15 February 2006

Kurt Cobb of Resource Insights makes the obvious point that the colder areas of the globe will indeed not be aided by global warming, as climate change occurs on a scale too rapid to permit of natural adaptation.

I'd like to suggest that, in dealing with global warming, one of the best things we can do is to create nomadic education programs to spread both words and trees... fruit trees are a carbon-dioxide reducer as well as an immediate, transportation-free source of food...

And since the Australian Peak Energy blog notes an increase in nuclear power subsidy, we should review the evidence surrounding the availability of nuclear-power-accessible uranium (and not just uranium per se: some uranium does not have the EROEI to be meaningful as a source of energy). David Fleming argues that there is enough uranium to supply the world with electricity for four years.

The standard green solution to the coming energy crisis, the correct one in my opinion (echoed by Fleming himself), is to use less energy. The main problem with the implementation of such solutions as are offered by the Flemings of the world, however, is that the "Lean Economy" vision, thus proposed, seems to run contrary to the trajectory of history. Here's how it plays out: today, we are stuck in a historical trajectory characterized by the triumph of neoliberalism, while the future of planetary resources being coerced by that triumph suggests a total failure of said neoliberalism and an entirely different economy altogether. We are, in short, headed full speed down a cul-de-sac. Fleming's version is as follows:
All civilisations crash. In the end, the political economy flips into a quite different, lightweight, decentralised order requiring a drastically reduced quantity of goods and services, minimal transport and much less specialisation. In response, people and localities start to provide most of what they need for themselves. This is the inevitable sequel to the closing stages of a civic society.

In the past, those closing stages have led to a collapse into dark ages, with the population, as the Venerable Bede put it, being "cut down, like ripe corn". I would argue that the sooner we start to build distributed, decentralised, broadly competent local economies, the more realistic they become: the less the pain; the less the grief; the greater the prospects of evolution beyond the market economy - making something of what we have inherited, and building on it.
The great contradiction of all this, however, is that "distributed, decentralised, broadly competent local economies" existed already in much of the world until recently. It is mainly the relatively recent phenomenon of triumphant neoliberalism that needs to be prevented from destroying what the David Flemings of the world would otherwise already have to defend.

This can only happen, I here argue, if the "distributed, decentralised, broadly competent local economies" of the world are put on a communal basis. Only if all participants (and not just a small owning class within the population) have a vested interest in sustainable economic formations will such formations survive socially. Are we to expect the great multitudes of humanity to spend their life fighting the high-consumption corporate system only in order to end up with permanent subservience to an "ecologically-friendly" owning class, amidst the same old poverty?


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