AuthorTopic: Can a Technological Society be Sustainable?  (Read 1462 times)

Offline RE

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Can a Technological Society be Sustainable?
« on: July 30, 2017, 10:09:34 AM »
This thread originates in a response I made to a thread on r/collapse.

https://www.reddit.com/r/collapse/comments/6qhes8/is_it_possible_to_have_a_sustainable/

RE

In the "hi-tech" sense, a technological society requires too much energy to be sustainable, unless you believe the delusion that something like cold fusion will be invented and provide endless, clean & cheap energy.  To not be in energy deficit, the amount of energy the civilization can use is only what it can acquire each day from the SUN☼

If you could make such things as Solar PV panels self-replicating without the input of fossil fuels, this also would provide inexhaustible energy.  But to date, no such manufacture has been demonstrated, so it is unlikely the Green Technology can ride to the rescue of Techno-Civilization.

If you could keep the population of Homo Saps VERY small, they could probably have a pretty high energy consumptive lifestyle.  If you only had 1M people on the planet, then they could turn forests into wood alcohol , soy bean fields into diesel and have plenty of energy to zip around the globe.  The problem there though is the infrastructure behind the roads and airports only works at large scale, such a small population couldn't maintain all those miles of road or far flung airports.

In any realistic assessment, the best level of technology we can maintain would be 17th Century tech, prior to the invention of the Steam Engine and accessing the thermodynamic energy packed into fossil fuels.  Even that level of technology though cannot be sustained at current population levels.  Resources are depleted too fast.

The consequence of all this is that there has to be a Knockdown of the population, probably on the order of 99%, to bring global population of Homo Sap down from the current 7.5B to 75M or less.  That's a lot of Dead People of course, but it's not Extinction.  What level of technology they will be able to maintain through this die off period remains an open question.

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Offline K-Dog

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Re: Can a Technological Society be Sustainable?
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2017, 01:17:04 PM »


https://www.tripsavvy.com/guide-to-the-amish-lifestyle-2707217

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Technology & the Amish

The Amish are averse to any technology which they feel weakens the family structure. The conveniences that the rest of us take for granted such as electricity, television, automobiles, telephones and tractors are considered to be a temptation that could cause vanity, create inequality, or lead the Amish away from their close-knit community and, as such, are not encouraged or accepted in most orders. Most Amish cultivate their fields with horse-drawn machinery, live in houses without electricity, and get around in horse-drawn buggies. It is common for Amish communities to allow the use of telephones, but not in the home. Instead, several Amish families will share a telephone in a wooden shanty between farms. Electricity is sometimes used in certain situations, such as electric fences for cattle, flashing electric lights on buggies, and heating homes. Windmills are often used as a source of naturally generated electric power in such instances. It is also not unusual to see Amish using such 20th-century technologies as inline skates, disposable diapers, and gas barbecue grills because they are not specifically prohibited by the Ordnung.

Technology is generally where you will see the greatest differences between Amish orders. The Swartzentruber and Andy Weaver Amish are ultraconservative in their use of technology - the Swartzentruber, for example, do not even allow the use of battery lights. Old Order Amish have little use for modern technology but are allowed to ride in motorized vehicles including planes and automobiles, though they are not allowed to own them. The New Order Amish permit the use of electricity, ownership of automobiles, modern farming machines, and telephones in the home

Unregulated tech is the problem just as unregulated capitalism leads to exploitation and fraud.  An Ordnung of technology only will allow for good technology if sustainability is adopted as a requirement.
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Offline Nearingsfault

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Re: Can a Technological Society be Sustainable?
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2017, 04:22:11 PM »
The Amish life is getting a lot of press these days.  What I wonder is can it maintain itself without the much larger much richer society around it that both let's it exist and provides the level of financial activity that keep them viable.  Everything from produce to hand tools to furniture are sold to outsiders and pay for land, equipment, taxes.  So they are both part of our society and apart. 
If its important then try something, fail, disect, learn from it, try again, and again and again until it kills you or you succeed.

Offline RE

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Re: Can a Technological Society be Sustainable?
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2017, 04:45:44 PM »
The Amish life is getting a lot of press these days.  What I wonder is can it maintain itself without the much larger much richer society around it that both let's it exist and provides the level of financial activity that keep them viable.  Everything from produce to hand tools to furniture are sold to outsiders and pay for land, equipment, taxes.  So they are both part of our society and apart.

The Amish are almost as dependent on the Industrial Civilization to function as the regular Sheeple are.

Those cute Buggy Carts they travel around in all have their parts forged using copious amounts of energy.  They use the same Monetary system as everybody else, selling their produce fore $Dollars$ and then buying other stuff they need like cloth for $Dollars$.  Do you think Amish women spin all their own thread and then weave that into cloth before they sew up their anachronistic dresses and head gear?  Hell no, they buy bolts of cloth that are produce over in China for a lot less than the Amish could do that job.

About the only advantage the Amish have is they still are somewhat attached to the land and didn't give up farming.  They also have a strong community structure, very important.  But they are going to have a lot of problems when TSHTF too.

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Offline agelbert

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Re: Can a Technological Society be Sustainable?
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2017, 12:18:01 PM »
Can a Technological Society be Sustainable? ???

The Amish life is getting a lot of press these days.  What I wonder is can it maintain itself without the much larger much richer society around it that both let's it exist and provides the level of financial activity that keep them viable.  Everything from produce to hand tools to furniture are sold to outsiders and pay for land, equipment, taxes.  So they are both part of our society and apart.

The Amish are almost as dependent on the Industrial Civilization to function as the regular Sheeple are.

Those cute Buggy Carts they travel around in all have their parts forged using copious amounts of energy.  They use the same Monetary system as everybody else, selling their produce fore $Dollars$ and then buying other stuff they need like cloth for $Dollars$.  Do you think Amish women spin all their own thread and then weave that into cloth before they sew up their anachronistic dresses and head gear?  Hell no, they buy bolts of cloth that are produce over in China for a lot less than the Amish could do that job.

About the only advantage the Amish have is they still are somewhat attached to the land and didn't give up farming.  They also have a strong community structure, very important.  But they are going to have a lot of problems when TSHTF too.

RE

True.

But I would like to address the broader issue of the normally polluting technology (as in UNsustainable) Homo Sap has come up with.

Sustainability should be defined as a stable biosphere which can become unstable only by some natural catastrophe not caused by any of the life forms in said biosphere. But there is a huge problem with that definition for humans simply because we KNOW that the universe is a GIGANTIC place and we DO NOT have to be "sustainable" IF we can manage to be successful parasites OUTSIDE of the confines of our planetary biosphere. It is perfectly feasable, from an energy resources point of view, to protect Earth's biosphere from pollution by obtaining all the energy we need to keep the various species we rely on healthy somewhere else.

This point of view is ethically bankrupt, but it is exactly what many elite cretins are probably planning to bring about.

The scenario goes like this:

1. Secret labs funded with oligarch money (taken from we-the-people through fraud and deception) preserve the DNA, not just of most plants, but of all the complex life forms expected to die out during this accelerated mass extinction event. Advances in cryogenics and embryo preservation enable the storage of viable specimens of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of species of the estimated 16 to 30 million species in our biosphere.

1. Business as usual causes a major Homo Sap Die-off. The oligarchs go to ground for a couple of centuries with high tech hydroponics and a renewable energy powered microcosm of a Homo Sap civilization. Robots are sent out to keep the nuclear power plants from melting down.

2. After a couple of decades with hotter and hotter temperatures, but a human population reduced to about 100 million or so, technology and robotics has advanced to enable the building of a space elevator. It is built over a 10 year period.

3. Around the year 2050, with temperatures wiping out nearly  one half (and the death rate still accelerating) of all lcomplex species on Earth showing no sign of their climb to about 8C above pre-industrial, the first future Mars colonists are sent to establish a base on the moon for the building of a space elevator there. That one will be used to sling shot colonists to Mars and several other exploitable rocks in the solar system.

4. By 2060, all macroscopic marine life is dead and the ice caps are gone. The methane bursts from the arctic have put us right in the PETM heat acceleration and the biosphere has shrunk to about a third of its present size. The oligarchs are still happy as clams in their high tech holes. Scientists in those holes have become influential political leaders and are championing revolutionary low energy cooling laser technology as a global technfix that could shorten the time the globe is subjected to such high average temperatures from a thousand years to about 200 hundred years. They begin to try that in Antarctica to get the ice to begin to build up with some marginal successes and several robot frying failures. Additionally, high temperature and acid resistant algae has been genetically engineered and is being seeded all over the oceans by robots. But the temerature is at about 5C above pre industrial and still climbing.

5. By 2070 a thin layer of ice covers Greenland and Antarctica, despite the average global temperature having reached 6C above pre-industrial. This was accomplished by the combination of three widespread uses of new technology which included the cooling lasers, the GMO algae covering greater portions of the oceans (preventing the oceans from absorbing solar heat while increasing pH) and an aluminum vapor coated polyester reflector (of mostly UV though some visible light passed through) one mill thick and several thousand miles in diameter deployed in space over these areas.

6. And so on. The point is that it is feasable to end up with only ten percent of the present biosphere and zero complex life forms populating the biosphere (except for the embryos, the oligarchs and their pets) BUT, repopulate an imperfect, but "sustainable", biosphere on this planet as long as we do all our polluting, exploiting and so on OFF this planet.

I would not like to live in that "society". In fact, I think that they would, even after making the earth a new "Eden" (after 200 years or so), self destruct from their empathy deficit disordered view of life.

Technofixes, if limited to AVOIDING pollution on this planet, instead of putting a bandaid on it, could work. But, so far, ALL the technofixes that have been proposed, are proposed in order to continue polluting the planet in other ways. That is really, really STUPID.

But exploiting outer space rocks to bring home the bacon is not. That said, I think that "solution" is immoral and it is a futile attempt to kick the can of the destructive human problem of unethical behavior down the road.

Our problem is an ethical problem, NOT a lack of resources problem. But I expect the above outlined scenario will be tried simply because TPTB do not DO ethics. Have a nice day.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2017, 01:59:12 PM by agelbert »
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Offline RE

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Re: Can a Technological Society be Sustainable?
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2017, 12:59:21 PM »
The point is that it is feasable to end up with only ten percent of the present biosphere and zero complex life forms populating the biosphere (except for the embryos, the oligarchs and their pets)

I don't think a technofix with space elevators is feasible nor will any such gimmick save the Elite.  They'll die along with most of the rest of the population, because the monetary system will collapse before the ecosphere does, and money will go worthless.  Most of them will end up hanged, guillotined or impaled on stakes.

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Offline agelbert

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Re: Can a Technological Society be Sustainable?
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2017, 02:28:22 PM »
The point is that it is feasable to end up with only ten percent of the present biosphere and zero complex life forms populating the biosphere (except for the embryos, the oligarchs and their pets)

I don't think a technofix with space elevators is feasible nor will any such gimmick save the Elite.  They'll die along with most of the rest of the population, because the monetary system will collapse before the ecosphere does, and money will go worthless.  Most of them will end up hanged, guillotined or impaled on stakes.

RE

I sincerely hope you are right and a more just society will emerge from the tattered remnants of this empathy deficit disordered madhouse destroying everything it touches.


You always bring up the money issue. Let me point something out to you. If you have a a 100 robots with sophisticated AI so they can build other robots, as well as build absolutely anything humans can build (faster and more accurately too), carry and use weapons to defend you and yours, mine for materials, grow food, cook, clean and maintain all the infrastructure in good working order, you do not need ANY MONEY.

Now you may think that is science fiction baloney. Tell that to all the people losing their jobs from mining to accounting to manufacturing to maintenance, ETC. The Robots are HERE. And they DO NOT charge anything for their services.

All they need is energy. If you can get that energy renewably, then your only "problem" is making sure your oligarch competitor has less robots that you do.

AI robots ARE THE MONEY OF THE FUTURE, RE.

Laugh if you wish, but I do believe the oligarchs consider AI ROBOTS to be the cornerstone of their devious plan to survive when most of us die. I know Musk is afraid of AI, but Trump thinks they are the best thing since toasted bread. And Mr. Trump's mindset is typical of the Plutocrat Cretins planning to survive when the rest of us don't.

I agree with you that the Greed Ball Oligarchs will die, but it will not be because of lack of resources.


« Last Edit: July 31, 2017, 02:43:41 PM by agelbert »
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Offline RE

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Re: Can a Technological Society be Sustainable?
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2017, 04:02:29 PM »
You always bring up the money issue. Let me point something out to you. If you have a a 100 robots with sophisticated AI so they can build other robots, as well as build absolutely anything humans can build (faster and more accurately too), carry and use weapons to defend you and yours, mine for materials, grow food, cook, clean and maintain all the infrastructure in good working order, you do not need ANY MONEY.

Nobody has built such a robot or such AI, nor are they likely to before TSHTF.  They can't even make self driving carz that work right.

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Offline K-Dog

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Re: Can a Technological Society be Sustainable?
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2017, 08:59:34 PM »
This thread has been collecting the vapors.

The Amish life is getting a lot of press these days.  What I wonder is can it maintain itself without the much larger much richer society around it that both let's it exist and provides the level of financial activity that keep them viable.  Everything from produce to hand tools to furniture are sold to outsiders and pay for land, equipment, taxes.  So they are both part of our society and apart.

The Amish are almost as dependent on the Industrial Civilization to function as the regular Sheeple are.

I can't agree.  People who know how to feed themselves and have their own land are WAY ahead of the curve and not 'almost as dependent'.
Quote

Those cute Buggy Carts they travel around in all have their parts forged using copious amounts of energy.  They use the same Monetary system as everybody else, selling their produce fore $Dollars$ and then buying other stuff they need like cloth for $Dollars$.  Do you think Amish women spin all their own thread and then weave that into cloth before they sew up their anachronistic dresses and head gear?  Hell no, they buy bolts of cloth that are produce over in China for a lot less than the Amish could do that job.


Those cute little buggies can last a long time and relative to any automobile the energy used to make them is trivial.  Being able to make your own cloth will matter, down the road but not right away.  The die-off will leave plenty of fabric.  Being able to actually make their own clothes puts them again, way out in front of the curve.

Quote

About the only advantage the Amish have is they still are somewhat attached to the land and didn't give up farming.  They also have a strong community structure, very important.  But they are going to have a lot of problems when TSHTF too.

Which means they have shelter.  So the Amish have food shelter and clothing that the Sheeple won't as easily have,  not nearly as easily.  The big advantage is having food because the Sheeple will starve within days.

Quote
RE

They are dependent on civilization as we are but not in the same life and death way in which we are.  They have self-sufficiency where it matters.  They certainly could get through the first critical 90 days of a hard collapse if they are not killed first.

Regarding technology they have an Ordnung which regulates their use of technology.  Each group has their own Ordnung and the Ordnung differs from group to group.  This thread being about sustainable technology made mention of their Ordnung important which every one has missed.

To be sustainable the use of technology must follow rules.  That is why I said we need an Ordnung.

  • There must be a social body that makes sure any widely used technology is serviceable.  Modular design will be enforced where appropriate.
  • Footprint minimization must be a design goal.  This means both the resource footprint and the environmental impact footprint.  These considerations along with effectiveness of implementation will be criteria by which designs certified for general use will be decided upon.  Replacement designs must be competitive and will score points by using parts of existing designs.
  • Competitive designs will be evaluated at periodic intervals but designs approved for general use will have all market share.
  • Designs approved for general use shall be open sourced and while manufacture will be limited to the design owners replacement parts shall not.

It is not can technology be made sustainable but make technology sustainable.  My four points are only a start.

Asking can technology be made sustainable opens a Pandora's box.



Because the answer is simple.  Of course it can be made sustainable.  Now go do it.  Thats the rub. The 'doing it' shows our weakness because we don't go do it.  What is in the box is a mirror that shows how weak we are.

Part of the problem is not yet understanding that technology is not separate from us but actually part of us.  Technology is the use of tools to solve problems and is the essence of being human.  To let technology drive us and not the other way around is madness but we have that narcissistic fascination that lets it happen.  The perceived separation may be because we are not wired for introspection for in primitive times that was a liability.  That deliberate mental wiring forces us to see technology as separate from us when it is not.

To not have sustainable technology is simply a choice.

« Last Edit: July 31, 2017, 10:52:48 PM by K-Dog »
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Offline RE

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Re: Can a Technological Society be Sustainable?
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2017, 07:45:37 AM »
When you talk about the "crucial 1st 90 days", that is where I think the Amish run into trouble.  I don't think they store up a lot of preps as a practice, so they'll start running out of food pretty quick too.  The Mormons make a practice of having a large store of food for emergencies, but not the Amish AFAIK.

In terms of technology and their Ordnung, I'm not sure what it is for most Amish communities, but I *think* they use electricity for their lights, refrigeration and to pump water up from wells.  All of these things will fail on them also.

In the longer term I would agree with you, their experience with farming and living simply off the land will be a big survival advantage.  But in the direct aftermath of SHTF Day, they would have almost as many problems as the typical McMansion dwelling Sheeple.

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Offline agelbert

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Re: Can a Technological Society be Sustainable?
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2017, 11:58:06 AM »
K-Dog said:
Quote
Of course it can be made sustainable.  Now go do it.  Thats the rub. The 'doing it' shows our weakness because we don't go do it.  What is in the box is a mirror that shows how weak we are.

Part of the problem is not yet understanding that technology is not separate from us but actually part of us.  Technology is the use of tools to solve problems and is the essence of being human.  To let technology drive us and not the other way around is madness but we have that narcissistic fascination that lets it happen. The perceived separation may be because we are not wired for introspection for in primitive times that was a liability. That deliberate mental wiring forces us to see technology as separate from us when it is not.

To not have sustainable technology is simply a choice.

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Offline Nearingsfault

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Re: Can a Technological Society be Sustainable?
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2017, 07:49:27 PM »
It depends on the order as to which technology they adopt.  I'm more familiar with menonites then Amish though.  RE I think you miss the resiliency of subsistence farming.  They don't need preps it's built into the farm and the stock. Typical subsistence farm will have some dairy cows a younger and an older, maybe a young bull or calf they are fattening up, some pigs fed on excess milk, at least a season worth of bulk grain bought at the cheapest time of year or maybe grown,  left over hay from last season some In the field. Lots of subsistence farms have a vegetable garden for cash  maybe even a cash grain crop in a field.  In a time of crisis you would start triaging to survive. Your neighbors have a bull? You both share one and eat the other.  Pigs are a nice cash source but not mandatory so you sell or eat it.  Dairy is a good profit maker but you cut down the herd and eat the rest.  Every dairy cow gone frees up its stored grain. Same goes for laying hens. Sure it's feed corn and soy but it's still food.  Those buggy horses eat oats but could survive on hay for a year freeing up a whole lot of oatmeal... No preps!!!  I admire them a great deal. Part of society but apart..
Cheers,  David
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 07:54:05 PM by David B. »
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Offline K-Dog

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Re: Can a Technological Society be Sustainable?
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2017, 08:56:33 PM »
It depends on the order as to which technology they adopt.  I'm more familiar with menonites then Amish though.  RE I think you miss the resiliency of subsistence farming.  They don't need preps it's built into the farm and the stock. Typical subsistence farm will have some dairy cows a younger and an older, maybe a young bull or calf they are fattening up, some pigs fed on excess milk, at least a season worth of bulk grain bought at the cheapest time of year or maybe grown,  left over hay from last season some In the field. Lots of subsistence farms have a vegetable garden for cash  maybe even a cash grain crop in a field.  In a time of crisis you would start triaging to survive. Your neighbors have a bull? You both share one and eat the other.  Pigs are a nice cash source but not mandatory so you sell or eat it.  Dairy is a good profit maker but you cut down the herd and eat the rest.  Every dairy cow gone frees up its stored grain. Same goes for laying hens. Sure it's feed corn and soy but it's still food.  Those buggy horses eat oats but could survive on hay for a year freeing up a whole lot of oatmeal... No preps!!!  I admire them a great deal. Part of society but apart..
Cheers,  David

Thank you for clearing that up.  The Ordnung are rules elders make and the worth of any technology is proven beneficial to the lifestyle they cherish before it is sanctioned.  Elders are local to each community of families so rules vary because they are of local origin.  If the elders value sustainability they can demand it.

The narrator in 'When the English Fall' was taught by his father how to make beef jerky because his fathers order which was harsh did not allow refrigeration.  Because of that skill the narrator's farm had a larder of beef jerky which could be sold to the public to bring in money.  His wife had strawberry jam to sell at their community roadside tourist stand as well.  Their settlement had a community freezer which all families shared.  They had moved into their community from the one of their parents which had different ways. 

 
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 09:30:25 PM by K-Dog »
Under ideal conditions of temperature and pressure the organism will grow without limit.

Offline RE

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Re: Can a Technological Society be Sustainable?
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2017, 09:26:30 PM »
OK, I'll capitulate on this one.  The Amish should do better.  Assuming of course they can fend off the Zombies.


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Offline K-Dog

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Re: Can a Technological Society be Sustainable?
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2017, 09:47:09 PM »
Yes, that is the problem how do they reconcile their non violent nature with zombies.  The book has one answer but I can't give it away.  Immediate neighbors who are similarly self sufficient but who don't have a non violent ethic can keep the watch for a while.  They have their own trees and rope.
Under ideal conditions of temperature and pressure the organism will grow without limit.

 

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