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Thread: Anyone else anti economic growth?

  1. #1 Anyone else anti economic growth? 
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    Hi,

    I've been thinking about the world's environmental problems, and one of the biggest problems seems to me to be that every government on the planet is pursuing a pro-economic growth policy.

    By my understanding, economic growth means increased economic activity which almost inevitably means greater consumption of resources and greater production of waste.

    I've heard people say things along the lines of "Technology will allow the economy to grow without increasing the use of resources", but looking at the real world, economic growth seems to go hand in hand with environmental degradation.

    My stance is that government's should be trying to encourage both decreasing GDPs and decreasing populations, until we get to a sustainable level of consumption.

    I'm happy to be corrected where I'm talking nonsense


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  3. #2 Re: Anyone else anti economic growth? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by russell_c_cook
    looking at the real world, economic growth seems to go hand in hand with environmental degradation.
    You seem to be missing the fact that quite a significant amount of economic growth is being fed right now with environment saving technology.


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    I would not call it significant, and the true environmental value of this technology is still in doubt. Like reduced pollutant catalysts in cars and "eco friendly" jet fuel. At the end of the day, the increase in consumption far outweighs the very small compensating factor this technology provides.

    And all this CO2 trading carry on is just a way for smaller countries to make money by allowing larger countries to pollute the environment from their soil. This makes money for smaller economies, and allows larger economies to be appearing to reduce there CO2 output. The reality of course is that nothing has changed.

    Look at china, the growth of that country alone is enough to dwarf any environmental program in place at the moment.
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    I'll just have to disagree, since I have made quite a lot of money on exactly what you are here now dismissing.
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    In the case of industrialization, like China's, I would agree that economic growth is harmful to the environment. However, it is beneficial to the lives of the people in China. The question really shouldn't be if we should refrain from harming the environment or not. The question should be how much can we harm the environment before it starts to cause more harm to people than good. The answer to which I'll leave up to the environmental scientist and economist cause I'm out of my comfort zones in those fields haha.
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    "Technology will allow"

    The problem is that ou economic/monetary/political system does not use technology or anything for the benefit of mankind, the availability of a technology does not mean it will be used. We could build solar desalination plants for water and hydroponics but we build bombs instead, hunger could have been solved years ago, and so on, we are experiencing a blatant core systemic problem, but were in the cogwheels and in the box and think the insanity is normal because we are used to it.

    GM and Oil corporations killed the electric car, Chevron is hoarding the NiMH pattent without using it for cars, it is in their perceived economic interest to do so from our current system's perspective, but this is counter productive people in the future will probably see our age with more horror than we perceive the medieval age.

    Virtually all the solutions we are programmed to imagine are fixes, tweaks and bandaids within the box, within the disfunctional system that do not step back and reevalue the system itself. Its equivalent of having both legs in manouer and think of a solution such as wearing longer boots, but always taking as a given that you must stand in the manouer because you have been standing in the manouer for generations, instead of saying "wait a minute, how about we step out of the manoueur instead?" to which the response would be "thats crazy and utopian, weve always been knee deep in manouer it cant be otherwise"
    caveman fire: "use fire? thats crazy weve never used fire since time immemorial"
    caveman hunting: "you mean in the future men wont have to go fishing to survive, but will go fishing just for leasure? Thats crazy utopian"
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  8. #7 Re: Anyone else anti economic growth? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by russell_c_cook
    Hi,

    I've been thinking about the world's environmental problems, and one of the biggest problems seems to me to be that every government on the planet is pursuing a pro-economic growth policy.

    By my understanding, economic growth means increased economic activity which almost inevitably means greater consumption of resources and greater production of waste.

    I've heard people say things along the lines of "Technology will allow the economy to grow without increasing the use of resources", but looking at the real world, economic growth seems to go hand in hand with environmental degradation.

    My stance is that government's should be trying to encourage both decreasing GDPs and decreasing populations, until we get to a sustainable level of consumption.

    I'm happy to be corrected where I'm talking nonsense

    that's terribly narrow minded :x
    Economic growth=money=higher living standards=higher living standards=better environment

    At the end of the chain the more industrial growth there is the more wealth is generated for western nations if they manage it right eventually taking way for re-emerging and moral company's unlike the one's in china founded on blood, sweat, child labor, slavery, abortion, civil war,s communism, racism, genocide, and poverty! Western economic growth is a beacon and fortress of morality and a better world for every one!

    While china destroy's the wild life of Africa and makes its own lands uninhabitable!
    Economic growth is inevitable! It is simplly a replication of nature that humans have copyed and put to there own uses and will not be stopped however though its not to late to fix the process
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  9. #8  
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    The problem we always run into is crucial resources. The current form of technology is oil dependency. If that form of technology spreads far and wide enough, eventually oil will be worth more any other raw material on Earth (if it isn't already). Its relative scarcity (relative to demand) will get worse and worse. It's like if your body wasn't able to get much water. You'd be better off with a smaller body rather than a larger body, because then you wouldn't be getting as badly de-hydrated.


    Since modern technology offers no credible answer to this problem, it's probably best if we just focus on improving the quality of our existing infrastructure. We can build fuel efficient cars, and send the old ones to the scrap heap, or more efficient power plants, factories,...etc..... but without actually growing. Just improving. This, of course, becomes problematic if our population is growing, because that means our per-capita wealth must be in decline.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Since modern technology offers no credible answer to this problem, it's probably best if we just focus on improving the quality of our existing infrastructure. We can build fuel efficient cars, and send the old ones to the scrap heap, or more efficient power plants, factories,...etc..... but without actually growing. Just improving. This, of course, becomes problematic if our population is growing, because that means our per-capita wealth must be in decline.
    I understand your intent, but you're essentially just delaying the problem with this approach, instead of addressing it and dealing with it. If were to summarize your point, you said this: "We know we're going to run out, but we can't completely stop using it now, so we should stop trying to find alternatives and use what we have more efficiently."

    Sure, efficiency is great, but even with efficient infrastructure we WILL run out pretty soon. The smart approach is to get the replacement work in high gear now so running out is essentially a non-issue. Efficiency can be done in parallel, but the focus should be on complete shift off the diminishing resource.
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    i think that we need to slowly build up to using renewable energy but i don't think there should be very much government intervention other then maybe an encouragement for solar research and business starting. But i think were still at the stage were solar power is not efficient enough or cheap enough it would be a great endeavor to make it cheaper and more practical for the middle class.

    One of the best things we can do is require home builders to install solar energy panels in al new models this would insure the transition and solar panels would come cheaper to big businesses by the bulk.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Since modern technology offers no credible answer to this problem, it's probably best if we just focus on improving the quality of our existing infrastructure. We can build fuel efficient cars, and send the old ones to the scrap heap, or more efficient power plants, factories,...etc..... but without actually growing. Just improving. This, of course, becomes problematic if our population is growing, because that means our per-capita wealth must be in decline.
    I understand your intent, but you're essentially just delaying the problem with this approach, instead of addressing it and dealing with it. If were to summarize your point, you said this: "We know we're going to run out, but we can't completely stop using it now, so we should stop trying to find alternatives and use what we have more efficiently."

    Sure, efficiency is great, but even with efficient infrastructure we WILL run out pretty soon. The smart approach is to get the replacement work in high gear now so running out is essentially a non-issue. Efficiency can be done in parallel, but the focus should be on complete shift off the diminishing resource.
    That is actually much better. Good point.

    The main problem we have is that we have already over-built our energy needs. We have too much energy dependent infra-structure for our present energy supply. So we need to stop building more energy dependent infrastructure for a while, while we focus all our efforts in expanding our power generating infrastructure. Using renew-ables would definitely be an improvement over using more efficient petroleum based stuff, however, as you mentioned. I'm glad you pointed that out.

    The question is: what renewables are even viable right now? Wind and solar are problematic for powering house holds, because there doesn't currently exist any really good ways of storing the electricity that gets produced during off hours to use it later when consumption is higher. That's why petroleum powers so much of our cities. We can turn it on and off when we want. Nuclear offers a similar ability, but people are terrified of nuclear. (And Uranium is not actually a renew-able resource.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by An inconvenient lie
    i think were still at the stage were solar power is not efficient enough or cheap enough it would be a great endeavor to make it cheaper and more practical for the middle class.
    Most large scale manufacturers (350 megawatt and higher) are calling for roughly 11% efficiency at a cost of 70 cents per watt by years end (this is with thin film on glass substrate, crystalline silicon is already at around 13-14% efficiency at manufacturing scale but cost is less certain). Efficiency will only go up and cost only go down from there. I'm not sure you're working with current data due to the nature of your point above. Further, they've already reached grid parity in Hawaii, and mainland US is not far off.





    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    The question is: what renewables are even viable right now? Wind and solar are problematic for powering house holds, because there doesn't currently exist any really good ways of storing the electricity that gets produced during off hours to use it later when consumption is higher.
    I think you might get passed this idea by realizing that there is more to solar than rooftop applications. A big push right now is utility scale solar, where utility companies setup huge arrays of panels and ship out electricity across the grid using existing infrastructure (or, preferably, with upgraded smart grid distribution).

    My point is that utilities can setup solar fields, and storage is much less of an issue since we would draw like we do now from a centralized source (as opposed to just one or two panels on our roof or in the backyard).
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    yes you are tight inow and my data is based on a FOX story that is a couple years old but i just did a little more research and i think im actually satisfied with the rate of transition to solar though i still think that it is a little to expensive for most people unless they buy it with the house.
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    Well, don't forget that oil companies receive subsidies from the government. A simple switch of those subsidies from oil to solar would go quite a long way in making it less expensive. Also, as I mentioned, much like computers and DVD players, costs of solar panels are dropping rather quickly as technology and manufacturing improve (not quite on the order of Moore's law, but definitely trending similarly).
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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    The question is: what renewables are even viable right now? Wind and solar are problematic for powering house holds, because there doesn't currently exist any really good ways of storing the electricity that gets produced during off hours to use it later when consumption is higher.
    I think you might get passed this idea by realizing that there is more to solar than rooftop applications. A big push right now is utility scale solar, where utility companies setup huge arrays of panels and ship out electricity across the grid using existing infrastructure (or, preferably, with upgraded smart grid distribution).

    My point is that utilities can setup solar fields, and storage is much less of an issue since we would draw like we do now from a centralized source (as opposed to just one or two panels on our roof or in the backyard).
    Also, down in states like Texas, probably peak consumption coincides with peak solar power generation, because air conditioners make up so much of that cost. (And when are you most likely to turn your AC on?)

    Up in the North, the trouble is that people use more energy in Winter, and on the coldest days of winter, consumption is the highest, but solar power generation would likely be low. Because of transmission losses, I don't think it would be practical to transfer solar generated power from far enough away to offset that.

    Maybe Solar should be looked at the way Hydro-electric is. Its a geography dependent resource, and definitely a good one if you're in the right location.
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  17. #16  
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    one of the biggest problems seems to me to be that every government on the planet is pursuing a pro-economic growth policy.
    so far what i've seen in this thread is that we've concluded that solar power is a viable replacement for our current non-renewable energy. however the problem with solar is that if utility corperation set up solar feilds as was suggested, it takes up a large amount of land. where does this land come from?

    currently there is a large amount of farmland that the government pays farmers to not do anything on. the subsidies for that could be switched to incentives for farmers to allow utilities to set up solar feilds there.

    this solves the issue of resources, but russel_c_cook stated at the end that it is an issue that we're pursuing a pro-economic growth policy.

    even with these solar feilds, continuous economic growth is not sustainable. as population increases consumption of energy increases, and the solar feilds will need to increase in output, either by growing or becoming more efficient.

    even if the initial policy is to increase effeciency and not size, eventually effeciency will reach its limit and the feilds will have to grow to keep up with demand. in addition to the growth of these feilds, the population will have to grow outward or upward. if it grows upward the whole country will look like NY city. and if it grows outward we'll be out of room just like that.[/quote]
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by saul
    the problem with solar is that if utility corperation set up solar feilds as was suggested, it takes up a large amount of land. where does this land come from?
    I'd suggest for numerous reasons that deserts are ideal. Then, efforts could be focused on smart distribution.

    Also, just note... there are no silver bullets... solar is but one piece in a rather large puzzle which is our clean energy future.
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    desserts are ideal for countries who have enough dessert land to produce their energy there. however in america they have relatively little dessert, of course they're allready setting up some wind turbines on their coasts.

    china has almost no dessert land to my knowledge, they would have to sacrifice some of their land unless they want to buy their energy(not a good scenario for a country who uses the ability to go to war as a political lever).

    also, in brittan we're on a pretty small island that we use most of, we don't have to room to build vast solar feilds.


    neglecting all the things i just said and assuming that all nations got 100% clean energy, it is still impossible to maintain economic growth. for some good reason's you can review this forum topic:

    http://thescienceforum.com/Industria...int-23838t.php
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    Quote Originally Posted by saul
    desserts are ideal for countries who have enough dessert land to produce their energy there. however in america they have relatively little dessert, of course they're allready setting up some wind turbines on their coasts.
    This concern only becomes relevant if there is not ample infrastructure for transmission. Given ample transmission infrastructure, panels and turbines can be placed absolutely anywhere.


    Quote Originally Posted by saul
    neglecting all the things i just said and assuming that all nations got 100% clean energy, it is still impossible to maintain economic growth.
    That's just simply mistaken. While you're welcome to hold that opinion, it's hardly some objective truth. Economic growth can absolutely be continued in a society reliant on 100% clean energy. To suggest otherwise shows a profound disconnect with reality and lack of understanding what drives economic growth.

    The energy sector only comprises roughly 10% of the economy (at least in the US, as of 2008-2009). For your point to have merit you'd have to ignore the other 90%, and I'm not willing to do that.
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  21. #20  
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    Economic growth is essential for humanitarian reasons. There are currently about a billion people who are malnourished. There is enough food for them, but they cannot buy the food since they have no money. Economic growth will provide a means for those people to earn money and buy food for themselves and their families.

    In the next 40 years, the global population will increase by another 2.5 billion, before levelling off. Enough economic growth is needed to provide those extra people with money to buy food. New agricultural technologies will permit the extra food to be grown. (in fact, the United States alone could easily grow enough food to feed 9 billion people, using the best current hydroponic techniques. Of course, I am not suggesting that as a solution. The new agriculture will need to happen in the countries where the food is required.)

    An economies grow without harming the environment? of course they can. In fact, this is already happening. While China and surrounding nations are horribly polluting, developed nations are emitting less and less pollution each year, in spite of economic growth. This is due to tighter regulations, and due to better technology for minimising pollution, and taking care of what pollution is still inevitable.
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  22. #21 Re: Anyone else anti economic growth? 
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    Actually, I agree with russell_c_cook to some degree.
    Firstly, we should know what is the motivation of economic growth?

    Under the so called global marketization of economy, the first and last motivation is PROFIT or simply MONEY. Under no circumstance, a company will invest in a no-profit area.
    So the get life better idea is such naive.
    To make more money companies should get more advantages, so new technology, new design, new ads, new XXX come out so happily. Meanwhile, a company rises, thousands of companies down.
    The great economic growth in recent days is based on huge unbalance of global resources and profit.
    When look at the poverty people in Africa, one should never forget the most valuable things be sold to them is not any good but weapons. Let them kill themselves, and win money from them, this is a exact figure of the noble merchants.


    Never forget this is a global century.
    Do good in your home does not mean you did good enough in other place, where you get more profit maybe.


    As long as my study area is related to many industry sector, I can tell you technologically we human already can live in a paradise-like life. But due to the selfish of market itself, these technologies is handed in only few companies for their own good to make the unbalance even more severe.

    So economy growth is actually irrelevant. It's time for human to think why we work day by day. Money or true life?



    And, to An inconvenient lie
    I'd like to suggest you to get better known to what you have said.
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  23. #22  
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by saul
    desserts are ideal for countries who have enough dessert land to produce their energy there. however in america they have relatively little dessert, of course they're allready setting up some wind turbines on their coasts.
    This concern only becomes relevant if there is not ample infrastructure for transmission. Given ample transmission infrastructure, panels and turbines can be placed absolutely anywhere.


    Quote Originally Posted by saul
    neglecting all the things i just said and assuming that all nations got 100% clean energy, it is still impossible to maintain economic growth.
    That's just simply mistaken. While you're welcome to hold that opinion, it's hardly some objective truth. Economic growth can absolutely be continued in a society reliant on 100% clean energy. To suggest otherwise shows a profound disconnect with reality and lack of understanding what drives economic growth.

    The energy sector only comprises roughly 10% of the economy (at least in the US, as of 2008-2009). For your point to have merit you'd have to ignore the other 90%, and I'm not willing to do that.
    the concern about not enough energy being produced by america is relevant even if the whole world had perfect infrastructure, because if they're not producing all their energy they're buying some of it. and america loves to use war as a political deterrent, which can't happen if their enemies can just stop selling them energy.

    and although we could keep growing with 100% clean energy, we couldn't constantly keep growing. constant(even minimal) growth over an infinite timescale produces an infinite population. and unless you're of the opinion that with technology we can support an infinite population, then you should see that growth eventually needs to stop.

    i don't know what you're talking about with the 10% vs 90% point. even if energy comprised 1% of the economy, we still can't maintain growth forever. as far as my understanding of what maintains economic growth, growth is caused by two things, increasing population demanding more, and increasing greed demanding more. the only reason to stop economic growth is that in order to do so you must stop growing population, which is what i believe should be happening.
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    So, your point was that we cannot grow economically forever. It was not related to us being 100% clean energy in any way, shape, or form. You said, even if we're 100% clean energy, we cannot grow forever for the reasons you just articulated.

    Okay. I don't disagree with that, and apologize for misinterpreting your comment the first time. However, how was that helpful? You may as well be arguing that we cannot keep growing economically because humans will eventually go extinct. It's so far into the future to be almost wholly without utility when discussing decadal time scales.
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    Firstly, we should know what is the motivation of economic growth?

    Under the so called global marketization of economy, the first and last motivation is PROFIT or simply MONEY. Under no circumstance, a company will invest in a no-profit area.
    wangwy; It's called motivation, no less than you have to get up and go to school or work each day and with I hope a desire to better your life and the others around you (YOUR family).

    However, I do believe your wrong, that business will NOT invest in the poorer Countries, especially in Africa. Where ever business, "Free Market Principles" can be practiced, the people WILL get involved. China and India the best, most recent examples, where many enterprises have been doing very well and their economies are rapidly increasing, China said to be 10-12% this year and India well over 5%. Most the middle east, Africa and some other Countries around the World and admittedly a good many Muslim Nations, oppose the Western Style system of motivation and simply won't allow the practice or in other cases the leaders prefer authoritarian control over any commercial venture. Business as has been known to succeed, simply said has to be free to do their thing, so to speak.

    The great economic growth in recent days is based on huge unbalance of global resources and profit.
    Yes, the natural resources in a National Border are important, but certain not critical. Japan, for instance has virtually NONE, yet maintains an incredible economy. The US then, has enormous reserves of most every resource, yet for reasons buys a good many used commercially from others and Africa, in many cases could rival the US, but not being accessed, again for reason.

    When look at the poverty people in Africa, one should never forget the most valuable things be sold to them is not any good but weapons.
    I don't know where your getting this; Russia, the US, the World Bank, most every Industrialized Country and near 2000 Charitable organization operate in one or more African Nation on a daily basis, sometimes against the governing authorities and weapons are never involved. Yes some aid, given may go to buying weapons by the Government involved, but certainly minimal to the what others have contributed.

    In the next 40 years, the global population will increase by another 2.5 billion, before leveling off.
    skeptic; I know your quoting near accurate predictions, but I'd be a little worried the leveling off will actually happen. The two major religions in most all the poorer economies are Muslim and Catholic, both frowning on 'Birth Control' and of course have low levels of education. In 40, or more likely 80 years or so the Worlds population may be 80% Catholic/Muslim, as other birth rates decrease and unless both these and some other smaller religions, change their attitude, the population will be on the increase, not decreasing, IMO.

    An economies grow without harming the environment? of course they can. In fact, this is already happening. While China and surrounding nations are horribly polluting, developed nations are emitting less and less pollution each year, in spite of economic growth. This is due to tighter regulations, and due to better technology for minimizing pollution, and taking care of what pollution is still inevitable.
    China is simply using all it's resources to elevate their economy and quality of life. They in fact lead the world in building new Nuclear power plants (think 10 per year), in solar cell production and many other "so called" green energy, including developing the technology involved. Their problem is the enormous number of people 1.6 BILLION, and the tendency to migrate into cities. What they are trying to do is develop rural areas, in hopes to slow this migration down.

    As for the US and the industrialized world, where economies and quality of life have been improving for 200 plus years, yes more people can afford the available technology, even to the point of using absolutely no fossil fueled energy. The number had been growing here and technology has been improving what's actually available for 50 plus years.

    so far what i've seen in this thread is that we've concluded that solar power is a viable replacement for our current non-renewable energy. however the problem with solar is that if utility corperation set up solar feilds as was suggested, it takes up a large amount of land. where does this land come from?
    saul; If your responses, conclude you to believe Solar Power can replace (coal/natural gas/nuclear) production of electrical power, they would be wrong, whether space available or not. In California USA, these major solar and in fact wind farms, were built near transmission lines where other sources were being transmitted, Hoover Dam, Nevada, a Nuclear Power Plant, west of Phoenix, AZ, and geo thermal units in Northern California and Nevada. Where solar energy is most practical is for home use, then as a supplement to the others. Some business are building small solar farms, where practical, but the sun simply won't shine long enough for practical use on a good share of the planet and storing the power, a little difficult. Alaska, Canada, Iceland and most Scandinavian Countries, Russia, in the Northern Hemisphere alone, have limited sunlight to none, 4-9 months out of the year.
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    Saul

    Re population growth versus religion.
    Worth noting that the most catholic nation on Earth is Italy, and it has one of the lowest fertility rates. Religious prohibition of birth control does not seem, in the real world, to stop birth control. At the end of the day, your average person is governed by good common sense.

    On resources. There is a lot of hoop-la written about shortage of resources. However, improved technology inevitably leads to greater resource access. Sometimes this is by substitution, with one new and more abundant resource taking over from a less abundant one. Sometimes it is from improved recycling. Sometimes it is from improved extraction techniques.

    For example : the invention of the cyanide process drastically increased the amount of extractable gold world wide. Uranium is a good example today. Current technology permits extraction from sources of richness down to 80 parts per million minimum. However, there is a heap of uranium resource of 20 to 60 parts per million. Once people learn to extract uranium economically from such low sources, the total extractable reserve will increase drastically.
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    You need an evidence about Africa, there it is
    http://www.globalenvision.org/library/3/1778

    What you talked is something rather different from mine, maybe I used the wrong example.
    My point is a "Free Market" is blind. It will never see what people really need to improve life standards. The only thing in its eye is money.
    And, the most important thing, the value of this blind "Free Market" has been too
    exaggerated. Recent economy crisis is a good example. Money flow to a place people don't need, and credit abused to get profit which make even more money flow.

    "Free Market" must be under some control. This is my exact point. Better than no control.

    "unbalance of global resources" is not only nature resources, if you search online for how many wise mind in poor countries move to most developed countries, you will understand why the poor is still poor.
    When compare these kind of "resources" with nature ones, there is a common ground, the values from poor countries have been highly underestimate. You can search and get a lot if examples.
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    There is no such thing as a totally free market. All businesses throughout the world are constrained by a vast number of laws. It would take an encyclopedia to record all the laws.

    There is and always will be an unending debate on how well these laws are working, and whether new laws are required. No change there!

    The point is that capitalism is not unfettered. It is controlled. Sometimes not well enough, but that applies to all human activity.
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  29. #28  
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    Quote Originally Posted by saul

    even with these solar feilds, continuous economic growth is not sustainable. as population increases consumption of energy increases, and the solar feilds will need to increase in output, either by growing or becoming more efficient.
    Another reason why population growth is unsolvable. (At least unsolvable by any other means than stopping it.)


    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by saul
    desserts are ideal for countries who have enough dessert land to produce their energy there. however in america they have relatively little dessert, of course they're allready setting up some wind turbines on their coasts.
    This concern only becomes relevant if there is not ample infrastructure for transmission. Given ample transmission infrastructure, panels and turbines can be placed absolutely anywhere.
    You still have to deal with transmission losses. Some of the AC electricity traveling through those wires gets radiated out as a low frequency radio wave. The longer the wire, the more you lose.

    This can be reduced a few ways, but the most straightforward way is to just make sure to produce your electricity close to where it will be consumed.




    Quote Originally Posted by saul
    neglecting all the things i just said and assuming that all nations got 100% clean energy, it is still impossible to maintain economic growth.
    That's just simply mistaken. While you're welcome to hold that opinion, it's hardly some objective truth. Economic growth can absolutely be continued in a society reliant on 100% clean energy. To suggest otherwise shows a profound disconnect with reality and lack of understanding what drives economic growth.

    The energy sector only comprises roughly 10% of the economy (at least in the US, as of 2008-2009). For your point to have merit you'd have to ignore the other 90%, and I'm not willing to do that.
    Imagine you are cooking a soup recipe that calls for 10% of its content to be carrots. If you can't find any more carrots, then there's no point in trying to come up with more of any of the other ingredients either. You won't be able to (successfully) make any more soup. Or, at least if you do, it won't be according to your recipe, so it won't taste very good. You'll end up ruining the quality of the soup that you've already managed to cook.
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    I find your analogy flawed since carrots would apply to energy itself, not to unclean energy specifically. Energy will still be readily available, it's just coming from a cleaner source. It's only if energy itself goes away that the "soup" can no longer be made (you will still have carrots, they're just organic :wink: )
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    I find your analogy flawed since carrots would apply to energy itself, not to unclean energy specifically. Energy will still be readily available, it's just coming from a cleaner source. It's only if energy itself goes away that the "soup" can no longer be made (you will still have carrots, they're just organic :wink: )
    Yeah. That's true if we're talking clean vs. unclean. I'm just talking about energy in total, clean or otherwise. Unclean energy is the bottleneck that's killing us right now, because we don't even have enough of that.

    I'd be much happier eating organic carrots.


    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Economic growth is essential for humanitarian reasons. There are currently about a billion people who are malnourished. There is enough food for them, but they cannot buy the food since they have no money. Economic growth will provide a means for those people to earn money and buy food for themselves and their families.
    Opening new factories isn't going to change the state of hunger. You have to produce more food for that to happen. All it will do is put those workers in a better bargaining position relative to other bidders.

    If 500 people bid on 200 widgets, then no matter how high the bid gets, even if they are all billionaires, and the bid gets up to a trillion dollars per widget, 300 of those people will still walk away empty handed.


    In the next 40 years, the global population will increase by another 2.5 billion, before levelling off. Enough economic growth is needed to provide those extra people with money to buy food. New agricultural technologies will permit the extra food to be grown. (in fact, the United States alone could easily grow enough food to feed 9 billion people, using the best current hydroponic techniques. Of course, I am not suggesting that as a solution. The new agriculture will need to happen in the countries where the food is required.)
    Do you really believe that? It's a hopeful thought. Also, the expectation that population growth is going to "level off" is a hopeful thought. If it doesn't, then 9 billion won't be enough. Heck, 30 billion won't be enough in the long run.
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    The levelling off of the human population at 9 billion is the best prediction from the United Nations, who have the world's best demographers. (www.un.org/popin). It is not some guess. It is the result of thousands of man hours work by the experts.

    And yes. Given economic growth, we can feed them all. The technology to grow that much food already exists, but will get even better. As I said before, the problem is not lack of food. It is lack of money in the hands of hungry people. Once the money is in the hands of those who need food, then the law of supply and demand will ensure that the extra food gets grown.

    There is absolutely no known factor that will inevitably stop economic growth. Even with the very strictest of environmental safeguards, global economies can grow massively. This will be aided by the growth in science and technology that is inevitable over the next 50 to 100 years. I would predict that what happened with computer technology over the past 50 years will happen with robotics within another 50, and the world will fill with robots that increase production many fold.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    kojax

    The levelling off of the human population at 9 billion is the best prediction from the United Nations, who have the world's best demographers. (www.un.org/popin). It is not some guess. It is the result of thousands of man hours work by the experts.
    This seems to be the part I'm looking for, but I can't seem to figure out what is causing them to assume that a 1.85 children per woman rate of fertility is going to occur. It's good data. I'm hoping I can figure out how to navigate this site better, because I'd really like to know how strong the world's prospects are in this area.

    http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp2008/peps_assumptions.htm

    And yes. Given economic growth, we can feed them all. The technology to grow that much food already exists, but will get even better. As I said before, the problem is not lack of food. It is lack of money in the hands of hungry people. Once the money is in the hands of those who need food, then the law of supply and demand will ensure that the extra food gets grown.
    I agree if the world population stops at 9 billion.

    There is absolutely no known factor that will inevitably stop economic growth. Even with the very strictest of environmental safeguards, global economies can grow massively. This will be aided by the growth in science and technology that is inevitable over the next 50 to 100 years. I would predict that what happened with computer technology over the past 50 years will happen with robotics within another 50, and the world will fill with robots that increase production many fold.
    The idea that you can stretch resources to an unlimited degree is a total myth. Consider, for example, hydrogen fuel cells. The catalyst that actually carries out the process is platinum, a rare earth metal rarer than gold. There's a lot of research into designs that use less and less of that metal, but no automobile-sized hydrogen-electric converter exists that can go entirely without it. I can guarantee you that we won't be manufacturing any more platinum anytime soon. The only way to get more is to find it, not make it. So, total economic growth does not mean we can make more hydrogen fuel cells.

    With food growth, there will similarly be natural limits on what biological and agricultural technologies can do. It will also be limited by availability of other resources that are needed in other areas, which can serve to make something seem unlimited when it is not. Many areas of the world are experiencing a crisis of fresh water not being sufficiently available, so it might not even be possible to irrigate some irrigate-able terrain without causing people to die of thirst.
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    If the world economy continues to grow at, say, 2% per year until the year 2111, what will the economy in 2111 look like? People will be spending a lot more money than now, but purchasing what?

    I know it's obviously hard to say, but I need some help envisaging the idea of this huge economy that has lower material throughput than today's economy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by russell_c_cook
    If the world economy continues to grow at, say, 2% per year until the year 2111, what will the economy in 2111 look like? People will be spending a lot more money than now, but purchasing what?
    Each other's services. Look at how much Americans spend on sports, entertainment and the service industries for example. It would have been hard to imagine in 1911 and I've heard as much from my grandparents who were alive back than before they passed away in the 1990s.
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    Yeah. Once all your basic necessities are filled, and you own all the appliances you can make use of, all that's left is entertainment and luxuries. However, most Americans don't prefer to do the more basic things, like cleaning hotel rooms, so we pay immigrants to do that stuff.

    .... and then we wonder where all the jobs went...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    Quote Originally Posted by russell_c_cook
    If the world economy continues to grow at, say, 2% per year until the year 2111, what will the economy in 2111 look like? People will be spending a lot more money than now, but purchasing what?
    Each other's services. Look at how much Americans spend on sports, entertainment and the service industries for example. It would have been hard to imagine in 1911 and I've heard as much from my grandparents who were alive back than before they passed away in the 1990s.

    The idea here then is that people will spend more and more every year on non-material services, indefinitely?
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    Quote Originally Posted by russell_c_cook

    The idea here then is that people will spend more and more every year on non-material services, indefinitely?
    That would happen if the cost to produce basic necessities, and home appliances, etc were perpetually going down. The extra income left over has to go somewhere.

    Basically, people sell their labor, and use the money to buy other peoples' labor. If the production process is streamlined enough, then they only need to buy a few hours of everyone else's time, and that will be enough to meet all of their basic needs, leaving the rest of the hours available for entertainment, back rubs, or jacuzzi maintenance.

    It's not so much a matter of growing the service industry, as streamlining all of the other industries that form the foundation for the service industry to stand on. Then it grows all by itself.
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  40. #39 Re: Anyone else anti economic growth? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by An inconvenient lie
    Economic growth=money=higher living standards=higher living standards=better environment
    Higher living standards does not necessarily equate to better environment. Nor does it necessarily lead to a happier population.

    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    You seem to be missing the fact that quite a significant amount of economic growth is being fed right now with environment saving technology.
    The catalyst for any changes to such technology would be driven purely by what pays share-holders the most. No consideration of the environment, or the science, just that which makes money. Can the markets be manipulated so that environmental needs are parallel to profit generation?

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The levelling off of the human population at 9 billion is the best prediction from the United Nations, who have the world's best demographers. (www.un.org/popin). It is not some guess. It is the result of thousands of man hours work by the experts.

    Nevertheless, even with proper warnings, I
    think that both projections and forecasts are often
    interpreted as predictions of the future in the mind
    of the average listener. Furthermore, most people
    are unlikely to notice anything more than the
    “medium variant,” which they see as a professional’s “best guess” concerning future demographic trends
    From page 174 of the report. The author concludes it is a guess, and ponders why he was asked to do it.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Given economic growth, we can feed them all. The technology to grow that much food already exists, but will get even better.
    As i understand it (do correct me if i'm wrong) agricultural techniques have been improving dramatically in the last 2 centuries, yet there still exists mass famine. What makes you believe that better technology will feed these people, when historically it has not?
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  41. #40 Re: Anyone else anti economic growth? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    You seem to be missing the fact that quite a significant amount of economic growth is being fed right now with environment saving technology.
    The catalyst for any changes to such technology would be driven purely by what pays share-holders the most. No consideration of the environment, or the science, just that which makes money. Can the markets be manipulated so that environmental needs are parallel to profit generation?
    Interesting question. At least on a local scale, I'm quite confident that the answer is yes. On a global scale, it becomes more challenging, but is IMO in theory still possible. This also then brings up the question about unintended consequences and whether or not we should.

    I have no immediate answer for those last two items. It is, though, something interesting to consider. Cheers.
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    Clearly the neo-lib crowd would have to accept disappointment for it to happen. Manipulating the markets to create environmental awareness requires "government interference in how people wanna do business", or a "restriction on our freedoms".


    Instead of having laws, or sending people to prison and/or fining them, I think the best policy would be to create a benchmark that describes a corporation's impact on the environment, require all corporations in the industry to pay a tax, and then redistribute that tax money according to how good their comparative scores are. So, the winner gets all their taxes back, plus some of the taxes their competitors paid. But, the loser gets none of their taxes back at all. People in the middle get varying degrees. Make it a competition/game, and people will participate. Instead of lobbying to make the system weaker, the winners of the competition would be lobbying to make it stronger.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    That would happen if the cost to produce basic necessities, and home appliances, etc were perpetually going down. The extra income left over has to go somewhere.

    The cost of producing basic necessities can't be perpetually going down. They can't cost less than 0.
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  44. #43  
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    Quote Originally Posted by russell_c_cook
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    That would happen if the cost to produce basic necessities, and home appliances, etc were perpetually going down. The extra income left over has to go somewhere.

    The cost of producing basic necessities can't be perpetually going down. They can't cost less than 0.
    The cost of the luxury items can be going down too. Indeed we observe that to be happening in the USA. Lots of nifty gadgets, from computers, to cell phones, to wide screen TV's have been going down in price over the last couple of decades.

    Once your basic necessities cost nearly zero, and the luxuries cost nearly zero, then people start looking for things they need even less than a luxury. (Entertainment can be a sort of bottomless pit). If you ever reach the point where everything costs zero, that would mean you had become infinity rich.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Once your basic necessities cost nearly zero, and the luxuries cost nearly zero, then people start looking for things they need even less than a luxury.
    To an extent this is true, yes, but that's hardly all there is to it. There is a whole other side to the equation wherein the low costs of these necessities allows people to focus more on things which bring them fulfillment. They can engage in wood carving more frequently for fun, or fishing, or walking along hillsides, or spending time with kids and grandkids, or writing stories, or reading, or just about anything.

    When you no longer are required to spend inordinate amounts of time finding food and shelter and other requirements, you suddenly have the ability to focus more of your time on things which make you a more robust individual with a self-actualized life. See Maslow's hierarchy for more on this point.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Interesting question. At least on a local scale, I'm quite confident that the answer is yes. On a global scale, it becomes more challenging, but is IMO in theory still possible. This also then brings up the question about unintended consequences and whether or not we should.
    I've no idea if it can be done, but it is the only way i can envisage environmental issues gaining momentum - the science is irrelevant (in such a politicised debate the science just gets fudged anyway), profit generation will determine its utilisation. As for unintended consequences - screw them, as long as the economy grows.

    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    They can engage in wood carving more frequently for fun, or fishing, or walking along hillsides, or spending time with kids and grandkids, or writing stories, or reading, or just about anything.
    Or watching TV, playing computer games, watching internet porn... Ennui is the biggest affliction of this generation, and the products of commercialism seem only to exacerbate it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by russell_c_cook
    looking at the real world, economic growth seems to go hand in hand with environmental degradation.
    You seem to be missing the fact that quite a significant amount of economic growth is being fed right now with environment saving technology.
    Yes, and I'm happy to see growth in the area of environment saving technologies. However, I'd like to see a contraction of the economy in areas such as cars, UV beds, low quality plastic toys etc, so that the economy as a whole would become smaller. It'd be a case of producing what we need, not what we don't, a leaner economy that could help us to live within our envrionmental means.
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    The environmental stuff is an expense, not a contribution to GDP. I mean, sure, if you only look at gross profits, of course any increase in the work done by anyone anywhere in the economy is "growth". But there's little or no resulting increase in the overall abundance of things people want and/or need, like anything that could be sold in a store to a consumer, or exported to a foreign nation. In the long run, we all want and need clean air and water, so there is that, but that stuff is also kind of hard to quantify.

    Also, I'm not saying it isn't a necessary expense. Of course it is necessary. I just take exception when people make it sound like a huge drain on the economy is somehow a sign of the economy improving. I've heard similar arguments about how personal care of retired people is a growing area of the service industry. Sure it is, but it's accompanied by a much larger contraction.
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    To be anti- economic growth is to be pro- poverty. One can certainly argue over the cost/ benefit of specific technologies, but to flat out oppose economic growth would condemn much of humanity to living in poverty. Furthermore, your expressed goal of decreasing the population is best served by allowing living standards to rise as any examination of the comparative birth rates of first world versus third world countries would show.
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  50. #49  
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    Quote Originally Posted by madanthonywayne View Post
    To be anti- economic growth is to be pro- poverty. One can certainly argue over the cost/ benefit of specific technologies, but to flat out oppose economic growth would condemn much of humanity to living in poverty. Furthermore, your expressed goal of decreasing the population is best served by allowing living standards to rise as any examination of the comparative birth rates of first world versus third world countries would show.
    It depends if you're talking total GDP, or per capita GDP. If the population shrinks, then total GDP would go down, but probably per capita GDP would go up. The question of "poverty" is a per capita GDP question.

    It's a big catch 22 situation. If we don't stop growing the population in some areas, the maybe living standards won't ever improve. If we don't improve living standards, the population won't stop growing. Everyone wants to be "special", so in a bad economy, the "scattershot" approach of having a godzillion children and then hoping one of them rises to prominence probably makes a lot of sense to some people. Other people just can't afford to get on the pill.
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  51. #50  
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    Quote Originally Posted by madanthonywayne View Post
    ... but to flat out oppose economic growth would condemn much of humanity to living in poverty.
    Like the majority of mankind is anyway?
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    Economic growth=money=higher living standards=higher living standards=better environment
    More like Economic growth=money=higher living standarts=more consumption=more production=more energy needs/more pollution/depletion of resources

    Western countries may seem relatively clean in terms of pollution from production but that's because their corporations have shifted the production to 3rd world countries with less environment protection and cheaper labour.

    Anyways, on the anti economic growth topic, really interesting presentations on Steady State Economy, Ideas for a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources.
    Videos « Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy
    There is also a 10page .pdf report summary on the page, if u dont have time.
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