Author Topic: Investing for the End of Growth  (Read 23922 times)

REfinAnon

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #50 on: June 11, 2015, 07:41:16 AM »
Great post, stashdaddy. The more I think about it, the more confident I am that the 21st century will produce better return on capital than the 20th century did. What that says about the next decade or so is anyone's guess.

Pooperman

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #51 on: June 11, 2015, 07:53:51 AM »
How do you price climatic changes into that equation? The little ice age was bad enough, but ~1200BCE collapse of middle east civilizations is something to keep in mind. Much of the extra productivity and energy production is unnecessary, but they both contribute to things that can screw us all over.

StashDaddy

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #52 on: June 11, 2015, 08:21:38 AM »
Will we go into another Ice Age?  Will the temperatures keep rising to what they were during the Midieval times when the Vikings colonized Greenland and Newfoundland?  Who can say what the climate will do?  Its always changing.  Humans are very adaptable creatures, and our technology has made climate changes almost irrelevant at this point. 

matchewed

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #53 on: June 11, 2015, 08:32:38 AM »
Will we go into another Ice Age?  Will the temperatures keep rising to what they were during the Midieval times when the Vikings colonized Greenland and Newfoundland?  Who can say what the climate will do?  Its always changing.  Humans are very adaptable creatures, and our technology has made climate changes almost irrelevant at this point.

/facepalm

Look the climate is not made irrelevant due to technology unless you have the technology to control the climate. Turning on the AC is not controlling the climate.

REfinAnon

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #54 on: June 11, 2015, 08:48:30 AM »
My guess is we will innovate our way out of most climate change concerns within about 25 years.

This is an interesting read:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/11/16/hosed

StashDaddy

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #55 on: June 11, 2015, 08:49:47 AM »
A bit of an illogical strawman there, matchewed.  We don't have to control the climate to thrive.  Technology allows us to thrive in most/all of the available climates on earth.  From the coldest arctic areas to the hottest equatorial areas.  From rainforests to the driest deserts.

matchewed

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #56 on: June 11, 2015, 08:54:30 AM »
A bit of an illogical strawman there, matchewed.  We don't have to control the climate to thrive.  Technology allows us to thrive in most/all of the available climates on earth.  From the coldest arctic areas to the hottest equatorial areas.  From rainforests to the driest deserts.

What was the strawman? You specifically said "our technology has made climate changes almost irrelevant at this point." Just because people can build a house on almost all the available climates doesn't mean that the animals and plants which we rely on to live are also there. Climate change affects plants and animals as well; they don't necessarily have the same technological tools to thrive.

The larger point being that raising everyone to a developed nation standard of living sounds awesome for economic growth but it is extremely destructive to our world.

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #57 on: June 11, 2015, 09:15:41 AM »
There is still confusion and uncertainty around Climate Change, it is not an exact science, but society being generally ignorant (or unwilling to try to understand) the problem doesn't help.  It is not that temperatures will rise modestly, it is that carbon dioxide levels will continue to rise to levels not seen in 50 million years.  The effect that will have is uncertain, and are reflected as probabilities.  What is truly scary is that there is a low, but rising probability that temperatures could rise 6°C (10.8°F) across the planet which would disrupt the whole ecosystem. 

http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2015/06/martin_weitzman.html#highlights

Just like people here are comfortable with a 90% probability of success on their FIRECalc, we should be really worried if there is only a 90% probability of success of life on Earth over the next century if we continue living exactly how we have been.

(modified to add this quote, sorry in advance for it's length, but this speaks to the difficulty in getting the message across...)
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Before the Industrial Revolution, the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million. And it had hardly ever been above 280 parts per million in 800,000 years. We know that 800,000 years from arctic ice cores. And it stands to reason--we've been in this period of glacial advances and retreats for about 3 million years, so this is probably at the upper end of what parts per million of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases were for the last 3 million years or so. Now we are up to about 440 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent gases. That's an increase of 50% over what was the highest for the last 3 million years at least. When you ask, 'What is going to happen with 440 parts per million?' you are looking at something called, a famous acronym in climate change, something called Climate Sensitivity. And that is an iconic number that tells us the eventual temperature change that goes along with a greenhouse gas concentration. It's a probability distribution. So this essential thing about what will be the temperature response to 440-560 is an answer that has a distribution. And the climate sensitivity is the temperature change for a doubling of carbon dioxide. So, we're not there yet. But it's almost sure that we'll reach at least that, at least 560 parts per million. For the last 35 years, the uncertainty around this climate sensitivity, this temperature response, has not much changed. Thirty five years ago in some of the first early engineering studies it was stated that it's likely between 1.5 degree centigrade and 4.5 degrees centigrade. That's a pretty wide range, 1.5-4.5 degrees centigrade. And that's in the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report from last year, it gives that same range. So that, what's happened, seemingly, is that although there has been much, much more research into climate change, and many, many more models and observations, we must be--as we are resolving some of the uncertainty about something like climate sensitivity, new forms of uncertainty are emerging. So there's other things that we hadn't counted on. Okay, so this 1 degree centigrade to 4.5 degree centigrade--what we estimated is that if the greenhouse gas concentrations double, the chance of being greater than 4.5 degrees centigrade is around 10%. If greenhouse gas concentrations double, the probability of being greater than 6 degrees centigrade response is around 3%. So this is the bad tail of climate sensitivity, which is symbolic of the bad tail of what the damages could be. And these numbers just seem alarming, with the doubling of CO2, which is almost inevitable, there is a 3% chance of having temperatures greater than, a temperature response greater than 6 degrees. If we go to a concentration of greenhouse gases of 700 parts per million--and that's a number that's thrown around, for example the International Energy Agency, that's their most likely scenario taking account of all the pledges that had been made and so for--their point estimate is that we will reach 700 within a century. If it's at 700, then the probability that the temperature response is greater than 6 degrees centigrade becomes around 10%.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 09:25:34 AM by EscapeVelocity2020 »

REfinAnon

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #58 on: June 11, 2015, 09:20:14 AM »
if we continue living exactly how we have been.

It seems to me that all of the climate disaster scenarios rest on this assumption. This assumption also strikes me as being highly flawed.

matchewed

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #59 on: June 11, 2015, 09:21:27 AM »
if we continue living exactly how we have been.

It seems to me that all of the climate disaster scenarios rest on this assumption. This assumption also strikes me as being highly flawed.

How so?

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #60 on: June 11, 2015, 09:36:44 AM »
@REfinAnon - I bolded a quote that I added to my statement that clarifies, but you should really spend the time to listen to the podcast in its entirety (or read the transcript).  People obviously want to keep living how they are living today, with a low cost, high standard of living, and put off having to recognize that there is a cost (what economists call externality) of putting carbon dioxide in the air.

nobodyspecial

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #61 on: June 11, 2015, 09:53:12 AM »
Overall I agree but that report has raised a few eyebrows among statisticians.

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1.  Today, 6 in every 7 humans live in undeveloped nations.
That's a bit of a definition problem. Declare China and India to be underdeveloped and all 2.5Bn people are underdeveloped ? Although the average person is poor there are probably more "rich" people in India+China than in the USA - just depends on how you want to divide the numbers.
(eg. One of my ETFs includes S. Korea as an emerging nation !!!!)

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2.  Rich nations have a GDP per capita of $45,000 with an average life expectancy of more than 81 years…in stark contrast to the $4,600 and 63 years experienced in the developing world.
A lot of life expectancy is child mortality so this improves quickly with health care. Incidentally this is why you can't always compare the life expectancy figures for developed countries. Since infant deaths skew the figures so much, if the US counts miscarriages as a death at age=0 and Japan counts them as "mother survived" you change the average life expectancy by a large amount.

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3.  3 billion humans use traditional biomass for cooking/heating, meaning open fires and deadly indoor air pollution.  I think they would love to have a steady supply of electricity/natural gas, instead.
That's going to be one of the most interesting areas.  A lot of sub-Saharan Africa skipped the entire "Ma Bell" era and went straight to mobile internet. It's a major question if you can do the same with power and skip the whole GW coal fired stattion + national HV distribution and go straight to local solar/wind/small scale gas.

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4.  More than 50% of global population growth through 2050 will occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 66% of the people today have no electricity.
Largely because the big countries will have very little growth. So a negative growth rate in China+India and a 10% growth rate in Congo still equals a big population drop.

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5.  The UN projects that the population of Africa – easily the most underdeveloped region on Earth, with 35 of 52 countries having “low human development” – could more than double to 2.4 billion by 2050, and potentially reach 4.2 billion by 2100.
That's the bit of the report they got very wrong. Their entire world figure was based on the only major country in the region (Zimbabwe IIRC) with a big growth rate (mostly due to infant mortality reduction) and extrapolating that rate to the rest of the world gave a population of 50Bn which caused a lot of headlines.

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6.  2.5 billion humans live without basic sanitation, 1.3 billion have no electricity, 1.2 billion have no access to clean water, 805 million are chronically undernourished, and more than 780 million are illiterate (re-read these numbers, bearing in mind that the U.S., Canada, and Mexico have a combined 475 million people).
But mostly concentrated in Africa, as far as the economy is concerned they don't matter. But on the assumption that India+China+SE Asia all rise to at least S American income levels there is a going to be a huge demand for consumer goods, telecoms, entertainment etc

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7.  While the number of passenger cars in developed countries is expected to level off, the number of passenger cars in developing countries is expected to triple by 2040 to about 2x the total in developed countries.
Not clear how many cars China+India will buy. Car ownership in the US for the last 50years was as much a status thing as a means of transport. If Indian culture is to buy gold or real estate rather than a BMW then you can't necessarily extrapolate
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 09:54:56 AM by nobodyspecial »

StashDaddy

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #62 on: June 11, 2015, 09:56:03 AM »
From the physics, the response of climate to CO2 is not linear, but logarithmic, so each additional molecule of CO2 added to the atmosphere will have less of an impact than the ones before it.  This is due to the saturated nature of the 15 micron absorption feature.  Plus, there are likely to be net-negative feedback effects in the climate system.  I expect there is a very low climate sensitivity to CO2--most likely 1 C.  No big deal.

waltworks

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #63 on: June 11, 2015, 10:02:13 AM »
There are really 2 things that drive me nuts about the climate change debate.

1: It's an actuarial problem. You don't need to be *certain* you'll get in a wreck to put on your seatbelt. Likewise even a very small probability of bad things happening due to putting too much CO2 in the atmosphere is well worth spending time and money on. Calling for further study, or for scientific certainty, is idiotic. We have at least a good inkling that there might be a problem. It might be very bad.

If we work on solutions and it turns out there was never a problem in the first place, great - everything's fine. I spend money on insurance I hope I'll never use all the time and I'm happy to not have to have surgery, or a new house built after mine burns down, or whatever.

2: Conservation will not solve anything. It's WAY too late. Sorry, your Prius is still a CO2 disaster. Likewise your organic vegetarian prepared food. The only realistic solutions will involve HUGE efficiency improvements and/or geoengineering of some kind. We should be throwing LOTS of money at both of those things NOW. Best of all, that sort of engineering and science will throw off lots of great useful tech for other purposes.

So basically, between the hard right (either "we don't know enough yet" or  "it's not happening, I'm positive") and the left ("everyone has to stop driving SUVs!") we have a perfect storm of stupidity.

The earth is a tool, folks. It's time to treat it like one (ie, maintain it to do what we want, not be stupid and break it). That might mean some cute fuzzy things have to die. It also might mean your taxes need to go up so some egghead in a lab can figure out how to make super Kudzu that never rots. Suck it up.

-W
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 10:06:30 AM by waltworks »

DarinC

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #64 on: June 11, 2015, 12:27:06 PM »
I understand this may be a little off-topic, but I doubt we'll be using 8,200,000 quads/year in four centuries. We're currently at ~400 quads, and there's a good chance that will flatten out even with population growing to ~11 billion as we transition off of FF energy sources.

If we end up using that much energy, it will almost certainly be as we expand through the solar system.

StashDaddy

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #65 on: June 11, 2015, 12:33:07 PM »
Walt, if you truly feel this way, sell your home, sell your car, and go move to Africa or Central America.  Go live without electricity, internet, or running water.  Have fun using outhouses, drinking filthy water, lacking access to medical care, cooking your food by burning dung, and eating squirrels and insects.  Set the example for the rest of us.  Suck it up.

[MOD NOTE: Straw men are not helpful to debate.]
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 01:40:38 PM by arebelspy »

DarinC

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #66 on: June 11, 2015, 01:12:37 PM »
From the physics, the response of climate to CO2 is not linear, but logarithmic, so each additional molecule of CO2 added to the atmosphere will have less of an impact than the ones before it.  This is due to the saturated nature of the 15 micron absorption feature.  Plus, there are likely to be net-negative feedback effects in the climate system.  I expect there is a very low climate sensitivity to CO2--most likely 1 C.  No big deal.
Most estimates for CO2's lower bound are above 1C.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_sensitivity#Calculations_of_CO2_sensitivity_from_observational_data

In addition, other GHGs, changes in albedo, and so on have higher sensitivities to temperature.

http://www.nature.com/news/mysterious-siberian-crater-attributed-to-methane-1.15649

dachs

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #67 on: June 11, 2015, 02:02:54 PM »
Imagine a company that pays all the money it makes to you as a dividend. 0 growth. So as long as the amount of money in the system doesn't grow, you're fine. And if the population of humans doesn't grow and everyone has a comparable standard of living there is no need to grow. End of story :)

waltworks

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #68 on: June 11, 2015, 02:17:15 PM »
You didn't read any of what I wrote, did you? I said conservation is useless. We have to basically make the earth our bitch now and start outright manipulating the climate (purposefully!), because assuming excess CO2 is a problem, it's WAY too late to conserve our way out of it now. The insect eating solution would have worked if we'd all started around 1900.

Also, that lifestyle sucks but it might be what everyone has to do if we crash the climate (and hence civilization) badly enough. So let's come up with some awesome tech to solve the problem instead. Thing is, nobody on either side wants that because the right wants to pretend there can't possibly be any problem, and the left wants to believe that their eco-friendly laundry detergent is the solution.

-W

Walt, if you truly feel this way, sell your home, sell your car, and go move to Africa or Central America.  Go live without electricity, internet, or running water.  Have fun using outhouses, drinking filthy water, lacking access to medical care, cooking your food by burning dung, and eating squirrels and insects.  Set the example for the rest of us.  Suck it up.

[MOD NOTE: Straw men are not helpful to debate.]

aschmidt2930

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #69 on: June 11, 2015, 05:54:11 PM »
Going to need a source on that "once we use all the available solar energy" claim. 

In 400 years?  Who knows.  But since your talking about investing for the end of growth, let's keep this within our lifetime.

There are billions of people living in poverty today.  There are billions of people without internet and electricity today.  Just think how many potential Netflix subscribers are out there.  If growth stops within our lifetime, it'll be our fault, not some imaginary ceiling.

DarinC

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #70 on: June 11, 2015, 06:49:21 PM »
You didn't read any of what I wrote, did you? I said conservation is useless. We have to basically make the earth our bitch now and start outright manipulating the climate (purposefully!), because assuming excess CO2 is a problem, it's WAY too late to conserve our way out of it now. The insect eating solution would have worked if we'd all started around 1900.

Also, that lifestyle sucks but it might be what everyone has to do if we crash the climate (and hence civilization) badly enough. So let's come up with some awesome tech to solve the problem instead. Thing is, nobody on either side wants that because the right wants to pretend there can't possibly be any problem, and the left wants to believe that their eco-friendly laundry detergent is the solution.

-W
Conservation alone isn't enough, but it's a critical part of any effective strategy to reduce GHG emissions.

waltworks

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #71 on: June 11, 2015, 07:31:40 PM »
Go look up the CO2 emissions levels required to just keep concentrations stable. Seriously.

Then get back to me on the conservation. Ain't gonna happen, forget it. This is math. We need to be going all in on geoengineering, pronto.

-W

sol

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #72 on: June 11, 2015, 07:34:27 PM »
Then get back to me on the conservation. Ain't gonna happen, forget it. This is math. We need to be going all in on geoengineering, pronto.

Only if you want the world to look like it used to.  The alternative is to just accept that we're going to radically alter the planet's climate, and try to be okay with that.  That's probably an easier solution (for us wealthy westerners) than trying to fix it.

YoungInvestor

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #73 on: June 11, 2015, 08:05:27 PM »
Then get back to me on the conservation. Ain't gonna happen, forget it. This is math. We need to be going all in on geoengineering, pronto.

Only if you want the world to look like it used to.  The alternative is to just accept that we're going to radically alter the planet's climate, and try to be okay with that.  That's probably an easier solution (for us wealthy westerners) than trying to fix it.

I'd like to at least give the developing world a shot at not falling into chaos.

waltworks

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #74 on: June 11, 2015, 08:13:55 PM »
Sol, great point. I think accepting that we're going to alter the climate is a given. But as I said before - if we're going to mess with the climate, let's get our shit together and learn how to mess with it intentionally and purposefully, and use the world and it's resources to make people healthy and happy. And maybe go explore the universe.

Just letting the chips fall where they may is probably not the best way to do that.

-W

Then get back to me on the conservation. Ain't gonna happen, forget it. This is math. We need to be going all in on geoengineering, pronto.

Only if you want the world to look like it used to.  The alternative is to just accept that we're going to radically alter the planet's climate, and try to be okay with that.  That's probably an easier solution (for us wealthy westerners) than trying to fix it.

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #75 on: June 11, 2015, 09:38:20 PM »
Well, the podcast I linked to goes in to 'quick fixes' available in geoengineering and it is scary that we don't really know if it adds to the problem (IMHO, of course it will).  It's like giving a mentally unstable patient amphetamines to make them feel better, and then sedatives and hope they go to sleep.  With the obvious short term problem that they will have to keep upping the artificial routine to keep it sustainable, kind of knowing that dealing with the root cause would be a lot more effective...  and dealing with the root cause, at least with current technology, means being more receptive to nuclear.

Again, a painfully long quote from the podcast (and again, I apologize, it's better to listen to this stuff):
Quote
Mount Pinatubo was an explosive volcanic eruption that threw lots of stuff into the sky, and lots of it high up into the stratosphere. And it sent out a massive amount--not massive, but a large amount of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. That acted, combined with other molecules there, acted as a reflector of the sun, and it cut sunlight by 1 or 2%, which was enough to send temperatures down by a half a degree centigrade for the next year or two. We've known about this effect of calderas, of explosive volcanoes, for a long time, and their effects have been observed over centuries-that in their aftermath, temperatures go down significantly. And the idea is okay-this is done by nature, whether we like it or not. Why don't human beings imitate nature? Would that be a good policy to actually seed the stratosphere with sulfur dioxide? One of the things that is amazing about this is how incredibly cheap it is to lower temperatures by geoengineering-solar radiation management forms of geoengineering. To lower earth's average surface temperature by 1 or 2 degrees centigrade would cost less than $10 billion a year. You need a fleet of planes or rockets or something like that to keep pushing this stuff into the stratosphere, but there's not that much that's needed. And it's incredibly cheap. So, you compare what it costs to lower temperatures by a degree from geoengineering, with how much it would cost to lower temperatures by a degree via new technologies or via solar and wind-it's overwhelmingly cheaper to fool with the sulfur dioxide. And that's something we didn't need, we don't need-the economics of climate change is already the economic problem from hell because of all these complexities, because it's an international public good, because of timing (being a problem for those a century away), because of lots of things- (Russ:) It's a wicked problem. (Guest:) And now you've suddenly made it more wicked. (by introducing geoengineering).  Because you've got two externalities of public goods out there. The one, the traditional one, is that people free ride because it's so expensive to change from a carbon burning technology and everyone wants to free ride (not pay for carbon dioxide emissions). Here you've the opposite kind of public goods or international problem, where many, many nations, and even individuals could afford this $10 billion a year (to 'solve the problem immediately); and somehow you need governance of both of these things. So, in a sense, it's twice as difficult an international public goods problem as we thought it was before geoengineering emerged as a kind of a conceptional alternative. (Russ:) It seems like a very attractive insurance policy. On the surface. I guess the issue, which you touched on in the book is, well, a lot of people would say, 'That's playing God.' We're already playing God; we're putting the carbon into the atmosphere, so that part's not so alarming. It's really the unintended consequences. So, what do we know, if anything-well, you just sort of said, 'Well, you put a bunch of planes up there; you put up the sulfur into the atmosphere.' What are the worries? (Guest:) Oh. There are many worries. I think this has a place as a kind of Plan B, just in case, but we need to do research to know what this is about just in case some catastrophic outcomes emerge. You've got a series of issues where it would affect the weather patterns; it's probably going to make the ozone hole more of a problem, ocean acidification would proceed apace because you are not changing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. You are changing the amount of sunlight that's hitting the earth, basically. There's an argument that you might become dependent upon this. Suppose that you are thinking of temporary particles like sulfur dioxide which will come out of the stratosphere within a year or so-suppose you got hooked on that, and then you discovered that it's got some very bad side effects, maybe some Black Swan side effects that are really bad, terrible. (Russ:) Feedback loops that you weren't aware of. (Guest:) Right. Now if you go off of that solar radiation management geoengineering, there is an abrupt increase in temperatures. So, this thing is a blessing and a curse. It will immediately cause the temperatures to go down, but if you want to get away from it, it will immediately cause the temperatures to go up throughout the planet, in too rapid a way.

Leisured

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #76 on: June 12, 2015, 11:42:19 PM »

I have spent my working life as a technician in an agricultural research institute, so I know the problems of increasing crop yields to keep pace with population growth. These problems are real, and I could discuss them, but I think that insistence on indefinite population growth is part of another problem.

The big modernist push started in the 1950s. Modernity allows – eventually – a world where people stabilise world population and live the good life supported by an automated economy. Modernity is not Business As Usual. Economists are obsessed with the idea of Business As Usual, and think it does not matter what technical advances are made, people will still need to turn up to work every morning.

All through history, Business As Usual has included food insecurity. Modern agriculture allows a large – but not infinite – increase in food supply, and can offer food security. People who insist on driving world population up are rejecting food security, probably without being consciously aware of what they are doing. Such people want food insecurity because that is Business As Usual.

In the sixties and seventies scientists assumed that most people would – eventually – catch up with the modernist push of the fifties. It now looks as though that will not happen. Something similar has happened before. Late nineteenth century, those North American First Nation people (I hope I have used the right term) who could not assimilate into mainstream society were allowed to live on reservations. The same happened in Australia, and today, some – but not all – Australian Aborigines live on reservations.

I see by mid-century the world dividing into Advanced regions, and much larger Business As Usual regions. Scientists and some others will move to the Advanced regions, and the majority of the world, unable to assimilate to a scientific world view, will live in Business As Usual regions, that is reservations, in effect. World prosperity in Business As Usual regions will plateau by mid-century, and then slowly decline, due to population growth and depletion of natural resources.

Nearly all research will take place in Advanced regions, and it is possible that agricultural research will be deliberately limited to force world population to stabilise.

forummm

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #77 on: June 13, 2015, 07:06:22 AM »
I'm late to the party. There have been a lot of great responses. There's no reason to think that growth will ever end. We've always figured out better ways of doing things. Even as technology makes our lives better and better, we still want more, and work for more. Progress generally requires a bunch of other people and organizations to have made great leaps in order for it to even be possible for the next innovator to be able imagine their next creation. We all stand on the shoulders of giants. We couldn't figure out how to create ways for the Internet to totally reshape life until we actually had the Internet to build our tools around. And we've also gotten much more efficient in our ability to use natural resources over time as well. Growth could be severely disrupted or fall into decline by wars or huge natural disasters. But, assuming humanity survives, growth should begin to progress again once the inhibiting factor is resolved.

DarinC

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #78 on: June 13, 2015, 09:36:12 PM »
Go look up the CO2 emissions levels required to just keep concentrations stable. Seriously.

Then get back to me on the conservation. Ain't gonna happen, forget it. This is math. We need to be going all in on geoengineering, pronto.

-W
Please don't be condescending. This is an important topic and it's not appropriate IMO.

In terms of efficiency, most if not all comprehensive plans to tackle climate change include it. It's generally the first thing you do (which is why it's the first of the 3 R's).

http://www.withouthotair.com/c27/page_204.shtml

Another good example is California. The state has the lowest per capita electricity consumption in the country because it's focused on promoting the efficiency of electricity use rather than promoting additional production.

http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/electricity/us_per_capita_electricity-2010.html

sol

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #79 on: June 13, 2015, 09:53:36 PM »
In terms of efficiency, most if not all comprehensive plans to tackle climate change include it. It's generally the first thing you do (which is why it's the first of the 3 R's).

Efficiency improvements and conservation efforts are always the first thing you do, not because they are a viable way to arrest global warming, but because they save money for the utility companies.  It's much cheaper to convince your user base to use less (and then raise the rates) than it is to build new capacity. 

Whether we like it or not, human society functions on capitalism.  Political systems like democracy vs communism are purely secondary.  Overpopulation is secondary.  Climate change is secondary.  Everything humanity does is done in the pursuit of profits, of feeding the self-sustaining capitalist machine.  In that context conservation programs (energy, water, fossil fuels) are just cost effective ways to continue feeding the machine.  We'll continue to rely on those same resources until we find a way to feed the machine with alternatives.  Once we figure out how to monetize them as well as or better than the existing system, we'll move on.

Which is part of the reason no one really wants cheap fusion or geoengineering.  It's the same reason the FDA won't approve that mouthwash treatment that prevents all cavities forever, and why we have a cure for flaccid penises but not Alzheimers.  Capitalism only pursues goals that generate profit.  Curing problems doesn't generate profits nearly as effectively as treating them as ongoing problems, and even then only if the problem exists for someone who has the capacity to pay for your treatment.

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #80 on: June 13, 2015, 10:32:25 PM »
You didn't go look it up, did you? It's hard not to be condescending when people are willfully insisting on a solution that mathematically (not to mention politically) won't work.

CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have been rising for about 200 years - when there were far fewer people and only a tiny fraction of them were participating in industrialized economies.

I'm not against efficiency improvements. I'm all for them. I'm against thinking that will save us from having terrible problems because it's probably unrealistic. Better to go for efficiency at the *same time* as hedging your bets and figuring out some geoengineering last resorts.

-W

Please don't be condescending. This is an important topic and it's not appropriate IMO.

clifp

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #81 on: June 14, 2015, 12:47:03 AM »

Then there is the sad truth of zero sum.

Life is not a zero sum game. Giving a hand up to someone doesn't pull you down in the process. As long as we're spending money and energy on growing industries and not on blowing each other up, the lot for everyone can improve.  It's when we're literally exploding billions of dollars on battle fields that things get to zero (and negative) sum.

I hope this is true. I just don't think the entire world can live like the United States. Something has to give somewhere. if we go much higher than 9 billion we are zero sum. We are in a mass extinction right now. Diverse living species are disappearing at an alarming rate. Rationing water in California? That is leaving nothing for wildlife. We are drinking and showering and water lawns until rivers and lakes run dry. Anyways, investments will be equities  with dividends. Bonds will not live in the zero interest and restrictive credit we need. The good news is inflation will die and you will be once again able to just save money for retirement because it will retain its value. That's how it should be anyway

Using the density of a place like Hong Kong or Singapore.  10 billion people can fit comfortably inside a area smaller than Texas that leaves the remaining 99.2%+ or  24,400,000+ square mile of earth for farming, animals, recreation etc.  It also leave almost 20,000,000 square miles of deserts for things like solar energy panels and in some place like California irrigation, (with enough energy we can get fresh water from the ocean.)  If we can bring the rest of the world's population growth rate down to the US rate, (0.7%) which is high for industrial nation. That leaves us with another 400 year before the Texas size area expands to fill the US which still leaves us with 95% of the earth's habitable land mass to grow into.

The NY Times of all places did a retrospective piece http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/01/us/the-unrealized-horrors-of-population-explosion.html?_r=0 and the doomsayers of the 1960s like Paul Elrich who predicted wide spread famine and chaos in the 1970 and the end of England by the year 2000.  I read the book in the early 70s and found it not particularly convincing even as teenager.

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #82 on: June 14, 2015, 04:41:50 AM »
Let me be the first to applaud the responses from 'Leisured' on forward.  This is what this world desperately needs, people with experience and passion to put their best ideas forward.  This is the best side of the internet.  Just wanted to highlight that, lest it be missed with all the flotsam and jetsam out there...

nobodyspecial

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #83 on: June 14, 2015, 11:02:14 AM »
Quote
If we can bring the rest of the world's population growth rate down to the US rate, (0.7%) which is high for industrial nation.
The US birth rate is high for developed nations but the growth rate only positive with immigration.
Unless there is something about Roswell that the government isn't telling us - immigration isn't a factor in world population growth.
 

Bob W

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #84 on: June 14, 2015, 12:39:51 PM »
Great thread!   The obvious investment for MMM readers is land 400 foot above sea level.  Mountainous land in the western US is bargain basement priced today.  When the rest of the US is baking at 140 degrees F.   The mountains may be inhabitable still?     This is both sad and true.   Global warming will take us out of the game long before 400 years arrives.  (my dad used to say -- "don't shit where you eat")

DarinC

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #85 on: June 14, 2015, 12:41:18 PM »
You didn't go look it up, did you? It's hard not to be condescending when people are willfully insisting on a solution that mathematically (not to mention politically) won't work.

CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have been rising for about 200 years - when there were far fewer people and only a tiny fraction of them were participating in industrialized economies.

I'm not against efficiency improvements. I'm all for them. I'm against thinking that will save us from having terrible problems because it's probably unrealistic. Better to go for efficiency at the *same time* as hedging your bets and figuring out some geoengineering last resorts.

-W
No one said that efficiency alone would mitigate the rise in GHG emissions. However, it is an important part of any plan because it reduces the scale at which we need to implement alternatives to fossil fuels, which is why I said it's a critical part of "any effective strategy to reduce GHG emissions."

Geo-engineering is a possibility, but because we don't have the tools to accurately and precisely predict local trends in weather from global changes in climate, it's likely best to stop messing stuff up (reducing ghg emissions) than to fight one unintentional and unpredictable geo-engineering project (GHG emissions) with another.

Stopping the growth of GHG emissions by ~2030 and reducing thereafter will likely keep warming to ~1.5C and minimize the costs.

http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2014/12/two-degrees-will-we-avoid-dangerous-climate-change/

clifp

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #86 on: June 14, 2015, 03:40:19 PM »
Quote
If we can bring the rest of the world's population growth rate down to the US rate, (0.7%) which is high for industrial nation.
The US birth rate is high for developed nations but the growth rate only positive with immigration.
Unless there is something about Roswell that the government isn't telling us - immigration isn't a factor in world population growth.

Quite true. In most countries the bigger problems is too few babies not too many people.

forummm

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #87 on: June 15, 2015, 10:19:38 AM »
In terms of efficiency, most if not all comprehensive plans to tackle climate change include it. It's generally the first thing you do (which is why it's the first of the 3 R's).

Efficiency improvements and conservation efforts are always the first thing you do, not because they are a viable way to arrest global warming, but because they save money for the utility companies.  It's much cheaper to convince your user base to use less (and then raise the rates) than it is to build new capacity. 

Whether we like it or not, human society functions on capitalism.  Political systems like democracy vs communism are purely secondary.  Overpopulation is secondary.  Climate change is secondary.  Everything humanity does is done in the pursuit of profits, of feeding the self-sustaining capitalist machine.  In that context conservation programs (energy, water, fossil fuels) are just cost effective ways to continue feeding the machine.  We'll continue to rely on those same resources until we find a way to feed the machine with alternatives.  Once we figure out how to monetize them as well as or better than the existing system, we'll move on.

Which is part of the reason no one really wants cheap fusion or geoengineering.  It's the same reason the FDA won't approve that mouthwash treatment that prevents all cavities forever, and why we have a cure for flaccid penises but not Alzheimers.  Capitalism only pursues goals that generate profit.  Curing problems doesn't generate profits nearly as effectively as treating them as ongoing problems, and even then only if the problem exists for someone who has the capacity to pay for your treatment.

I think I agree with your general point. I think differently about some of your examples.

A lot of times "conservation" is promoted by people who don't really want to do anything about the underlying issue. Either because they profit from the status quo or because their funders profit from the status quo (e.g. politicians). Oil companies don't like efficiency improvements to conserve oil. But they do like that it sounds as though people are doing something about the problem, and kicks the can down the road so they can make money for more years. Utilities are a different animal. They are pretty highly regulated or part of the government itself. In the case of electricity, they want you to use more overall, and more during low-load hours, but they also want you to use less at the highest peak hours. Utilities actually lose money on the high-peak times of demand because those plants are just so expensive to keep around. In the case of water, it's frequently part of the government and they can only get so much water without major expense or problems.

Money does drive the status quo and change. This is why it's so important to account for the total costs of our activity, and not just those currently included in the retail price. If the cost of pollution were included in the product, we'd use less of it and use other lesser polluting products instead.

I think people actually do want cheap fusion. Not the coal or gas producers of course. But who else would be against it? You could make a lot of money by producing energy-intensive products if the energy is now very cheap. The issue here is that the technology isn't there yet, and that it's very expensive to fund the research (and governments aren't excited about funding research at this point, especially when the payoff is likely well after the leaders have left office).

Same with your FDA examples. People want those and are working on them. The medical science just isn't there to prevent cavities forever or cure Alzheimers. Both conditions are pretty common (and Alzheimers is increasing in prevalance), so there's a huge demand and they would be hugely profitable if an advance were made. The nature of cavities is that you would have to keep getting treated. And probably the same with Alzheimers. Coincidentally, the FDA actually just approved a device last week to help control symptoms. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm451152.htm

You might find a better example with antibiotics. There's a large cost to developing new antibiotics. But people would only take them for a week or two, and there are a lot of competing products, so it's not a great market to get into.

I think researchers in general are more interested in their own personal reasons for pursuing a cure for something than profit. The actual people who dedicate their lives to research are doing it because they or their family member has/had the condition, they want personal success and glory, or are just do-gooders who want to improve the world. The researchers rarely get compensated for their efforts in any scale commensurate with their contributions. It's the researchers (usually someone at a university) who do the actual work. A pharmaceutical company or device manufacturer will just swoop in later and acquire or create the rights to profit off of the discovery.

theoverlook

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #88 on: June 15, 2015, 11:23:33 AM »

Which is part of the reason no one really wants cheap fusion or geoengineering.  It's the same reason the FDA won't approve that mouthwash treatment that prevents all cavities forever, and why we have a cure for flaccid penises but not Alzheimers.  Capitalism only pursues goals that generate profit.  Curing problems doesn't generate profits nearly as effectively as treating them as ongoing problems, and even then only if the problem exists for someone who has the capacity to pay for your treatment.

A mouthwash that would prevent cavities would make a corporation billions of dollars.  Same for an Alzheimer's cure.  I think it's more likely that those problems are just really complicated rather than it's some cabal of supercapitalists preventing the solutions from being released.

sol

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #89 on: June 15, 2015, 11:48:08 AM »
The mouthwash has existed for like ten years.  It replaces the bacteria in your mouth with ones that don't generate as much acid.  The FDA denied further human testing on fears about altering your natural internal ecology, citing concerns about unforeseen potential complications.

Alzheimers, like HIV, is a huge profit source if you can treat it, manage it, take pills every day to keep it at bay.  Not so profitable to take a single pill to ward off ever getting it, like a vaccine, so nobody is doing that kind of research.

I don't mean to sound like a conspiracy nut, but I do believe in the power of the invisible hand.  In some cases, Mr. Market pushes us towards suboptimal solutions to problems because the incentives for society as a whole don't align with the incentives of the people making the decisions.  E.g. fossil  fuel consumption, tasty prepackaged junkfood, disposable consumer electronics, collateralized debt obligations, overfishing, and any Apple software.

DarinC

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #90 on: June 15, 2015, 01:31:34 PM »
That's true to some degree. Manufactured spending, vendor/business lock-in, etc... have been around for centuries. With that said, their existence doesn't imply there are any easy fixes to Alzheimer's (or even cavities) out there.

forummm

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #91 on: June 15, 2015, 02:05:08 PM »
Like I said, I get what you are saying. And people go where the money is. I don't think that's a secret or a conspiracy (unless you look at it as every person in society is conspiring together to do what the each believe will make themselves wealthier).

Without looking into it more, I think there are huge potential consequences to changing the oral flora. We're only beginning to understand what a profound role the intestinal flora plays in our health and wellbeing. I don't even know how we could test that mouthwash for safety at this point, given our limited knowledge. It has the potential to do much greater harm than is caused by cavities. But it's a fascinating idea.

I think there's a huge profit motive to understanding what causes Alzheimers. Only once we figure that out could we say whether anything could prevent it--be it a daily pill or a one-time therapy. But we just don't understand the brain well enough to know at this point.

Mr Market absolutely pushes us to suboptimal outcomes from certain people's perspective. But from another group of people's perspective, it's the optimal one. Of course my perspective is the right one that we should all optimize around.

nobodyspecial

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #92 on: June 15, 2015, 02:18:15 PM »
I don't mean to sound like a conspiracy nut, but I do believe in the power of the invisible hand.
Vaccine research has almost stopped in industry. And because nobody is interested in hiring vaccine researchers nobody in universities works on them.

Even if you make a successful vaccine it is a lot harder to get it accepted to give to everyone than it is for a drug only given to people already ill.
Then since your customer is likely to be a national health service or government you are in a poor bargaining position about cost.
You are then on the hook for any adverse reactions, or even lawsuits about completely imaginary adverse reactions (like MMR->autism)
We have an safe effective vaccine against Lyme disease but it is only used on animals because of an autism lawsuit which was thrown out but not before bankrupting the company that made the drug.

If you make a vaccine for developed countries. Even an amazing vaccine with 1 in a million risk of side effects. Give it to a million people and pay $10M in damages to the one person it harms, then $10 of the $11/dose you are being paid is going to lawyers.

Make a vaccine against 3rd world diseases and if you charge $1/dose you will be accused of being an evil corporation by NGOs and 3rd world governments.







forummm

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #93 on: June 15, 2015, 03:11:58 PM »
I don't mean to sound like a conspiracy nut, but I do believe in the power of the invisible hand.
Vaccine research has almost stopped in industry. And because nobody is interested in hiring vaccine researchers nobody in universities works on them.

Even if you make a successful vaccine it is a lot harder to get it accepted to give to everyone than it is for a drug only given to people already ill.
Then since your customer is likely to be a national health service or government you are in a poor bargaining position about cost.
You are then on the hook for any adverse reactions, or even lawsuits about completely imaginary adverse reactions (like MMR->autism)
We have an safe effective vaccine against Lyme disease but it is only used on animals because of an autism lawsuit which was thrown out but not before bankrupting the company that made the drug.

If you make a vaccine for developed countries. Even an amazing vaccine with 1 in a million risk of side effects. Give it to a million people and pay $10M in damages to the one person it harms, then $10 of the $11/dose you are being paid is going to lawyers.

Make a vaccine against 3rd world diseases and if you charge $1/dose you will be accused of being an evil corporation by NGOs and 3rd world governments.

Yeah, vaccines have a lot more scrutiny. But we've also already developed vaccines for almost all the big diseases affecting developed countries that we know are derived from infectious agents. HIV is an obvious one that people are still working on. Other than that, flu (vaccine) and pneumonia (vaccine), almost no one in the developed world dies from an infection (although misuse of antibiotics is changing that some). I think there's just not as much need for new vaccines at this point.

Now, people in developing countries die from infectious agents all the time. And most of those are entirely preventable (either through existing vaccine or hygiene). Malaria would be the one that jumps to mind that could be vaccine preventable (even though it's a parasite) but still needs a vaccine. Mr Market doesn't get the vaccines and hygiene to people there. If malaria were an issue in the developed countries, I think there would be a vaccine or other highly effective prevention and/or cure by now.

nobodyspecial

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #94 on: June 15, 2015, 03:32:19 PM »
But we are only in that position because there are vaccines.
Stop giving the MMR (or polio, or TB) vaccines and we go back to a lot of people in the west dying.
Market forces mean that there only needs to be the threat of a lawsuit and it may not be cost effective to sell childrens measles vaccines in the USA.



forummm

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #95 on: June 15, 2015, 05:55:04 PM »
But we are only in that position because there are vaccines.
Stop giving the MMR (or polio, or TB) vaccines and we go back to a lot of people in the west dying.
Market forces mean that there only needs to be the threat of a lawsuit and it may not be cost effective to sell childrens measles vaccines in the USA.

Not sure I follow. Since the 80's in the US the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act has limited vaccine manufacturer liability for the core set of childhood vaccines (I think the list is kept current to those recommended by the ACIP). The entire National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is funded by a 75 cent per dose excise tax. This essentially ensures that manufacturers do not need to go out of business over fears of lawsuits. Some litigants have gotten around the act by suing over thimerosol, but thimerosol is only in some formulations of TDaP and flu.

My Own Advisor

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #96 on: June 15, 2015, 06:57:14 PM »
Unlike another commenter - my guess is we will NOT innovate our way out of most climate change concerns within about 25 years. 

Mother Nature has and always will be the dominant force.   Don't kid yourself :)

In terms of investing for the end of growth, growth and (business) evolution will always occur as long as humans are on earth.  The real question should be what, where and when will the growth come from?  Nobody knows....

Leisured

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #97 on: June 16, 2015, 02:06:15 AM »
Thank you Escape Velocity for your support. I agree with Advisor that Mother Nature will eventually assert herself.

In my previous post, I pointed out that people who insist on driving world population up are rejecting food security, probably without being consciously aware of what they are doing. I see this as a psychological problem, so pointing out scientific or practical objections does not have much effect.

Related psychological problems:
No. 1. People who support indefinite population growth expect agricultural scientists to pull a rabbit out of the hat, and then later another rabbit, into the indefinite future, like a dog chasing its tail. This is self-evidently foolish and irresponsible.

No. 2. Scientists have given us more efficient lights than the old incandescent globes. This benefit is still with us. The difference with agricultural advances is that the benefit of each advance in food production is soon destroyed by population growth. This is self-evidently absurd.

No. 3. Proponents of indefinite population growth are in effect saying; ‘you agricultural scientists are doing a good job, and we will sabotage your efforts by having big families’. It looked bad in the past, and it looks bad now.

When the scientific revolution hit its stride, mid nineteenth century, the increase in knowledge and understanding emerged as a noble pursuit, nobler than many more traditional occupations. There is nothing noble about rejecting food security and packing more people into the world.

Islamic State has shown us that a degenerate society, populated almost entirely by ignorant, irrational degenerates is possible. Islamic State should make us reassess some of our objectives.

mrpercentage

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #98 on: June 16, 2015, 04:16:07 AM »
  In some cases, Mr. Market pushes us towards suboptimal solutions to problems because the incentives for society as a whole don't align with the incentives of the people making the decisions.  E.g. fossil  fuel consumption, tasty prepackaged junkfood, disposable consumer electronics, collateralized debt obligations, overfishing, and any Apple software.

I agree that the "ethos" of the market pre-elects many of our decisions for us. It is the "survival of the fittest" in corporate lingo. We have been on that twisted and misused Darwin train for a while.

How did Apple get thrown in there though? With a smaller market share it is an awesome option but its not being forced on anyone.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Different points not necessarily at you Sol.

@everyone

We don't have to invent our way out of catastrophe. We just have to change ourselves and our behavior. We have deep seated expansionist culture and no where to go. Except maybe Mars but that is not a permanent stop.

The problem is we need to stop conquering nature-- we can't do it without killing ourselves.
"As the apple tree apples, the earth peoples"-- Alan Watts
We are the earth. It is not something we live on and use. We can not live without it. We have to take a canned version into space with us. It is our mother. She feeds us. Poison her and we are dead.

So our culture should not be run by the market; even though, it will have a strong influence for as long as I can see simply because it works. Profits are self sustaining-- meaning they are self motivating. They have a constant agenda fighting for them-- for more profits.

Here is where we have to get involved. Because profits need to be checked when they majorly disrupt future profits. Future profits should be subsidized and short term profits should be heavily penalized. Short term leads to Easter Isle and is generally more insulant to all "stake holders" involved.

Applied to society.
We can't keep expanding into the suburbs because this feeds the dependance on oils and destroys more land in the process. We can't and shouldn't develop all land. Anyone saying we are are underdeveloped needs to realize that asphalt is not a biosphere and Phoenix and L.A. are over 100 miles wide and sucking rivers dry-- literally. Half of the river is probably laying in miles of pipe trying to get to someones yard.

Metro needs to be affordable in a way that makes the suburbs an extravagance-- and a wasteful stupid one.
The future youth should have an argument like this: "Move out of the city, why? I don't want to pay for a car. My rent is 1/5 of what it would be out there. I can walk to or ride the lateral escalator to anywhere I want free. Anything I want is near me. It is cheaper. Why not just spend that money on recreation in the wilderness, and maybe camp near the wild horses and buffalo? I don't want wild wolves at the back door of my home and I don't want to kill them either. Only a mad man irresponsible with his money would live out somewhere that is five times as expensive and has none of our great city services. I mean he can't even visit the 24 hour cafeteria and eat a meal for 30 cents. He pays $5 and has to wash his own dishes. Thats stupid. No, I don't what to do that."

Thats what it should and probably will sound like eventually.

Applied to the Market.
Despite economic doctrine taught to you in school-- Interest is the catalyst to growth. It is the reason you need growth.

You borrow $1 from the money pool and must pay back a $1.10 to the same money pool. You can only do that if someone else borrows $1.10 to pay you and now he needs someone to borrow $1.21 to pay him. Our current debt based money system is a serious problem. It needs population growth to continue so more people can borrow money.

A quick solution would be eliminating all interest and making borrowing really hard to do except in certain cases like housing. A premium could be charged for a house but interest would not. You see the premium would insure you wouldn't be selling anytime soon and the zero interest would insure you saved money. It also wouldn't require growth to pay back. Your money would also retain its value and you could just keep it in a bank. Interest wouldn't be around to drive the need to grow and very restrictive credit would remove inflation.

Why not do this? Because the 1% has been making busloads of money raping you and your ancestors for a long time. They don't want to give that up. They wouldn't be able to buy a 100 meter yacht that way. Nope fuck you and your kids and the environment. They want a boat.






TomTX

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #99 on: June 16, 2015, 06:10:12 AM »
There are really 2 things that drive me nuts about the climate change debate.
 
2: Conservation will not solve anything. It's WAY too late. Sorry, your Prius is still a CO2 disaster. Likewise your organic vegetarian prepared food. The only realistic solutions will involve HUGE efficiency improvements and/or geoengineering of some kind. We should be throwing LOTS of money at both of those things NOW. Best of all, that sort of engineering and science will throw off lots of great useful tech for other purposes.

You apparently didn't read my example on lighting. Lighting is roughly 300x as efficient as 200 years ago.

Conservation and efficiency has a LONG way to go and has huge gains still available.

Your "organic vegetarian prepared food" is a red herring. Vegetarian is more efficient, organic is less efficient.