Wednesday, 28 March 2012

More May Mean Less

Sometimes there are links to an article that is long and difficult just for the hell of it.  Especially if it is one that goes against the grain of general assumptions and leaves you with the feeling that you now know less than you did.

The one flagged below is about productive capacity in the UK and the puzzling business that we assume with all this high tech’, management theory and application, increased knowledge and far more education that the capability and therefore the productivity of our economy will relentlessly improve.

Except it does not appear to do.  If anything it could be on a gentle downward slope.  The trouble is that all our expectations, increasing government debt and notions about what improves economic growth have this built in feature of endlessly improving productivity.

To his credit the writer, Simon Wren-Lewis, admits it is a puzzle to which he is struggling to find the answer.  Also, that an infinite number of questions could be begged in search of the statistics and facts that might lead to an answer.

But what if we are truly entering an era where the age of more, more, more is no more and it is all going to be less, less less.  We may well have more population and want to do more for them but the chances are there is not going to be the energy, the real money or the capacity to do it.

In short the economic world we have been living in for the last two to three hundred years is slowly evaporating in the same way that other human worlds may have done in the past.  In the UK when all those henges were built what happened next?

As the machines in the sky photograph our world in ever increasing detail one of the things that is showing up is the vast numbers of one form of human habitation or another down the centuries that have gone and been forgotten.

Normally, this blog like to go for a really splendid catastrophe causing chaos.  It is torn between geophysical events or the impact of collapse dynamics on global financial systems.  Indeed a nasty bug or two could do the trick as well.

Others argue about climate change, whether we shall all roast or freeze.  But the terrible thought that the next cataclysm in human population could be just a gentle decline in resource availability and consequential reducing productive capacity is something of a let down.

On the other hand slow cooking is said to be a lot more tasty.

1 comment:

  1. I think there is certainly a problem when we produce and do so much that seems to be either harmful, useless or of no lasting value.

    All this output is counted positively in national statistics if it involves spending money. Value though - we don't measure that and don't know how to.