Demystification Guru

Just because we don't understand something, doesn't mean it isn't understandable.

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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Ever since I became convinced about climate change by James Lovelock, I have been thinking even more than usual about the state of the planet. I was always partial to thinking about the planet, especially in terms of respect for it, and in that sense, I am completely in synch with Lovelock's metaphor of the planet as Gaia, a self-regulating organism. I am also pleased that he thinks we should go with nuclear energy to make electricity instead of stupid windmills that only make 3% anyway.

But I've also been musing about growth and economic growth and why everyone says that's so good but how it's really ruining the planet. I read the business section of the newspaper and everybody goes into a tailspin when growth slows down. But I figure there has to be an upper limit for growing, just as there is with an individual's life time and that of a species. When deer get too numerous, wolves eat them - like that. There is a balance for everything, including we humans and our economies. There is a lot of fretting about how there are soon going to be "too many" old people and not enough young people to support the old people, especially in terms of CPP and other social payments. But if we always maintained a balance of more young than old people, we'd end up with 7 billion people on the planet... oh wait, that's where we are now!

There was a big kerfuffle in the 70s about zero population growth but no one could figure out how to manage it, not even the Chinese with their one baby rule. And no one seems to think it is a good idea now and there are even regular editorials in the paper about how we (meaning white folks anyway) aren't having enough babies. Somehow, people have shied away from the obvious and now no one is talking about how there are too many humans on the planet.

As for economic growth, I understand the need and the quest to sell more and more of a product. But I don't think it's natural. As George Carlin might say (he did in Toledo Window Box), "it's normal without being natural", meaning according to Nature. In the olden days but long after we invented the division of labour, if I made wagons, I could only make enough wagons that people would want to buy. If I could get my product to a larger market, then I could sell more. But eventually, everyone would have a wagon and I would have to just repair them and make a new one once in a while. We have totally ripped by that model and left it in the dust. I think it's time to resurrect it and rethink it.

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