Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Confluence

First, a disclaimer. This is going to be a data dump, I haven't had time to really organise it into a coherent whole, but I'm hoping it makes some sort of sense.

I think we're at a turning point in modern history, but not a "point" as such, but more like the large turning circle of the QE 2. And I'm not the only one saying this, for sure. Only recently has the pieces really fallen in place in my own head.. maybe I'm just slow. After all, Kenneth Boulding did say "Anybody who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

There is a confluence of many things happening now that will have a massive (and probably detrimental) effect on our lives. We're pretty sure that climate change - be it due to humans or not - is happening. Energy and commodity prices are skyrocketing. Corporations are making bigger and bigger profits and megacorporations are starting to dominate our economy. Globalisation has made the economy much more fluid and lead to the rise of the next superpowers, China and India. People's health (specially in the "Western World") is deteriorating rapidly - depression, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and ADHD are just some of the "lifestyle" diseases we're suffering.

What is clear is that all these problems are interlinked. Climate change is probably due to the massive amount of fossil fuels we are using to drive our economy. The economy is driven by markets which expect each year (and quarter) to produce higher profits than the previous one. This exponential growth in the market creates an exponential demand for resources (providing further impetus to climate change). The profit driven market sees everything including it's employees and the environment simply as another variable to maximise efficiency. The overstressed and depressed workforce finds solace in the only way it knows how - further material wealth. Which feeds back into the cycle.

Any engineer or scientist will know that a positive feedback cycle like this can't continue forever. Or even very long. We will hit some hard resource limits (be it natual resources, economic or human) sooner or later. Sooner, I think.

To be continued..

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