We only need so much until we are told we need mor, newer, better. Like brand new ripped jeans.
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Thu 14 Mar 2019, 17:28:32

Newfie wrote:Pops wrote
.
You only need so many houses, toilets, t-shirts.


And this is where Consumerisim and Conspicuious Consumption come in. We only need so much until we are told we need mor, newer, better. Like brand new ripped jeans.

I think that is self correcting. If the supply is not there the consumer will make do with what is left. If cloth is in short supply hem lines rise and young girls look just fine in mine skirts.
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby Pops » Thu 14 Mar 2019, 17:56:50

Newfie wrote:Pops wrote
.
You only need so many houses, toilets, t-shirts.


And this is where Consumerisim and Conspicuious Consumption come in. We only need so much until we are told we need mor, newer, better. Like brand new ripped jeans.

No doubt.
However in the 1980s, 40% of the globe lived in extreme poverty. That's fallen to a "mere" 10%.
Add in population growth and that's gotta be like 4 billion more people who are buying things rather than eating dirt cookies. Granted they may only be buying $5 or $10 worth of stuff but they are buying stuff nonetheless. This is Growth.
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby Ibon » Thu 14 Mar 2019, 19:07:53

North Americans, Australians, Japanese and Europeans may be somewhat jaded with consumption and ripe for a value shift but there are several billion fresh consumers on the early stages of aspiration. One difference though is that countries like China and India have not come out of wide open spaces and frontiers with untapped resources like North America or Australia. They have a deep history of cycles of famine and environmental degradation and they might be better socialized to adapt to increased regulation.

It just takes a few catalysts to shift cultural values. The information is out there and most are cognizant that issues like climate change and over population are potential threats. A few events acting as catalysts could really accelerate a shift of cultural values actually.

Although we seem so culturally fixated on consumption don't under estimate shifting cultural values.
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby Newfie » Thu 14 Mar 2019, 19:53:06

The third world is looking to the first world and our consumptive values and just waiting for their turn at the trough. I think that’s what Pops was getting at above.

Which makes it all the more important that we come to deal with this issue sooner rather than later.

And it’s gonna happen anyway. We have China, Japan, most of Europe, and the USA looking at flat population growth (excepting immigration). These countries need to face degrowth OR go into even more massive over consumption. But then again, if we do start to do something substantive about climate change (or other issues) then those actions (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) will also negatively effect the current economic model. You hear it now about the GND, it will wreck the economy. Yup, that’s about right. The problem with the GNDers is they don’t see a need to adjust the economy, they just want to do more consumptive “massive infrastructure”.

But no one I’ve read about is really considering what a degrowth economic model would look like.
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby Ibon » Thu 14 Mar 2019, 21:44:23

This is true Newfie. Nobody is discussing the nuts and bolts in how to model this. Which is somehow weirdly ironic, we have enough abundance that we really don't need growth and production to maintain well being but we have this economic model that is predicated on growth..... when that growth is not really necessary or is in fact detrimental.

I did mention in past posts that a consuming middle class at some point has to flip from being an asset to a liability for the wealthy. if growth slows down the wealth pump that exponentially benefits the wealthy and has caused the disparity of wealth we see today will then slow down. That doesn't change the fact that you still have billions needing and wanting to consume on a dwindling resource base. The wealth disparity at that point has to drop as well when that wealth pump slows for the wealthy and how will it not be that the wealthy will then see the middle and poorer classes as a liability on their ability to continue to consume.

Or am I missing something?
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby Pops » Thu 14 Mar 2019, 22:12:19

Right Newf. I am happy I guess that that 4 billion aren't suffering as much. OTOH they are just as aquisative as we are, or would be if they got Amazon.

But really, what is there to "model"?
More economic activity this period than last is growth.
Less is degrowth... that's about it.

Could be a shrinking or aging population
could be increasing cost in primary industry / resource limits / pollution / CC
could be simple overcapacity but permanent degrowth means population collapse, new dark age, ???

What I'm saying is if you're trying to get your model to produce degrowth via voluntary austerity in a world with increasing or even stable population I'm pretty sure you're gonna break something, LOL
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby onlooker » Fri 15 Mar 2019, 02:48:59

Some people have been talking about a resource based Economy. About basing the Economy on the productive capabilities of the natural world. I believe that would be in the jargon of the natural sciences, living within the environmental capacity. I think a project called the Venus project has really been looking into that. In the past cultures not tied to Empires did seem to practice living within some sort of restraint in accord with the environment.

Ultimately though, part of this living within constraints would necessitate that our population be reduced considerably. And gainful employment could be attained in an Economy dedicated to improvement ie quality rather than quantity ie. growth
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby Newfie » Fri 15 Mar 2019, 07:12:40

What’s to model? Good question, and it seems a pretty difficult one because the Japanese don’t seem to have worked it out and it clearly scares economists, business, and politicians.

I struggle with understanding the growth model but at its core is, I think, the concept of positive interest rates, having your money grow in the bank. Now that seems to me to be a pretty basic value of Western culture. If that’s truly is the basis then changing to a different model is gonna be damn tough.

But I don’t really know. I’m postulating.

I do see some glimmers of hope, or maybe it’s my own misunderstanding. Japan reports 125 jobs for every 100 people due to its reducing and aging population. Maybe this is a perfect place for AI to fill those jobs?

In the USA we whine we need immigration to fill jobs Americans won’t do. Is that true? Or is it we have a Japan lite situation, more jobs than willing workers? Will AI fill those jobs?

That’s important because taxes are raised on workers. If a driver makes $50,000 doing a job he pays taxes. But what taxes does a self driving truck pay? Maybe we need to reassess taxes and base them on the job being done, not the human doing the work. Then the AI driver would be contributing to Medicare and SS and all the rest the same as a human. And machines don’t need 5%/annum to save for retirement. (Next they will be demanding coffee breaks! Damn machines need to stay in their place or we will give them 50 lashes!)

Most of this is just pondering out loud, more questions than statements.
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Fri 15 Mar 2019, 07:49:15

Hey no stealing my ideas!! I thought of taxing the robots way back when or maybe I stole it from somebody like Asimov. :)
Anyway it is a good idea and to me typical of my firm grasp on the obvious. There would be no need to place all the individual taxes we humans pay on the robots. After all your never going to get them to buy a house , smoke cigarettes , drink booze or buy lottery tickets. But we will still need these streams of revenue that have been paid by the humans the robot has replaced at the work place.
What to do is set one tax rate on the robots productivity and set one of the AI robots to figuring out how to apportion the money and send it to the proper federal state and local treasuries. The robots won't care how big that one tax is unless some fool programs greed into them, and their owners will have as big a profit margin as before if not more.
The ones that will get ticked off will be the union bosses as they never will get a robot to pay dues or go on strike and they can't threaten the robot or its family.
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby Ibon » Fri 15 Mar 2019, 08:17:33

The story

In the centuries past hard work and toiling in the fields would occupy the vast majority of peoples time and a lot of mental energy as well. Church on Sunday or Saturday would be a day of rest and contemplation.

And then came the industrial revolution and technology that was supposed to open up time for leisure and freedom. But it seems like most folks chose the huge distraction of consumption which kept them in chains, in debt, so the promise of free time didn't happen. Because most people need something to fill the void. Consumption culture and going into debt are not just simple manipulations of advertising firms making you believe that you need this or that product. Consumption is largely a distraction to fill the void.

Truth be told the vast majority of humanity cannot endure freedom and not being chained and harnessed. If technology freed us from the toil of hard physical labor we replaced this with consumption culture that kept us still distracted and chained to being in debt and behind on mortgage payments etc. This is collectively self induced.

I bring up this psychological component in this discussion because the biggest challenge with degrowth and the rise of AI etc. is what do people then do with the void that ensues?

What will be the new chains people will invent to keep themselves distracted if there isn't a new Iphone being released every 10 months?
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Fri 15 Mar 2019, 08:44:12

Ibon wrote:
Truth be told the vast majority of humanity cannot endure freedom and not being chained and harnessed. If technology freed us from the toil of hard physical labor we replaced this with consumption culture that kept us still distracted and chained to being in debt and behind on mortgage payments etc. This is collectively self induced.


I think not. The vast majority of Chinese and Indians between them half the worlds population would sure like to give freedom and sufficiency a good try.
American middle class competitiveness where people compete for the biggest home with the most ,under used expensive toys in the drive, is a very small minority of the worlds people and born of the American ideal of every mans family being a business unto itself striving to beat the competition. They are not filling a void just trying to prove that they won.
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby onlooker » Fri 15 Mar 2019, 09:16:00

Different reasons exist for the urge to consume and buy. Just like different reasons in general exist for the behavior of people. But I think we should not discount simply that the conditions were propitious for the industrial revolution to occur and be maintained via the tremendous energy afforded by fossil fuels. I think that our species whether we wish to or not will be knocked back to the norm of trying to live within a modest fixed energy budget. This will be the greatest inducement to force our species to adapt habits and behavior aligned to this new reality
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby Ibon » Fri 15 Mar 2019, 10:15:45

vtsnowedin wrote: I think not. The vast majority of Chinese and Indians between them half the worlds population would sure like to give freedom and sufficiency a good try.


They are chained and harnessed in their pursuit of "freedom"

Consumption culture is a promise of a big illusion. And there is a reason everyone is chasing it. It is the only monoculture option in town.

More and more I am coming to realize that there is no solution that brings along the mass of humanity.

Just small pockets of alternatives.

I am giving up on contemplating on the juggernaut of humanity as a unit that needs to solve its dilemma. It's hopeless. Focus on ones own alternative arrangements but forget about Kudzu Ape in his entirety.
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Re: Degrowth Thread

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Fri 15 Mar 2019, 10:37:51

I don't claim to know what a factory worker in China thinks about his prospects but I'm pretty sure he or she is glad they are not bent over in a rice paddy planting rice seedlings. Regardless of the job or it's conditions there is a satisfaction of being able to go to the market and having the means to buy food for ones family. Hence the enduring charm of such phases as "bringing home the bacon" or" being the family bread winner".
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