Re: cars – what’s the big deal?

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  • Mon, May 03, 2010 - 04:55pm

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    Re: cars – what’s the big deal?

Hi Sofistek

Yes, I look at the big picture because for a bottom-up strategy, we need to know where we want to get to. The latter is critical to judging whether the former has any value

Maybe a bit philosophical but I would question whether visions of the future have ever been capable of driving society. To me it seems more credible that the process is driven by the same evolutionary forces that govern the biological equivalent – the ‘blind watchmaker’ that Dawkins refers to. In which case it is exactly the small steps taken by individuals that will sum together and result in adaption of society as a whole. It may begin with less car journeys but end up with investment bankers retraining as bicycle repairmen as market forces dictate, i.e. if people continue to want to put food on the table.

By the way, “our brand of free market capitalism” is simply what Chris Martenson talks about in his crash course. It’s a debt based economy where profit is the prime motivator and profits also drive growth

I’m not convinced by this coupling of profit motive with our current monetary system. Profit has been sought by individuals in pretty much all societies that have ever existed – market stalls are even described in the bible, i.e. well before debt was  widespread. And the profit motive also survived pretty weel for centuries before the industrial revolution during which time (think fuedal Europe) there was little overall economic growth. So I don’t see elimination of profit as an incentive as mutually exclusive with sustainability. The current monetary system my suffer some form of collapse but that doesn’t have to translate into either societal collapse or eradication of the profit motive. History teaches otherwise.

We’re a wasteful society and waste was something that someone sold to us at some time, whether it’s food, electricty, fuel, packaging, cheap gifts, poor quality goods or whatever. Since we buy what we then waste, our waste becomes part of the economy.

I think you have to be careful here not to confuse waste as a consequnce of the incredible cheapness of resources (until recently!) with waste as a growth imperative. As resources become more expensive so waste will automatically reduce as people can no longer afford to chuck stuff away. But companies will still be able to make money producing stuff people want. It wasn’t that long ago that waste was massively less than now and firms were perfectly viable. They will be again even if there are dislocations along the way. Again I think you are conflating an inability to see how this can happen with belief that it therefore cannot happen. Chunk it down into manageable steps and you start to see possible mechnisms, not neccessarily painless but at least possible. Without overall collapse.

The “big deal” is that a sustainable society will have to be very different from what we have today and we waste time and energy pretending otherwise, or pretending that we don’t need to think about the painful transition just yet.

This gets back to my original point – the waste that we both acknowledge is exactly what will give us the time to adapt as the market dictates. Neccessity is the mother of invention!