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Limits to Growth - At Our Doorstep, But Not Recognized
Zero Hedge, Our Finite World blog ^ | 06 February 2014 | Gail Tverberg

Posted on 02/06/2014 6:04:49 PM PST by Lorianne

How long can economic growth continue in a finite world? This is the question the 1972 book The Limits to Growth by Donella Meadows and others sought to answer. The computer models that the team of researchers produced strongly suggested that the world economy would collapse sometime in the first half of the 21st century.

I have been researching what the real situation is with respect to resource limits since 2005. The conclusion I am reaching is that the team of 1972 researchers were indeed correct. In fact, the promised collapse is practically right around the corner, beginning in the next year or two. In fact, many aspects of the collapse appear already to be taking place, such as the 2008-2009 Great Recession and the collapse of the economies of smaller countries such as Greece and Spain. How could collapse be so close, with virtually no warning to the population?

To explain the situation, I will first explain why we are reaching Limits to Growth in the near term. I will then provide a list of nine reasons why the near-term crisis has been overlooked.

(Excerpt) Read more at zerohedge.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 02/06/2014 6:04:49 PM PST by Lorianne
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To: Lorianne

I thought Malthus wad dead. I guess a few of his disciples somehow survived the end of all things.


2 posted on 02/06/2014 6:10:04 PM PST by antidisestablishment (Islam delenda est)
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To: Lorianne
His assumptions are wrong. We don't live on a finite world. We live in an infinite universe.

We won't run out of room, resources, or energy anytime soon. The only thing in short supply is common sense.

/johnny

3 posted on 02/06/2014 6:16:25 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: antidisestablishment

So our economy gets kicked in the nuts by President Income Inequality and the limits to growth nonsense gets resurrected from the 70s. Next we’ll be wearing platform shoes and polyester.


4 posted on 02/06/2014 6:16:32 PM PST by sgtyork (Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy)
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To: sgtyork

Not if there is a polyester shortage


5 posted on 02/06/2014 6:19:04 PM PST by Lorianne (fedgov, taxporkmoney)
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To: sgtyork
'Whites go in hot water, colors go in cold water, and polyester goes in the trash.' -- my older sister, circa 1975.

/johnny

6 posted on 02/06/2014 6:20:48 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: Lorianne

Bullcrap. The only limits are those put on us by communist-envirowackos.


7 posted on 02/06/2014 6:28:17 PM PST by beethovenfan (If Islam is the solution, the "problem" must be freedom.)
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To: Lorianne
Nonsense. That book has been thoroughly discredited. We also used to have a term called "carrying capacity," which referred to how many people the earth could support. When that number was exceeded, it was conveniently left in the dustbin of "scientific facts," only to be replaced with yet another undefined term--sustainable. The left is constantly on the prowl to keep the world in a “sky is falling” syndrome, only to keep us distracted from the truth. It never ends. Read Job, the same tactic is used there.
8 posted on 02/06/2014 6:33:00 PM PST by Fungi
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To: Lorianne

It’s an interesting read, surprisingly.
The effect he is obviously talking ‘around’ is government intervention: regulation, debt, mis-subsidization.
I’m not claiming he realizes that’s what he’s talking about...

Bureaucracy will kill us all. I’m convinced it’s what killed civilizations like the Aztecs amd other ‘lost’ civilizations.


9 posted on 02/06/2014 6:33:54 PM PST by mrsmith (Dumb sluts: Lifeblood of the Media, Backbone of the Democrat Party!)
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To: Lorianne

There really are limits to growth and they trace primarily to government growth and growth of market warping regulation and taxation, to control by political actors who deny the laws of economics. In an actual free market economy there will always be innovation that will substitute for and replace declining or failing structures and resources. Rulers prefer that there be nothing new and that they control all that is. New things may be out of their control so must be prevented.


10 posted on 02/06/2014 6:38:55 PM PST by arthurus (Read Hazlitt's Economics In One Lesson ONLINEhttp://steshaw.org/economics-in-one-lesson/)
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To: Lorianne

Try reading the recent book, “Abundance,” instead of the dreary LTG nonsense.


11 posted on 02/06/2014 6:52:08 PM PST by 4Liberty (Optimal institutions - optimal economy.)
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To: 4Liberty

Is debt abundant?


12 posted on 02/06/2014 7:11:07 PM PST by Lorianne (fedgov, taxporkmoney)
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To: arthurus
There's about 7 billion on the earth today. 1 billion in the Americas. 1 billion in Europe and Russia. 1 billion in Africa. 4 billion in Asia.

By 2050, Africa will add a 2nd billion and Asia will add a 5th billion. Total 9 billion

By 2100, Africa will add a 3rd and 4th billion. Total 11 billion

13 posted on 02/06/2014 7:11:22 PM PST by Ben Ficklin
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To: Fungi

The article doesn’t talk about population


14 posted on 02/06/2014 7:29:49 PM PST by Lorianne (fedgov, taxporkmoney)
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To: arthurus

The article may have an element of truth mixed with an incorrect assignment of causation.

The article states that growth is being limited by hidden costs, i.e., the increased costs of obtaining energy and metals from poorer ores.

Note that there is no mention of the not so hidden growth of the US FedGov share of the GDP from 18% to 25%. That money is not available for either investment or for increased wages, and so it acts as a brake on economic growth.


15 posted on 02/06/2014 7:44:26 PM PST by Mack the knife
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To: Lorianne
I am not a Malthus supporter, he has been effectively refuted. But I am not extrapolating an infinite projection of growth either, and do think a population collapse is getting more likely. But unlike peak oil people or other such neoMathusians, the decline is not lead by resource scarcity. The decline will happen despite resource availability, which makes it even more hard to predict or explain.

Declining population, and as a result of that, a declining economy, for the next hundred years is getting more likely. In fact, most industrialized nation's births are already below replacement level, and the developing world is not far behind. At some point in the near future, the chief problem every country may face will be how to get the birth rate up.

16 posted on 02/06/2014 8:39:06 PM PST by Vince Ferrer
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To: Lorianne

This is hogwash. Capitalism thrives everyplace it’s introduced. It has flourished in America. It works in Europe even with a lot of binders thrown on it. It works all over.

Vietnam was going down the tubes til the Commies introduced “limited capitalist experiments” in the ‘90’s, then the economy took off. China has had great success with capitalism and is now surpassing the U.S. which has been burdened with OButthead. Even Cuba is now introducing capitalism on a very small scale since they don’t have an Obama in charge.


17 posted on 02/06/2014 8:41:41 PM PST by Rembrandt (Part of the 51% who pay Federal taxes)
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To: Rembrandt

Huh?
Did you read the article?
I didn’t read anything in there that was opposed to capitalism.


18 posted on 02/06/2014 8:46:33 PM PST by Lorianne (fedgov, taxporkmoney)
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To: Vince Ferrer

The article doesn’t talk about population. It discusses many other things but primarily focusses on lack of capital formation and over reliance on debt in its place.


19 posted on 02/06/2014 8:49:31 PM PST by Lorianne (fedgov, taxporkmoney)
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To: Lorianne
The article doesn't talk about population, but the author seems to be a Malthus adherent, and for them, population growth to the point of resource depletion is a given (but falsified). What I am expecting, a population collapse without resource scarcity, is unthinkable by a Malthusian, so I am not surprised the author doesn't mention it.

But population is critical. It is the demand side of supply and demand. People need food, shelter, etc. and more people = more demand = more GDP. Less people = less demand = less GDP. Yet our current economic model can't allow declining population and declining GDP, because it is debt based. Our money is debt based money. How does a debt based money work in a shrinking economy? It just makes the debt more unpayable.

And I believe the most important thing is that once the collapse really gets started, it will be self fueling, because the population decline will cause a never ending depression, which will cause adults to not want to have children they can't afford and can't guarantee they will have a life even equal to their own, which lowers the population, and causes greater economic contraction.

20 posted on 02/06/2014 9:09:06 PM PST by Vince Ferrer
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To: Lorianne

“Did you read the article?
I didn’t read anything in there that was opposed to capitalism.”

I read the first part - it was painfully obvious that the author was slamming the tenets of Capitalism. I read it. I understood it.


21 posted on 02/06/2014 9:16:31 PM PST by Rembrandt (Part of the 51% who pay Federal taxes)
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To: Rembrandt

How so? I didn’t read it that way at all.


22 posted on 02/06/2014 9:23:47 PM PST by Lorianne (fedgov, taxporkmoney)
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To: Vince Ferrer

I’m still not seeing how you can say the author “seems to be a Malthus adherent”. That may be true but I don’t see how you can conclude that from this article. (I haven’t read any other articles from her so I can’t say is she is or isn’t)


23 posted on 02/06/2014 9:28:08 PM PST by Lorianne (fedgov, taxporkmoney)
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To: Lorianne
I am saying that the author seems to be Malthusian because the author is focused on the supply side of resources, while holding human behavior as a constant. Malthus considered the idea that the population would fill to any resource limit to be axiomatic.

"That the increase of population is necessarily limited by the means of subsistence,

That population does invariably increase when the means of substinence increase "The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world".

—Malthus T.R. 1798. An Essay on the Principle of Population. Chapter VII, p 61

"Yet in all societies, even those that are most vicious, the tendency to a virtuous attachment is so strong that there is a constant effort towards an increase of population. This constant effort as constantly tends to subject the lower classes of the society to distress and to prevent any great permanent amelioration of their condition".

—Malthus T.R. 1798. An Essay on the Principle of Population. Chapter II, p 18 in Oxford World's Classics reprint.

While it is certainly a good idea to look at resources and their availability, I don't accept Malthus' belief that a population will expand just to fill up resources, and I am not reading the article from that perspective. In fact, his theory "That population does invariably increase when the means of subsistence increase" is notably false today. In the past 30 years, more people have been lifted out of poverty than ever before in history, and while Malthus would predict a baby boom to fill the newly created resources, sinking the population back into misery, the opposite has happened. The birth rates worldwide have collapsed.

The author does not take into account the collapsing birthrate and aging of society, and quickly approaching peak of our population in the calculations of resource useage. The author is only arguing from the perspective of resource scarcity, and that the population carrying capacity will overreach those limits and be reduced by "misery." This is what Malthus would argue if he were here today.

24 posted on 02/06/2014 10:19:50 PM PST by Vince Ferrer
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She is not really arguing from resource scarcity, but rather from enough resources to form CAPITAL sufficient to obtain more resources. The main gist of the article has to do with capital formation and the level of debt we’ve become dependent on in order to capitalize on resources readily available.


25 posted on 02/07/2014 6:26:35 AM PST by Lorianne (fedgov, taxporkmoney)
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To: JRandomFreeper

Add imagination and balls.

Cowards don’t produce anything but more rules to protect their own asses. Scarcity is the bogeyman of bureaucrats who live to make sure others don’t have more than them.


26 posted on 02/07/2014 6:27:44 PM PST by antidisestablishment (Islam delenda est)
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To: Ben Ficklin

Afircans die as quickly as they reproduce—and that’s not from resource scarcity.

Depopulation of the West should be our greatest concern, but society still prefers the infernal lie of limitation as ameans to prosperity. If the West continues its suicidal path, our (few) descendents will look with longing at today’s third world. There will not be enough people to maintain a civil society after the coming catastrophes.


27 posted on 02/07/2014 6:40:50 PM PST by antidisestablishment (Islam delenda est)
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To: Lorianne
Really?

For example, it now takes more resources to extract oil. This is why oil prices have more than tripled since 2002.

This is a total lie. The largest increases are caused by speculation and regulation—not the cost of production or scarcity.

And as to population:

But it seems unlikely that we can have a world economy that will provide food and shelter for 7.2 billion people.

If this isn’t a direct threat from scarcity, then I don’t know what to call it. The strange quandary is that the suggested scarcity is debt capital. I find myself agreeing with a couple of arguments, but the elephant’s shadow is just too dark to be missed.

In essence this author has conflated one large economic fact with scarcity propaganda. In fact they are conveniently juxtaposed:

Truth:The reason we are getting poorer is because hidden parts of our economy are now absorbing more and more resources, leaving fewer resources to produce the goods and services we are used to buying. Lie: These hidden parts of our economy are being affected by depletion.

The truth is apparent--but the culprit is GOVERNMENT. Stealing an ever-larger portion of the economy while strangling business except those who feather its nest, it not the road to prosperity. Debt is certainly a problem, and it will lead to collapse, but that debt is also created and exacerbated by government.

Globalization has created an unmanageably large economic system. Decoupling a currency from real economic activity has always ended poorly. According to many experts, we already have created more debt than a combination of all of the economic activity in world history. It's no wonder so many older countries have seen cyclical massive devaluation of their respective currencies over time. Maybe it's time for a Jubilee.

28 posted on 02/07/2014 7:30:06 PM PST by antidisestablishment (Islam delenda est)
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To: Lorianne

There are no limits in Capitalism; it’s a constantly changing economy. It shrinks, it expands. Money is created, money is lost. If there is a loser, it doesn’t require that there be a winner; vice versa is also true. The article, as far as I read, didn’t agree.


29 posted on 02/07/2014 9:12:48 PM PST by Rembrandt (Part of the 51% who pay Federal taxes)
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