New scientific research is quietly rewriting the fundamentals of economics, showing decisively that the age of endlessly growing industrial capitalism, premised on abundant fossil fuel supplies, is over. The long-decline of capitalism-as-we-know-it, the new science conclusively shows, began some decades ago, and is on track to accelerate well before the end of the 21st century.
Limits to growth
From The Conversation: If the global economy grows by 3% till 2100, it will be 60 times larger than now. The existing economy is already environmentally unsustainable, so we simply cannot“decouple” growth from environmental impact. This paper looks at policies that could facilitate a planned transition beyond growth–while considering the huge obstacles along the way.
The determinant element in the concept of eco-socialism is the prefix eco. And that means the rejection of industrialism. A good socialist only needs to rejects capitalism. But to be an eco-socialist one must also reject industrialism as a future perspective for mankind, and agree to a program of de-industrialization (now often clumsily called de-growth).
Jason Hickel writes: Growth isn’t an option any more–we’ve already grown too much. Scientists are now telling us that we’re blowing past planetary boundaries at breakneck speed. The hard truth is that this global crisis is due almost entirely to overconsumption in rich countries. Rich countries must “catch down” to more appropriate levels of development.
This review by Alice Friedmann of Nafeez Ahmed’s new book has 3 parts: 1) Why states collapse for reasons other than economic and political 2) How Bio-Physical factors contribute to systemic collapse in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Nigeria 3) Predictions of when collapse will begin in Middle-East, India, China, Europe, Russia, North America
Globalization seems to be looked on as an unmitigated “good” by economists. Unfortunately, they miss the point that the world is finite. We don’t have infinite resources, or unlimited ability to handle excess pollution. So we’re setting up a “solution” that is at best temporary. Here’s why globalization is, in fact, a very major problem.
From Countercurrents.org: Human cultural evolution can be regarded as an enormous success in many respects. However, thoughtful observers agree that civilization is entering a period of crisis. As all curves move exponentially upward: population, production, consumption, etc, one can observe signs of increasing environmental stress, while the existence of nuclear weapons threaten civilization with destruction.
Nafeez Ahmed writes: A new research study by HSBC on global oil supply shows that the bulk of the world’s oil production has peaked and is now in decline. Welcome to a new age of permanent economic recession driven by our ongoing dependence on dirty, expensive, difficult oil — unless we choose a fundamentally different path.
The final stages of capitalism, Marx predicted, would be marked by global capital being unable to expand and generate profits at former levels. Capitalists would begin to consume the government along with the physical and social structures that sustained them. These assaults would destroy the host. This final stage of capitalism is what Trump represents.
Gail Tverberg writes: Underlying problems are sufficiently severe that we seem to be headed for a crisis far worse than 2008. Our fundamental problem is that neither high nor low energy prices are now able to keep the world economy operating as we’d like it to. Increased debt can’t seem to fix the problem either.
To try to solve the energy problem, we use approaches that involve increasing complexity, including new technology and globalization. As we add more and more complexity, these approaches tend to work less and less well. In fact, become problems themselves, tending to redistribute wealth toward the top, increasing “overhead” for the economy as a whole.
Ugo Bardi writes: Jay Forrester, one of the great minds of the 20th century, died at 98, a few days ago. His career was long and fruitful, and his work changed the intellectual story of humankind, in particular the role he had in the birth of the Club of Rome’s report “The Limits to Growth”.
Nagraj Adve writes: In any economy primed to continuously expand, technological improvements alone can only help so much. While being stunned by Trump’s victory, let’s neither underestimate nor render invisible the inherent, long-term economic tendencies that prevent greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide from declining as the science demands they should. In fact, they may well rise again.
Instead of the scenario envisioned by many Peak Oilers, it’s likely that we will in the very near future hit a limit similar to the collapse scenarios that many early civilizations encountered when they hit resource limits. We don’t think about our situation as being similar, but we too are reaching decreasing resources per capita.
Kurt Cobb writes: Hubbert is much maligned and much praised these days. But he is perhaps not well understood. Mason Inman’s compelling biography gives us all a chance finally to understand this scientific giant and the context within which he spawned insights on the future of energy that continue to be central to our lives.
Gail Tverberg writes: Growth in energy consumption is dependent on the growth of debt. Both energy and debt have characteristics that are close to “magic” when it comes to economic growth, which can only take place when debt (or a close substitute, such as company stock) is available to enable the use of energy products.
The common assumption has been that the world will eventually “run out” of oil and other non-renewable resources. Instead, we seem to be running into energy surpluses and low prices. The real situation is that as prices rise, supply tends to rise as well, because new sources of production become available at the higher price.
The focal point of The Oracle of Oil, the first biography of King Hubbert, is his distinction as the first person to recognize the phenomenon of peak oil. Hubbert spent decades studying petroleum and natural gas reserves data, hypothesizing that output from large regions—such as the United States, or the whole world—would tend to follow a bell-shaped curve.
Ugo Bardi writes: Something like Trump was unavoidable. He is best defined as the visible effect of the ongoing social phase transition. A symptom of the ongoing breakdown of the social pact in the West. A discrete change in our path in the direction of collapse, in turn precipitated by depletion of resources, especially energy.
We have identified two different limits to globalization. One has to do with limits on the amount of goods and services that developed countries can absorb before those imports unduly disrupt local economies. The other occurs because of the sensitivity of many developing nations to low commodity prices, because they are exporters of these commodities.