Mittwoch, 25. April 2012

Part 2, the struggle for a future

As mentioned in the first part, the generations that have thrived in the 20th century have left us an unsolvable mess at our doorstep. They have amassed astronomical riches by wasting the following generations (our) resources and demand that the next generations will clean up the mess.

The most mind boggling thing is that the capitalists see it just the other way round. In the capitalist thinking we are indebted and are supposed to pay them interest for the riches they have raked in by greedily and stupidly wasting the resources for no other reason than being richer than the next man.

Please think about this once again. This generation that has been bereft of their part of the riches of this planet by the previous generations capitalist is now asked by the thieves them self’s to pay them interest as if we were indebted to them? This is far beyond sanity.

As growth comes to a halt the amount of interest in relation to the GDP will skyrocket. The global amount of liquidity (that is of course balanced out by a similar amount of debts) is today ten times the global GDP. 90 % of these riches are in the hand of us-americans, and most of it is owned by the top one percent.

How could the rich get that rich? How could they accumulate that much power? One of the reason is that it seems socialism failed us. As mentioned in the previous post, this power and money was not earned by the working class or the farmers, it was accumulated by exploiting the natural ressources of the planet while the socialists were bought off just enough to be content to let it happen.

We can not blame it on the left though, the sad truth is, that all members of society seemed to be content to adjust to capitalism if the “benefits” of growth would to some degree trickle down to them. In capitalism the future generation painfully lacks a lobby. Most people were content with “enough” and didn’t bother that some accumulated riches of astronomical magnitudes, not thinking that these riches would amount also in debts and interests to be paid.

The GDP, limited by services and goods produced and therefore by energy, will stop growing as the oil production peaks. No, it has already stopped growing 2006 when peak crude oil was reached. Growth as (ostensibly) happened afterwards happened in the virtual world of financial industry and was, by all means, a sham.

For the amount of interest people around the world have to pay alone, when considering a rate of 5%, half of the global GDP will be needed! This means, 50% of the time we work will be for paying for the interests of the rich without ever having the remotest chance to paying these imagined debts back and while the interest will rise every year because the amounted liquidity will rise exponentially.

This is the future we are presented with from a monetary side, if (or while) capitalism is not overcome. While the demands of the rich will rise, our means of living will diminish drastically. Without enough oil we will not be able to produce the same amount of food and famines will spread around the world.

Oil is the basis for all products we make, especially in the chemical industry. Oil is needed to get to or exploit every other resource while these will also get rare, harder to find and further to transport. Transportation, logistics and personal mobility will be more and more of a problem.(see i.e. Hirsch report)

Al these problems are not insurmountable with enough time and resources, but the time we had was wasted with accumulating riches instead preparing for a steady state economy. The people these riches belong to fail to see these problems, ignore them or choose to not care about them.

In order to have any chance to successfully transition into a steady state economy we will have to wrest the future from the hands of those that have stolen it. This is not a class struggle, but the most vicious conflict between generations this world has ever seen.

It is also struggle for which we almost have no energy left because of the weight of the ostensible debts for which we are supposed to pay interest, a struggle against an enemy that is more powerful than any power in the world has ever been. We would need all our abilities and what is left of the resources to solve all of the overwhelming problems caused by the diminishing oil resources.

Instead we will have to use all of our energy to topple the corrupt governments that side up with the rich old men that give a rats ass about our future. This is why young people ”see no future”, these are the hurdles we have to take, and I did not even mention global warming that is left to us as a special gift from the 20th century.

Read on in Part 3

AW auf: TINSTAAFL and the Welfare State

This is an answer to TINSTAAFL and the Welfare State by Klaus Kastner Blog TINSTAAFL (there is no such thing as a free lunch)

Hello Mr. Kastner,

I will take up the invitation for discussion and decided to enter into it here.

Concerning this article I will start with following. While in social sciences other than economics the idea that there is something like a "primitive society" has long been discarded it is common to use it in economic circles.

It is a huge flaw of economics to still live in the chauvinistic terms of the 19th century scholars like Adam Smith. Especially if ,when looking closely, we find that our society is not a very bright one, but rather the most stupid wasteful society that probably ever was.

But this is just the beginning of what I will guess will be an interesting argument. My thesis is that the existing economic principles that rule our policies are there for no other reason as that there is something like a free lunch since about 150 years, oil.

The treasure in the cellar:

As you may already know after reading my blog, I do admire the teachings of Marvin Harris and his Cultural Materialism. If you follow the link to Marvin Harris you will read that there is significant reason to believe that Human culture is in fact largely defined by the amount of energy it has to its disposal.

Interestingly, what we call economics as a science today, established itself at a time when humans began to exploit the energy that is concentrated in fossil fuels. With exploiting this virtually free energy several things happened to our society simultaneously.

It started an extraordinary rise to all productivity that finally resulted in industrial society. Since the beginning of the industrial age population has risen exponentially worldwide. Also, the feudal system that dominated preindustrial societies came to an end. A new form of stratified society started to emerge.

The structural class of the industrial worker came into existence as productivity of agriculture and rural population raised simultaneously and led to a rural exodus. Urban metropolitan city sprawls like Victorian Age London grew to house this new class of laborers.

The rise of the capitalists
Almost free energy and rising efficiency also gave way to another new development. While in preindustrial societies, the number of people who could live just from holding money was severely limited by the low surplus that could be sustainably produced; the amount of surplus now available gave rise to another class, the capitalist.

The whole Idea of somebody living from the gains of his capital was abhorrent at all other ages. Even in the feudal system there was some kind of legitimacy to the ruling class (given by god and inheritance). The usurer is somebody shunned by virtually all societies predating the industrial age and by almost all religious and ethical believes.

The capitalist on the other hand, had to his side the economist. He was the high priest of the new believe system,  that made "earning money by doing nothing", as something not only morally acceptable, but the ultimate goal of all strife in a society, where the individual was being reduced to an homo oeconomicus, a being that is only motivated by personal monetary gain.

Not surprisingly this new development led to the rise to several counter movements like anarchism, socialism and communism. I am not saying that the conflict between the haves and have nots, the debtors and the creditors has not been the basis of all revolutions at all ages. There is a significant difference in the struggles in the 19th and 20th century whatsoever.

It settled on a middle ground that allowed the capitalists not only to hold on to the wealth they have gathered, but also convinced the majority of the people that they also could benefit from the capitalist system. Main reason for this is (by the help of protestant religious believe) that a devious myth was invented. It is the myth of vertical social mobility (also called “the american dream”).

Why a myth? Social studies show that there is a huge disparity between actual social mobility and its perception. (i.e. this one). What this myth does is not only giving legitimacy for those who made it, it also suggests that the poor are poor because of their own fault. Propaganda (also called advertising or TV.) sees to it that this myth is always circulated in public space.

This myth alone is not enough to explain the meekness of the poor. Most of the time during the 19th and the 20th century, small concessions to the poor had to be made. It did not hurt the capitalists much, because due to the never before achieved “economic growth” in these times, the amount of surplus to be harvested ans shared, grew evermore.

Growth, as economic sciences defines it, is the growth of total production and services. As we have seen in Marvin Harris analysis, the amount goods and services produced is limited by the energy that is produced by a society. Only that this energy that drove our siciety has not been produced, it has been found as a treasure in the cellar. It virtually just needed to be picked up or pumped up from our earth’s crust.

There was a free lunch, but it is over:

This treasure has been wasted by the generations that found it. It has been used to provide the few that managed to rake in the harvest to live the free lunch. Contrary to the believe of many socialists, this free lunch has not been served by “the working class”, or not more or less than during the thousands of years before. The amount of energy people put into production of goods today is actually very minimal. This free lunch has been stolen from future generations.

So, economy, capitalism, industrial age, and the population we now are able to provide for, all of it is a result of the exploitation of fossil fuels and the riches of future generations. The generations that have thrived in the 20th century have left us with an unsolvable mess at our doorstep.

As obvious from reading my blog, I am convinced that the time of cheap oil has come to an end NOW and my arguments for that are very good. The political system, the whole believe system, all values we cherish seem to circle around the concept of growth. What if that growth has finally stopped, like for a very long time, if not forever?

Why, you asked me, do I have such a grim outlook on our future? Read part 2 for an answer to this question.



Montag, 23. April 2012

Startbahn 3 in München vs Peak Oil?

In wenigen Wochen wird in München über den Ausbau des FJS Flughafens abgestimmt. Das zentrale Argument der Befürworter dieses Megaprojektes ist natürlich wieder "Das Wachstum".

Ungeachtet der Tatsache, dass gerade das hohe Flugaufkommen einen wesentlichen Beitrag zum Klimawandel leistet, wird insbesondere von Münchens noch OB Ude und MP Seehofer, diese Projekt gegen den Widerstand der Bevölkerung und der Umweltorganisationen duchgeboxt. Die Wachstumspropheten der Befürworter  sprechen gerne von "Belastbaren Prognosen" für die drastische Erhöhung des Flugverkehrs:

Leider werden diese "Belastbaren Prognosen" nicht veröffentlicht, zumindest habe ich auf der "Ja zur 3" Webseite keinerlei Link gefunden. Mich würde dennoch interessieren, wie man zu diesen gewagten Vorhersagen kommen und diese auch noch "belastbar" nennen kann.

Sicherlich ist es durchaus "belastbar", davon auszugehen, dass wir auch bis 2025 keinerlei Maßnahmen gegen den CO2 Ausstoß im Flugverkehr getroffen haben, auch wenn gerade das uns seit Jahren von der Politik versprochen wird.

Was gäbe ich aber dafür zu wissen wie sich Peak Oil auf unsere Gesellschaft in 10 Jahren ausgewirkt haben wird. Meines wissens werden große Fracht und Passagiermaschinen auch in 10 Jahren noch Kerosin verbrennen, ein Rohstoff dessen Produktionskapazität meiner (Bauch-) Schätzung nach 2025 bei höchsten 25% der momentanen Förderleistung liegt. Zugrunde liegt bei meiner Abschätzung ein absinken der Rohöl Fördermenge ab ca. 2015 um mindestens 3% / Jahr, laut belastbaren? Prognosen der IEA

Werden wir denn alle dann so vom hier gleichzeitig prognostizierten "Aufschwung" profitiert haben, dass wir die erhöhten Flugbenzinpreise und eine potentielle CO2 Steuer locker verschmerzen können? Vielleicht aber setzen die Auguren der wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung auf die "Innovationskraft des Marktes" und wir fliegen im Jahr 2025 mit Wasserstoff aus erneuerbahren Energien? Das ist toll, dass wir bis 2025 geschafft haben so viel erneuerbare Energieen zu erzeugen, dass wir damit auch noch in den Urlaub fliegen können, aber ist diese Prognose denn Belastbar?

Wie ist es denn mit dem erhöhten Bedarf an Kerosin der gleichzeitig mit der Reduktion der Fördermenge von Erdöl einhergeht? Werden wir denn unser Flugaufkommen möglicherweise dadurch erhöhen, dass andere (Russland, China, Brasilien, USA ...) nicht mehr wie bisher immer mehr fliegen sondern uns das Flugbenzin billig überlassen, wer weiss?

Man beachte auch den kleinen "Hubbel" in  der Grafik in den Jahren der Wirtschaftskrise 2008/2009. Offensichtlich wissen die Verfasser der "Belastbaren Prognose", dass uns ein solches Ungemach die nächsten 15 Jahre erspart bleibt. Na dann können wir ja beruhigt in die Zukunft sehen, belastbare Prognosen (von unbekannten Verfassern) können ja nicht lügen und unser Urlaubsaufenthalt am Ballermann ist auch 2025 gesichert.

Edit: Ich habe jetzt herausgefunden, dass sich die Fluggesellschaften und die Flugzeughersteller tatsächlich Gedanken machen wie man nach Peak Oil die Jets in der Luft hält.

Die Idee heisst "Aviation Biofuel" oder übersetzt: "Besser Menschen (Ver-) Hungern als das unsere Maschinen am Boden bleiben." (Siehe auch meinen Post "Ist Biosprit Nachhaltig").