The effects of implementing this available solution to the energy-environment-economy problem include nearly eliminating the shipment of energy across oceans, etc. I am not identifying this energy source here, in order to focus thought on the issue of size per se.
That is, if an energy source would:. I first asked this question in , soon after the size of the solution became apparent to me. While the energy-environment problem seemed quite obvious then, the solution has not been implemented in part because of size. Over the past decade, progress toward this solution has become perceptible, but the necessity of the unit size is not fully appreciated even in the prestigious scientific community at work on it. I would be very interested in any insights that might be offered into the psychology of largeness per se. Of course, I would not intend to keep the solution a secret from anyone who wishes to explore this.
Schumacher Posted on February 5, by emilykawano. By Noah Enelow Few economists of the last fifty years have offered more striking alternatives to mainstream economic thinking than Ernest Friedrich Schumacher. Sources and Resources: Schumacher, E.
Intermediate Technology Development Group. I am in conformity with your philosophy especially in the light of the global financial crisis. Rob Jon Deady January 4, am. Steve Blake April 20, am. Related to denial and suppression is decadence: the squandering of immense resources, such as the 3-trillion-dollar war ostensibly to prevent Iraq from developing nuclear weapons but, more relevantly, to protect US oil supplies Stiglitz and Bilmes They have then promised to dismantle these stadia and transport them for re-erection in developing countries.
More recently, the global financial crisis, generated mainly by a colossal failure of prudent banking practices and government oversight, led to stimulus packages and financial institutional rescue deals on a scale that made the costs of the Iraq war seem modest. This will likely prove conservative. Decadence also manifests in evidence of increased retail spending in the face of perceived threat in modern society, including after the September 11, , attack on the United States Arndt et al.
Again, such behavior may be reasonable at the individual level; at the social level it is perilous. As the French Revolution neared, the ostentatious, resentment-provoking behavior of the French court continued. Whether or not its advisors recognized the danger, a combination of paralysis, inertia, and irrational exuberance, almost certainly rationalized by denial, eventually proved fatal to the monarchy and the social class protecting it.
British forces invading Tibet in were met by soldiers who fortified their defense using spells and ancient muskets Fleming Local interpretations of ancient prophecies assisted the outnumbered forces of Cortez in its conquest of the emperor Montezuma. The Roman emperor Nero is still remembered for fiddling while his city burned. Indeed, the collapse of the Roman Empire has long been blamed on materialism, decadence, public extravagance, and the pursuit of false glory Parry There are many ways to interpret how denial, suppression, procrastination, and decadence lead to the loss of public goods.
These are materials and values commonly owned and of widespread benefit. The examples above reveal a contest between rational adaptive behavior and denial, leavened with belief systems which are forms of magical thinking that result in the channeling of limited resources into maladaptive display. Might such decadence be symptomatic of a terminally ill civilization? Or might such a squandering of wealth simply accelerate the decline of our civilization?
Of course, humans are materialistic. Many societies have long been inequitable, and humans love luxury.
Ef Schumacher, His Life and Thought
But given the growing scale of our problems, which apart from climate change are scarcely recognized by science at their proper scale, could not such behavior share with denial an anaesthetizing, distracting quality? Some writers have speculated that previous civilizations collapsed because elites grew so disconnected from the masses that they no longer felt a common destiny and chose instead to seek their own enclave, to escape their responsibility Toynbee Such behavior may be occurring today; if so, it is highly dangerous, given the interconnectedness of global civilization and the dependence of wealthy consumers on both nearby public goods such as a functioning transport system, including roads, airports, and air travel and distant laborers whose toil underpins the global economy.
Recently, several technologies have been prematurely heralded as saviors of oil scarcity, including biofuels Somerville , carbon capture and sequestration, and fourth-generation nuclear power Smil Sections of the fossil fuel industry may be preparing for large-scale coal-to-liquids industry with which to postpone peak oil. While a few such plants already exist, especially in China Anonymous , the process is inherently wasteful and polluting. Critics claim that global coal resources are too small to make a substantial contribution Croft and Patzek Deliberate geo-engineering Crutzen may also fit into this category, because even if ways to artificially cool Earth can be developed, they will not solve the acidification and many other oceanic problems mentioned above Steffen et al.
In contrast, more prosaic methods of avoiding collapse remain scarcely realized, such as increased efficiency to reduce energy use, accelerating the spread of renewable energy technologies, and slowing population growth by providing rights-based family planning and education for girls, and redistributing global wealth. Voluntary simplicity, practiced by those who currently overconsume, also has a place McKibben I have two other short stories that may help you to decide whether to read further. The first concerns a flock of about thirty black cockatoos.
The land and some of the forest it borders provide a home for many animals and a visiting spot, if not a base, for many species of birds. One is the raucous black cockatoo Calyptorhynchus funereus xanthanotus. This should not to be confused with its far more urbane cousin, the sulfur-crested cockatoo Cacatua galerita galerita see picture.
Snoozing on a hot day Canberra photo: Susan Butler. At times, I had counted flocks of up to thirty of these birds flying above my fragment of forest. Yet, even though these long-lived creatures Brouwer et al. I also realized that the death of these cockatoos would not lower the officially calculated Australian gross national product by even a cent. This is because national accounts did not and still do not measure stocks of natural capital any more than they measure stocks and flows of other non-financialized forms of wealth, such as social, human, and cultural capital Daly This led to more thought and reading, and in I published in The Lancet an essay linking global population and consumption with future global population health.
The latter, larger indicator was intended as the sum of the national wealth measures, with an addition for the global commons, such as the ocean, the atmosphere, Antarctica, and space Buck Schumacher has done so, trailing in his wake more and more forward-thinking economists and scientists, including those who signed the Heidelberg Appeal. Twenty-four years after this was published, the solar age seems our best chance not only to generate climate change—neutral energy but to also eke out supplies of ever-dwindling fossil fuels, including coal and coal seam gas Jacobson and Delucchi a, b; Schwartz et al.
As mentioned, Schumacher was acutely aware of energy, and he clearly foresaw that depletion of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas also represented a running down of global stocks of natural capital, a form of real national and real global wealth. His writings on energy were extensive and considered of sufficient public interest to be published posthumously as an edited volume Kirk However, Schumacher, as far as I am aware, did not link energy use with climate change, an issue then only faintly on the scientific horizon Callendar Nuclear energy, too, today remains highly problematic—expensive, waste-producing, and with a constant risk of nuclear weapon proliferation.
The carbon cost of nuclear power is mainly due to the energy cost of mining and refining uranium, of building and decommissioning the plants, and of the storage of the radioactive wastes Kleiner Further, reserves of high-grade uranium are limited. Lower grades of uranium will require additional energy for enrichment Mudd and Diesendorf A switch to thorium to generate radioactivity is increasingly promoted as a safe alternative, yet formidable obstacles remain Dracoulis An even more fundamental problem than climate change or nuclear waste is that our economic system creates a smorgasbord of incentives, many of which are beneficial but too many of which are deeply harmful.
I had started to read him in the s, and no doubt this was fundamental to my understanding of natural capital, such as the value of the cockatoos, fish stocks, and, for that matter, uranium remaining in the ground, a reserve source of power for future generations. It is clear on rereading Schumacher, and also reading about him, that he deserves considerable credit for his work on natural capital.
I think his contribution in this field has been overlooked by more recent commentators, for factors that I will try to explain. Consider the following passage, from Small Is Beautiful , first published in Every economist and businessman is familiar with the distinction, and applies it conscientiously. One reason for overlooking this. Far larger is the capital provided by nature.
We must, however, take great care always to remember that such a word label is merely to use a Buddhist phrase? Thus the maps ceased to be of any help to people in the awesome task of picking their way through life?
Ef Schumacher, His Life and Thought by Wood, Barbara
The loss of the vertical dimension meant that it was no longer possible to give an answer, other than a utilitarian one, to the question, "What am I to do with my life? Without the qualitative concepts of "higher" and "lower" it is impossible to even think of guidelines for living that lead beyond individual or collective utilitarianism and selfishness. To accept anything as true means to incur the risk of error.
If I limit myself to knowledge that I consider true beyond doubt, I minimize the risk of error but I maximize, at the same time, the risk of missing out on what may be the subtlest, most important and most rewarding things in life. And what is my case? Simply that our most important task is to get off our present collision course. And who is there to tackle such a task? I think every one of us, whether old or young, powerful or powerless, rich or poor, influential or un-influential.
The same rules and criteria are applied to primary goods, which man has to win from nature, and secondary goods, which presuppose the existence of primary goods, and are manufactured from them. All goods are treated the same, because the point of view is fundamentally that of private profit-making, and this means that it is inherent in the methodology of economics to ignore man's dependence on the natural world. I say, therefore, that the dynamic approach to development, which treats the choice of appropriate, intermediate technologies as the central issue, opens up avenues of constructive action, which the static, econometric approach totally fails to recognize.
In this respect, the idea of private enterprise fits exactly into the idea of The Market, which, in an earlier chapter, I called "the institutionalization of individualism and non-responsibility. Greater even than the mystery of natural growth is the mystery of the natural cessation of growth.
As a result, the system of nature, of which man is a part, tends to be self-balancing, self-adjusting, self-cleansing. The reign of quantity celebrates its greatest triumphs in "the Market. To equate things means to give them a price and thus to make them exchangeable.
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To the extent that economic thinking is based on the market, it takes the sacredness out of life, because there can be nothing sacred in something that has a price. This is generally thought to be an enlightened and progressive development, as it is at least an attempt to take account of costs and benefits which might otherwise be disregarded altogether.
In fact, however, it is a procedure by which the higher is reduced to the level of the lower and the priceless is given a price.
https://grabper.tk It can therefore never serve to clarify the situation and lead to an enlightened decision.