Eco Samurai-Zombies

April 29, 2009

Interesting view of the worldwide financial meltdown.

The global economic crisis is like a Samurai movie, quips Dennis Meadows co-author of the 1970s eco-doom report, ‘Limits to Growth.’
In a Samurai film’s inevitable finale, sword wielding hero and villain clash in a flurry of steel.
The two halt and glower at each other before one, always the miscreant, collapses to the ground dead.
The baddy was “already dead, but didn’t know it,” Meadows explained …
The same is true in the current crisis for glowering corporate giants such as carmakers.
They “will take some time to fall over, but they are dead,” says the professor emeritus.

Pessimism for the future of mankind might be Meadows’ specialty.
(Illustration found here).

He headed a research team for the 1972 study, “Limits to Growth,” which forecast humanity was headed for doom by 2100, and although the work was a best-seller at the time critics claimed it was too much in the mode of scaremonger and didn’t give enough weight to technology.
Now 30-plus years later, Meadows and his crew probably hit the hard nail on the head.
The study said earth/humanity is in an “overshoot” situation — “human demand exceeds nature’s supply” — creating both an abundant oversupply of goods while sucking up all the planet’s resources — way more shit is produced than is consumed.
The current gorge is a hyped-up version of a supposedly 50-year glut cycle first identified by Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev, but this time around there’s more greed-fed market manipulation.
The last time this cycle bottomed out was the 1930s.

Last week, Meadows was awarded the Japan Prize, that nation’s top science award (also with $500,000 in cash) for “transformation towards a sustainable society in harmony with nature.”
During a press conference in Tokyo, however, Meadows, a professor at MIT, didn’t paint much of a harmonious picture for the near future.
From Agence France-Presse:

“In 1972, our projections suggested growth would end in this 21st century, and that still seems inevitable to me.
“If demand against the planet rises above its carrying capacity, the carrying capacity will decline,” he said.
“Growth will not end gradually and peacefully in the distant future. It will end soon and suddenly through overshoot and collapse.

Speaking in Japan, a country heavily impacted by the global economic crisis, Meadows said that “until recently, it seemed impossible that individual human action could damage the global economy.”
“Now the unfolding collapse of the global credit markets and the precipitous decline in production threaten all nations,” he said.
Yet Meadows argued that the key lessons have not been learned, and that the search for solutions to the crisis remain based on “trust in the markets and the current faith in technological advances.”
“Indeed, the most common policy for solving current economic problems is a desperate effort to get the growth of the physical economy back onto its historical, exponential track,” he said.
“I know this policy will not work.”

According to Meadows, the next twenty years will be a period of intense transformation.
The current crisis is just the start.
Make the wrong choices, he predicts, and we will wind up with a fortress society of small bands of wealthy people barricaded away from a world of miserable poverty.

Heads I win, tails you lose.

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