Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Whenever I bring up the topic of Peak Oil people often tell me we have so much oil left we have nothing to worry about. I’m not sure where they are getting their information from other than what has become the rhetoric after 2007 when the way reserves are calculated which include oil from synthetics (like pyrolysis), Canada Tar Sand, and shale. First oil from pyrolysis depends on waste or trash and if we produce less trash there is less syn-oil. Second is Canada Tar Sands which is a mix of heavy oil with sand that requires millions of gallons of water and a huge amount of natural gas to become something liquid enough to put into a pipeline, but no one ever mentions that. Last Shale oil is not even in production at this time that I know of, but its still counted.

Turning trash or waste into oil has maybe a return of 2 or 3 to 1, Tar Sands after refinement and ready for sale of 1:1 at best and Shale would have the poorest of all returns in the negative, using more energy to bring it to market than it would return. Relying on these fuels is a definite sign we are running out of petroleum faster than politicians, economists or the industry will admit.

Critics of Hubbert like Bjorn Lomborg, Michael Lynch, and Dr. Michael Mills disagree with the Peak Oil view, or Dr. Marion King Hubbert who came up with the Hubbart’s Peak on oil. They believe the Peak Oil argument, decline in oil to be flawed. Not sure how that can be since resources all go through the same path of discovery, increase in use, and decline. All resources. Instead they believe that a rise in price of oil will bring new supply and demand into balance as not to result in intolerable economic damage. This makes no sense if a resource is running out and there is no more to be had. John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil when interviewed on CNBC in February of 2012 said, “I think OPEC is about maxed out. When people talk about spare capacity in OPEC, I don’t see it. I just don’t see it coming through and I’m not sure it’s there. And it’s not just that they’re greedy, but they’re really producing what they can produce.” Followers of Hubbert’s Peak believe what’s left is much smaller than actually reported. As oil becomes scarcer and more expensive, critics of Peak Oil believe its increased price will encourage an advancement in technology to develop alternatives. Just what these “alternatives” is a big question. In the U.S. if we were to convert all the farmland into fuel production like biodiesel and alcohol from cellulose we would just meet 50% of our liquid fuel needs. Where’s the other half coming from? Some claim a land mass the size of Texas could meet all our needs in liquid fuels, that would be for cars only not trains, planes, ships or anything else. Also no one bother’s to address the other half of a car that is made from petroleum like lubricants, wire insulation, seats and carpeting and so forth.

Lomborg, Lynch and Mills must have blinders on or promote a very narrow view of reality. It is such detractors that are keeping the world from moving forward. Unless we address the fact so many things in our society are made from or are dependent on petroleum we will never find an answer to the decline in oil and prices will not over come the fact that we are running out of oil. I would like to see a real conference where every view brought forward their data and information openly discussing, debating and publishing the information. We can’t go on someone’s word that something like price will cause some magical increase in oil finds or production. These types of views need to brought out for what they are, lies and distractions from reality.

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On the bus coming into downtown a friend boarded with whom I had a very interesting conversation.  It seems that every time I open my mouth there are a number of people on the bus I make uncomfortable and probably wish I would just shut up.  What do I say?

I said, we don’t much longer before we either run out of oil or it gets so expensive we won’t be able to afford it.   He agreed.  This made several people squirm in their seat, especially a young couple who look like they just got their first real jobs with more than a student level paycheck.  They look like they have money to spend by the way they dress.  Now it is not my intention to make people feel uncomfortable but it seems the truth does that to people.

My simple observation that we are running out of oil, and as a result fossil fuels, which will change our lives in such profound ways makes people uncomfortable.  People it would seem want to remain ignorant, oblivious to the truth.

I went on to mention to my friend that people will have a very hard time in the future as oil runs out.  Even the CEO of Shell mentioned just a few years ago how we are to expect $5 a gallon for gasoline by 2015.  We are well on our way.  What people don’t realize, we may have spikes from which the price will go back down but overall since the mid-1980s the price of gasoline has gone from 75 – 80 cents a gallon to around $3.80 currently.  A three dollar increase in 25 years which is more than inflation.  That’s actually more than a 4-hundred percent increase.

People have told me that technology will save them.  What they don’t realize is that technology is very heavily dependent on petroleum and can not save us.  It will never save us if we don’t have the energy.

President Clinton even mentioned in 2006 that we reached Peak Oil.  I’ve been telling people we hit Peak around 2007-2008.  We hit is sometime between 2005 and 2009 and we are not on a gentle slope of decline but rather heading for the valley below in increasing speeds until we hit bottom.  We fell off the cliff and bottom is getting closer and closer every day and yet people want to just continue to be entertained, numbed out of their skulls by useless stuff like TV and sports, and left alone so they don’t have to deal with reality, other than the manufactured stuff on TV.

Yes, this is turning into a bit of a rant, but it is good to get it out because too many people around me and in the U.S. as a whole want things to be left alone so they don’t have to change anything in their lives.  Colorado, where I live, has no plans to transition off fossil fuels.  The Transition Colorado group keeps teaching, and charging, for the same old classes rather than taking their lead from the original movement coming out of Ireland and England.

The transition techniques which have their origins in Permaculture were included in a student project overseen by permaculture teacher Rob Hopkins at the Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland. The term transition town was coined by Louise Rooney and Catherine Dunne. Following its start in Kinsale, Ireland it then spread to Totnes, England where Rob Hopkins and Naresh Giangrande developed the concept during 2005 and 2006. (www.wikipedia.org)

The problem with the Colorado groups that think they are helping are actually leaving out a large part of the population, namely working-poor, poor, homeless, and disenfranchised.  What I see happening is that only people who can afford to take classes, namely white-middle class, are getting a small piece of the pie, grow your own food, and everyone remains in the dark about how fast we are running out of cheap energy and what really needs to be done to keep some semblance of a society as we know it.

Even our governor keeps wanting to create jobs, grow the economy and keep Colorado prosperous.  Good luck when energy is running out and only getting more expensive.  I have been told we have plenty of coal left here in Colorado, not if you don’t have petroleum to run the machines to mine it you don’t.

We have to think differently.  We have to act differently.  We have to accept that we will no longer see a growing economy.  We will no longer see what we call prosperity.  We will no longer have it as good as we have had it in the past.  It’s over. Finished and the only thing we can do is prepare for a different kind of future.  We have to completely let go of the past, old ways of thinking, economic theories and even incomes and profits. They will all go away.

That is what I keep talking about and people don’t want to hear it, but they have to.  If they don’t want to have a future of chaos or one that is out of control then you have to get away from what has lead us down that merry path and make a new one.  We have to remake ourselves and everything around us. We don’t have a choice.


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Joyce, sorry for the wait on your question on magnetic motors. No, I have no information on them. I did some searches and found some videos but really no information. The people who claim to have built them say they are producing more energy than is going in. That would violate the laws of physics. Now if it is somehow possible then why aren’t these people building them quietly to produce all of their own electricity, and for their family and friends? They could literally be making electricity to could sell to the utility company each and every month, but that is not happening. I want to see such a motor, have it tested and if it is for real I would produce them at cost for anyone that wanted one.

Until I can verify it for myself I don’t think they work the way some claim and there is no free electricity. It would be better to follow the European example, convert your home to a Passivhaus design (much, much better than Leeds) and then add Solar Photovoltaic panels or helix windmill. With conservation you would produce so much energy each and every month you would be paid by the utility company instead of paying them.


Another thing. I do have to apologize for the not so good article on hydrogen but I just find the whole thing one big fat joke. It will never power any economy much less your car or home. It is such a scam! Hydrogen is, 1) not a source of energy but an energy carrier, 2) all along the energy path you are losing energy and what you get back in the end is no better than an internal combustion engine, 3) you are better off using the electricity, natural gas (methane or biogas) directly rather than waste energy to convert it to hydrogen. Hydrogen at best may play a small part as a form of energy storage, but a very small part because compressed air and water pumped uphill have better returns. Not only that recently a professor at MIT came up with a battery that can store a good amount of energy for a good price.

We need to stop wasting energy and money persuing hydrogen as a source of energy.

That would have not made a good article either but I dare anyone to look at the data, the research and see for themselves and they will have no other conclusion. Anyone pushing for hydrogen never back what they say with data, they only talk in fantasy, dream like statements of possibilities. They are just full of hot air and if we could harness that we would be energy independent for sure.


And lastly. I have decided after some thought that I need to add something to this blog to help bring in some, even if it’s small, income. I’ve decided to look at adding some books from Amazon to my posts as a way to make money. I know, I know. I’ve done my research and found that people are no longer making a so called living at blogging, unless they have more than a handful of them each bringing in some money. But, being unemployed and finding it hard to find work that would actually pay the bills I need to look at having more than one income source and this blog is going to be one of them.  I am also looking to teach classes with regard to sustainability, around the Greenhouse Project itself, and what we have to look forward to in the future with regard to peak oil, peak water and peak land. Anyone interested in hiring me to speak at their event please email me. Thanks.


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Currently our federal government is wasting tens of billions of dollars on hydrogen research and use.  There are even organizations set up to help take that money all to promote what will never be a source of energy in the future.

A Brief History:

A Swiss Alchemist, Philippus Aureolus Paracelsus, in 1520 discovered hydrogen sort of when he described a gas rising from iron dissolving in sulfuric acid. Robert Boyle also dissolved iron in an acid to create what he called a flammable air. Henry Cavendish from England in 1766 detected hydrogen in a demonstration where he dissolved various metals in sulfuric acid and showed the resulting gas burned. In 1783 the gas was finally names hydrogen by A.L. Lavoisier. In the same year Jacques Charles created the first hydrogen filled balloon.

Jules Verne published the Mysterious Island in 1874 in which he describes in Chapter 33 the use of hydrogen and oxygen to replace coal. Here is the text:

“It is to be hoped so,” answered Spilett, “for without coal there would be no machinery, and without machinery there would be no railways, no steamers, no manufactories, nothing of that which is indispensable to modern civilization!”

“But what will they find?” asked Pencroft. “Can you guess, captain?”

“Nearly, my friend.”

“And what will they burn instead of coal?”

“Water,” replied Harding.

“Water!” cried Pencroft, “water as fuel for steamers and engines! water to heat water!”

“Yes, but water decomposed into its primitive elements,” replied Cyrus Harding, “and decomposed doubtless, by electricity, which will then have become a powerful and manageable force, for all great discoveries, by some inexplicable laws, appear to agree and become complete at the same time. Yes, my friends, I believe that water will one day be employed as fuel, that hydrogen and oxygen which constitute it, used singly or together, will furnish an inexhaustible source of heat and light, of an intensity of which coal is not capable. Some day the coalrooms of steamers and the tenders of locomotives will, instead of coal, be stored with these two condensed gases, which will burn in the furnaces with enormous calorific power. There is, therefore, nothing to fear. As long as the earth is inhabited it will supply the wants of its inhabitants, and there will be no want of either light or heat as long as the productions of the vegetable, mineral or
animal kingdoms do not fail us. I believe, then, that when the deposits of coal are exhausted we shall heat and warm ourselves with water. Water will be the coal of the future.”

“I should like to see that,” observed the sailor.

Hydrogen as the coal of the future is kinda like what they are saying about hydrogen replacing oil today. The whole thing is fanciful as Verne, nor any scientist at the time, understood Energy Returned on Energy Invested. That is still a problem today with many people, namely politicians.

During Nixon’s years in office there was a push to move toward a new energy future using Hydrogen as stated in a great speech that Bush Jr repeated. (Sorry I looked for the speech but I could not find it.)

Why is Hydrogen a waste of our time and money?

  1. Hydrogen is not freely available as it is usually tightly bound up with other things and it is not easy to pry free.
  2. Currently Hydrogen is obtained by pulling it from its bonds in Natural Gas which releases a huge amount of Carbon Dioxide.
  3. To pry Hydrogen from it bonds requires a huge amount of energy and often a high temperature steam. (To get hydrogen from coal for instance requires nearly one thousand degree temperatures, high temperature and pressure steam which leaves behind pollution. Not exactly a clean energy.)
  4. To convert Hydrogen to electricity wastes even more energy and the end result is you get much less energy out than put in. This means that you always need more hydrogen, and more hydrogen, and….
  5. To store Hydrogen either requires very large tanks, high compression to 10,000 pounds per square inch which also requires it to be cooled to -253 degrees Celsius (about -424 F) and that requires special handling and storage.
  6. What sort of environmental implications are there? If we convert sea water to hydrogen then how is sea life impacted? How will weather be impacted with all this new water vapor floating around?
  7. Also, who will pay for the Hydrogen Infrastructure?
  8. One example given (see link below) it would be better to use the electricity produced by a renewable source than the hydrogen as you would lose around 85 – 90 % of the original energy in the process.  Having said that I do admit it could be used to store energy. But how would it compare to compressed air as a form of energy storage?
  9. Hydrogen cars cost a million dollars currently and that price will not come down anytime soon for you to afford one before the oil runs out.

There are other reasons as you can see in the links below. Hydrogen is not our answer to replacing oil or any other fossil fuel. All the money currently spent on hydrogen would be better off being put toward giving all of us free Solar Photovoltaic panels so we can produce our own electricity to help us move off fossil fuels. I would imaging it would actually be cheaper to give us Solar panels than to keep wasting it on hydrogen.


We should be more sensible than heading down a make believe path that has no hope of taking us anywhere.

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Growing up in the 70s I remember hearing about conservation, using less, as a way to cut both the amount of energy used and the cost of energy. Conservation was just one of the words I had heard. Energy savings, better efficiency and the implementation of renewable energy sources, also known then as alternative energy sources, were being researched. Solar energy was the big one at the time. More efficient homes were also a big topic with many new designs like the envelope house, or homes partially submerged or well insulated with either a trombe wall or passive solar.

Through the later 70s and into the mid-80s we actually saw a drop in energy use, mostly by cutting wasted energy by building better homes , cars that got more out every gallon of gasoline and improved energy usage in appliances. Then Reagan got elected and he proceeded to undo all the success we had.

One of the first things he did was pull the solar panels off the roof of the White House. He then proceeded to undo all the energy savings we had gained in the previous decade and we saw cars go from being energy efficient to energy hogs in the form of SUV’s. Not only did they use more energy they got larger. Homes got larger too and less energy efficient. It was as if the energy shortages of the 70s never existed or the fact that the U.S. went from a major exporter of energy, oil first, natural gas second, to a major importer. We still have a supply of coal but oil and natural gas are running out and Reagan acted as if it didn’t matter.

In 1989 Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute coined the term “negawatt” which meant the watt of energy not used or rather a savings in energy. The negawatt is the idea of reduced energy usage. Today it is seen more as a commodity that can be sold the same as a watt is sold. The idea is that energy that is not used represents not only a savings by someone but reduced pollution that industries finding is hard to become more efficient could use to claim a reduction in their own pollution, namely electric companies.

The true savings lies with someone implementing the energy savings where lasting savings continue after the initial costs have been paid for well into the future especially as the cost of energy goes every skyward.

Around the same time as the idea of the negawatt became known professors Bo Adamson of Lund University in Sweden and Wolfgang Feist from the Institut für Wohnen und Umwelt (Institute for Housing and the Environment) in Germany came up with the idea of the PassivHaus through some research projects starting in 1988. The first Passivhaus residences were built in Darmstadt, Germany in 1990.

The idea of a PassivHaus is very simple. First, you add another pane of window glass for a total of three panes. Then the design of the home or apartment is build in such a way as to reduce escape routes for heat are greatly reduced. The residence is also super-insulated to the point where it becomes sealed as best as it can be from the outside world. Fresh air is pumped into the home via a special duct where indoor air transfers up to 80% of its heat as it leaves to the incoming fresh air to reduce the need to heat the incoming air. The residence then gains most of its heating needs through passive solar, cooking (or appliances), people and pets.

A PassivHaus costs about 15% more and has been shown to be the most efficient home design currently available. In fact a PassivHaus can cut energy usage by 90% which represents a significant savings. The remaining amount can be made up by using Solar or Wind energy making the home no longer dependent on fossil fuels for its energy needs.

Other ideas have also come along that are very similar like the Zero-Energy Building. There is also the concept of home designs where the home itself actually over the course of a year produces more energy than it uses making the home-owner money rather than costing them money.

All these ideas are not new. Passive solar design was well know for thousands of years. Adding insulation to hold the heat in was the idea behind sealing the cracks to cut down on drafts of earlier home designs and later adding drapery to cut heat transfer to the outside was also used. It was the Romans who added pane glass to take advantage of solar gain during the daytime.

The idea of making a home more energy efficient has only grown but lags behind in the U.S. which continues to act as if there is nothing to worry about believing we still have huge quantities of energy at our disposal.

To tie this to the greenhouse, the old designs were all about glass virtually from ground to the roof-top. These were very inefficient and often only a single pane of glass. In the 1970s some of the first passive solar greenhouses were designed. They often only had glass on the south side, never on the north. Some were sucken into the ground while others were above ground. The angle of the south facing glass was also different as it made the best use of the winter angle of the sun, lower than in the summer months. Combined it made better use of capturing the available sunlight to warm the greenhouse when it was needed and used natural draft to remove excess heat in the summer. They also made use of heat storage in drums filled with water or in massive stone works. Some would even pump warm air underground into a bed of large stones to help hold the heat.

These designs have changed little, it has been namely technology has created better windows and materials for insulation, everything else is still the same. Also, the bed of rocks below ground have been replaced with a what is now called a heat battery where a series of pipes run underground transferring heat to the surrounding ground to help even out the temperature throughout the day time and night time.

Being more efficient in our energy use will go a long way to keeping us comfortable in the future.

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The Scientific American article, “Can we get off oil now?” dated February 28, 2011 has some very interesting points.

Too much of our oil we are dependent on comes from countries like, Africa, Middle East and Venezuela. (See full list of members of OPEC: http://www.opec.org/opec_web/en/about_us/25.htm) Many of these countries either have internal strife or they are not very friendly to the U.S. (they just like our money). Any of these countries could at any time begin the process of cutting off our oil supply and would we have enough money, oil reserves and troops to go after the oil?

The article says it well: “Eight of the top nine oil exporters are dictatorships or autocratic kingdoms, a control structure funded by our own dollars that is suddenly being shaken.” This was after the banking collapse and the financial crisis.

This paragraph brings home some of the hidden costs of oil most people have no idea exist: “The payoff of significantly reducing oil consumption would reach far beyond the economy and the environment, by the way. A study by Boyden Gray and Andrew Varcoe noted that oil companies are permitted under a waiver of the Clean Air Act to include known carcinogens such as benzene, toluene and xylene in gasoline, which raise octane (power output). The study showed that the added cost to healthcare and shortened lives in the U.S. comes to more than $100 billion a year.”

The article says what so many have said before: “To be clear, the goal is to break U.S. addiction to oil, not just foreign oil.” But how?

One solution is to get us off oil by transitioning toward liquid fuels that can take the place of petroleum is to implement a $1-per-gallon-gasoline-tax. This tax would be phazed in over time a nickel each month to give people time to begin finding alternatives, other options. This tax is the idea of Thomas Friedman who advocated that the tax go to lower the national deficit. Other people say the tax should go to fund new alternative fuels.

The RAND Corporation in a white paper they issued argued for a crude oil tax, “at the refinery, spreads the burden across all taxpayers, not just motorists and truckers.” Spreading out the tax would be more preferable, but then it would have to be significantly more than a dollar-per-barrel.

Another option would be to have two kinds of taxes, one on the crude itself and to help reduce car usage, and its associated health and other hidden costs on society tax both diesel and gasoline at the pump. Both could be fazed in over a period of a year at a nickle at a time at the pump, or in the case of crude, $5 a barrel every 3 months.

There is also the argument that subsides would have to phazed out just as the tax is being phazed in to make other options more affordable and desirable.

But, would this move us toward something better? No! Not necessarily. There is no gaurantee that something better would happen as corporations are known for taking short-cuts and doing what is in their best interests and makes them, and their stock holders, a profit. Here are my thoughts.

Hybrid and Flex-fuel vehicles are a joke. If were to have used them we should have started back in the late 70s and 80s. We need to move faster than implementing something that will take years to get them into the hands of the public.

Electric cars sound like a good idea but tell me, how much of that car is made with petroleum products? Did a light bulb just come on? Have never thought about this before? The answer varies slightly but around half of every car has parts that are made from petroleum. Here is a list: bumper, cloth covering the whole inside of a car, the floor carpets, all the hoses and belts, the battery casing, coating on the wires, lenses for all the lights, door panels, dashboard, seats, mirror housing,  knobs, switches, gauges, sound-system, ignition system, cables, computer, oil, lubricant, seat-belt, brake line, brake fluid, floor petals, anti-freeze, fuel line, steering wheel, and wheels. Did I miss anything? It really doesn’t matter because the point is, the car is able to move due to petroleum and is almost completely made from petroleum. So electric cars are out.

Hydrogen cars are out. Don’t even get me started talking about what a colossal waste in every sense of the word persuing Hydrogen as a fuel is. It is NOT a source of energy and never will be. It is an energy carrier. It takes more energy to liberate hydrogen from its bonds that you get out. Besides like the electric car it would be mostly made of petroleum.

Liquid fuels are a serious waste of money. We can make use of ethanol (not from corn) and biodiesel (from more than soy) to transition off of petroleum but we will never be able to grow enough to supply every car, truck, train, or boat with a liquid fuel. We would face a serious limitation in how much we can grow and still be able to feed ourselves. Liquid fuels from other sources, like coal or natural gas would face their own peak and quick decline soon after their introduction. Besides the idea is we transition off all fossil fuels in order to not be dependent of foreign imports any longer.

What does that leave? Some fringe ideas like cars that run on compressed air. This would actually be a good idea for the interim but not the long-term if we are to move off of petroleum. Running cars on compressed natural gas is another waste of our efforts. We would run out of natural gas in less than ten years if we had any significant number of personal cars using natural gas.

There is no single idea that will keep us all driving our cars, trucks, trains, or boats into the future. There are no alternatives. Don’t even mention algae because the amount of energy input (petroleum is used in lubricating the pumps, growing drums or membranes, tubing, pipes, filter, and some of the chemicals have petroleum ties) would be greater than the energy output. Algae is a lost cause. We should have worked on this one decades ago.

My solution: raise the tax as quickly as possible on both the crude and at the pump. Use the money to build an infrastructure of PRT transit systems, light-rail and both medium and heavy rail relying on electricity to move them, not diesel. Buses for public transit would disappear. Use the tax to set up a lab where brilliant scientists with not corporate ties would be given the task to find ways to mimic nature in producing plastics, along with other products, for the public transit systems. All items produced would have to be produced in such a way that at the end of their life would either be harmlessly returned to the soil or remade in some way so there is never any waste.

And how does this tie into growing food? Duh! 1) Farms would have to be divided up and made much smaller. 2) Food needs to be grown where people live and not transported. 3) We will need to rely more on natural fibers to replace all the petroleum based fibers. 4) The colors used in making cloths or for print work would be replaced with natural materials. 5) All farm equipment would have to rely on either electricity or biodiesel, but the farmer would have to produce it themselves and use it on the farm – no transport involved or the return on invested energy would go way up becoming unsustainable. 6) Nothing less than 100% organic everything. 7) The old systems would have to be allowed to crumble for this transition to occur just like everything eventually dies.

There you have it. I see not other way,  everything else but a direct heading toward complete transition off of fossil fuels as a waste of money and time. I would love to hear what you have to say so please comment.

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For well over a decade people have questioned whether continued growth, especially exponential growth, can be sustained or worth pursuing.  This is for several reasons, there are limits to growth as we live on a finite planet. Resources are not limitless, even nature has limits it imposes and doesn’t allow one species or another to go beyond the limits that lead to its own death. In fact nature allows for die-off to occur limiting any one species to not dominate a particular ecosystem.

Let me first look at Nature. Lets say a particular animal begins to have too many young. If there is plenty of food then nothing happens and all the young that are born not deformed or experience disease live. But if the food or water supply is limited for one reason or another then both the young and older animals die off. Usually the weaker members. Nature keeps a delicate balance so the food or water source is not over exploited to the point of desertification where both plant and animal die off completely as well as any other species within that ecosystem.

The only species that does not limit itself and does everything to prevent natural methods of die-off from occurring is us humans. Modern medicine pats itself on the back with claims of having fended off many diseases through vaccinations or disease prevention methods. In doing so it has allowed many genetic weaknesses to creep into the human gene pool and the eventuality of Pandemic scares many health officials.

So what does this have to do with a No-growth Economy or the I Don’t Pay movement? Everything!

First, we humans have overtaken much of the Earth at the expense of other species and that can not continue. We either reduce our numbers voluntarily or we will find that our numbers will be limited involuntarily.  Second, as cheap energy comes to an end and other resource run out we will find that there is a natural limit to the amount of food we can grow when we can no longer spend 10 to 40 calories to obtain one calorie of food.

Herman Daly, an ecological economist, started in the 1970s to present, and publish books, on the topic of limiting grow and steady growth. His premise is that if an economy comes to a stead state, one that does not continue to grow, will eventually reach a state where it finds an equilibrium to remain below the carrying capacity of the planet. Currently we are consuming enough for two planets and if everyone alive were to live like a person in the U.S. we would need four to five more planets.

The idea of living within our means, the availability of natural resources, does not have to be a life in darkness or hunger as present delusional and misguided economists, and their followers, would have you believe. Where is it written that if we live within the Earth’s natural limits we have to go hungry or without anything? Nowhere.

If we look at Mondragon, Spain we can actually see an economic system that comes very close to being a no-growth economy. Everyone within the cooperative system of Mondragon is neither very rich nor poor. People have often said when driving through the city of Mondragon how nice it looks, how well off things look, middle-class. The businesses within the system are cooperatives which have a triple bottom line where the employees, the business and the community all share equally in any profits. When the financial crisis hit in 2008 the bank within the cooperative didn’t even take much notice. It is one of Spain’s most successful banks.

To have an economy that does not grow does not mean people go without, not do businesses or anything else. It just means no growth. No excess. A limit on greed. It also limits waste.

With Herman Daly’s no-growth economy all physical resource are recycled, repaired, or something else which keeps them within the system and not wasted. By doing away with waste you could naturally do away with pollution, environmental degradation and so forth. In other words, those things that current economics sees as externalities are no longer considered external to the system and are included so they can be dealt with.

With a system adopting a no-growth economy the current I Don’t Pay movement actually makes sense. Why should we pay twice for something that gets government funding and he out of our pockets. It only encourages waste. In a no-growth economy public transit systems would be as free as libraries and everyone would have equal access to them. Having free public transit would also encourage more people to leave their cars at home or not even own one if the infrastructure is there for public transportation. People would argue the opposite but look at European cities that currently have a surcharge to enter city centers actually helps to cut pollution and congestion. It works.

No-growth economics actually works with the limitations of Nature and all the natural resources. As fossil fuels run out there would be a move smoothly toward renewable sources of energy and the transition would be unnoticeable. That is not happening in the U.S. It would also encourage a move toward more local smaller economies as we once had not long ago. Food would be grown closer to home, closer to where it is consumed. In a no-growth society it would also separate industrial sewage from human to create energy, methane, and the resulting valuable fertilizer  would end up back on the land where it belongs.

This idea of closing the loop on resources means they would be recovered for recycling, repair, reviving them, re-purposing, or for remixing them in some advantageous way so they never end up in a landfill. The whole process of using resource would be rethought and reworked to one that leads to being more sustainable.

I’ve just taken you from natural die off all the way through no-growth economics. If we continue with business as usual then we will end up dying off. If we take the advice of people like Herman Daly, and other people like him, then we can follow the lead European countries have set moving toward something that is truly sustainable, without all of the green washing.

Ok, I admit it, I took Herman Daly’s ideas a little further, but they make sense in an economy that does not grow.

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