Oct 30 2012

Carbon Tax?

Kal @ 15:24

Taxes

by Bill Becker

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

That observation by Charles Darwin has interesting implications in these last weeks of the presidential election campaign. It suggests that both candidates may be missing what’s most important to keeping America safe, strong and competitive in the years ahead.

Jobs, education, tax reform and energy security all are important, of course. But the key to America’s success will be our willingness to adapt to the new realities of the 21st century.

One of those realities is that economic development as we have practiced it, and as it is now being replicated around the world, is rapidly pushing us toward several critical ecological boundaries and has already exceeded others. These boundaries are important not only because they threaten some species and some regions of the world; they’re important because exceeding them is an existential threat to continued peace and prosperity. These are not the relatively isolated and repairable environmental problems of the past. They involve global systems that support life, including the oceans, soils and freshwater resources. They also include the atmosphere’s ability to absorb man-made pollution without destabilizing the climate. The most available way to manage that risk is to reduce and eventually stop burning oil and coal to fuel economic development.

….

A central question in this election is whether we will be the architects of our future or its victims, to paraphrase Buckminster Fuller. The United States and its economy are not exempt from the fundamental laws of evolution. We must adapt if we wish to remain the fittest and the strongest of nations.

Tags:

Category: Politics | Resource Depletion | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Oct 10 2012

Is man-made capital a substitute for nature’s capital?

Kal @ 19:15

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan and was one of the main proponents of his supply-side economics. I thought those policies were totally ridiculous at the time and paid him very little mind. For the past couple of weeks I have been reading his blog, PaulCraigRoberts.org. He has strong opinions and he knows a lot about economics. At least some of what he says is spot on. On Friday, 5 May he published the text of an interview by World Affairs Monthly. He talks about the evil of offshoring jobs and suggests something that could be done to alleviate it. Good stuff.

He then goes on to talk about the limits of growth, a topic rarely discussed by mainstream economists.

A more fundamental problem than economists’ ingrained misconceptions about jobs offshoring and free trade is the Solow-Stiglitz production function that is the basis of modern economics. The Solow-Stiglitz production function assumes that man-made capital is a perfect substitute for nature’s capital. This assumption means that there are no ecological limits to economic growth. When we run out of natural capital, man-made capital simply takes its place.

As Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen demonstrates conclusively, this assumption, which is the basis of modern economics, is “a conjuring trick.” Man-made capital and natural capital are complements, not substitutes. Production transforms resources into useful products and into waste products. Natural resources are what are transformed, and labor and man-made capital are agents of transformation.

What is happening in today’s world is that nature’s capital is being exhausted, both the resources and the waste sinks–the places that the waste products from production can be deposited. The air, soil, water, and oceans themselves are being polluted by the waste products of economic activities. As these “external costs” from pollution are not included in costs of producing GDP, economists have no way of knowing if an increase in GDP is worth more than its cost….

There is a lot more food for thought in the interview. Give it a read.

Tags:

Category: Accounting | Conventional Economics | Economics | Employment | Politics | Steady-State Economics

Oct 4 2010

Physics Trumps Money

Kal @ 10:31

George Mobus  writing in Question Everything - When what is happening in your world doesn't make sense, when it doesn't conform to your beliefs about how things should work, it's time to ask hard questions.

Work, Exergy, the Economy, Money, and Wealth -- A Sort-Of Tutorial

This is something of a tutorial on the relationship between energy and the economy. I have been dismayed by how often people express their lack of knowledge about that relationship. Such expressions come in the form of beliefs that money is what drives the economy. Or the belief that human desire to accumulate monetary wealth is the motive force for economic growth. Indeed I doubt that most people ever think of physics when they think of the economy. But the reality is that the economy is very much a physical process that requires energy to continue operating. All of the money in the world will not suffice to maintain the motivation of the wheels of industry unless it can be used to exchange for energy flow. Here is a guide to how the real wealth of nations is created and a more concise look at the nature of energy flow needed to do so.

More...

Tags:

Category: Accounting | Conventional Economics | Economics | Resource Depletion | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Aug 16 2010

Full Employment – Gone forever?

Kal @ 23:05

A few days ago someone sent the following email with the subject: EMPLOYMENT MAP.....Shocking!!!

Incredible!
Wow!!!  Very sobering and enlightening.
Somebody spent a lot of time breaking this down by every county in the country.

Review this Unemployment map of the United States .
This is hard to believe! I had to review this map a couple of times to grasp the enormity of it.


Displayed this way sure brings the perspective up close and personal.
This is scary. If you have a job, be thankful!


Be certain to click the PLAY button in the middle of the map
and take note of the dates above the US map as it advances month by month
! ! !

http://cohort11.americanobserver.net/latoyaegwuekwe/multimediafinal.html

More...

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Politics | Population | Resource Depletion | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Jun 4 2010

Beyond Petroleum – Can anyone still think more petroleum is good?

Kal @ 09:07

Petroleum related disasters everywhere. The Gulf is burning. The climate is deteriorating. Europe is broke. The US has nearly 20% unemployment. Other regions have even more. People are hungry and homeless.

Isn’t it about time to think about alternative ways to organize the distribution of goods and services? What we are doing is clearly not working.

But all I hear from officialdom is “more of the same”, possibly better, but more of the same basically.

No discussion of whether it is a jungle we live in, or a community? There is a lot of discussion of The Market, and how efficient it is. The Market looks a lot like a very complex jungle to me, where the strong win and the weak get eaten.

Tags:

Category: Beyond Petroleum | Climate Change | Peak Oil | Politics | Population | Solar | Sustainability | Steady-State Economics

May 26 2010

Beyond Petroleum

Kal @ 12:38

It is time to go Beyond Petroleum.  Way beyond petroleum, all the way to solar.

Start the drums rolling.

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Peak Oil | Resource Depletion | Solar | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Apr 16 2010

Time to end the two-wage-earner family?

Kal @ 17:36

John Michael Greer has an interesting post up about the economics of both husband and wife working for wages titled A Blindness to Systems. His  basic point is that the US could end the unemployment problem overnight just by having one of the partners in a nuclear family stop working for wages and begin working at home for the common good of the family. The Blindness to Systems aspect is that there are a lot of costs associated with that second income, but that these are often ignored in the decision process of whether or not that second partner should work for wages.

Some of the benefits to the family of one partner staying at home include better cared for children, fewer work and commute expenses,  less time wasted commuteing, better nutrition due to home cooking, possibility of a garden, and home constructed clothing, to name a few.

Some of the benefits to society would be less wasted resources, happier and healthier children, and higher average wages due to increased competition for available workers.

More...

Tags:

Category: Economics | Employment | Guaranteed Wage | Politics | Population | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Feb 17 2010

Bill Gates: the Most Important Climate Speech of the Year

Kal @ 16:09

From Alex Steffen at WorldChanging:

When We Talk Zero, We Sound Crazy. When Bill Gates Does It, Bankers Pick Up the Phone.

On Friday, the world's most successful businessperson and most powerful philanthropist did something outstandingly bold, that went almost unremarked: Bill Gates announced that his top priority is getting the world to zero climate emissions.

And Friday, Gates predicted extraordinary climate action: zero. Not small steps, not incremental progress, not doing less bad: zero. In fact, he stood in front of a slide with nothing but the planet Earth and the number zero. That moment was the most important thing that has happened at TED.

More...

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Economics | Population | Resource Depletion | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Nov 5 2009

A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables

Kal @ 10:23

From the November 2009 Scientific American Magazine. Download the Full Paper from paper by Jacobson and Delucchi.

Key Concepts
Supplies of wind and solar energy on accessible land dwarf the energy consumed by people around the globe.

The authors’ plan calls for 3.8 million large wind turbines, 90,000 solar plants, and numerous geothermal, tidal and rooftop photovoltaic installations worldwide.

The cost of generating and transmitting power would be less than the projected cost per kilowatt-hour for fossil-fuel and nuclear power.

Shortages of a few specialty materials, along with lack of political will, loom as the greatest obstacles.

In December leaders from around the world will meet in Copenhagen to try to agree on cutting back greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come. The most effective step to implement that goal would be a massive shift away from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy sources. If leaders can have confidence that such a transformation is possible, they might commit to an historic agreement. We think they can.

Tags:

Category: Sustainability | Steady-State Economics | Solar | Resource Depletion | Politics | Peak Oil | Climate Change

Nov 5 2009

It is not possible to continue infinite consumption and infinite population growth on a finite planet

Kal @ 09:15

There is a new movie out, “Collapse” – staring Mike Ruppert. It got a review in The Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal: What is the central message of your movie?

Mr. Ruppert: It is not possible to continue infinite consumption and infinite population growth on a finite planet.

Duh!

Tags:

Category: Sustainability | Steady-State Economics | Resource Depletion | Recession | Population | Peak Oil | Economics | Climate Change