Saturday, May 6, 2017

Everything is Fine

Wages are up and unemployment down in the latest monthly figures for the U.S. economy. Everything is fine...except that the rise in employment probably doesn't make up for the drop in productivity, which is caused, at least in part, by the sour mood of national politics. At least the economy keeps humming along... which is actually the problem.

Photo by Steve Fuerst (CC BY-ND 2.0)
We cannot continue to pursue growth in a fossil fueled economy. It's a dead end - at the edge of a cliff - dropping off into the raging sea which is pounding at the cliff and threatening its collapse. Old Blowhard is opening up the throttle of free enterprise and disconnecting the governor. At this speed, our runaway engine won't be able to avoid sending us off the cliff. We need to back down on the throttle and steer in a new direction. A renewable economy would steer us away from the cliff, though that is a course Old Blowhard has clearly abandoned with his appointment of Daniel Simmons to head the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

"EERE" sparks notions of an eerie silence that would pervade our surroundings in the absence of blaring internal combustion engines. It's as if we fear that before these engines enslaved us a century ago our forebears lived a medieval existence. Ironically, however, it is not EERE which would take us back a millennium, but our neglect of transitioning to renewable technologies.

The catabolic collapse that the world is currently encountering is not predestined to reverse all of civilization's progress (though it may). Renewable technologies enable civilization to retain the benefits of the industrial revolution while abandoning its initial, unsustainable devices. The more we invest now in renewables, the less we will be forced into further difficulty as the collapse proceeds.

The Count of Mar-a-Largo would be pleased enough to live a sumptuous life above the fray of neo-medieval peasants struggling for their survival, but we don't have to accept such an extreme reversal. We need to rid our government of bad apples like him and institute a Green New Deal that will bring measured progress to our times along with blessed quiet to our communities.

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