Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Overshoot Bibliography

This is the central argument Tainter makes: the energy economy always subsidizes the product economy and service economy, and any intermediates such as commodity markets. Without looking at energy costs at every trophic level, and the transfer between, which appears to be decreasing as more technology is applied, there is simply no way to discover what is and is not "efficient".

"With subsidies of inexpensive fossil fuels, for a long time many consequences of industrialism effectively did not matter. Industrial societies could afford them. When energy costs are met easily and painlessly, benefit/cost ratio to social investments can be substantially ignored (as it has been in contemporary industrial agriculture). Fossil fuels made industrialism, and all that flowed from it (such as science, transportation, medicine, employment, consumerism, high-technology war, and contemporary political organization), a system of problem solving that was sustainable for several generations."

"Energy has always been the basis of cultural complexity and it always will be."

Tainter concludes that considerable hardship will be required to adjust to an economy that is (a) smaller (b) reliant more on individuals to carry out their own primary production, say in gardens and farms (c) not investing in problem solving to a greater extent than is warranted by the actual savings in energy that result out the other end.


Taylor Conant said...

So, return to Ye Olde Sayling Shippes and backwoods yeomanry?

This is the glorious future awaiting our children?

Maybe the anti-procreationists have got it right this time.

Unknown said...

Just plant gardens instead of lawns . With same energy use and labor we will have food rolling in the streets

MrGotham said...

Which book is that quote from?

CP said...

It's from a paper of his:

Tainter, J A (1996). "Complexity, problem solving, and sustainable societies".

CP said...

Couple more books:

Being and Oil: Volume One: Peak Oil Philosophy and the Ontology of Limitation

The Hermeneutics of Ecological Limitation: Ecophilosophy Beyond Environmentalism

Both by Chad A. Haag.

CP said...

America’s Most Sustainable Cities and Regions: Surviving the 21st Century Megatrends

Energy and the Wealth of Nations: An Introduction to Biophysical Economics

CP said...

Millennia of suffering and soft-eugenic selection finally produce a gene pool and associated population of sufficient number, intellect, and conscientiousness to develop institutions and tools capable of coordinating million-plus groups and deploying non-animal-based energy-driven machines for transforming the environment. Industrial civilisation takes off. Civilisation progresses to evolve ever-greater means of control over the environment, at ever smaller and ever larger scales. Tools are developed for solving child mortality, which plummets from 50% to less than 1%. Those babies and children formerly predisposed to die – due to mutations impairing immune function, metabolism, cognition, physical symmetry, etc – now survive, and reproduce themselves. The expansion of the population accelerates to leave quaint Malthusian limits in its dust. Production of food and resource conversion into consumption outstrips this population growth by orders of magnitude. Resource abundance triggers adaptive plasticity in the general population to become more consumptive, more concerned with present gratification, and less concerned with long-term planning, sacrifice, and community. The proportion of mutant load in the population accelerates. Ever-larger proportions of people develop allergies, auto-immune disorders, mental disorders, genetic diseases, developmental deformities, learning disorders, and cognitive aberrancy. The average IQ of the population declines, slowly at first then quicker. The conscientiousness and work ethic of the population declines. The growth of the underclass accelerates; ever more resentful, criminally inclined, welfare dependent, non-productive, uneducable, entitled mouths to feed. Ever more resources are diverted away from maintaining the civilisation to feeding, housing, policing, healing, educating, avoiding, and entertaining the growing unproductive underclass that can’t but parasitise its middle class and elite hosts, the latter of whom pander to the underclass to maintain their power and luxury. The genetic predisposition of the population to care for all children, the cultural norms dictating care for children, the institutional structures in place to care for children, the historical categorisation of declining child mortality as one of the species’ greatest achievements … all prevent even the thought that anyone, any group, any institution, any country would ever consider the first solution and allow child mortality to start to grow back from 1% to 50%. Such is unthinkable. Unsayable. Inhuman. Other pressures prevent any talk of the second solution, of eugenic selection to reverse these effects, especially hard eugenics, but even the softer and less innocuous incentives facilitating soft eugenics. As the decline proceeds it reaches a tipping point before the civilisation has mastered reality to the point that it might have been able to attempt the third solution, of genetically engineering and correcting the vast, complex array of defective mutations at conception with the aid of artificial intelligence.

CP said...

The civilisation crumbles under the stress, divides and separates under the cacophony of perverse incentives, denial of reality, a plethora of conflicting ideologies and religions, weighed down by astronomical debts erected to fancifully kick the can down the road, tipped over by elites able to see only the immediate present and caring only for their own interests. The bloated, dysgenic, miscegenated, heterogenous, chaotic mess of the gene pool that built the civilisation now lacks all unity and direction, a nuclear-irradiated slime mold spitting out tendrils as aberrant individual experiments in all directions. Those few that remain who are still willing and able, vastly outnumbered by those who are not, realise with crystalline horror the fate that is about to befall them. They understand all too clearly what they have allowed to be mindlessly, cowardly pissed away. Dysgenic Satan rises from Hell and with a nod and a wink to Malthus, drags the population back down to raw nature, red in tooth and claw, once again. Only this time all easily accessible energy-dense resources have been consumed. While the population will bounce back again after a millennia of suffering and tempering in nature’s hell-forge, to select again a civilised population, it will never again trigger an industrial expansion due to the easily accessible energy and resources required for such no longer existing. The first attempt destroyed the easily accessible stepping stones required for such, and the bloated, consumptive, dysgenic population pulled the ladder up behind them, then destroyed themselves with consumptive excess and the denial of nature, entropy, and the hard facts of evolutionary reality. Welcome to the Great Filter.