Monday, January 30, 2012

Limits to Growth

John Kenneth Galbraith has written a brilliant, mordant book, The Culture of Contentment, about the reasons why America is incapable of constructive change. He compares today's American political class (those people who vote and involve themselves in politics) to the French aristocracy before the Revolution. Everybody knew that the situation was insupportable, and that eventually there would be an explosion, but the immediate costs of doing something about it were so unpalatable that it was easier to do nothing and hope that things would somehow work out. His points can be applied equally well to the political class of every industrial country.

Thus in 1992, the same team that did the original Limits to Growth study ran the numbers again with current figures and pointed out that the industrial world was much closer to collapse than it had been twenty years before. Their book Beyond the Limits urged an emergency program to stave off disaster. They pointed out, however, that the level of cuts in energy and resource use necessary to stave off disaster would require the American people to accept a reduction of their average standard of living to that of Brazil. No politician or political party anywhere has advocated that, for obvious reasons. It's hard to think of a better recipe for political suicide.

--John Michael Greer

More to come.

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