Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Keep asking the wrong question, Paul Krugman, and you won't have to think about the answer.

Krugman: "But it is, I think, a useful corrective to the rigorous-sounding but actually silly notion that you can’t produce more without using more energy."

Of course you can produce more while using less energy. That is what has been happening throughout history. That is the wrong question, though. The problem has to do with maintaining employment while reducing the absolute amount of energy used. Producing more with less energy doesn't solve that problem.

UPDATE: Krugman proved Mark Buchanan right: economists ARE blind to the limits of growth!


Anonymous said...

I'd suggest looking at the law of conservation of mass/energy as an absolute limit to growth. There is only so much carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, etc. on the planet. We can't make more, and entropy means we can't recycle endlessly - although it helps greatly. At some point, we'll run out of stuff.

Can we get along for a while by increasing efficiency? Certainly - for a while. Sooner or later, though, we'll hit the limits imposed by the physical laws of the universe.

Sandwichman said...

Ultimately, yes. But we don't really have to worry about the theoretical limits because the practical limits are already being breached. In other words, we could do MUCH, MUCH better than we do. We could have MUCH more material well-being while using MUCH less resource consumption.

But that's not how we roll.

Waste (and more waste) is the secret ingredient of 20th century consumption-driven prosperity. Cost shifting is the off-balance sheet secret ingredient of profit maximization.