How improving productivity always reliably made thing cheaper and easier to do, is ending. It naturally ends as any direction of progress does, if taken to its limit. Now we see our “productivities” coming into costly conflict with each other and the environment, making everything more costly and complicated, the exact opposite of what we expect.
It reverses an expectation humans have had for how to solve problems that appears to be much older than recorded history, as all of human evolution is a record of great leaps of increasing productivity, using less to get more. Becoming productive in cooperating with our environment rather than conquering it, no longer “productive”, is a very big change in thinking for us.
There is a recent discovery of just how much of our real economic impacts are not traceable from the information we can find. The problem is caused by the nature of self-managing systems, that in working by themselves they also don’t “report” or leave traceable information about how they do it. It’s recently been shown to cause a major undercount for the energy demand of business products and services, and would seem to apply to all business impact assessment methods.(1)
There’s a very “fat tail” to the distribution of physical impacts of business, usually much larger than what is traceable, and that changes the rules of impact accounting .