worth the read...and an open thread...

I have developed an affinity for the folks over at Community Solution. They have some really neat discussions and ideas there regarding sustainable development and community-based ideas. Here's their latest newsletter, which I would encourage all of you to read.

I'm also opening up this comment thread for some thoughts on the Community Solution document or any other thoughts related to sustainable development. (We have some pretty smart folks reading our blog, and some of the insights generated in the comment box have been really interesting...keep it up! We appreciate your insights and participation in making this blog work.)

Also, an FYI: it's going to be a slow posting weekend here, way too many papers and other grading to get through for both of us, plus HO's traveling. That's the problem with this time of year for academics!

I may also go back and dig out some greatest hits, etc., at some point. I'll also try to do a linkfest this evening as well.

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William R. Catton's book "Overshoot" is a must read. You can read Chap3 here

Other chapters may also be found at Bill Totten's blog

Chap 3 is a must read, because it points out some of the fallacies that are being embraced by the "Ecological movement"

This type of material should be required reading for classical economists, particularly the ones that don't seem capable of understanding that the earth is finite or the consequences of exponential growth.

When I was teaching, I worked as much of what I then called countervailing economic theory into discussion points to make econ a lively topic, and one of the optional texts I listed was Daly's "For The Common Good."

There's little I would quibble about in the newsletter. It would provide a very good reactive writing assignment for 10th graders to college seniors. One point I thought well made--it's our culture that needs changing. This brings me back to a point I made in an earlier blog about there being a "hidden" mass of people in the USA who are/have changing/ed their cultural outlook as noted by a pair of researchers I saw at SolFest. These folk they call "cultural creatives," rather than "culture jammers," which is a term I used. They have a website, http://www.culturalcreatives.org/

Another point that was made but not dwelled on is the fact that we are far from being a "Christian" nation; rather, the newsletter makes clear that the USA is quite a pagan nation totally invested in the pursuit of mammon and the power it provides. This, of course, is the largest part of USA's culture needing change. It's quite clear from his behavior that the Gos Bush purpots to speak with is the "Free Market" God, not Yahweh or its "Trinity."

Ugh! Typos--God Bush purports ...

This item provides evidence for my assertions, http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0514-24.htm

Every monotheistic western religion at one time had prohibitions against usury - that is, lending money for interest. Judaism and Christianity jettisoned the prohibition with the rise of commerce, but Muslims still (more or less) adhere to that belief. The basic reason that it was (is) regarded as immoral is that it involved gain for no effort, and taking advantage of another's misfortune to boot.

The interesting observation regarding this is that modern finance is completely dependent on the legitimation of usury, and that is also why classical economists can delude themselves into thinking growth will and must go on forever. If you eliminate interest bearing debt from the economic system, then finance remains much, much more grounded. Also, a big part of the imperative for eternal growth is removed.

Another issue flying way under the radar is a massive scandal in the securities markets known as Failure to Deliver, which is the result of a form of market manipulation known as Naked Short Selling. NBC is known to be sitting on a story for its Dateline program titled "Stockgate." The amount of money involved is uncertain, but those close to the issue believe it to be at least 2 Trillion dollars. The SEC Act of 1934 makes this practice illegal, but the SEC is an accomplice to this practice by its non-enforcement of its own rules. I could use even more space to describe this, but will let those interested go to http://www.ncans.net

Is it in anyone's interest for the USA to have a debt crisis? Yes, but those standing to benefit will let the USA dig its hole deeper before making it manifest.

Im with karlof - there are other countries with a vested interest in seeing us unable to sustain our current economy. These countries have their own resource needs, and our wasteful lifestyle impedes their progress. But these are simply speed bumps on the back of Hubberts curve. This is a world problem, and will inevitably force a paradigm shift on the human race.

The articie is an excellent recap of the pertinent historic rationales and the impending changes we are facing. I think this might be the starting point for those unable to face or unwilling to acknowledge the future, that we were talking about a couple of weeks ago.

But I keep coming back to money, the entire concept of money. It seems that the perversion of money from something initially designed as a medium of exchange is the real root of our economic problem. It allows accumulation, and thus potential for massive inequity.

I think each of us needs to pay attention to the following quote from

"Because energy is personal and political, awkward and unpleasant questions quickly arise. Energy is also technical and dangerous, essential both to life and to large-scale, mechanized violence. The discovery of abundant and easy energy in the forms of oil and natural gas has allowed us to disconnect from reality, from realizing that there is only a certain amount of useable energy delivered to the planet every day. We can cheat and run up environmental debts and eat into Earth's fossil energy store as we become ever more addicted to the big energy fix, but as with any debt, any deception, any addiction, there are high costs involved, and these costs are now undeniable.

The situation now arising requires a very deep level of rethinking. One of the requirements is energy literacy, a form of critical thinking and structural rethinking. Energy literacy will require us to notice how much and what type of energy a process of life requires, and where that energy comes from. In the industrial world, we are not used to thinking like this. We have endless tools for thinking superficially about economic goods, but few in policy or practice, for understanding the role of energy, or how it underpins the structures of industrial, automated life. Most importantly, it is not markets, but the mechanisms of our infrastructure that must be understood, and this understanding will be our key critical thinking tool."

A great source of information about how energy works in life forms is "What Is Life?" by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan. I would highly recommend it as the place to start fulfilling "One of the requirements is energy literacy, a form of critical thinking and structural rethinking. Energy literacy will require us to notice how much and what type of energy a process of life requires, and where that energy comes from."

Ahh, money... I had to read those three crucial paragraphs in Heinberg's "The Party's Over" concerning money over and over until I got it (they are on page 170, if you have the book). That, and the fact that Catherine Austin Fitts and Mike Ruppert have been saying for some time that we need to change the way that money works. I got started on a Voyage of Internet Discovery (VOID) concerning money... eventually I ran across the "Wizards of Money" audio downloads, which are just outstanding explanations of how the money system works, and why it concentrates wealth. I particularly recommend episodes 1, 4, and 7 (if you listen to nothing else, listen to these!). Most of the episodes are available as MP3 downloads from this URL:


Smithy, the host, has a wonderfully dry sense of humor. Enjoy.


OT: Qatar makes clean diesel from natural gas using Nazi tech:


Fischer-Tropsch synthesis is hardly a secret Nazi process. Basically your two choices for tranporting natural gas where you can't use a pipeline are either to liquefy it or convert it to diesel.

Well, even in the 1930's people had great ideas. I guess the desert southwest and west Texas could do this in a heartbeat....and it is so unbelievably KISS!


Australia is already going for a big one...but, since it is a german idea, and not something we thought of here in America, we will probably opt out of this party. After all, nookular is such a cool word to say...

Turning natural gas to a transportation fuel is hardly a solution. It simply uses the best heating fuel that we have for an inefficient transportation system, assuring that this resource will quickly be depleted as well. The backside of the natural gas curve is steep indeed!

Here is what M. King Hubbert wrote -
"Two Intellectual Systems: Matter-energy and the Monetary Culture"

"The world's present industrial civilization is handicapped by the coexistence of two universal, overlapping, and incompatible intellectual systems: the accumulated knowledge of the last four centuries of the properties and interrelationships of matter and energy; and the associated monetary culture which has evloved from folkways of prehistoric origin.

"The first of these two systems has been responsible for the spectacular rise, principally during the last two centuries, of the present industrial system and is essential for its continuance. The second, an inheritance from the prescientific past, operates by rules of its own having little in common with those of the matter-energy system. Nevertheless, the monetary system, by means of a loose coupling, exercises a general control over the matter-energy system upon which it is super[im]posed.

"Despite their inherent incompatibilities, these two systems during the last two centuries have had one fundamental characteristic in common, namely, exponential growth, which has made a reasonably stable coexistence possible. But, for various reasons, it is impossible for the matter-energy system to sustain exponential growth for more than a few tens of doublings, and this phase is by now almost over. The monetary system has no such constraints, and, according to one of its most fundamental rules, it must continue to grow by compound interest. This disparity between a monetary system which continues to grow exponentially and a physical system which is unable to do so leads to an increase with time in the ratio of money to the output of the physical system. This manifests itself as price inflation. A monetary alternative corresponding to a zero physical growth rate would be a zero interest rate. The result in either case would be large-scale financial instability."

You stole my post, Rajiv!! - grin

Thanks for getting it out!

The more I read of Hubbert, the more I admire his gutsy look at civilization. He was spot-on with respect to a great many things. But Rajivs posting from Hubbert has always been what I consider the crux of what we are facing today. Peak Oil is just a symptom, just one of numerous possible resource bumps. Hubbert actually understood the coming societal tsunami. And it is ALL about money...

I am hoping for the Star Trek ending, and working to "make it so".... What about you guys?

You should also read Margit Kennedy's book



EVERY DAY almost everyone on this planet uses money. Yet few people understand how money works and affects their lives directly and indirectly.

First Misconception


The first misconception relates to growth. We tend to believe that there is only one type of growth, that is, the growth pattern of nature which we have experienced ourselves.

Second Misconception


A further reason why it is difficult for us to understand the full impact of the interest mechanism on our monetary system is that it works in a concealed way. Thus the second common misconception is that we pay interest only when we borrow money, and, if we want to avoid paying interest, all we need to do is avoid borrowing money.

Third Misconception


A third misconception concerning our monetary system may be formulated as follows: Since everybody has to pay interest when borrowing money or buying goods and services, we are all equally well (or badly) off within our present monetary system. Not true again. There are indeed huge differences as to who profits and who pays in this system.

Fourth Misconception


A fourth misconception relates to the role of inflation in our economic system. Most people see inflation as an integral part of any money system, almost "natural," since there is no capitalist country in the world with a free market economy without inflation.

Thanks J.
I think I missed that!

While both Chris Cook's and Margrit Kennedy's approaches are better than what exists now, both have shortcomings from an ecological perspective. One of the issues that crops up in my mind is the whole issue of incorporating the "time value of money" into the system. "Time Value of money" in its general form promotes present consumption, and devalues "Future Generations." However, the concept is not without value.

I haven't seen any solution to this conundrum.

The whole problem with "time value" is that it attempts to level inequities. Is the time of Albert Einstein thinking great thoughts more or less valuable than the time it takes a plumber to replace your septic tank? Time value is, to me, very subjective without some kind of framework within which to work. And this would need to involve setting relative values, which would never be "fair", because everybody is not created equal with respect to intelligence or ability.

Another part of the problem, IMHO, is that we ALL work too much, grubbing after money. The reason may be that in America, we produce very few of the "little things" we use every day (clothing, pots and pans, sugar, etc.) Instead, we perform some nebulous job that has no physical end product, for which we get money and then buy pots and pans and the like. This is only possible with cheap, abundant energy.

The entire insurance industry produces nothing. The financial industry produces nothing. Banking is an industry? A stock "market"? Are they really industries or parasites?

Issues like these point me towards thinking the entire system has to crash to level the field before we can build something better.