muses of the moment

April 9, 2012

Paul Volcker

Filed under: Bank bailout, Dollar Crisis, Economic Crisis — totallygroovygirlfriday @ 7:57 am

Jesse beat me to it, putting up the wonderful and candid interview with Paul Volcker on Moyers and Company from Sunday. Click here. Worth the time.

Limits to Growth

Filed under: Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller, Economic Crisis, Odds 'n ends, Peak Energy, US Government Debt — totallygroovygirlfriday @ 3:54 am

A lot of renewed discussion going around the internet on the 1972 findings in Limits to Growth report. Click here.

Groovygirl does not necessarily agree that we have a limit to growth. She thinks we have a limit to unsustainable growth. And, she also agrees with Bucky Fuller that careless use of finite resources (whatever those many be) is irresponsible and a danger to future generations. At some point in the future cheap oil will either become unavailable or too expensive to get/process that it will not be useful in setting up the infrastructure for the next energy option(s).

For instance, if we intend to make natural gas the fuel for US transportation industry, we will need time (at least 5-10 years), money, and energy resources to set up that nation-wide system and ramp up drilling, transport, and processing of the raw material. The time to start is not when oil is $200 a barrel and moving up fast.

As sustainable growth applies to the monetary system, the fiat currency system coupled with the sovereign debt bond system is not sustainable. Having limited growth in monetary policy helps continue growth through contraction cycles (when debt must contract to the real output of the underlying asset) instead of a complete stop and/or breakdown of the global monetary system, which we are facing now). Fiat currency and debt systems help extend growth, but they do not eliminate the contraction cycle, and mis-handled, they can make it much worse.

Another example, water. Why are we trying to create an oasis out of¬† every inch of desert? Water would be the perfect, simplest, and least expensive way to maintain growth in a particular finite resource. Take the US, states are fighting over low water resources for crops vs. residential homes’ landscaping. We are draining the Ogallala Aquifer, also known as the High Plains Aquifer, for crop irrigation and other uses such as residential lawns, sewage systems, industrial uses, and gas drilling. Let’s just try to conserve what we have been put in charge of, to last as long as possible, so we don’t have to spend money on other expensive options later. Isn’t this just common sense? gg thinks so.

Let’s look at residential water uses, not industrial or farming (which gg has many simple solutions for as well).

If all new housing had a rain collection system (excluding those states where it is illegal) and/or a grey-water system (and used that system just for landscape irrigation), we could conserve 720,000,000 gallons per year. That’s a savings of $ 1,200,000 per year (gg is using average costs here, your area may be different).

And that is just for new residential properties (no expensive retro-fitting). Over a ten-year period that is a 7 billion gallon return on investment, and we keep the green lawns. Imagine if new office buildings and industrial buildings included just rain barrels or roof-catchment systems? Or just grey-water systems? Imagine the savings in sewage plant processing costs with less run-off water?

And what if the government handed out money for rain barrels, irrigation pipes, pumps, and sprinklers heads, but we did the labor for new residences? Just residential. It would be about $1,500,000,000, which is around the same amount that the US government borrows every half day or 12.5 hours (gg is using 2010 numbers…probably just a few hours now). Are we using that money we borrowed this morning to the best possible use? Because at some point we will not be able to borrow any money for anything.

And that is what groovygirl is asking of every national resource from oil to water to time to money: are we using the resources we have available right now in the best possible way to sustain our current life-style (or current growth) when that resource is unavailable, rationed, more expensive, or requires more debt to obtain?

If you are not asking yourself this question on the individual level, you are in denial. If our leaders are not asking this question on the national level, they are in denial.

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