Endless growth has ended.
I watched an Environmental Collapse conference not to long ago and one of the panel experts said, the quicker we can adapt to a preindustrial lifestyle the better, because that is where we are heading. I believe we are in for some huge shocks.
If it bleeds it leads, and also older folks may remember there is a Don Henley song that covers this very well in one of his verses in a song.
I remember seeing these patterns 10-15 years ago and calling it. Now folks made a brass assumption that I was stating it for mysognistic reasons, and I wasn’t. It was a, if we don’t change and build something better, we are doomed due to the Baby Boomers.
Here we sit now and people are now seeing it. The scream inflation and everything not realizing, that the free ride and free lunch of low interest rates and decisions made on each population growing larger then the next will continue on.
It will in the long term arc, but only once the last Boomer draws it breath. Until then great schasms will occur.
If folks are curious, the imbalances actually started with the brirth the US. Alexender Hamilton geniusly built T-bonds to pay for our independence. We officially paid it off in 1837. Then WWI happend and the debts were so massive for the US it had to create an income tax. (Est $450 billion in debt for WWII and $31 Billion in WWI.).
The rest is history, since the whole system was predicated on 3:1 to 5:1 birth rates. Well, only twice since 1973 have we met the birth replacement rate, and immigration had to help.
So instead of stripping women’s rights, maybe if the legalized sex work, built free day cares and treated parenting as a full time job paid for by the state (I mean we do it for the military). We get birth decisions done on the cheap and crass.
As for the insurance industry in Florida? I don’t blame them, and you know what? One could say those occurence are so regular now (thanks to climate change), that maybe the insurance companies won’t have to pay, or limit the payout to a small number.
People will whine and complain, but then one could say. Build housing inland and make sure it is sustainable and all that.
But you know that “will” never happen, because that takes intelligence, forethought and most important? Empathy. Valuable and rare things in Americana anymore
Human delusion: But, but, but, if we electrify everything and embrace New Green Deal Capitalism, everything will be fine!
Another great essay as always. I've said it before to people- there's not *really* a "choice" here. It's like the situation with coffee beans. Either we cut back how much coffee we drink and preserve what stores we have now, or we cut back how much coffee we drink because there isn't any *left* to buy. Nature doesn't accept cash or credit.
Nailed it. Brava.
I watch several YouTube channels dealing with narcissistics and psychopaths, (I live in Los Angeles near Hollywood, so why not), and all come to the conclusion that the industry that psychopaths and narcissists gravitate towards is Finance/Wall Street.
So you're correct. They act like parasites.
Jessica, you finally write a story that includes something I know much more about than someone that does not live in Arizona would know. Some parts of the water story in Arizona, think of the movie CHINA TOWN BUT POSSIBLY WORSE. Are you aware that some counties still have not regulated water, because of good conservative values? Someone can go into one of these unregulated areas and pump all the ground water out of it. That is what is happening in some areas where Saudi Arabia has purchased large swaths of land for farms to grow crops for their people. Aquifers are going dry. Small towns in the areas are sinking (subsidence) and some have reported water shortages.
I could write a book about water abuse and fraud concerning water issues in Arizona like the construction of the Central Arizona Project (CAP) a tax payer funded (much funded by the Feds meaning the mostly poor people throughout the US paid for it based upon our tax system) built to channel water from the Colorado River to the Phoenix and Tucson areas to help developers continue growth (meaning big profits) and governments continue to grow to get more tax benefits and power for municipalities and many more stories, but I’m not a writer but would certainly help anyone who is.
For once I disagree with you on a story. Why? Because there is a slight smell of optimism in it with the belief some of the capitalists are learning and responding to the problems. Bullshit. The capitalist have always known the problems but ignored them to continue getting short term profits.
I could go on and on but no one wants to read an entire paper, including me. So, to emphasize why I disagree with this article, because of slight smell of optimism when it is much worse than you write about.
Still love the article though and still a big fan (not a fanatic where the word fan comes from).
Your parasite analogy is perfect. I highly recommend Garrett Hardin's brilliant essay "The Tragedy of the Commons" in the December 13, 1968 issue of Science and Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered by E.F. Schumacher.
Thank you again.
My insurance company, USAA, lost $$ for the first time decades. The excuse- headwinds. Not climate change, not a killer virus, headwinds.
Some financial mistakes are due to poor management and hubris. The pandemic is over. The bad storms are over. No more fires anywhere…. Hubris.
And yes, humans behave exactly like a virus. Watch a video of the growth of human population. Either we change- or we die, and we don’t like change.
I just bought the Salk book and credited this posting. Thank you Jessica. Designing a sustainable future is going to be a lot of fun and hard work. I full enjoy this challenge in my practice. So readers: You get going and enjoy. Onwards, Steve
Wow. When I first started reading this article I thought, this is terrible but I’m in the UK this is a U.S. view, how does this impact me? However, you are right we have seen (last year) temperatures that caused schools to close and business to stop. We need to slow down and think. A genuinely great piece that makes me stop and think.
For a while I was thinking the driving force in the universe is irony.
Witness the butterfly ballot in West Palm Beach Florida making the 2000 election sufficiently close for the supreme court to take the presidency away from the climate change candidate. And the butterflies want a do-over of that election.
I'm thinking that AI will lead us down a hyperironic path from what it never was, Artificial Intelligence, to what it is, Augmented Inference, to what the pols want it to be, Avoiding Involvement.
And there will be no end of "Who coulda known? Ain't that ironic?".
Jessica, as well as being a fan-follower of yours here on Substack and Twitter, I’m also editor-in-chief of an online national newspaper for Wales. I’m wondering whether it would be possible to republish this there for World Environment Day tomorrow, with an author bio and links to your ko-fi, here, etc? Drop me a line at email@example.com if so.
Diolch yn fawr,
Every word of this feels right. Greed and excess have had way more than their 15 minutes. I really want to be an optimist about those who have the power to make large scale changes doing the right things, but it's very hard to get there.
Just bought New Reality
As usual, a brilliant essay. And, far from being ‘doomerish’, you are very upbeat. There are those out there who are very knowledgeable who see the events you correctly connect as being short-term reactions or symptoms of a future of near-term human extinction, rather than long-term degrowth and much less comfort and luxury. I dare say that I, and all of those really seriously pessimistic doomers, hope that you are 100% correct.
Your article concisely nails it home regarding human-induced global warming (which ExxonMobil knew about in the 1960s but instead chose to cover up and ignore because it knew it wouldn't go over well with stockholders) and the "vast, right-wing conspiracy" (yup, Hillary was right in that regard) to lie, cover up, and gloss over the horrible truths about global warming caused by endless human and economic growth. Corporate CEOs are parasites, feeding off other humans, natural resources (air, water, soil), and everything that grows or naturally occurs therein). And governments give them more power (subsidies, tax breaks, resource rights, laws to protect their endless exploitation of humans and resources) to continue their endless quest for more, at the expense of literally everything else.
While your article offers up hope that some, like AZ, are finally 'seeing the light', there are still many others worldwide who eagerly want to continue this unsustainable endless growth model, damn the consequences.
For example, Elon Musk is so scared of this new reality of nature-induced rebalancing and limited growth, that he is actively calling for MORE population growth, 'warning' that the world will end without it (his 'world', anyways). And Bill Gates and his ill-equipped, short-sighted, faux rose-colored foundation also think there is plenty of room for 2-3 billion more people (living the same lifestyles as Americans, Europeans, the New Chinese, etc) and room for even more economic growth! None of these billionaires are thinking like the AZ governor yet. They're still betting on and living in the false reality of Milton Friedman and his lunatic economic theory of never-ending growth.
Thank you Jessica🙏