letter to NY Times 2/14/09
There’s a lot of important dissent on the economic “recovery” plan, and you’re not doing it justice at all.
From the “physical world” community, the scientists who study the economics of the environment and physical economy, the flaw in the plan is believing the phrase “lasting economic growth”. Those who study how popular views are misguided seem always to be mostly unpaid or underpaid, for failing to support what is popular of course.
Spokespeople for the real world are treated as an annoyance.
As a community we also don’t really ‘do’ political speech well, tend to speak with original scientific thought, don’t have a “down pat” story line to offer, and have no particular soap box to get your attention from. We do ‘thinking’ and ‘observing’ instead.
There is growing clear and threatening hard evidence that we are depleting the necessary quality, quantity, availability, diversity and reserves of the entire spectrum of natural resources we rely on, while steadily increasing our unsustainable overhead and dependence on the irreplaceable ones being using up. It’s a completely fatal natural progression, that “lasting economic growth” would disastrously insure.
The press has been giving short shrift to “the physical world problem”, actually forever, of course. It’s hard to make “entertaining” and that’s what people like to pay for. Entertaining people does not generally get them to think for themselves, though, and that’s is a major reason why popular wisdom is often so foolish.
So, the physical world gets no spokesman, and our survival is unlikely unless it gets one.
Here’s a piece to ‘chew on’. As surplus resource availability is exhausted, previous uses that once could be independent come into conflict.
This is not 1930 again because many of the vast surpluses of resources we had of high quality, quantity and diversity are gone. What happens to a growth system confronting that is something like the recent world commodity price spiral.
To me it’s clear evidence the world growth system crossed a physical threshold of sustainability, seen in how the former stable “law of supply and demand” abruptly turned into an unstable “law of limitless price”, broken only by the whole system collapse that followed 6 years later. That kind of pattern violates every law of economics but is a commonplace sort of collision in physical systems.
The only good spokesman for the physical world is your curiosity, though. It’s stories tend to be spoken very quietly, but with lasting effect.
Phil Henshaw ¸¸¸¸.·´ ¯ `·.¸¸¸¸