On 5/8/2020 at 1:43 AM, Ross Scott said:
Sure, growth is slowing down, but it's still growing. I've heard that we're due to level off at 11 billion. My point is we're overextended RIGHT NOW.
Yeah there's no scientific basis for this claim at all.
We're having increased global deforestation, half of all wildlife has been eradicated since the 70s, ocean health is getting worse and we're STILL GROWING. Here are some sources on the ecosystem being diminished:
The stat is misleading because it only counts forests, not industrial timber plantations. If you count them then the Earth actually has significantly more trees than it did a few decades ago, and is continuing to increase. Which isn't hard to do, since trees are a renewable resource and extraordinarily easy to produce.
You're losing biodiversity. Not much else. Also, the article you're citing specifically says that most tree loss is happening in central and western Africa, which... isn't really capitalist. Places like North America and Europe have actually increased their forest coverage independent of their industrial timber since twenty years ago:
Even the losses in Africa can be rather casually taken care of by more tree planting as is happening in the USA and China, through both public and private initiatives.
As for the socialism v. capitalism thing, I'm not saying either would preserve the environment. My point is I think the very core of capitalism makes it impossible. The purpose of capitalism is to maximize profit for those with capital, correct?
Incorrect. Capitalism doesn't have a purpose because it's not an ideology, it's a tool to distribute scarce resources. You're confusing it with socialism, which is both an economic and a POLITICAL system. You can have intentionally low-growth capitalism, it just likely won't manifest for the same reason that intentionally low-growth socialism won't (people like to have more stuff).
Ask any economist to justify capitalism, and the word "growth" probably won't even be part of his spiel. You won't even find that in Econ 101. In Econ 101, capitalism works because people gain from trade, not because they have more and more to trade over time. Efficiency, not growth, is the point.
In fact, some of the earliest challenges to the free-market orthodoxy came from adding growth to the models. Back in the 1950s, Paul Samuelson showed that growth provides a rationale for Social Security. Later, "endogenous growth" theories called for a government role in supporting research and development.
That means exploiting any and all resources. Taking a more reserved or long term sustainable approach means you fall behind and can lose competitively to those who are more aggressive and can capitalize in the shorter to medium term.
Incorrect, at that point it means you simply have a dependable but extremely low-return firm, which totally exist in the current economy and are relied on for being safe (e.g. railroad and utilities companies).
Going back to the deserted island scenario. Say we realize that if we overfish we won't have enough food for the year, here are some ways of handling it:
Ideal socialist approach: Everyone votes and collectively agrees to impose limits on how much we will fish, so we can continue eating all year.
Likely socialist approach: Everyone votes that they don't want to reduce how much fish they eat, because they like fish, so they will continue overfishing until there aren't enough left, people starve.
Actual socialist approach: the central planning committee decides that they'll harvest exactly 10,000 tons of fish this year and exactly 20,000 tons the next year, despite demand being less than 5,000 tons of fish, and orders the island's population to make it happen. Various officials do so and fudge their numbers on top of it. Steve tries to set up a sustainable fishing farm but is shot for attempting to construct private industry. When only 5,000 of the 30,000 tons are actually consumed, the other 25,000 are thrown in the nearby ocean along with other waste products, causing widespread pollution.
Capitalist approach: Steve fishes as much as possible right now so there will be more for him, but Jim and Charles also do the same so that Steve doesn't get all the fish. The fish are depleted rapidly, people starve.
Actual capitalist approach: Steve, Jim and Charles fish as much as possible in the short term, making about equal profits. Charles wants a leg-up on Steve and Jim, so instead of fishing, he sets up a sustainable fish farming operation using investment from the local coconut tree farmer, Larry. Charles and Larry can now out-produce Steve and Jim allowing them to sell their good at a lower price; Steve and Jim subsequently have to find a way to compete with Charles and Larry.
Steve and Jim make a partnership and agree to invest in research conducted by the school led by the local professor, Alex, in the hopes of long-term return. Alex eventually figures out how to farm more fish in a smaller area for a lower cost than Charles and Larry, which benefits Steve and Jim as they set up their own opposing operations. The price of fish is now even lower than before, but the cost of producing fish is infinitesimal, so Steve and Jim still make bank.
Your whole worldview makes three major mistakes:
1. Assuming resources are finite: just about everything that humanity uses is renewable, conceivably renewal, or so plentiful that it may as well be infinite on our human time scales.
2. Assuming market economies offer no incentives to save: it's the exact opposite. In a market economy, as a good becomes rare, its price will increase. This allows the economy to slowly wean itself off of it and producers to find alternatives to stay in business (why do you think electric vehicles, GMOs, solar power, etc. were developed in capitalist countries? By contrast what important advances have socialist countries made in the area of sustainability?). And guess what? That's exactly what's happening, it's what happens every day: people cutting down consumption of certain goods in response to increased prices. This can't happen in a non-market system.
3. Assuming growth can only come from more resources: the main one. As I noted, we're actually using LESS resources for the value we produce, and this has been the case for decades now. It continues to fall.
The vast majority of 'growth' in postmodern economies is driven by more efficient use and allocation of existing resources, not extraction. Nearly all American growth, for example, comes in the sectors of finance, information, professional/technical services, or health services/sciences. The information economy ensures that an obscene amount of value can be produced for almost no resources (e.g. dozens of people have made billion-dollar companies in their basements with single computers). In fact, some economic growth inherently uses LESS resources, like improving energy efficiency.
Point three is particularly odd since you simultaneously subscribe to the theories that robots will make humans obsolete in most jobs (despite 80% of jobs being service-based) due to being so extremely cheap and efficient, AND that we can only have economic growth with more resources. These two ideas are mutually contradictory.