Wednesday 7 December 2011

The Unconscious Civilisation

Saul, J. 1997, The Unconscious Civilisation has been added to the bibliography at the Minessence Values Framework Knowledge-base: A must read book for anyone wishing to understand what's happening to our society and, with that increased understanding, to engage in its transformation. As Saul says (p.14), "The marketplace these days is into job elimination." Isn't it about time we invented a marketplace which is into job creation? The diagram below, from the New York Times, illustrates just how hard people have worked to increase productivity (i.e. eliminate jobs). For what real benefit?
Click to Enlarge

Saturday 3 December 2011

The Evidence is Mounting, any Economy which Relies on Growth is Doomed and then, so are too We

Richard Heinberg of The Guardian in an article titled, "Life after the end of economic growth" (The Guardian, 30 Nov, 2011), writes:
Stimulating growth has become job No 1 for policymakers. David Cameron insists that his nation must deregulate business and reform employment law in order to "go for growth". And at the conclusion of the recent G20 global economic summit, the US president, Barack Obama, reported that the discussions there had revolved around the question, "How do we achieve greater global growth?" Such statements raise nary an eyebrow; they are entirely expected.
Nonetheless, in recent years a few economists have advanced a contrary view. Tim Jackson in the UK, Herman Daly in the US, and Serge Latouche in France have argued that growth is not always good for the environment or for the real health of communities, and that GDP growth is impossible to sustain over the long run anyway because we live on a planet with limited natural resources. Their position has won few adherents in the mainstream. In the "real" worlds of politics and economics, questioning growth is like arguing against gasoline at a Formula One race.
But doubts about growth are no longer theoretical. We seem to have arrived at a moment when further economic expansion is hemmed in by financial as well as natural limits. As extraction industries chewed through the low-hanging fruit of the world's oil, coal, natural gas and other minerals, and turned to lower-grade and thus more expensive ores and fuels, managers of the economy tried to keep growth going by piling up debt in the mistaken belief that it is only money that makes the economy run, not energy and raw materials. Today, high oil prices are keeping a lid on commercial expansion in the older industrial nations as petroleum demand shifts to the hyperactive economies of Asia, which for now can afford steeper fuel prices. Meanwhile, we in the west seem to have maxed out government and consumer credit, and that realisation is sending financial markets into fibrillation. With energy resources and credit both stretched tight, that means more economic growth may simply not be possible in the US and Europe, regardless of our opinions about it.
If policymakers fail to recognise this and continue assuming that the current debt crisis is just another turning of the business cycle, then we may lose whatever opportunity still remains to avert a crash that could bring civilisation to its knees. Over the short run, this is scary business. Financial markets have a hair trigger, and fears about flagging growth could bring down governments and banks.
Still, over the longer term there will undoubtedly be life after growth, and it doesn't have to play out under miserable conditions. With less energy to fuel globalisation and mechanisation there should be increasing requirement for local production and manual labour. We could meet everyone's basic needs by prioritising jobs in manufacturing and agriculture while downsizing the financial industry and the military. We will also have to reduce economic inequality and corruption (as the rapidly spreading Occupy movement rightly insists).
I am so sick of politicians talking as though the economy is God. The economy has become some form of religion for governments. It's time world leaders stopped to think, reflect and re-evaluate where we've come from and where civilization should be heading. The global economy is a human construct after all, designed originally to fund the World War II effort in the UK (Marilyn Waring, Who's Counting). The economy, like all human created systems, has the values system of its founders. It's time to de-construct and re-construct the global economic system with a values system relevant to the 21st Century - a values systems which puts the well-being of all living things first.

You may have seen the two videos below before, even so, they are worth watching again.

David Suzuki's Legacy. At 74, and coming the end of his scientific and broadcasting career, Suzuki mused on the notion: "If I had one last lecture to give, what would I say?" The result is a very special talk full of humour, warmth, insight and passion. At a packed house at the Perth Convention Centre, Suzuki voiced his long-time frustration at the obsession for economic growth at the sacrifice of nature, while urging us all to strive for a sustainable future...
Prosperity Without Growth. Tim Jackson, a professor of Sustainable Development and author of the book, Prosperity Without Growth, argues it's time to re-think the very notion of growth and what it means to be genuinely prosperous...

Friday 2 December 2011

Energy gain is the primary reason we eat!

Despite the fact that energy gain is the primary reason we eat, until now no one had done any significant research into this aspect of cooking and its impact on us.

The Importance of Feedback

There's an old management saying, "If you don't measure it, you can't control it." These days we all know that, in reality, we can't control anything. Influence things yes, control things no. So I'm thinking this old saying needs a rework to:
"You can only influence that from which you receive feedback."
What do you think?

Thursday 1 December 2011

Complexity, the Arrow of Progress & Growth

I've been working with this concept for a while, that is, ever since I read Czikszentmihalyi's book, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness. Now I've decided to add a separate page to this Blog demonstrating how to  Czikszentmihalyi's ideas, and some of my own. can be applied.

New Blog Layouts

Have been busy updating my blogs to take advantage of Google's new layout options. Particularly like that it is now possible to add multiple pages.