Reposted from Post-Carbon Institute
Photo: The Delusion of Infinite Growth
(Washington, DC) At a hastily organized news conference, president Obama this morning called for a new national effort to restore America’s greatness by combating “entropy.” Mr. Obama described entropy as “a self-defeating ideology of failure” and called on Congress to replace the Law of Diminishing Returns with a new legislative agenda geared to reversing a range of trends in resource depletion and economic stagnation. “I have directed the Attorney General to identify loopholes in the Second Law of Thermodynamics,” the president said, “that would allow our nation’s prosperity to advance indefinitely.”
President Obama’s comments come in response to increasing public skepticism about the potential for further economic growth. Interviewed on last Thursday’s broadcast of Good Morning America, Caltech physicist Kelvin Vereisen observed that, “Unless they’re maintained by a steady stream of energy, systems gradually decline into disorder. We pour extraordinary amounts of energy into the global industrial system annually, but the cost of that energy is rising while its quality is declining. We should therefore expect to see an increase of entropy in civilization.” GMA was immediately overwhelmed by viewer calls and emails.
In recent months, a small west-coast think tank, Post Carbon Institute, has raised questions about the possibility of endless growth of population and consumption on a finite planet. “There are limits to growth, and humanity is colliding with them,” according to Executive Director Asher Miller. The organization alleges that high oil and food prices and extreme weather are all symptomatic of growth limits.
As if this weren’t enough, legendary Harvard economist Justin Haymaker announced last week the conclusions of a blue-ribbon panel set up to analyze the causes of the current global economic crisis. “We found that money is not a substitute for energy,” he said, “and that making debt grow faster than GDP in order to stimulate the economy just leads to a situation where nobody can afford to make payments and the whole financial system implodes.” Asked whether further infusions of cash by central banks could prevent that implosion, Haymaker replied, “Yeah, for a while maybe. But real growth? Forget it. That’s soooooo twentieth century.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney immediately criticized president Obama’s new policy offensive as being too weak. “If elected, I will make water flow uphill so that we can double our national hydroelectric capacity. With a Republican Congress, old oil wells will gush once again. And we will outlaw global warming. Everyone will be rich. Unimaginably rich! There’s no limit. Anywhere. To anything. We won’t just combat entropy, we will obliterate it!”