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Messages - EndIsNigh

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1
Karpatok,

Your assessment makes sense to me.  I see it similarly.

If a person is truly honest in their analysis of their own psyche, they are well aware that the demons exist not as separate non-physical entitities acting upon our physical experience, but as a part of what and who we are.  Those unable to face and integrate their demons, to accept without rejecting, end up allowing their actions to be dictated and controlled by them in the physical world.  Ultimately we bring our demons into 'reality', for without us, they exist only as potentiality until actualised through our behaviour.  This idea seems consistent with a participatory universe.

http://discovermagazine.com/2002/jun/featuniverse/article_view?b_start:int=2&-C=




2
Energy / Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« on: April 06, 2017, 12:10:19 PM »
Quote
Below that are all the problems of underdevelopment, including malnutrition, disease, non-sanitation, high infant mortality, high fertility (and thus, eventually, population), and so on.



Quote
But the problems of under-development are no less real, and are suffered still by many more people than those of us with the opposite problem. Sub-saharan Africa, for example!


Quote
Why? Do you really mean to say that no incremental steps toward the goal ofsteady state can do any good? In my view, ALL progress toward anything (at
least any material thing) involves incremental steps.


Quote
Jeavon's paradox is an amusing idea, but it is not taken seriously. It has
no credibility as a general phenomenon.

Quote
As indeed they MUST, still, at this stage of their development. Remember: they still have several hundred million people who are dirt-poor. They CANNOT leave those people in that miserable state. It would be immoral. Their per-capita income is still in the $6-8K range -- too low. They need to continue operating within the technology and progress worldview, for perhaps another generation. WE, on the other hand...


Quote
Even hunter gatherers were unsustainable (eg. megafauna extinctions).
Humans, by our very nature, do not appear to be capable of sustainability.

Geez! That's a tad stringent, don't you think?

Quote
You first. Set an example for the rest to follow.


3
Energy / Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« on: April 06, 2017, 12:10:09 PM »
Alan, I think the point you're missing is that development, of any kind, creates
more problems than it solves.
Not true.  Economic development solves many more problems than it creates, up to
a certain level of income -- approximately 10K/year.  Below that are all the
problems of underdevelopment, including malnutrition, disease, non-sanitation,
high infant mortality, high fertility (and thus, eventually, population), and so on.
It is a mess.  It is vital to bring everyone up to that level, approximately. Beyond
that level is a different matter.  Benefits fall off, rapidly, and begin to reverse.
We live in the quintessentially OVER-developed society -- the U.S.A. -- so it is much
easier for us to attune  to the problems of over-development. But the problems of
under-development are no less real, and are suffered still by many more people
than those of us with the opposite problem.  Sub-saharan Africa, for example!



Quote
  I have read much of what you posted and while I agree that planning is vital,
and it's a good thing they've targeted a reduction in growth, anything short of
steady-state or actively reversing development is a losing proposition.
Why?  Do you really mean to say that no incremental steps toward the goal of
steady state can do any good?  In my view, ALL progress toward anything (at
least any material thing)  involves incremental steps.

Quote
  Even conservation and efficiency is misleading because, as per Jevon's paradox,
it leads to greater use of resources by expanding the application of the resources
to other activity or to a wider population. 
Jeavon's paradox is an amusing idea, but it is not taken seriously. It has
no credibility as a general phenomenon.

Quote
China is still operating within the technology and progress worldview,
As indeed they MUST, still, at this stage of their development. Remember: they
still have several hundred million people who are dirt-poor. They CANNOT leave those
people in that miserable state.  It would be immoral.  Their per-capita income is still
in the $6-8K range -- too low. They need to continue operating within the technology
and progress worldview, for perhaps another generation.  WE, on the other hand...   ;)

Quote
so it just amounts to changing the window dressing rather than a structural change.
Over time, window dressing changes become structural changes.  We begin with
baby steps. Then, big-baby steps.  Trajectory is everything.

Quote
  Even hunter gatherers were unsustainable (eg. megafauna extinctions). 
Humans, by our very nature, do not appear to be capable of sustainability.
Geez! That's a tad stringent, don't you think?

Quote
I've concluded, rightly or wrongly, that small self-sufficient regulated (not
through infanticide or abortions but through preventative measures)
populations that have greatly reduced their use of technology, practically
to zero, is the only viable solution for long-term human survivability. 
You first. Set an example for the rest to follow.

Quote
In short, we should seek to work within the boundaries of ecological niches.  But I
don't see that happening without an evolutionary change or bifurcation of the
species.  Homo sapiens will use all the available resources until they no longer can. 
Then we'll just be stuck with our useless ingenuity.  That's if we don't further disrupt
the ecological equilibrium (unlikely based on our history) we depend on before arriving
at that point.
I see two options: Evolve or Perish.  Evolution sometimes gets it wrong, I think we're
a case in point.  What China is doing is clearly better than what the West is doing,
but it still falls way short.  Nature doesn't reward for effort, only for success.
You may be right. Time will tell!

4
Energy / Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« on: April 06, 2017, 12:10:04 PM »
Quote
Below that are all the problems of underdevelopment, including malnutrition, disease, non-sanitation, high infant mortality, high fertility (and thus, eventually, population), and so on. ... But the problems of under-development are no less real, and are suffered still by many more people than those of us with the opposite problem. Sub-saharan Africa, for example!

It certainly might appear that way on the surface.  But you don't have to dig very deep to find the correlation between our development and the problems you cite in your sub-saharan Africa example.  What follows is a more realistic assessment of the third world:

Quote
The Third World As Schumacher says, problems grow faster than their solutions – in the rich countries as much as the poor. Following him, we should say that there is nothing in the experience of the last 50 years to suggest that modern technology can really help us alleviate such problems as that of world poverty, not to mention the problem of unemployment. As Hawken has pointed out, literally thousands of native cultures around the world have been destroyed by economic development. Lost with those cultures have been languages, art and crafts, family structures, land claims, traditional rites and oral histories, and traditional methods of healing, obtaining food, and population control. And, as pointed out above, the improvement of the situation of the poor in the Third World is not even the intention of those that stand behind decisions to implement large capital-intensive projects there. The intention, rather, is to make as much money as possible. This applies both to the wealthy capitalists in industrialised states who invest in Third World projects, and to those who have power in the Third World.

As suggested by Baran (in 1957), the ‘backward’ world has always represented the indispensable hinterland of the highly developed capitalist West, supplying it with many important raw materials, thereby providing their corporations with vast profits and investment outlets. Thus the ruling class in the United States (and elsewhere) is bitterly opposed to the industrialisation of the so-called ‘source countries,’ and to the emergence of integrated processing economies in colonial and semi-colonial areas. This opposition appears regardless of the nature of the regime in the underdeveloped country that seeks to reduce the foreign grip on its economy and provide for a measure of independent development.

As regards the phenomenon of increasing social inequality, it is important to appreciate that it should continue so long as the vicious circle is able to continue turning without hindrance. However, such events as an inordinate increase in a society’s surplus, as in ancient Athens and modern industrialised nations, or a social revolution, as in France and Russia, can lead to an increase in social equality. But such increases are invariably directly followed by constant decreases, unless and until such an event should occur again.

That the non-vital needs of the powerful living in Third World countries also strongly influence those countries’ domestic economics is emphasised by Georgescu-Roegen. He noted, already in 1971, that Third World countries’ economic plans, claimed to bring economic progress through industrialisation, are, more often than not, rationalisations of the ulterior motives of the elite in the country in question. The inflation in Latin America at that time, for example, did not answer ‘the aspiration of the masses to improve their standard of consumption,’ as one economic expert claimed, but the aspirations of the upper classes for a still more luxurious lifestyle. Similarly, the leaders of underdeveloped countries are not anxious to limit the populations of their own lower-class majorities, because cheap and abundant labour is a benefit to the ruling class. According to Georgescu-Roegen, and in keeping with the VCP, the same lip service to the welfare of the masses concealed the aspirations of the powerful classes in many a planned economy at the beginning of the 1970s, and, we might add, the phenomenon has continued to the present day.

The majority of today’s underdeveloped nations are destined never to become developed, and the Third World would have been better off without international investment and aid. As Goldsmith says: “The fact is that trade with the Third World is negative aid – it involves selling the indispensable in exchange for the totally superfluous. If I were running a Third World country, the first thing I would do would be to cut myself off from the industrial world and foster self-sufficiency at every level down to that of the village. In fact, one should not be developing the Third World but de-developing it.” And as noted by Carr-Saunders, “there is a considerable amount of evidence to the effect that upon the whole before the advent of the white man the African races were healthy and long-lived.”

There has been no appreciable improvement in the economies of Third World countries after World War II. As Schumacher noted already in 1965: “In many places in the world today the poor are getting poorer while the rich are getting richer, and the established processes of foreign aid and development planning appear to be unable to overcome this tendency;” and again in 1973: “For two-thirds of mankind, the aim of a ‘full and happy life’ with steady improvements of their lot, if not actually receding, seems to be as far away as ever.” As aptly put by Boulding in 1972: “The interesting thing about developing countries is that they are not developing.” And, more than 35 years later, they are still not developing.

Some 50 years ago these countries were politely and optimistically named the ‘developing countries,’ and the 1960s were to be known as the ‘Development Decade.’ But ‘development’ here meant growth in GNP, which was to be accomplished through increasing resource exportation – as taken up in the previous chapter. This growth was to be supported by growth in the GNP of the industrialised countries – the more the industrialised countries grew, the more resources they would import from the Third World, thus benefiting Third World economies. Thus, for example, the Report of the 1970 Commission on International Development (the ‘Pearson Report’) submitted to the World Bank considered the expansion of exports – mainly non-renewable minerals, including oil – the main criterion of success for ‘developing’ countries. African and other Third World countries were to develop economically through the wealthy people in each country making increasing profits by exporting ever greater quantities of their respective country’s resources, and creating jobs for labourers in the process. But as Malthus said already in 1798:

Quote
Foreign commerce adds to the wealth of a state, according to Dr Adam Smith’s definition, though not according to the definition of the [French] economists. Its principal use, and the reason, probably, that it has in general been held in such high estimation is that it adds greatly to the external power of a nation or to its power of commanding the labour of other countries; but it will be found, upon a near examination, to contribute but little to the increase of the internal funds for the maintenance of labour, and consequently but little to the happiness of the greatest part of society.

Malthus’ reasoning here is that it is only a growth in the quantity of vital resources available to the poor that can improve their lot (and then, of course, only in the short term). What we have is the making of each Third World country into a banana republic, which may here be understood to be a poor country economically dependent on exporting unprocessed goods/resources to industrialised countries. As Daly says:

Quote
[T]he vision of globalization requires the rich to grow rapidly in order to provide markets in which the poor can sell their exports. It is thought that the only option poor countries have is to export to the rich, and to do that they have to accept foreign investment from corporations who know how to produce the high-quality stuff that the rich want.

And as Trainer says, if most money can be made producing carnations to airfreight to European supermarkets, or fattening cattle to airfreight to American hamburger chains, then in a market system that is what will be done. And Kuenen: “At present the technologically underequipped nations are selling their natural wealth for short-term gains.”

It is ironic however that governments call for economic growth to reduce poverty while, as noted earlier, there has been massive poverty in the richest nation in the world throughout a 65-year period of tremendous and unrepeatable economic growth. (It may be noted that the wealthiest man in America owns more than the poorest 100 million Americans combined.) How then is economic growth, in particular such growth as is based on exports, to reduce poverty? For the people living in these countries, what they produce for themselves and for each other is of infinitely greater importance to them than what they produce for foreigners. The promotion of export-oriented development has been one of the most disastrous Third World policies in the past two decades, in fact increasing poverty.

The whole thing is a scam – part of the larger scam of the world’s need for economic growth – that allows powerful capitalists to make profits stripping the Third World of what it has to offer. Thus the status quo from colonial times is maintained, with the economically most powerful making the largest possible profits. Only now it is transnational corporations that are sucking as much as they can out of these (and all other) countries, rather than such nationally-bound companies as the East India and Hudson’s Bay Companies.

The fundamental ‘mistake’ which neoclassical economic theory makes with regard to the Third World is the assumption that simply encouraging as much economic growth as possible will result in satisfactory development. In fact the indiscriminate, sheer-growth conception of development causes immense havoc among the poor. In the form of increasing exports, it has stripped them from the land and moved them to urban slums, it has made large numbers poorer and hungrier, and it has destroyed their forests through the building of dams. According to a report of the international Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, below-cost imports drive Third World farmers out of their local markets, and if they do not have access to a safety net, they have to abandon their land in search of other employment.

When it comes to the provision of aid, the West has given with one hand, and taken more with the other. In effect, more aid is going to the rich than to the poor. It is the normal functioning of the global market-economy which delivers the available resources to a few and deprives the majority. The drive to maximise output, sales and returns on investment inevitably leads to the focusing of productive capacity on the already rich.

The conventional growth and trickle-down view accelerates the operation of the very mechanism that is responsible for the problem of poverty. As expressed by John Browett, in keeping with Boulding, while transnational corporations may be developing, the people living in the newly industrialising countries are not. While trickle down occurred in the industrialised countries from 1850, it has never extended to the Third World. And as suggested by Trainer in 1989, the lack of trickle down in the Third World may well be the most clearly established proposition to have emerged from three decades of development research. In fact, as intimated above, conventional growth strategies often result in the very opposite of trickle down, an effect most tragically evident when the ‘modernisation’ of agriculture enriches planters, who then increase export crops by terminating the leases of peasant farmers.

The conception of development as growth through increasing exports does not best serve the interests of classes other than the elite. What is required here is not that the rich world charitably redistribute some of its wealth to the poor; it is that it should stop taking such a disproportionate share of what the world has to offer.

Conventional development theory and practice is capitalist (bourgeois) development theory and practice. To conceive of development as indiscriminate economic growth is to opt for the view which most suits the capitalist class, since it is in their interest to maximise the amount of capital being exchanged, and not have to bother about whether capital really ought to go into things that are appropriate but not very profitable, and not into things that are inappropriate but profitable. Foreign investors never go into the Third World to invest in clean drinking water, mobile health clinics, or cheap staple foods for impoverished people – because there is little profit to be made from these sorts of ventures.

It should also be pointed out here that the projects funded in the name of aiding the Third World, apart from economically supporting those engaged in carrying them out, are large-scale, unsustainable and in fact ecologically destructive. These projects, such as the building of large dams, are drafted in an atmosphere in which economic growth is to be striven for as the ultimate goal, and ecological consequences are either ignored or dismissed.

C. G. Darwin provides an example: the Sukkur dam (completed by the British in 1932) spread the water of the Indus over a great area and transformed a large part of the desert into a garden. According to generally accepted values, this was a great blessing for humankind, since people who earlier were on the verge of starvation could now be fed. But this was not what happened; after a few years the only effect was, as in the case of the Green Revolution, that there was a large rather than a small number of people on the verge of starvation.

Similarly, the Aswan High Dam, designed by Soviet engineers in the late 1950s, stops 98 per cent of the silt that had formerly coated the inhabited part of Egypt. Without this top dressing of fertile silt, Egyptian agriculture had to turn to mineral fertilisers, of which Egypt became one of the world’s top users, with much of the Aswan’s electric power going to fertiliser factories.  The Nile Delta began to shrink. The lack of silt nutrients destroyed sardine and shrimp fisheries in the Mediterranean that had employed 30,000 Egyptians. Without the flushing of the flood, the irrigation canals of Egypt became an ideal habitat for the water hyacinth, a beautiful but pernicious weed. The snails that carry schistosomiasis – a debilitating disease that attacks the liver, urinary tract, or intestines – love water hyacinth, need stagnant water, and consequently flourished in the new Egypt. Schistosomiasis infection rates increased five- to tenfold among rural Egyptians with the transition to perennial irrigation, and after 1975 approached 100 per cent in many communities. The dam also swamped and corroded the cultural heritage of the Nile Valley. However it at the same time eliminated the costly consequences of irregular Nile floods, and supported a doubling of the Egyptian population. Thus was destroyed the only large, ecologically sustainable irrigation system that ever existed – one which had maintained millions for five millennia and made Egypt the richest land in the Mediterranean from the Pharaohs to the industrial revolution.

The modernisation of Third World agriculture also means the increasing commercialisation of food production, and can consist in little more than converting land from production by the poor for use by the poor, to production by rich farmers for use by the rich in the Third World and by consumers in the rich world.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (pp. 445-451). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.


Quote
Why? Do you really mean to say that no incremental steps toward the goal ofsteady state can do any good? In my view, ALL progress toward anything (at
least any material thing) involves incremental steps.


Quote
Jeavon's paradox is an amusing idea, but it is not taken seriously. It has
no credibility as a general phenomenon.

Quote
As indeed they MUST, still, at this stage of their development. Remember: they still have several hundred million people who are dirt-poor. They CANNOT leave those people in that miserable state. It would be immoral. Their per-capita income is still in the $6-8K range -- too low. They need to continue operating within the technology and progress worldview, for perhaps another generation. WE, on the other hand...


Quote
Even hunter gatherers were unsustainable (eg. megafauna extinctions).
Humans, by our very nature, do not appear to be capable of sustainability.

Geez! That's a tad stringent, don't you think?

Quote
You first. Set an example for the rest to follow.


5
Energy / Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« on: April 06, 2017, 12:09:59 PM »
Quote
Below that are all the problems of underdevelopment, including malnutrition, disease, non-sanitation, high infant mortality, high fertility (and thus, eventually, population), and so on. ... But the problems of under-development are no less real, and are suffered still by many more people than those of us with the opposite problem. Sub-saharan Africa, for example!

It certainly might appear that way on the surface.  But you don't have to dig very deep to find the correlation between our development and the problems you cite in your sub-saharan Africa example.  What follows is a more realistic assessment of the third world:

Quote
The Third World As Schumacher says, problems grow faster than their solutions – in the rich countries as much as the poor. Following him, we should say that there is nothing in the experience of the last 50 years to suggest that modern technology can really help us alleviate such problems as that of world poverty, not to mention the problem of unemployment. As Hawken has pointed out, literally thousands of native cultures around the world have been destroyed by economic development. Lost with those cultures have been languages, art and crafts, family structures, land claims, traditional rites and oral histories, and traditional methods of healing, obtaining food, and population control. And, as pointed out above, the improvement of the situation of the poor in the Third World is not even the intention of those that stand behind decisions to implement large capital-intensive projects there. The intention, rather, is to make as much money as possible. This applies both to the wealthy capitalists in industrialised states who invest in Third World projects, and to those who have power in the Third World.

As suggested by Baran (in 1957), the ‘backward’ world has always represented the indispensable hinterland of the highly developed capitalist West, supplying it with many important raw materials, thereby providing their corporations with vast profits and investment outlets. Thus the ruling class in the United States (and elsewhere) is bitterly opposed to the industrialisation of the so-called ‘source countries,’ and to the emergence of integrated processing economies in colonial and semi-colonial areas. This opposition appears regardless of the nature of the regime in the underdeveloped country that seeks to reduce the foreign grip on its economy and provide for a measure of independent development.

As regards the phenomenon of increasing social inequality, it is important to appreciate that it should continue so long as the vicious circle is able to continue turning without hindrance. However, such events as an inordinate increase in a society’s surplus, as in ancient Athens and modern industrialised nations, or a social revolution, as in France and Russia, can lead to an increase in social equality. But such increases are invariably directly followed by constant decreases, unless and until such an event should occur again.

That the non-vital needs of the powerful living in Third World countries also strongly influence those countries’ domestic economics is emphasised by Georgescu-Roegen. He noted, already in 1971, that Third World countries’ economic plans, claimed to bring economic progress through industrialisation, are, more often than not, rationalisations of the ulterior motives of the elite in the country in question. The inflation in Latin America at that time, for example, did not answer ‘the aspiration of the masses to improve their standard of consumption,’ as one economic expert claimed, but the aspirations of the upper classes for a still more luxurious lifestyle. Similarly, the leaders of underdeveloped countries are not anxious to limit the populations of their own lower-class majorities, because cheap and abundant labour is a benefit to the ruling class. According to Georgescu-Roegen, and in keeping with the VCP, the same lip service to the welfare of the masses concealed the aspirations of the powerful classes in many a planned economy at the beginning of the 1970s, and, we might add, the phenomenon has continued to the present day.

The majority of today’s underdeveloped nations are destined never to become developed, and the Third World would have been better off without international investment and aid. As Goldsmith says: “The fact is that trade with the Third World is negative aid – it involves selling the indispensable in exchange for the totally superfluous. If I were running a Third World country, the first thing I would do would be to cut myself off from the industrial world and foster self-sufficiency at every level down to that of the village. In fact, one should not be developing the Third World but de-developing it.” And as noted by Carr-Saunders, “there is a considerable amount of evidence to the effect that upon the whole before the advent of the white man the African races were healthy and long-lived.”

There has been no appreciable improvement in the economies of Third World countries after World War II. As Schumacher noted already in 1965: “In many places in the world today the poor are getting poorer while the rich are getting richer, and the established processes of foreign aid and development planning appear to be unable to overcome this tendency;” and again in 1973: “For two-thirds of mankind, the aim of a ‘full and happy life’ with steady improvements of their lot, if not actually receding, seems to be as far away as ever.” As aptly put by Boulding in 1972: “The interesting thing about developing countries is that they are not developing.” And, more than 35 years later, they are still not developing.

Some 50 years ago these countries were politely and optimistically named the ‘developing countries,’ and the 1960s were to be known as the ‘Development Decade.’ But ‘development’ here meant growth in GNP, which was to be accomplished through increasing resource exportation – as taken up in the previous chapter. This growth was to be supported by growth in the GNP of the industrialised countries – the more the industrialised countries grew, the more resources they would import from the Third World, thus benefiting Third World economies. Thus, for example, the Report of the 1970 Commission on International Development (the ‘Pearson Report’) submitted to the World Bank considered the expansion of exports – mainly non-renewable minerals, including oil – the main criterion of success for ‘developing’ countries. African and other Third World countries were to develop economically through the wealthy people in each country making increasing profits by exporting ever greater quantities of their respective country’s resources, and creating jobs for labourers in the process. But as Malthus said already in 1798:

Quote
Foreign commerce adds to the wealth of a state, according to Dr Adam Smith’s definition, though not according to the definition of the [French] economists. Its principal use, and the reason, probably, that it has in general been held in such high estimation is that it adds greatly to the external power of a nation or to its power of commanding the labour of other countries; but it will be found, upon a near examination, to contribute but little to the increase of the internal funds for the maintenance of labour, and consequently but little to the happiness of the greatest part of society.

Malthus’ reasoning here is that it is only a growth in the quantity of vital resources available to the poor that can improve their lot (and then, of course, only in the short term). What we have is the making of each Third World country into a banana republic, which may here be understood to be a poor country economically dependent on exporting unprocessed goods/resources to industrialised countries. As Daly says:

Quote
[T]he vision of globalization requires the rich to grow rapidly in order to provide markets in which the poor can sell their exports. It is thought that the only option poor countries have is to export to the rich, and to do that they have to accept foreign investment from corporations who know how to produce the high-quality stuff that the rich want.

And as Trainer says, if most money can be made producing carnations to airfreight to European supermarkets, or fattening cattle to airfreight to American hamburger chains, then in a market system that is what will be done. And Kuenen: “At present the technologically underequipped nations are selling their natural wealth for short-term gains.”

It is ironic however that governments call for economic growth to reduce poverty while, as noted earlier, there has been massive poverty in the richest nation in the world throughout a 65-year period of tremendous and unrepeatable economic growth. (It may be noted that the wealthiest man in America owns more than the poorest 100 million Americans combined.) How then is economic growth, in particular such growth as is based on exports, to reduce poverty? For the people living in these countries, what they produce for themselves and for each other is of infinitely greater importance to them than what they produce for foreigners. The promotion of export-oriented development has been one of the most disastrous Third World policies in the past two decades, in fact increasing poverty.

The whole thing is a scam – part of the larger scam of the world’s need for economic growth – that allows powerful capitalists to make profits stripping the Third World of what it has to offer. Thus the status quo from colonial times is maintained, with the economically most powerful making the largest possible profits. Only now it is transnational corporations that are sucking as much as they can out of these (and all other) countries, rather than such nationally-bound companies as the East India and Hudson’s Bay Companies.

The fundamental ‘mistake’ which neoclassical economic theory makes with regard to the Third World is the assumption that simply encouraging as much economic growth as possible will result in satisfactory development. In fact the indiscriminate, sheer-growth conception of development causes immense havoc among the poor. In the form of increasing exports, it has stripped them from the land and moved them to urban slums, it has made large numbers poorer and hungrier, and it has destroyed their forests through the building of dams. According to a report of the international Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, below-cost imports drive Third World farmers out of their local markets, and if they do not have access to a safety net, they have to abandon their land in search of other employment.

When it comes to the provision of aid, the West has given with one hand, and taken more with the other. In effect, more aid is going to the rich than to the poor. It is the normal functioning of the global market-economy which delivers the available resources to a few and deprives the majority. The drive to maximise output, sales and returns on investment inevitably leads to the focusing of productive capacity on the already rich.

The conventional growth and trickle-down view accelerates the operation of the very mechanism that is responsible for the problem of poverty. As expressed by John Browett, in keeping with Boulding, while transnational corporations may be developing, the people living in the newly industrialising countries are not. While trickle down occurred in the industrialised countries from 1850, it has never extended to the Third World. And as suggested by Trainer in 1989, the lack of trickle down in the Third World may well be the most clearly established proposition to have emerged from three decades of development research. In fact, as intimated above, conventional growth strategies often result in the very opposite of trickle down, an effect most tragically evident when the ‘modernisation’ of agriculture enriches planters, who then increase export crops by terminating the leases of peasant farmers.

The conception of development as growth through increasing exports does not best serve the interests of classes other than the elite. What is required here is not that the rich world charitably redistribute some of its wealth to the poor; it is that it should stop taking such a disproportionate share of what the world has to offer.

Conventional development theory and practice is capitalist (bourgeois) development theory and practice. To conceive of development as indiscriminate economic growth is to opt for the view which most suits the capitalist class, since it is in their interest to maximise the amount of capital being exchanged, and not have to bother about whether capital really ought to go into things that are appropriate but not very profitable, and not into things that are inappropriate but profitable. Foreign investors never go into the Third World to invest in clean drinking water, mobile health clinics, or cheap staple foods for impoverished people – because there is little profit to be made from these sorts of ventures.

It should also be pointed out here that the projects funded in the name of aiding the Third World, apart from economically supporting those engaged in carrying them out, are large-scale, unsustainable and in fact ecologically destructive. These projects, such as the building of large dams, are drafted in an atmosphere in which economic growth is to be striven for as the ultimate goal, and ecological consequences are either ignored or dismissed.

C. G. Darwin provides an example: the Sukkur dam (completed by the British in 1932) spread the water of the Indus over a great area and transformed a large part of the desert into a garden. According to generally accepted values, this was a great blessing for humankind, since people who earlier were on the verge of starvation could now be fed. But this was not what happened; after a few years the only effect was, as in the case of the Green Revolution, that there was a large rather than a small number of people on the verge of starvation.

Similarly, the Aswan High Dam, designed by Soviet engineers in the late 1950s, stops 98 per cent of the silt that had formerly coated the inhabited part of Egypt. Without this top dressing of fertile silt, Egyptian agriculture had to turn to mineral fertilisers, of which Egypt became one of the world’s top users, with much of the Aswan’s electric power going to fertiliser factories.  The Nile Delta began to shrink. The lack of silt nutrients destroyed sardine and shrimp fisheries in the Mediterranean that had employed 30,000 Egyptians. Without the flushing of the flood, the irrigation canals of Egypt became an ideal habitat for the water hyacinth, a beautiful but pernicious weed. The snails that carry schistosomiasis – a debilitating disease that attacks the liver, urinary tract, or intestines – love water hyacinth, need stagnant water, and consequently flourished in the new Egypt. Schistosomiasis infection rates increased five- to tenfold among rural Egyptians with the transition to perennial irrigation, and after 1975 approached 100 per cent in many communities. The dam also swamped and corroded the cultural heritage of the Nile Valley. However it at the same time eliminated the costly consequences of irregular Nile floods, and supported a doubling of the Egyptian population. Thus was destroyed the only large, ecologically sustainable irrigation system that ever existed – one which had maintained millions for five millennia and made Egypt the richest land in the Mediterranean from the Pharaohs to the industrial revolution.

The modernisation of Third World agriculture also means the increasing commercialisation of food production, and can consist in little more than converting land from production by the poor for use by the poor, to production by rich farmers for use by the rich in the Third World and by consumers in the rich world.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (pp. 445-451). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.


Quote
Why? Do you really mean to say that no incremental steps toward the goal ofsteady state can do any good? In my view, ALL progress toward anything (at
least any material thing) involves incremental steps.

I accept the principle but not the conclusion.  I haven't seen any evidence that China is targeting a steady-state economy.  You've shown they are (were) targeting lower growth, which is the least they should be doing given their feverish growth rates.

Quote
Jeavon's paradox is an amusing idea, but it is not taken seriously. It has
no credibility as a general phenomenon.

It is still debated but has not been conclusively disproven.

Quote
Even hunter gatherers were unsustainable (eg. megafauna extinctions).
Humans, by our very nature, do not appear to be capable of sustainability.

Geez! That's a tad stringent, don't you think?



Quote
You first. Set an example for the rest to follow.

This is no way addresses the points made and is irrelevant to their validity.  Besides, how can you assume I'm not? 

6
Energy / Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« on: April 06, 2017, 12:09:50 PM »
Quote
Below that are all the problems of underdevelopment, including malnutrition, disease, non-sanitation, high infant mortality, high fertility (and thus, eventually, population), and so on. ... But the problems of under-development are no less real, and are suffered still by many more people than those of us with the opposite problem. Sub-saharan Africa, for example!

It certainly might appear that way on the surface.  But you don't have to dig very deep to find the correlation between our development and the problems you cite in your sub-saharan Africa example.  What follows is a more realistic assessment of the third world:

Quote
The Third World As Schumacher says, problems grow faster than their solutions – in the rich countries as much as the poor. Following him, we should say that there is nothing in the experience of the last 50 years to suggest that modern technology can really help us alleviate such problems as that of world poverty, not to mention the problem of unemployment. As Hawken has pointed out, literally thousands of native cultures around the world have been destroyed by economic development. Lost with those cultures have been languages, art and crafts, family structures, land claims, traditional rites and oral histories, and traditional methods of healing, obtaining food, and population control. And, as pointed out above, the improvement of the situation of the poor in the Third World is not even the intention of those that stand behind decisions to implement large capital-intensive projects there. The intention, rather, is to make as much money as possible. This applies both to the wealthy capitalists in industrialised states who invest in Third World projects, and to those who have power in the Third World.

As suggested by Baran (in 1957), the ‘backward’ world has always represented the indispensable hinterland of the highly developed capitalist West, supplying it with many important raw materials, thereby providing their corporations with vast profits and investment outlets. Thus the ruling class in the United States (and elsewhere) is bitterly opposed to the industrialisation of the so-called ‘source countries,’ and to the emergence of integrated processing economies in colonial and semi-colonial areas. This opposition appears regardless of the nature of the regime in the underdeveloped country that seeks to reduce the foreign grip on its economy and provide for a measure of independent development.

As regards the phenomenon of increasing social inequality, it is important to appreciate that it should continue so long as the vicious circle is able to continue turning without hindrance. However, such events as an inordinate increase in a society’s surplus, as in ancient Athens and modern industrialised nations, or a social revolution, as in France and Russia, can lead to an increase in social equality. But such increases are invariably directly followed by constant decreases, unless and until such an event should occur again.

That the non-vital needs of the powerful living in Third World countries also strongly influence those countries’ domestic economics is emphasised by Georgescu-Roegen. He noted, already in 1971, that Third World countries’ economic plans, claimed to bring economic progress through industrialisation, are, more often than not, rationalisations of the ulterior motives of the elite in the country in question. The inflation in Latin America at that time, for example, did not answer ‘the aspiration of the masses to improve their standard of consumption,’ as one economic expert claimed, but the aspirations of the upper classes for a still more luxurious lifestyle. Similarly, the leaders of underdeveloped countries are not anxious to limit the populations of their own lower-class majorities, because cheap and abundant labour is a benefit to the ruling class. According to Georgescu-Roegen, and in keeping with the VCP, the same lip service to the welfare of the masses concealed the aspirations of the powerful classes in many a planned economy at the beginning of the 1970s, and, we might add, the phenomenon has continued to the present day.

The majority of today’s underdeveloped nations are destined never to become developed, and the Third World would have been better off without international investment and aid. As Goldsmith says: “The fact is that trade with the Third World is negative aid – it involves selling the indispensable in exchange for the totally superfluous. If I were running a Third World country, the first thing I would do would be to cut myself off from the industrial world and foster self-sufficiency at every level down to that of the village. In fact, one should not be developing the Third World but de-developing it.” And as noted by Carr-Saunders, “there is a considerable amount of evidence to the effect that upon the whole before the advent of the white man the African races were healthy and long-lived.”

There has been no appreciable improvement in the economies of Third World countries after World War II. As Schumacher noted already in 1965: “In many places in the world today the poor are getting poorer while the rich are getting richer, and the established processes of foreign aid and development planning appear to be unable to overcome this tendency;” and again in 1973: “For two-thirds of mankind, the aim of a ‘full and happy life’ with steady improvements of their lot, if not actually receding, seems to be as far away as ever.” As aptly put by Boulding in 1972: “The interesting thing about developing countries is that they are not developing.” And, more than 35 years later, they are still not developing.

Some 50 years ago these countries were politely and optimistically named the ‘developing countries,’ and the 1960s were to be known as the ‘Development Decade.’ But ‘development’ here meant growth in GNP, which was to be accomplished through increasing resource exportation – as taken up in the previous chapter. This growth was to be supported by growth in the GNP of the industrialised countries – the more the industrialised countries grew, the more resources they would import from the Third World, thus benefiting Third World economies. Thus, for example, the Report of the 1970 Commission on International Development (the ‘Pearson Report’) submitted to the World Bank considered the expansion of exports – mainly non-renewable minerals, including oil – the main criterion of success for ‘developing’ countries. African and other Third World countries were to develop economically through the wealthy people in each country making increasing profits by exporting ever greater quantities of their respective country’s resources, and creating jobs for labourers in the process. But as Malthus said already in 1798:

Quote
Foreign commerce adds to the wealth of a state, according to Dr Adam Smith’s definition, though not according to the definition of the [French] economists. Its principal use, and the reason, probably, that it has in general been held in such high estimation is that it adds greatly to the external power of a nation or to its power of commanding the labour of other countries; but it will be found, upon a near examination, to contribute but little to the increase of the internal funds for the maintenance of labour, and consequently but little to the happiness of the greatest part of society.

Malthus’ reasoning here is that it is only a growth in the quantity of vital resources available to the poor that can improve their lot (and then, of course, only in the short term). What we have is the making of each Third World country into a banana republic, which may here be understood to be a poor country economically dependent on exporting unprocessed goods/resources to industrialised countries. As Daly says:

Quote
[T]he vision of globalization requires the rich to grow rapidly in order to provide markets in which the poor can sell their exports. It is thought that the only option poor countries have is to export to the rich, and to do that they have to accept foreign investment from corporations who know how to produce the high-quality stuff that the rich want.

And as Trainer says, if most money can be made producing carnations to airfreight to European supermarkets, or fattening cattle to airfreight to American hamburger chains, then in a market system that is what will be done. And Kuenen: “At present the technologically underequipped nations are selling their natural wealth for short-term gains.”

It is ironic however that governments call for economic growth to reduce poverty while, as noted earlier, there has been massive poverty in the richest nation in the world throughout a 65-year period of tremendous and unrepeatable economic growth. (It may be noted that the wealthiest man in America owns more than the poorest 100 million Americans combined.) How then is economic growth, in particular such growth as is based on exports, to reduce poverty? For the people living in these countries, what they produce for themselves and for each other is of infinitely greater importance to them than what they produce for foreigners. The promotion of export-oriented development has been one of the most disastrous Third World policies in the past two decades, in fact increasing poverty.

The whole thing is a scam – part of the larger scam of the world’s need for economic growth – that allows powerful capitalists to make profits stripping the Third World of what it has to offer. Thus the status quo from colonial times is maintained, with the economically most powerful making the largest possible profits. Only now it is transnational corporations that are sucking as much as they can out of these (and all other) countries, rather than such nationally-bound companies as the East India and Hudson’s Bay Companies.

The fundamental ‘mistake’ which neoclassical economic theory makes with regard to the Third World is the assumption that simply encouraging as much economic growth as possible will result in satisfactory development. In fact the indiscriminate, sheer-growth conception of development causes immense havoc among the poor. In the form of increasing exports, it has stripped them from the land and moved them to urban slums, it has made large numbers poorer and hungrier, and it has destroyed their forests through the building of dams. According to a report of the international Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, below-cost imports drive Third World farmers out of their local markets, and if they do not have access to a safety net, they have to abandon their land in search of other employment.

When it comes to the provision of aid, the West has given with one hand, and taken more with the other. In effect, more aid is going to the rich than to the poor. It is the normal functioning of the global market-economy which delivers the available resources to a few and deprives the majority. The drive to maximise output, sales and returns on investment inevitably leads to the focusing of productive capacity on the already rich.

The conventional growth and trickle-down view accelerates the operation of the very mechanism that is responsible for the problem of poverty. As expressed by John Browett, in keeping with Boulding, while transnational corporations may be developing, the people living in the newly industrialising countries are not. While trickle down occurred in the industrialised countries from 1850, it has never extended to the Third World. And as suggested by Trainer in 1989, the lack of trickle down in the Third World may well be the most clearly established proposition to have emerged from three decades of development research. In fact, as intimated above, conventional growth strategies often result in the very opposite of trickle down, an effect most tragically evident when the ‘modernisation’ of agriculture enriches planters, who then increase export crops by terminating the leases of peasant farmers.

The conception of development as growth through increasing exports does not best serve the interests of classes other than the elite. What is required here is not that the rich world charitably redistribute some of its wealth to the poor; it is that it should stop taking such a disproportionate share of what the world has to offer.

Conventional development theory and practice is capitalist (bourgeois) development theory and practice. To conceive of development as indiscriminate economic growth is to opt for the view which most suits the capitalist class, since it is in their interest to maximise the amount of capital being exchanged, and not have to bother about whether capital really ought to go into things that are appropriate but not very profitable, and not into things that are inappropriate but profitable. Foreign investors never go into the Third World to invest in clean drinking water, mobile health clinics, or cheap staple foods for impoverished people – because there is little profit to be made from these sorts of ventures.

It should also be pointed out here that the projects funded in the name of aiding the Third World, apart from economically supporting those engaged in carrying them out, are large-scale, unsustainable and in fact ecologically destructive. These projects, such as the building of large dams, are drafted in an atmosphere in which economic growth is to be striven for as the ultimate goal, and ecological consequences are either ignored or dismissed.

C. G. Darwin provides an example: the Sukkur dam (completed by the British in 1932) spread the water of the Indus over a great area and transformed a large part of the desert into a garden. According to generally accepted values, this was a great blessing for humankind, since people who earlier were on the verge of starvation could now be fed. But this was not what happened; after a few years the only effect was, as in the case of the Green Revolution, that there was a large rather than a small number of people on the verge of starvation.

Similarly, the Aswan High Dam, designed by Soviet engineers in the late 1950s, stops 98 per cent of the silt that had formerly coated the inhabited part of Egypt. Without this top dressing of fertile silt, Egyptian agriculture had to turn to mineral fertilisers, of which Egypt became one of the world’s top users, with much of the Aswan’s electric power going to fertiliser factories.  The Nile Delta began to shrink. The lack of silt nutrients destroyed sardine and shrimp fisheries in the Mediterranean that had employed 30,000 Egyptians. Without the flushing of the flood, the irrigation canals of Egypt became an ideal habitat for the water hyacinth, a beautiful but pernicious weed. The snails that carry schistosomiasis – a debilitating disease that attacks the liver, urinary tract, or intestines – love water hyacinth, need stagnant water, and consequently flourished in the new Egypt. Schistosomiasis infection rates increased five- to tenfold among rural Egyptians with the transition to perennial irrigation, and after 1975 approached 100 per cent in many communities. The dam also swamped and corroded the cultural heritage of the Nile Valley. However it at the same time eliminated the costly consequences of irregular Nile floods, and supported a doubling of the Egyptian population. Thus was destroyed the only large, ecologically sustainable irrigation system that ever existed – one which had maintained millions for five millennia and made Egypt the richest land in the Mediterranean from the Pharaohs to the industrial revolution.

The modernisation of Third World agriculture also means the increasing commercialisation of food production, and can consist in little more than converting land from production by the poor for use by the poor, to production by rich farmers for use by the rich in the Third World and by consumers in the rich world.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (pp. 445-451). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.


Quote
Why? Do you really mean to say that no incremental steps toward the goal ofsteady state can do any good? In my view, ALL progress toward anything (at
least any material thing) involves incremental steps.

I accept the principle but not the conclusion.  I haven't seen any evidence that China is targeting a steady-state economy.  You've shown they are (were) targeting lower growth, which is the least they should be doing given their feverish growth rates.

Quote
Jeavon's paradox is an amusing idea, but it is not taken seriously. It has
no credibility as a general phenomenon.

It is still debated but has not been conclusively disproven.

Quote
Even hunter gatherers were unsustainable (eg. megafauna extinctions).
Humans, by our very nature, do not appear to be capable of sustainability.

Geez! That's a tad stringent, don't you think?



Quote
You first. Set an example for the rest to follow.

This is no way addresses the points made and is irrelevant to their validity.  Besides, how can you assume I'm not? 

7
Energy / Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« on: April 06, 2017, 12:09:45 PM »
Quote
Below that are all the problems of underdevelopment, including malnutrition, disease, non-sanitation, high infant mortality, high fertility (and thus, eventually, population), and so on. ... But the problems of under-development are no less real, and are suffered still by many more people than those of us with the opposite problem. Sub-saharan Africa, for example!

It certainly might appear that way on the surface.  But you don't have to dig very deep to find the correlation between our development and the problems you cite in your sub-saharan Africa example.  What follows is a more realistic assessment of the third world:

Quote
The Third World As Schumacher says, problems grow faster than their solutions – in the rich countries as much as the poor. Following him, we should say that there is nothing in the experience of the last 50 years to suggest that modern technology can really help us alleviate such problems as that of world poverty, not to mention the problem of unemployment. As Hawken has pointed out, literally thousands of native cultures around the world have been destroyed by economic development. Lost with those cultures have been languages, art and crafts, family structures, land claims, traditional rites and oral histories, and traditional methods of healing, obtaining food, and population control. And, as pointed out above, the improvement of the situation of the poor in the Third World is not even the intention of those that stand behind decisions to implement large capital-intensive projects there. The intention, rather, is to make as much money as possible. This applies both to the wealthy capitalists in industrialised states who invest in Third World projects, and to those who have power in the Third World.

As suggested by Baran (in 1957), the ‘backward’ world has always represented the indispensable hinterland of the highly developed capitalist West, supplying it with many important raw materials, thereby providing their corporations with vast profits and investment outlets. Thus the ruling class in the United States (and elsewhere) is bitterly opposed to the industrialisation of the so-called ‘source countries,’ and to the emergence of integrated processing economies in colonial and semi-colonial areas. This opposition appears regardless of the nature of the regime in the underdeveloped country that seeks to reduce the foreign grip on its economy and provide for a measure of independent development.

As regards the phenomenon of increasing social inequality, it is important to appreciate that it should continue so long as the vicious circle is able to continue turning without hindrance. However, such events as an inordinate increase in a society’s surplus, as in ancient Athens and modern industrialised nations, or a social revolution, as in France and Russia, can lead to an increase in social equality. But such increases are invariably directly followed by constant decreases, unless and until such an event should occur again.

That the non-vital needs of the powerful living in Third World countries also strongly influence those countries’ domestic economics is emphasised by Georgescu-Roegen. He noted, already in 1971, that Third World countries’ economic plans, claimed to bring economic progress through industrialisation, are, more often than not, rationalisations of the ulterior motives of the elite in the country in question. The inflation in Latin America at that time, for example, did not answer ‘the aspiration of the masses to improve their standard of consumption,’ as one economic expert claimed, but the aspirations of the upper classes for a still more luxurious lifestyle. Similarly, the leaders of underdeveloped countries are not anxious to limit the populations of their own lower-class majorities, because cheap and abundant labour is a benefit to the ruling class. According to Georgescu-Roegen, and in keeping with the VCP, the same lip service to the welfare of the masses concealed the aspirations of the powerful classes in many a planned economy at the beginning of the 1970s, and, we might add, the phenomenon has continued to the present day.

The majority of today’s underdeveloped nations are destined never to become developed, and the Third World would have been better off without international investment and aid. As Goldsmith says: “The fact is that trade with the Third World is negative aid – it involves selling the indispensable in exchange for the totally superfluous. If I were running a Third World country, the first thing I would do would be to cut myself off from the industrial world and foster self-sufficiency at every level down to that of the village. In fact, one should not be developing the Third World but de-developing it.” And as noted by Carr-Saunders, “there is a considerable amount of evidence to the effect that upon the whole before the advent of the white man the African races were healthy and long-lived.”

There has been no appreciable improvement in the economies of Third World countries after World War II. As Schumacher noted already in 1965: “In many places in the world today the poor are getting poorer while the rich are getting richer, and the established processes of foreign aid and development planning appear to be unable to overcome this tendency;” and again in 1973: “For two-thirds of mankind, the aim of a ‘full and happy life’ with steady improvements of their lot, if not actually receding, seems to be as far away as ever.” As aptly put by Boulding in 1972: “The interesting thing about developing countries is that they are not developing.” And, more than 35 years later, they are still not developing.

Some 50 years ago these countries were politely and optimistically named the ‘developing countries,’ and the 1960s were to be known as the ‘Development Decade.’ But ‘development’ here meant growth in GNP, which was to be accomplished through increasing resource exportation – as taken up in the previous chapter. This growth was to be supported by growth in the GNP of the industrialised countries – the more the industrialised countries grew, the more resources they would import from the Third World, thus benefiting Third World economies. Thus, for example, the Report of the 1970 Commission on International Development (the ‘Pearson Report’) submitted to the World Bank considered the expansion of exports – mainly non-renewable minerals, including oil – the main criterion of success for ‘developing’ countries. African and other Third World countries were to develop economically through the wealthy people in each country making increasing profits by exporting ever greater quantities of their respective country’s resources, and creating jobs for labourers in the process. But as Malthus said already in 1798:

Quote
Foreign commerce adds to the wealth of a state, according to Dr Adam Smith’s definition, though not according to the definition of the [French] economists. Its principal use, and the reason, probably, that it has in general been held in such high estimation is that it adds greatly to the external power of a nation or to its power of commanding the labour of other countries; but it will be found, upon a near examination, to contribute but little to the increase of the internal funds for the maintenance of labour, and consequently but little to the happiness of the greatest part of society.

Malthus’ reasoning here is that it is only a growth in the quantity of vital resources available to the poor that can improve their lot (and then, of course, only in the short term). What we have is the making of each Third World country into a banana republic, which may here be understood to be a poor country economically dependent on exporting unprocessed goods/resources to industrialised countries. As Daly says:

Quote
[T]he vision of globalization requires the rich to grow rapidly in order to provide markets in which the poor can sell their exports. It is thought that the only option poor countries have is to export to the rich, and to do that they have to accept foreign investment from corporations who know how to produce the high-quality stuff that the rich want.

And as Trainer says, if most money can be made producing carnations to airfreight to European supermarkets, or fattening cattle to airfreight to American hamburger chains, then in a market system that is what will be done. And Kuenen: “At present the technologically underequipped nations are selling their natural wealth for short-term gains.”

It is ironic however that governments call for economic growth to reduce poverty while, as noted earlier, there has been massive poverty in the richest nation in the world throughout a 65-year period of tremendous and unrepeatable economic growth. (It may be noted that the wealthiest man in America owns more than the poorest 100 million Americans combined.) How then is economic growth, in particular such growth as is based on exports, to reduce poverty? For the people living in these countries, what they produce for themselves and for each other is of infinitely greater importance to them than what they produce for foreigners. The promotion of export-oriented development has been one of the most disastrous Third World policies in the past two decades, in fact increasing poverty.

The whole thing is a scam – part of the larger scam of the world’s need for economic growth – that allows powerful capitalists to make profits stripping the Third World of what it has to offer. Thus the status quo from colonial times is maintained, with the economically most powerful making the largest possible profits. Only now it is transnational corporations that are sucking as much as they can out of these (and all other) countries, rather than such nationally-bound companies as the East India and Hudson’s Bay Companies.

The fundamental ‘mistake’ which neoclassical economic theory makes with regard to the Third World is the assumption that simply encouraging as much economic growth as possible will result in satisfactory development. In fact the indiscriminate, sheer-growth conception of development causes immense havoc among the poor. In the form of increasing exports, it has stripped them from the land and moved them to urban slums, it has made large numbers poorer and hungrier, and it has destroyed their forests through the building of dams. According to a report of the international Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, below-cost imports drive Third World farmers out of their local markets, and if they do not have access to a safety net, they have to abandon their land in search of other employment.

When it comes to the provision of aid, the West has given with one hand, and taken more with the other. In effect, more aid is going to the rich than to the poor. It is the normal functioning of the global market-economy which delivers the available resources to a few and deprives the majority. The drive to maximise output, sales and returns on investment inevitably leads to the focusing of productive capacity on the already rich.

The conventional growth and trickle-down view accelerates the operation of the very mechanism that is responsible for the problem of poverty. As expressed by John Browett, in keeping with Boulding, while transnational corporations may be developing, the people living in the newly industrialising countries are not. While trickle down occurred in the industrialised countries from 1850, it has never extended to the Third World. And as suggested by Trainer in 1989, the lack of trickle down in the Third World may well be the most clearly established proposition to have emerged from three decades of development research. In fact, as intimated above, conventional growth strategies often result in the very opposite of trickle down, an effect most tragically evident when the ‘modernisation’ of agriculture enriches planters, who then increase export crops by terminating the leases of peasant farmers.

The conception of development as growth through increasing exports does not best serve the interests of classes other than the elite. What is required here is not that the rich world charitably redistribute some of its wealth to the poor; it is that it should stop taking such a disproportionate share of what the world has to offer.

Conventional development theory and practice is capitalist (bourgeois) development theory and practice. To conceive of development as indiscriminate economic growth is to opt for the view which most suits the capitalist class, since it is in their interest to maximise the amount of capital being exchanged, and not have to bother about whether capital really ought to go into things that are appropriate but not very profitable, and not into things that are inappropriate but profitable. Foreign investors never go into the Third World to invest in clean drinking water, mobile health clinics, or cheap staple foods for impoverished people – because there is little profit to be made from these sorts of ventures.

It should also be pointed out here that the projects funded in the name of aiding the Third World, apart from economically supporting those engaged in carrying them out, are large-scale, unsustainable and in fact ecologically destructive. These projects, such as the building of large dams, are drafted in an atmosphere in which economic growth is to be striven for as the ultimate goal, and ecological consequences are either ignored or dismissed.

C. G. Darwin provides an example: the Sukkur dam (completed by the British in 1932) spread the water of the Indus over a great area and transformed a large part of the desert into a garden. According to generally accepted values, this was a great blessing for humankind, since people who earlier were on the verge of starvation could now be fed. But this was not what happened; after a few years the only effect was, as in the case of the Green Revolution, that there was a large rather than a small number of people on the verge of starvation.

Similarly, the Aswan High Dam, designed by Soviet engineers in the late 1950s, stops 98 per cent of the silt that had formerly coated the inhabited part of Egypt. Without this top dressing of fertile silt, Egyptian agriculture had to turn to mineral fertilisers, of which Egypt became one of the world’s top users, with much of the Aswan’s electric power going to fertiliser factories.  The Nile Delta began to shrink. The lack of silt nutrients destroyed sardine and shrimp fisheries in the Mediterranean that had employed 30,000 Egyptians. Without the flushing of the flood, the irrigation canals of Egypt became an ideal habitat for the water hyacinth, a beautiful but pernicious weed. The snails that carry schistosomiasis – a debilitating disease that attacks the liver, urinary tract, or intestines – love water hyacinth, need stagnant water, and consequently flourished in the new Egypt. Schistosomiasis infection rates increased five- to tenfold among rural Egyptians with the transition to perennial irrigation, and after 1975 approached 100 per cent in many communities. The dam also swamped and corroded the cultural heritage of the Nile Valley. However it at the same time eliminated the costly consequences of irregular Nile floods, and supported a doubling of the Egyptian population. Thus was destroyed the only large, ecologically sustainable irrigation system that ever existed – one which had maintained millions for five millennia and made Egypt the richest land in the Mediterranean from the Pharaohs to the industrial revolution.

The modernisation of Third World agriculture also means the increasing commercialisation of food production, and can consist in little more than converting land from production by the poor for use by the poor, to production by rich farmers for use by the rich in the Third World and by consumers in the rich world.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (pp. 445-451). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.


Quote
Why? Do you really mean to say that no incremental steps toward the goal ofsteady state can do any good? In my view, ALL progress toward anything (at
least any material thing) involves incremental steps.

I accept the principle but not the conclusion.  I haven't seen any evidence that China is targeting a steady-state economy.  You've shown they are (were) targeting lower growth, which is the least they should be doing given their feverish growth rates.

Quote
Jeavon's paradox is an amusing idea, but it is not taken seriously. It has
no credibility as a general phenomenon.

It is still debated but has not been conclusively disproven.

Quote
Even hunter gatherers were unsustainable (eg. megafauna extinctions).
Humans, by our very nature, do not appear to be capable of sustainability.

Geez! That's a tad stringent, don't you think?



Quote
You first. Set an example for the rest to follow.

This is no way addresses the points made and is irrelevant to their validity.  Besides, you're only assuming I'm not.

8
Energy / Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« on: April 06, 2017, 12:09:26 PM »
Quote
Below that are all the problems of underdevelopment, including malnutrition, disease, non-sanitation, high infant mortality, high fertility (and thus, eventually, population), and so on. ... But the problems of under-development are no less real, and are suffered still by many more people than those of us with the opposite problem. Sub-saharan Africa, for example!

It certainly might appear that way on the surface.  But you don't have to dig very deep to find the correlation between our development and the problems you cite in your sub-saharan Africa example.  What follows is a more realistic assessment of the third world:

Quote
The Third World As Schumacher says, problems grow faster than their solutions – in the rich countries as much as the poor. Following him, we should say that there is nothing in the experience of the last 50 years to suggest that modern technology can really help us alleviate such problems as that of world poverty, not to mention the problem of unemployment. As Hawken has pointed out, literally thousands of native cultures around the world have been destroyed by economic development. Lost with those cultures have been languages, art and crafts, family structures, land claims, traditional rites and oral histories, and traditional methods of healing, obtaining food, and population control. And, as pointed out above, the improvement of the situation of the poor in the Third World is not even the intention of those that stand behind decisions to implement large capital-intensive projects there. The intention, rather, is to make as much money as possible. This applies both to the wealthy capitalists in industrialised states who invest in Third World projects, and to those who have power in the Third World.

As suggested by Baran (in 1957), the ‘backward’ world has always represented the indispensable hinterland of the highly developed capitalist West, supplying it with many important raw materials, thereby providing their corporations with vast profits and investment outlets. Thus the ruling class in the United States (and elsewhere) is bitterly opposed to the industrialisation of the so-called ‘source countries,’ and to the emergence of integrated processing economies in colonial and semi-colonial areas. This opposition appears regardless of the nature of the regime in the underdeveloped country that seeks to reduce the foreign grip on its economy and provide for a measure of independent development.

As regards the phenomenon of increasing social inequality, it is important to appreciate that it should continue so long as the vicious circle is able to continue turning without hindrance. However, such events as an inordinate increase in a society’s surplus, as in ancient Athens and modern industrialised nations, or a social revolution, as in France and Russia, can lead to an increase in social equality. But such increases are invariably directly followed by constant decreases, unless and until such an event should occur again.

That the non-vital needs of the powerful living in Third World countries also strongly influence those countries’ domestic economics is emphasised by Georgescu-Roegen. He noted, already in 1971, that Third World countries’ economic plans, claimed to bring economic progress through industrialisation, are, more often than not, rationalisations of the ulterior motives of the elite in the country in question. The inflation in Latin America at that time, for example, did not answer ‘the aspiration of the masses to improve their standard of consumption,’ as one economic expert claimed, but the aspirations of the upper classes for a still more luxurious lifestyle. Similarly, the leaders of underdeveloped countries are not anxious to limit the populations of their own lower-class majorities, because cheap and abundant labour is a benefit to the ruling class. According to Georgescu-Roegen, and in keeping with the VCP, the same lip service to the welfare of the masses concealed the aspirations of the powerful classes in many a planned economy at the beginning of the 1970s, and, we might add, the phenomenon has continued to the present day.

The majority of today’s underdeveloped nations are destined never to become developed, and the Third World would have been better off without international investment and aid. As Goldsmith says: “The fact is that trade with the Third World is negative aid – it involves selling the indispensable in exchange for the totally superfluous. If I were running a Third World country, the first thing I would do would be to cut myself off from the industrial world and foster self-sufficiency at every level down to that of the village. In fact, one should not be developing the Third World but de-developing it.” And as noted by Carr-Saunders, “there is a considerable amount of evidence to the effect that upon the whole before the advent of the white man the African races were healthy and long-lived.”

There has been no appreciable improvement in the economies of Third World countries after World War II. As Schumacher noted already in 1965: “In many places in the world today the poor are getting poorer while the rich are getting richer, and the established processes of foreign aid and development planning appear to be unable to overcome this tendency;” and again in 1973: “For two-thirds of mankind, the aim of a ‘full and happy life’ with steady improvements of their lot, if not actually receding, seems to be as far away as ever.” As aptly put by Boulding in 1972: “The interesting thing about developing countries is that they are not developing.” And, more than 35 years later, they are still not developing.

Some 50 years ago these countries were politely and optimistically named the ‘developing countries,’ and the 1960s were to be known as the ‘Development Decade.’ But ‘development’ here meant growth in GNP, which was to be accomplished through increasing resource exportation – as taken up in the previous chapter. This growth was to be supported by growth in the GNP of the industrialised countries – the more the industrialised countries grew, the more resources they would import from the Third World, thus benefiting Third World economies. Thus, for example, the Report of the 1970 Commission on International Development (the ‘Pearson Report’) submitted to the World Bank considered the expansion of exports – mainly non-renewable minerals, including oil – the main criterion of success for ‘developing’ countries. African and other Third World countries were to develop economically through the wealthy people in each country making increasing profits by exporting ever greater quantities of their respective country’s resources, and creating jobs for labourers in the process. But as Malthus said already in 1798:

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Foreign commerce adds to the wealth of a state, according to Dr Adam Smith’s definition, though not according to the definition of the [French] economists. Its principal use, and the reason, probably, that it has in general been held in such high estimation is that it adds greatly to the external power of a nation or to its power of commanding the labour of other countries; but it will be found, upon a near examination, to contribute but little to the increase of the internal funds for the maintenance of labour, and consequently but little to the happiness of the greatest part of society.

Malthus’ reasoning here is that it is only a growth in the quantity of vital resources available to the poor that can improve their lot (and then, of course, only in the short term). What we have is the making of each Third World country into a banana republic, which may here be understood to be a poor country economically dependent on exporting unprocessed goods/resources to industrialised countries. As Daly says:

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[T]he vision of globalization requires the rich to grow rapidly in order to provide markets in which the poor can sell their exports. It is thought that the only option poor countries have is to export to the rich, and to do that they have to accept foreign investment from corporations who know how to produce the high-quality stuff that the rich want.

And as Trainer says, if most money can be made producing carnations to airfreight to European supermarkets, or fattening cattle to airfreight to American hamburger chains, then in a market system that is what will be done. And Kuenen: “At present the technologically underequipped nations are selling their natural wealth for short-term gains.”

It is ironic however that governments call for economic growth to reduce poverty while, as noted earlier, there has been massive poverty in the richest nation in the world throughout a 65-year period of tremendous and unrepeatable economic growth. (It may be noted that the wealthiest man in America owns more than the poorest 100 million Americans combined.) How then is economic growth, in particular such growth as is based on exports, to reduce poverty? For the people living in these countries, what they produce for themselves and for each other is of infinitely greater importance to them than what they produce for foreigners. The promotion of export-oriented development has been one of the most disastrous Third World policies in the past two decades, in fact increasing poverty.

The whole thing is a scam – part of the larger scam of the world’s need for economic growth – that allows powerful capitalists to make profits stripping the Third World of what it has to offer. Thus the status quo from colonial times is maintained, with the economically most powerful making the largest possible profits. Only now it is transnational corporations that are sucking as much as they can out of these (and all other) countries, rather than such nationally-bound companies as the East India and Hudson’s Bay Companies.

The fundamental ‘mistake’ which neoclassical economic theory makes with regard to the Third World is the assumption that simply encouraging as much economic growth as possible will result in satisfactory development. In fact the indiscriminate, sheer-growth conception of development causes immense havoc among the poor. In the form of increasing exports, it has stripped them from the land and moved them to urban slums, it has made large numbers poorer and hungrier, and it has destroyed their forests through the building of dams. According to a report of the international Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, below-cost imports drive Third World farmers out of their local markets, and if they do not have access to a safety net, they have to abandon their land in search of other employment.

When it comes to the provision of aid, the West has given with one hand, and taken more with the other. In effect, more aid is going to the rich than to the poor. It is the normal functioning of the global market-economy which delivers the available resources to a few and deprives the majority. The drive to maximise output, sales and returns on investment inevitably leads to the focusing of productive capacity on the already rich.

The conventional growth and trickle-down view accelerates the operation of the very mechanism that is responsible for the problem of poverty. As expressed by John Browett, in keeping with Boulding, while transnational corporations may be developing, the people living in the newly industrialising countries are not. While trickle down occurred in the industrialised countries from 1850, it has never extended to the Third World. And as suggested by Trainer in 1989, the lack of trickle down in the Third World may well be the most clearly established proposition to have emerged from three decades of development research. In fact, as intimated above, conventional growth strategies often result in the very opposite of trickle down, an effect most tragically evident when the ‘modernisation’ of agriculture enriches planters, who then increase export crops by terminating the leases of peasant farmers.

The conception of development as growth through increasing exports does not best serve the interests of classes other than the elite. What is required here is not that the rich world charitably redistribute some of its wealth to the poor; it is that it should stop taking such a disproportionate share of what the world has to offer.

Conventional development theory and practice is capitalist (bourgeois) development theory and practice. To conceive of development as indiscriminate economic growth is to opt for the view which most suits the capitalist class, since it is in their interest to maximise the amount of capital being exchanged, and not have to bother about whether capital really ought to go into things that are appropriate but not very profitable, and not into things that are inappropriate but profitable. Foreign investors never go into the Third World to invest in clean drinking water, mobile health clinics, or cheap staple foods for impoverished people – because there is little profit to be made from these sorts of ventures.

It should also be pointed out here that the projects funded in the name of aiding the Third World, apart from economically supporting those engaged in carrying them out, are large-scale, unsustainable and in fact ecologically destructive. These projects, such as the building of large dams, are drafted in an atmosphere in which economic growth is to be striven for as the ultimate goal, and ecological consequences are either ignored or dismissed.

C. G. Darwin provides an example: the Sukkur dam (completed by the British in 1932) spread the water of the Indus over a great area and transformed a large part of the desert into a garden. According to generally accepted values, this was a great blessing for humankind, since people who earlier were on the verge of starvation could now be fed. But this was not what happened; after a few years the only effect was, as in the case of the Green Revolution, that there was a large rather than a small number of people on the verge of starvation.

Similarly, the Aswan High Dam, designed by Soviet engineers in the late 1950s, stops 98 per cent of the silt that had formerly coated the inhabited part of Egypt. Without this top dressing of fertile silt, Egyptian agriculture had to turn to mineral fertilisers, of which Egypt became one of the world’s top users, with much of the Aswan’s electric power going to fertiliser factories.  The Nile Delta began to shrink. The lack of silt nutrients destroyed sardine and shrimp fisheries in the Mediterranean that had employed 30,000 Egyptians. Without the flushing of the flood, the irrigation canals of Egypt became an ideal habitat for the water hyacinth, a beautiful but pernicious weed. The snails that carry schistosomiasis – a debilitating disease that attacks the liver, urinary tract, or intestines – love water hyacinth, need stagnant water, and consequently flourished in the new Egypt. Schistosomiasis infection rates increased five- to tenfold among rural Egyptians with the transition to perennial irrigation, and after 1975 approached 100 per cent in many communities. The dam also swamped and corroded the cultural heritage of the Nile Valley. However it at the same time eliminated the costly consequences of irregular Nile floods, and supported a doubling of the Egyptian population. Thus was destroyed the only large, ecologically sustainable irrigation system that ever existed – one which had maintained millions for five millennia and made Egypt the richest land in the Mediterranean from the Pharaohs to the industrial revolution.

The modernisation of Third World agriculture also means the increasing commercialisation of food production, and can consist in little more than converting land from production by the poor for use by the poor, to production by rich farmers for use by the rich in the Third World and by consumers in the rich world.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (pp. 445-451). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.


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Why? Do you really mean to say that no incremental steps toward the goal ofsteady state can do any good? In my view, ALL progress toward anything (at
least any material thing) involves incremental steps.

I accept the principle but not the conclusion.  I haven't seen any evidence that China is targeting a steady-state economy.  You've shown they are (were) targeting lower growth, which is the least they should be doing given their feverish growth rates.  But there's no indication they're targeting a steady-state.

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Jeavon's paradox is an amusing idea, but it is not taken seriously. It has
no credibility as a general phenomenon.

It is still debated but has not been conclusively disproven.

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Even hunter gatherers were unsustainable (eg. megafauna extinctions).
Humans, by our very nature, do not appear to be capable of sustainability.

Geez! That's a tad stringent, don't you think?

Maybe, but don't blame me, I didn't make us that way.  Show me how I'm wrong.

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You first. Set an example for the rest to follow.

This is no way addresses the points made and is irrelevant to their validity.  Besides, you're only assuming I'm not.

As for the social unrest and inequality issue brought up in your most recent post, overpopulation is clearly at the root of that problem. 

You argue that China has come so far since the revolution, which may be true, but I'm taking a wider view of our predicament as a species and how that applies to your analysis.  Everything you point to that China is doing is consistent with the vicious circle and reaction principles.  They may be tweaking it a little so it looks different than the Western efforts, but as long as these principles are in affect, the results will be much the same.  I'm describing instincts and characteristics of the species that underpin all human activity.  China, being populated by humans, is not exempt.

http://www.doomsteaddiner.org/blog/2012/07/20/too-smart-for-our-own-good-and-too-dumb-to-change/

9
WHD,

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Without having read the book, as I would very much like to, I have this first critique, that the VCP does not adequately explain the current abject denial on the reality of a limited planet among people generally, or the very over-arching "hologram" presented as reality by the military-industrial supported main-stream-media (MSM).  It is one thing to say that tech progress has brought us to this place; it is something different to say that tech progress keeps us here against all apparent evidence of potential collapse. Obtuseness is being reinforced every day by the media, and only a very small few control the media.

The technological aspect is just one dimension of the VCP.  You have to remember that we're dealing with instincts which have developed over many millenia and won't be easily overcome.  Dilworth also points to other instincts such as individual territorial instincts (we often forget we're still animals) which drive individuals to operate in their own perceived best self-interest, as well as something he calls the reaction principle.  These instincts served us well on the Savannah, when it was more important to react to immediate threats than to perceive distant threats, but have since turned against our long-term best interests.  It's this instinct that explains the general apathy toward threats that, in the predominant worldview, are very distant.  As quoted in the article, see below:

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According to the VCP the individual territorial instincts of the powerful override whatever other instincts they may have as support the well-being of the species, and it is they who determine the course taken.  And, it seems to me, there's not much we can do about it.  The revealing of the nature of the situation, such as is attempted in this book, is not going to make any noticeable difference.

Dilworth reminds us that some of the instincts that lead to overshoot cause us to behave no differently than other animals in this regard.

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The fundamental problem as regards the continuing existence of the human species is that, while we are ‘smarter’ than other species in our ability to develop technology, we, like them, follow the reaction, pioneering and overshoot principles when it comes to dealing with situations of sudden, continuous or great surplus. In keeping with this, and also like other animals, we are not karyotypically built so as to care about coming generations, other than those with which we have direct contact. As Georgescu-Roegen says, the (rat) race of economic development that is the hallmark of modern civilisation leaves no doubt about humans’ lack of foresight. Even if made aware of the entropic problem of the human species, humankind would not be willing to give up its present luxuries in order to ease the life of future generations. When problems arise we turn to the nearest solution to hand, and do not take into account the long-term consequences of our actions. In this regard we act irrationally. We humans, in whatever situation, will gladly use irreplaceable resources to produce a technological fix if it fills an immediate need. The longest we are prepared to put off gratification is perhaps a year, where in certain societies, though people may be dying of starvation, seeds are saved for the next year’s planting.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (p. 393). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

You see, it's quite simple really.  We have deluded ourselves, through our success, that we're above the laws of nature.  That's why it's easy to forget that we're subject to the same rules as every other species.  We can't believe people can be so dumb in light of overshoot, but they're doing what every other species does.  But why then, do we get it?  Without being too self-congratulatory, I think it's because we are smart enough to see what is happening, or through our circumstances it has been revealed to us, and we were receptive to the message either because we're open minded or it's fulfilled some personal need.  Most of us were already dissatisfied with modern culture and were therefore drawn to an awareness of our predicament.

So at this stage I'm actually calmer and more accepting of the situation given the knowledge that we're mostly just acting as our evolution and biology would dictate.  What's happening can be viewed as horrible, or it can be viewed as the nature of things.  I'm now interested in enjoying what time is left and trying to do what seems fulfilling to me, while appreciating and helping my loved ones.  I am not going to participate in a culture I don't agree with.  I'll try to, as RE says, "save as many as I can," but at the same time, I'm not going to beat myself up any more or feel guilty for not doing more than is realistic, or get angry at other people for not acting as I am.  I think it's a bad idea to cling to any particular outcome.  If our species smartens up and overcomes our instincts I will be delightfully surprised.  I guess this would be good advice even if it weren't the end of the world as we know it.

A bit more from Dilworth:

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From the point of view of evolution, to react spontaneously to one’s immediate environment has been the best policy for all species up to now. But now, in our case, in acting spontaneously we are not only worsening the situation for our own species, but for all other complex species as well.

To react directly to our surroundings is how we instinctively react; it is built into our karyotype, just as it is built into the karyotypes of other species. And if it were at all possible to overcome this predilection, it would seem that we, as a species, would have to act on the basis of that very intelligence that has landed us in this situation in the first place. Overcoming our instincts with our intelligence would be a difficult task to say the least however, as is evident from the fact that we haven’t made the least effort to do so despite being well aware of the problem for many years.

To use our intelligence in this way would require our manifesting, as a species, social instincts which could override our survival and sexual instincts. But for such instincts to work, first they must be appropriately manifest, and with tremendous force due to the extent of our species’ disequilibrium; second, in order to be effective they must be manifest globally; and third, their being manifest globally presupposes world stability and the creation of population-checking traditions. As regards this last point, for modern hunter-gatherers, the constancy of the life-situation, including the lack of technological development, made it possible to implement adequate population checks through the creation of traditions so as to keep the size of their populations oscillating about a mean. But the present human ecological situation is unstable due to constant technological development, and will continue to be so as long as technological development continues. (Cf. Wynne-Edwards’ comments regarding animals in unstable or transitory environments, cited in Chapter 1.) Change is occurring at a faster rate than ever; and this change not only prevents the creation of new traditions, but means the disappearance of those that are already established. Among other things, this change has meant that the various environmental triggers (epideictic phenomena) for the appropriate social instincts are now lacking, while at the same time our own genetic domestication has made us disinclined to manifest such instincts, or inclined to manifest them in counterproductive ways.

That our survival as a species is in jeopardy, and that we must act with an eye to the long-term future, has been realised by educated people at least since the beginning of the 1970s. At that time we already knew of the greenhouse effect, as mentioned, and of acid rain. And people generally became aware of our dire situation with the publication and wide distribution of such works as Commoner’s The Closing Circle in 1971, the Meadows team’s Limits to Growth, and Edward Goldsmith and others’ Blueprint for Survival – both in 1972, and Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful in 1973, as well as by the holding of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972. And the 1972 Peruvian anchoveta collapse coupled with the 1973 oil crisis should have driven the point home.

In A Blueprint for Survival, for example, Goldsmith and his co-authors claim that at that time, i.e. more than 35 years ago, humankind was faced with a total ecological crisis, and that with the chaos to come there would be social disruption and a great likelihood of war. They also claimed that governments at that time either refused to face the ecological facts or played down their seriousness. “A measure of political reality is that government has yet to acknowledge the impending crisis.” This is a situation that has not changed in the ensuing 35 years. And they draw the conclusion that we are on our way to extinction as a species.

Similar views were expressed around the same time and earlier by such authors as Boulding, Schumacher, Hans Palmstierna, Hardin, Commoner, Georgescu-Roegen, Forrester, Donella and Dennis Meadows, and Wilkinson. These are the wise people of what may be the last age of humanity, none of their ever so important warnings being refuted (or acted upon). Rather, they have since been corroborated in the works of Daly, Mishan, Orio Giarini and Henri Loubergé, William Catton, Hazel Henderson, Michael Redclift, Trainer, Lester Milbrath, Mary Clark, Ponting, Douthwaite, Diamond, Abernethy, Anthony McMichael, James O’Connor, J. W. Smith and Sieferle. As Dennis Meadows has recently said, “The message that current growth trends cannot be sustained is now reconfirmed every year by thousands of headlines, hundreds of conferences, and dozens of new scientific studies.”

Furthermore, all computer simulations of humankind’s development into the future since that time, including the original ones of Limits to Growth, show not only that the present system will decline, but that it will crash, and that the longer it continues the greater the crash will be. In terms of Schumacher’s metaphor: we’re stampeding over a cliff. So the fact that our situation is terribly threatening has been known to decision makers for more than 30 years, and this quite independently of an awareness of the operation of the vicious circle principle. What an understanding of the VCP adds is a realisation both of how we have come to this pass, as well as why we in fact have made no serious attempt to remedy the situation despite our being aware of it.

As P. R. and A. H. Ehrlich also noted even before the first Gulf War, the world might well come to be engaged in nuclear war over the oil resources in the Gulf area. The inclination to acquire (further) power, or the inclination of the powerful to act offensively rather than defensively when possible, inclines leaders to attempt to secure sources of energy rather than make their societies independent of such sources. No laws are enacted to make non-practical use of oil illegal – such use as one sees in motor sports, for example. Again, this is because the powers that be in today’s world are economic, and for power-hungry or greedy capitalists increasing consumption means increasing profits.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (p. 393-395). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

10
Energy / Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« on: April 06, 2017, 12:09:13 PM »
Alan,

Dilworth's premise, that the vicious circle principle humankind is engaged in certainly delivers results that may appear positive in the short-term, as you've pointed out, but over the long timescale of human development those gains erode, generally as population and consumption increase, requiring new solutions to the even greater and more numerous problems that emerge.  As those problems accellerate and our ability to respond to them is reduced by their sheer number and magnitude, we reach a point where the whole thing comes apart.  It's like being on a treadmill and the speed continually increases until we can no longer keep up.  Is that not what we see today?  How is Dilworth wrong in explaining the VCP and its' ability to describe how we arrived at this point?  If those greater problems indicate a trajectory toward species extinction, as it already has for many hundreds of species through our activities, it makes sense to change the trajectory through radical action, not piecemeal reactionary action.  Not through the 'baby steps' you've claimed is necessary.  Dilworth doesn't see that happening, nor do I, and therefore the odds of overshoot reaching it's inevitable conclusion are very high.  The hubris of believing humankind can escape the very laws of nature is too great.

Add to all this the fact we haven't even begun to take into account the ecological dynamic equilibrium Dilworth describes in his book that we rely on for our continued existence, which practically all human activity continually seeks to undermine.  You think we've got a century to lower our footprint, yet the widespread disruption of dynamic equilibrium of ecosystems can result in state changes that occur VERY rapidly.

I suppose you can dispute the conclusions, but you'll have to read the book to attempt to dispute the principle.  He is attempting to explain the principles at work that have caused us to arrive where we are today.  Of course he understands we're not going to simply go back to the stone age overnight, but unless we seriously address the principles he's demonstrated and seek to overcome them, we'll continue to be driven by them.  It is a radical idea that goes against all accepted thinking, but then so are most revolutionary concepts.

Speaking of revolutions, I'm glad you brought up the Green Revolution, since it's a perfect example of the above.  I realise you'll cite declining poverty rates in recent years, but that's consistent with the VCP.  As we struggle to maintain food production in the face of a massive population increase following the Green Revolution, due to the many issues that confront us we can expect to see a resurgence of poverty and its' attendant problems.  Except now we've got BILLIONS more to feed.  The Green Revolution is an example of the reaction principle, in which humans address the immediate concern, in this case starvation, without addressing the root cause.  So yes the Green Revolution appears to have succeeded in the short term, but it will be an even bigger failure in the long term.  I'm not sure how you can reconcile a billion lives saved today if it results in billions lost tomorrow.

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On the surface!?  What is superficial about starving, living in filth, and dying
of some terrible infection?

I'm not disputing the nature of those very real and awful conditions, on the contrary, when the long term result is an even larger number of people suffering from the above mentioned maladies than if we had addressed the root problems, I would argue it is a less than desirable result.  It seems that you're struggling to grasp this concept.

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I believe I've read enough of Dilworth. He makes some good points, but none of
them are very original, and they are peppered with crazy stuff.

Instead of claiming 'crazy stuff' how about you actually refute his position?  Besides, you've made some good points too, but not all of them are good.  Maybe I should do the same and just say I've read enough of Alan.

Dilworth on the Green Revolution:

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On the VCP, population growth generally is the result of there being a surplus of vital resources, which leads to or is combined with a weakening of internal population checks. This growth then eats away at the surplus until the population arrives at a state where vital resources are scarce. The higher the level of fertility and/or the lower the level of mortality, the faster this state of affairs will come about, and the more pronounced it will be.

Not only has world population since the 1950s grown fastest in the Third World, but the vast majority of the people living there are already at the bottom of the global power-hierarchy, making the effects of population growth even worse for them. The result has been a high mortality rate and much suffering.

Given the VCP, the reasonable attempt at an antidote to this state of affairs would be to try to establish or re-establish internal population checks so as to reduce the size of the population and bring it into equilibrium with its source of food. The path actually followed, however, was one that simply took the Third World further round with the vicious circle. With the ostensible ultimate aim of reducing Third World hunger by producing more food (cereals, starting with rice), in the late 1950s the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations set up the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the (US-controlled) Philippines, which has since grown to be the world’s largest rice research agency. In this regard both common sense and the VCP tell us that, without the reinstatement of internal population checks, given sufficient breeding sites an increase in the amount of food in the Third World would only be pouring oil on the fire, and lead to population growth together with a further weakening of whatever checks as might still exist, with the result that the same problem should simply recur, only on a more intractable scale. As C. G. Darwin suggested already before the Green Revolution, if a larger quantity of food should at some time be accessible thanks to some discovery, for example in agriculture, then the size of the population will quickly rise to the new level, and afterwards development will continue as before, with the difference that the marginal starving group will constitute a larger proportion of the greater population. What Darwin describes is of course an expression of the pioneering principle, manifest through the vicious circle’s moving from the having of a surplus of vital resources on to population growth.

This seems so obvious that one can wonder whether the ostensible reason for the IRRI project was the real reason. And it becomes clear that it was not. The real reason for the project was not to help the poor, but to increase the power of the capitalist political bloc centred on the United States, and the personal wealth of the capitalists involved. Thus with these ultimate ends in view, the direct aim of the IRRI was, using extant Third World varieties of rice, to breed more highly productive strains. Control of these strains was to fall into the hands of American capitalists; and control of the countries producing them into the hands of the capitalist bloc. From their point of view population growth in the relevant countries was good, not bad. It ensured a market for the capitalists’ products, and provided manpower if a large military force were needed in conflicts with socialist states. What they forgot was that whatever patent they may have had on these strains didn’t hold in the communist bloc, so the communists could and did produce them themselves. We shall see a change in this regard in the next agricultural revolution – to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

What were produced were rice varieties that required copious quantities of mineral fertilisers and poisons, large amounts of which American companies were manufacturing in the postwar years, at the same time as they were scouting for markets overseas. So started the Green Revolution.

Outside of Mexico, the Green Revolution received its greatest support on the frontiers of the communist world, from Turkey to Korea, where it recommended itself as a way of blunting the appeal of socialist revolution, at its height in the 1960s. The rice programme in particular largely stemmed from American anxieties about the possible spread of Chinese communism after 1949. Meanwhile, socialist societies – China, Vietnam, and Cuba – embraced the idea of scientifically improved crops with equal vigour. High-yield rice strengthened communist China as much as it did Asia’s island fringe, which America relied upon to contain China. In several of its manifestations, then, the Green Revolution was a child of the Cold War, and may be said to have achieved its economic but not its political goal.

Where the Green Revolution was implemented, farmers came to use heavier and heavier doses of biocides. This efficiently selected for resistant pests – as antibiotics did for bacteria. And as of 1985, roughly one million people had suffered acute poisoning from pesticides, two-thirds of them agricultural workers. The vast fertiliser requirements of the Green Revolution led to the eutrophication of lakes and rivers. Meanwhile the necessary irrigation helped drive the huge dam-building programmes of China, India, Mexico and elsewhere. Before the Green Revolution, farmers raised thousands of strains of wheat around the world. After it, they increasingly used only a few, and became fettered to a system based on a necessarily diminishing source of energy which required constantly increasing quantities of water.

The Green Revolution did not engineer an income redistribution towards Third World farmers; nor did it achieve food independence except for a few countries.  Until 1981 the Third World had long been a net exporter of food, after 1981 it was a net importer.

Of course the people on whom the Western capitalists foisted the Green Revolution were themselves much better attuned to their long-term needs than the capitalists were, not that the capitalists really cared. Western power simply usurped the ecologically more benevolent lifestyle.

With its new strains, and the fertilisers, biocides, mechanisation and increased irrigation they required, world grain production doubled between 1960 and the late 1980s. Most of the world had been ‘saved’ by becoming more energy-intensive, complex and polluting. And for this, the scientist who led the teams responsible won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. This is highly ironic, for the increase in food, leading to an increase in population and thereby population pressure, worked rather towards decreasing the likelihood of peace.

Not unaware of the problematic nature of the results of his efforts, the winner of the Prize himself said: “Perhaps through this development we can buy 25 to 30 years of time. [But u]nless there is a breakthrough in slowing population growth on a world-wide basis, the world will disintegrate.” Yes, the world will disintegrate; but you should have thought about slowing population growth before introducing your more productive seeds and their poisons on the market.

As clearly expressed by Forrester (and as implied by Malthus):

Quote
Many programs – for example the development of more productive grains and agricultural methods – are spoken of as ‘buying time’ until population control becomes effective. But the process of buying time reduces the pressures that force population control. … Trying to raise quality of life without intentionally creating compensating pressures to prevent a rise in population density will be self-defeating. Efforts to improve quality of life will fail until effective means have been implemented for limiting both population and industrialization. f we persist in treating only the symptoms and not the causes, the result will be to increase the magnitude of the ultimate threat and reduce our capability to respond when we no longer have more space and resources to invade.

Another negative aspect of this ‘saving’ was that its use of poisons required monoculture cultivation, opening crops to potential destruction by e.g. weather, at the same time as it reduced biodiversity. Also, the ploughing that was often required raised the temperature of the soil in the spring. In temperate regions this would have increased the activity of beneficial soil organisms; but in the tropics and subtropics it had the opposite effect, and is largely responsible for the nine times greater soil erosion there. Tropical soils are not amenable to sustainable agrarian agriculture, only to horticulture, just as were the non-riverine soils in Mesopotamia; once again, the over-exploitation of soil resources using agrarian agriculture results in soil degradation. Capitalists, spurred by the profit motive, nevertheless support the implementation of agrarian technology in the tropics.

Nevertheless, as noted, world grain production doubled in the short term thanks to these efforts. And population growth followed suit. As Catton puts it, the Green Revolution burdened the 20th century with almost another doubling of world population.

In the cradle of the Green Revolution in India there are today vast stretches of land where grass will no longer grow, the water is no longer drinkable due to contamination from mineral fertilisers, aquifers have dried up, soils are degraded, and biodiversity is fast vanishing, the agricultural result being declining rice yields. In 2001, in Wayanad, millions of fish died because of the presence in the water of the copper-based fungicide Furadan, sprayed on pepper gardens to control the wilt disease. And at the same time pests developed resistance to the poisons, leading to the development and use of new ones.

The Green Revolution not only increased the profits of the capitalists who owned the more productive seeds, but it also increased the profits of the large-scale landowners in the Third World, for whom the major financial investments required in e.g. tractors were both possible and paid off at least in the short term. In India, the poorest farmers, each of whom tilled perhaps half a hectare of land, could not afford these extras, and were forced to sell their farms and migrate to the cities, while the richer farmers increased the size of their holdings at the expense of the poor, and became even richer. (This brings to mind the definition of foreign aid as the money poor people in rich countries give to rich people in poor countries.) Thus another ‘achievement’ of the Green Revolution was to enrich two or three per cent of the wheat and rice farmers enormously, leaving the vast majority of subsistence farmers in the lurch. The increasing incidences of suicide among farmers in India lend testimony to this failure of high-tech agriculture. Thus, as in the horticultural and agrarian eras, while the poor continue to live barely above subsistence level – and some of them under it – the increase in the amount of food led to population growth.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (p. 423). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (pp. 422-423). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (p. 422). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (p. 422). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (p. 422). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (pp. 421-422). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (pp. 420-421). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (p. 420). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (pp. 419-420). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (p. 419). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition. [/quote]




11
Energy / Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« on: April 06, 2017, 12:09:08 PM »
Alan,

Dilworth's premise, that the vicious circle principle humankind is engaged in certainly delivers results that may appear positive in the short-term, as you've pointed out, but over the long timescale of human development those gains erode, generally as population and consumption increase, requiring new solutions to the even greater and more numerous problems that emerge.  As those problems accellerate and our ability to respond to them is reduced by their sheer number and magnitude, we reach a point where the whole thing comes apart.  It's like being on a treadmill and the speed continually increases until we can no longer keep up.  Is that not what we see today?  How is Dilworth wrong in explaining the VCP and its' ability to describe how we arrived at this point?  If those greater problems indicate a trajectory toward species extinction, as it already has for many hundreds of species through our activities, it makes sense to change the trajectory through radical action, not piecemeal reactionary action.  Not through the 'baby steps' you've claimed is necessary.  Dilworth doesn't see that happening, nor do I, and therefore the odds of overshoot reaching it's inevitable conclusion are very high.  The hubris of believing humankind can escape the very laws of nature is too great.

Add to all this the fact we haven't even begun to take into account the ecological dynamic equilibrium Dilworth describes in his book that we rely on for our continued existence, which practically all human activity continually seeks to undermine.  You think we've got a century to lower our footprint, yet the widespread disruption of dynamic equilibrium of ecosystems can result in state changes that occur VERY rapidly.

I suppose you can dispute the conclusions, but you'll have to read the book to attempt to dispute the principle.  He is attempting to explain the principles at work that have caused us to arrive where we are today.  Of course he understands we're not going to simply go back to the stone age overnight, but unless we seriously address the principles he's demonstrated and seek to overcome them, we'll continue to be driven by them.  It is a radical idea that goes against all accepted thinking, but then so are most revolutionary concepts.

Speaking of revolutions, I'm glad you brought up the Green Revolution, since it's a perfect example of the above.  I realise you'll cite declining poverty rates in recent years, but that's consistent with the VCP.  As we struggle to maintain food production in the face of a massive population increase following the Green Revolution, due to the many issues that confront us we can expect to see a resurgence of poverty and its' attendant problems.  Except now we've got BILLIONS more to feed.  The Green Revolution is an example of the reaction principle, in which humans address the immediate concern, in this case starvation, without addressing the root cause.  So yes the Green Revolution appears to have succeeded in the short term, but it will be an even bigger failure in the long term.  I'm not sure how you can reconcile a billion lives saved today if it results in billions lost tomorrow.

Quote
On the surface!?  What is superficial about starving, living in filth, and dying
of some terrible infection?

I'm not disputing the nature of those very real and awful conditions, on the contrary, when the long term result is an even larger number of people suffering from the above mentioned maladies than if we had addressed the root problems, I would argue it is a less than desirable result.  It seems that you're struggling to grasp this concept.

Quote
I believe I've read enough of Dilworth. He makes some good points, but none of
them are very original, and they are peppered with crazy stuff.

Instead of claiming 'crazy stuff' how about you actually refute his position?  Besides, you've made some good points too, but not all of them are good.  Maybe I should do the same and just say I've read enough of Alan.

Dilworth on the Green Revolution:

Quote
On the VCP, population growth generally is the result of there being a surplus of vital resources, which leads to or is combined with a weakening of internal population checks. This growth then eats away at the surplus until the population arrives at a state where vital resources are scarce. The higher the level of fertility and/or the lower the level of mortality, the faster this state of affairs will come about, and the more pronounced it will be.

Not only has world population since the 1950s grown fastest in the Third World, but the vast majority of the people living there are already at the bottom of the global power-hierarchy, making the effects of population growth even worse for them. The result has been a high mortality rate and much suffering.

Given the VCP, the reasonable attempt at an antidote to this state of affairs would be to try to establish or re-establish internal population checks so as to reduce the size of the population and bring it into equilibrium with its source of food. The path actually followed, however, was one that simply took the Third World further round with the vicious circle. With the ostensible ultimate aim of reducing Third World hunger by producing more food (cereals, starting with rice), in the late 1950s the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations set up the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the (US-controlled) Philippines, which has since grown to be the world’s largest rice research agency. In this regard both common sense and the VCP tell us that, without the reinstatement of internal population checks, given sufficient breeding sites an increase in the amount of food in the Third World would only be pouring oil on the fire, and lead to population growth together with a further weakening of whatever checks as might still exist, with the result that the same problem should simply recur, only on a more intractable scale. As C. G. Darwin suggested already before the Green Revolution, if a larger quantity of food should at some time be accessible thanks to some discovery, for example in agriculture, then the size of the population will quickly rise to the new level, and afterwards development will continue as before, with the difference that the marginal starving group will constitute a larger proportion of the greater population. What Darwin describes is of course an expression of the pioneering principle, manifest through the vicious circle’s moving from the having of a surplus of vital resources on to population growth.

This seems so obvious that one can wonder whether the ostensible reason for the IRRI project was the real reason. And it becomes clear that it was not. The real reason for the project was not to help the poor, but to increase the power of the capitalist political bloc centred on the United States, and the personal wealth of the capitalists involved. Thus with these ultimate ends in view, the direct aim of the IRRI was, using extant Third World varieties of rice, to breed more highly productive strains. Control of these strains was to fall into the hands of American capitalists; and control of the countries producing them into the hands of the capitalist bloc. From their point of view population growth in the relevant countries was good, not bad. It ensured a market for the capitalists’ products, and provided manpower if a large military force were needed in conflicts with socialist states. What they forgot was that whatever patent they may have had on these strains didn’t hold in the communist bloc, so the communists could and did produce them themselves. We shall see a change in this regard in the next agricultural revolution – to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

What were produced were rice varieties that required copious quantities of mineral fertilisers and poisons, large amounts of which American companies were manufacturing in the postwar years, at the same time as they were scouting for markets overseas. So started the Green Revolution.

Outside of Mexico, the Green Revolution received its greatest support on the frontiers of the communist world, from Turkey to Korea, where it recommended itself as a way of blunting the appeal of socialist revolution, at its height in the 1960s. The rice programme in particular largely stemmed from American anxieties about the possible spread of Chinese communism after 1949. Meanwhile, socialist societies – China, Vietnam, and Cuba – embraced the idea of scientifically improved crops with equal vigour. High-yield rice strengthened communist China as much as it did Asia’s island fringe, which America relied upon to contain China. In several of its manifestations, then, the Green Revolution was a child of the Cold War, and may be said to have achieved its economic but not its political goal.

Where the Green Revolution was implemented, farmers came to use heavier and heavier doses of biocides. This efficiently selected for resistant pests – as antibiotics did for bacteria. And as of 1985, roughly one million people had suffered acute poisoning from pesticides, two-thirds of them agricultural workers. The vast fertiliser requirements of the Green Revolution led to the eutrophication of lakes and rivers. Meanwhile the necessary irrigation helped drive the huge dam-building programmes of China, India, Mexico and elsewhere. Before the Green Revolution, farmers raised thousands of strains of wheat around the world. After it, they increasingly used only a few, and became fettered to a system based on a necessarily diminishing source of energy which required constantly increasing quantities of water.

The Green Revolution did not engineer an income redistribution towards Third World farmers; nor did it achieve food independence except for a few countries.  Until 1981 the Third World had long been a net exporter of food, after 1981 it was a net importer.

Of course the people on whom the Western capitalists foisted the Green Revolution were themselves much better attuned to their long-term needs than the capitalists were, not that the capitalists really cared. Western power simply usurped the ecologically more benevolent lifestyle.

With its new strains, and the fertilisers, biocides, mechanisation and increased irrigation they required, world grain production doubled between 1960 and the late 1980s. Most of the world had been ‘saved’ by becoming more energy-intensive, complex and polluting. And for this, the scientist who led the teams responsible won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. This is highly ironic, for the increase in food, leading to an increase in population and thereby population pressure, worked rather towards decreasing the likelihood of peace.

Not unaware of the problematic nature of the results of his efforts, the winner of the Prize himself said: “Perhaps through this development we can buy 25 to 30 years of time. [But u]nless there is a breakthrough in slowing population growth on a world-wide basis, the world will disintegrate.” Yes, the world will disintegrate; but you should have thought about slowing population growth before introducing your more productive seeds and their poisons on the market.

As clearly expressed by Forrester (and as implied by Malthus):

Quote
Many programs – for example the development of more productive grains and agricultural methods – are spoken of as ‘buying time’ until population control becomes effective. But the process of buying time reduces the pressures that force population control. … Trying to raise quality of life without intentionally creating compensating pressures to prevent a rise in population density will be self-defeating. Efforts to improve quality of life will fail until effective means have been implemented for limiting both population and industrialization. f we persist in treating only the symptoms and not the causes, the result will be to increase the magnitude of the ultimate threat and reduce our capability to respond when we no longer have more space and resources to invade.

Another negative aspect of this ‘saving’ was that its use of poisons required monoculture cultivation, opening crops to potential destruction by e.g. weather, at the same time as it reduced biodiversity. Also, the ploughing that was often required raised the temperature of the soil in the spring. In temperate regions this would have increased the activity of beneficial soil organisms; but in the tropics and subtropics it had the opposite effect, and is largely responsible for the nine times greater soil erosion there. Tropical soils are not amenable to sustainable agrarian agriculture, only to horticulture, just as were the non-riverine soils in Mesopotamia; once again, the over-exploitation of soil resources using agrarian agriculture results in soil degradation. Capitalists, spurred by the profit motive, nevertheless support the implementation of agrarian technology in the tropics.

Nevertheless, as noted, world grain production doubled in the short term thanks to these efforts. And population growth followed suit. As Catton puts it, the Green Revolution burdened the 20th century with almost another doubling of world population.

In the cradle of the Green Revolution in India there are today vast stretches of land where grass will no longer grow, the water is no longer drinkable due to contamination from mineral fertilisers, aquifers have dried up, soils are degraded, and biodiversity is fast vanishing, the agricultural result being declining rice yields. In 2001, in Wayanad, millions of fish died because of the presence in the water of the copper-based fungicide Furadan, sprayed on pepper gardens to control the wilt disease. And at the same time pests developed resistance to the poisons, leading to the development and use of new ones.

The Green Revolution not only increased the profits of the capitalists who owned the more productive seeds, but it also increased the profits of the large-scale landowners in the Third World, for whom the major financial investments required in e.g. tractors were both possible and paid off at least in the short term. In India, the poorest farmers, each of whom tilled perhaps half a hectare of land, could not afford these extras, and were forced to sell their farms and migrate to the cities, while the richer farmers increased the size of their holdings at the expense of the poor, and became even richer. (This brings to mind the definition of foreign aid as the money poor people in rich countries give to rich people in poor countries.) Thus another ‘achievement’ of the Green Revolution was to enrich two or three per cent of the wheat and rice farmers enormously, leaving the vast majority of subsistence farmers in the lurch. The increasing incidences of suicide among farmers in India lend testimony to this failure of high-tech agriculture. Thus, as in the horticultural and agrarian eras, while the poor continue to live barely above subsistence level – and some of them under it – the increase in the amount of food led to population growth.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (p. 419-423). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

12
Energy / Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« on: April 06, 2017, 12:09:04 PM »
Quote
I suspect he means MALTHUS, not Darwin. But, either way, the deal is that
things have turned out opposite to that prediction. More food ("surplus of vital
resources") has NOT led to an increase in the rate of population growth. Rather,
what we're seeing is a decrease.  As I said up thread, fertility has fallen off a
cliff in all those places where it was supposed to be exploding:  India, China,
elsewhere in Asia. In contrast, fertility remains very high in places, like southern
Africa,  where there is a persistent DEFICIT of vital resources -- the opposite of
what Dilworth et al suggest.

The observable effect has been consistent with the vicious circle principle.  We saw an initial increase in the growth rate due to the surplus delivered by the Green Revolution.  As population rose to meet the available surplus, thereby reducing it, the growth rate correspondingly fell and continues to do so.  With the next turning of the vicious cycle, the same process will occur.  GMO foods are one example of our aim to deliver yet another surplus which will enable yet another spike in the growth rate.  We must also keep in perspective what we're talking about with reduction in the growth rate when even small percentages deliver high total population figures.  Despite your citation of slowing growth rates, we're still on target for 10 billion people by   Yes a deficit of vital resources is a problem, but so is a surplus.  These are the two extremes of the scale.  As usual, balance is the key.

13
Energy / Re: Lights OUT! The Official Blackout Thread
« on: April 06, 2017, 12:08:53 PM »
If humans developed zero point energy without a corresponding development of wisdom insofar as the use of

14
Well I'm finally reporting back on the results of my bow drill fire making attempt.  I cheated a little and used a knife to carve my fireboard and drill.  I also used a shoelace in place of natural cordage.  Trying to get my first fire going by primitive means using only natural material was, in hindsight, overly ambitious, so I figured I would get the technique and method down before going full primitive.

For those of you unfamiliar with the bow drill method, it consists of four components.  A drill, bow, handhold, and fireboard.  The drill is a very straight piece of wood about 8" in length with a point carved at each end.  Think of a pencil shape.  The top should be pointed so it fits into the handhold, and the bottom slightly rounded to a small point.  The bow should be the length of your arm from fingers to armpit.  The string can be made of natural cordage (eg. rawhide, dried plant material) or man-made (eg. long shoelace, nylon string/rope).  The fireboard should be an inch thick and at least as wide, twice as much is best.  The drill is spun with the bow vertically on the fireboard, which lays flat on the ground, while the top of the drill fits into your handhold.  The friction bores a hole in the fireboard, eventually producing a coal that can be used to start fire with tinder.

Here's a photo of my equipment

Bow Drill Equipment - Australia
Bow Drill Equipment - Australia

For both my fireboard and drill I used a native species.  It was used by the Aboriginal peoples of my locale and is called Xanthorrhoea, or by it's best known common name, blackboy.  If you'd like, you can read more about its' additional uses on Wikipedia.

The handhold is a macadamia nut shell, or half of one.  It fits perfectly in the palm and has a very smooth surface where it makes contact with the drill.  This helps reduce friction at the handhold end so all the friction is at the fireboard.

I'm not sure what species the bow is but I suspect it's a Eucalypt.  It's best to use something with a slight curve and some slight give.  You don't want it to snap.

I had been trying to start fire, or more specifically create a coal, over a few sessions but I just couldn't get it to happen.  Plenty of smoke and drill dust was created, but no coal.  I had a feeling my fireboard was narrow but hadn't been able to find any thicker Xanthorrhoea.  That was until recently when I spotted one off the side of a nearby road.  To get to it I had to walk through some gnarly scrub, which I wasn't keen on because it looked like prime poisonous snake terrain.  So I got my boots on and quickly grabbed the dried flower spike and returned to safer ground. 

Back home in the garage I carved out the new thicker fireboard and drill and went to work.  The first attempt resulted in the board splitting at the end when I went to cut a notch in the new drill hole.  This is something to watch for if you try to drill too close to the end of the board.  I learned a number of useful tips in the following YouTube videos, which I highly recommend if you're trying this technique.

Ultimate Bowdrill Tips & Tricks (Part 1)
Ultimate Bowdrill Tips & Tricks (Part 1)
Ultimate Bowdrill Tips & Tricks (Part 2)
Ultimate Bowdrill Tips & Tricks (Part 2)

My second attempt was much improved as I quickly mated the drill with the board and then recarved the drill for the attempt at the coal.  By now my form was second nature from the prior experience which allowed me to completely focus on the pressure and speed of the bow.  As usual I had lots of smoke, but I also had more board to drill through due to the increased thickness, so the longer drilling created higher temperature, producing a coal for the first time!  The giveaway was a separate stream of smoke coming from the drill dust pile.  It was a great big coal too! 

Taking my time I transferred the coal to my tinder pile and blew on it until it erupted in flame....FIRE!  Finally all my hard work had paid off.  It was a great feeling.  Knowing that I could save my ass if ever I needed to was a big boost of confidence.

Here's the proof of my primitive firemaking.  I have a video as well but no means to edit it and it's far too long to upload.  Maybe another time.

Bow Drill Coal
Bow Drill Coal
Bow Drill Fire
Bow Drill Fire

Now that I've created a coal and a fire, I'm going to try producing the material without the aid of modern tools.  Creating a stone knife and cordage won't be easy, but I'll persist until I've had success and share again back here.

15
The Kitchen Sink / Re: Obsolescence of the Obsolete
« on: April 06, 2017, 12:08:39 PM »
Some interesting themes going on in this article, from the social aspects of the internet, to the nature of intellectual debate.  In the real world as on the internet, people drift in and out of our lives, observing the rule that nothing is static.  While there is some healthy exchange of thoughts and information here as in other venues, as you pointed out humans tend to talk AT each other, instead of talking together.  How can any significant understanding come from a process of "I defy you, you defy me?"  I see this is in part caused by not listening, or in this case not reading, as well as our preconceived notions against which the information is evaluated. 

As you said there are bigger themes that the blogosphere and commentariat tend to agree upon despite their specific brand of doomTM.  I would hazard a guess that the core themes are

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