DotEarth – to be more inventive, but not have to…

This comment of mine on on “Fueling the Energy Quest”got an Editor’s Selection

It’s wonderful to be inventive, but that is clearly not our problem. I don’t know why that is so hard for people to see.

Our problem is needing to be ever more grandly inventive forever

Our problem is needing to be ever more grandly inventive forever, even as the environment puts up ever more daunting complications for our continuing to do so. The plan we are caught trying to follow, a real fool’s choice had it been someone’s choice and not just a leftover of history, is to continually double our productivity in converting the planet into economic wealth every 20 years or so, and every 30 years or so for the resources needed to do that, forever.

We all know the math of growth, right? It’s that in the next resource use doubling period, and every 30 years thereafter, we need to use as much more of the earth as was used in the entire prior history of growth. Thats what adding by multiplying does, 2 4 8 16 32 64 etc. The math is very simple, that’s the definition of growth, the direct simple result of adding by regular %’s.

There is no decision needed about whether to end that. Growth is always a temporary physical process because it inevitably upsets something. It does not upset equations, though, only physical systems, that’s where we’ve been making the error in judgment, trusting our math instead of looking a how it changes the world.

The successful growth systems, like organisms and lots of others, switch from growth to maturation to complete their designs, and end up stabilizing at the prime of their lives and with all the best yet to come Those that grow till all their supports fail… well, do not.


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