Next Big Thing or Next Big Mistake?

by Brian Snyder

In a 2021 landmark of ludicrousness, Jeff Bezos launched himself, cowboy hat and all, into space aboard a phallus-shaped rocket. But Bezos’ fruitless attempt to fill that gaping hole in his life was only the latest stupid reason to send something to space. Spaceship stupidity goes back to the SNAPSHOT program which, in 1965, sent a working nuclear reactor into space. Not surprisingly,


Bad Bros and Their Bitcoin

By Brian Snyder

Bitcoin needs to end, now. And other blockchain-based currencies along with it. If, like many people, you only have a vague idea of what Bitcoin is, you need to know two critical facts. First, Bitcoin is a currency that is “mined” via computing calculations, and second, in aggregate those calculations use about as much energy as the nation of Argentina. To make matters worse, that energy use is growing.

A recent analysis in Nature Communications estimated that by 2024 bitcoin mining in China alone would require nearly 300 terawatt-hours (TWh),


American Totalism: Technology, Economy, and Nationality

By Brian Snyder

“Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality.” Those were the principles that underlaid most of the Tsarist governments in the final 80 years of Romanov rule. It was a slogan and a belief system, Russia’s version of “liberté, égalité, fraternité.” Eventually, under the leadership of a poor autocrat, Nicholas II, it would lead to the Russian Revolution and the brutal murder of Nicholas and his family. Yet between its coining in 1832 and the Revolution in 1917,


Terrestrial and Solar Resources in a Steady State Economy

By Herman Daly

Let us consider a different slant on the current discussion about the necessity versus sufficiency of renewable energy for a steady state economy at the present physical scale.

Pursuant to the pioneering economics of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen (G-R), we recognize two sources of the low-entropy flow that sustains our lives: the solar and the terrestrial. They differ in their pattern of scarcity. The solar energy source is practically infinite in its stock dimension,


Crossroads for Planet of the Humans

By William Rees

 

[Editor’s Note: The Steady State Herald first published a review of Planet of the Humans on May 1. The following review adds valuable information to the dialog.]

“It stands to reason…”

Who hasn’t heard this expression in everyday conversation? Humans tend to think of themselves as rational beings, and many people sincerely believe they are being reasonable all the time.

However,


The Second Cold War?

By Brian Snyder

Over the past two months, there has been a great deal of talk about the environmental implications of the pandemic. Some have looked for glimmers of hope, others have predicted that we will shortly return to the status quo. I fear that the biggest outcome of the pandemic will not be its death toll nor its effects on the climate, but its impacts on geopolitics. Specifically, the deteriorating relationship between China and the USA may lead to a Second Cold War.


A Post-COVID Vision: The Full and Sustainable Employment Act

By Brian Czech

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that the Great God of GDP is a false god after all, impotent as Baal. The mighty American economy, with unprecedented GDP, has been knocked to its knees by one of the lowest conceivable life forms, a mere virus possessing not a single strand of DNA. Politicians who thought their legacies would be associated with “the greatest economy ever” now look like ridiculous priests of a sham religion.


Sequence Matters

By Herman Daly

The main message of the controversial documentary, Planet of the Humans, is that unrestrained economic and population growth should be the target of environmentalists’ efforts, not technological fixes. Techno-fixes can be helpful, but belong in second place. If put in first place they are often dangerous (e.g., nuclear power, green revolution, biomass fuel, space colonization, etc.). Technocrats enjoy usurping first place and are not humble about it.


Planet of the Humans Puts Sacred Cows Out to Pasture

By Brian Czech

Planet of the Humans is a once-in-a-decade documentary for all concerned with the environment, the economy, and life on Earth. Directed by Jeff Gibbs and produced by Michael Moore, Planet is especially important for advancing the steady state economy. It is reminiscent of Pope Francis’ Laudato si’ in that it makes the case for a steady state economy—resoundingly—while never quite uttering the phrase “steady state economy.”

When viewing a documentary,


The Connection Between Population, Income, and Health

By Max Kummerow

For hundreds of years, economists have debated whether population growth is good or bad. Malthus said exponential population growth increases labor supply, so wages fall until starvation, war, or plague stops growth in numbers. Marx said capitalism causes poverty and hunger, so population growth is good, because “every stomach is born with a pair of hands”, bringing revolution and justice closer.

Nearly 200 years later, Garrett Hardin and Julian Simon were still debating the same question.