Living within the environment

I’ve been saying for some years on the Internet that, because the supply of uniquely new personal status goods has dried up in the advanced countries, then economic growth as we have known it, has largely come to an end.

About two years ago, and from a much more influential voice than mine, the world of economists was intrigued, if not shocked, when Larry Summers, an ex-chief economic adviser to Obama, spoke of the possibility of “secular stagnation”.

Does this mean that economic ‘progress’ will come to an end?  Not if you redefine it slightly, and change the word to ‘process’ — because scientific research will be continuing none the less.  Using synthetic DNA and algorithms, all sorts of recondite carbon-based new materials and efficient production methods will be developed.  We can design new highly efficient infrastructures that don’t compete with, subtract from, or pollute the natural environment.

2 thoughts on “Living within the environment

  1. Keith,
    I take issue with your last sentence. Each human, no matter how simply or smartly she lives, displaces habitat for other life forms excepting human parasites and things that thrive on our wastes. We might ( speculating) get smarter about direct negative feedback of various sorts from our activities. But many activities are multiplied by a larger number of actors each day. Reducing our impact on the planet is not easy while adding 220,000 or so humans each day. That’s a billion every 12 years. A fine paper by an ecologist explaining how we are like beavers in “patch disturbance” is here:

    1. Steve, I was looking a long way into the future and, by then, I assume that world human population will be a lot lower than now. But whatever its aize, any species, merely by existing, takes up some space that miight have been occupied by others. I also specified the use of synthetic DNA methods of production in the long term future which means that any wastes will be completely recyclable — as also the products themselves when they’ve reached the end of their useful lives.

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