Tim Garton Ash provides a dirge of sub-Marxist wibble today. Can capitalism survice? Will it eat itself? What, oh what, can we lefties look forward to as an alternative? Anything, anything except capitalism will do, of course.
...However ingenious modern capitalists are at finding alternative technologies - and they will be very ingenious - somewhere down the line this is going to mean richer consumers settling for less rather than more.
There's only one problem with this prescription, that we cannot all live well. It's untrue. Now we have in fact had a look at what the future might be like. It's called the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios and it's what forms the basis of the IPCC's report on climate change. Reject this and you need to reject the scientific consensus on climate change itself: for it's the very basis upon which it is built. Here's one of the SRES families of scenarios:The A1 storyline is a case of rapid and successful economic development, in which regional average income per capita converge—current distinctions between "poor" and "rich" countries eventually dissolve. The primary dynamics are:
- Strong commitment to market-based solutions.
- High savings and commitment to education at the household level.
- High rates of investment and innovation in education, technology, and institutions at the national and international levels.
- International mobility of people, ideas, and technology.
That's roughly globalisation, the expansion of liberal capitalism to all corners of the globe over the next 93 years.
...Energy and mineral resources are abundant in this scenario family because of rapid technical progress, which both reduces the resources needed to produce a given level of output and increases the economically recoverable reserves.
You see, resources are not a fixed thing.
This last sentence reminded me of an excellent post by Squander Two, opining upon this very subject.
Resources — of all kinds — are always limited. Everything we have means someone else doesn't have it, regardless of how altruistic we might be.
It is exasperating that so many people believe this. Those who do believe it don't even realise that there's a discussion to be had about it; they see it as self-evidently true that resources are limited.
But they aren't. The belief that they are stems from a misunderstanding of what "resources" means. People think it means "stuff". It doesn't.
Matter is limited. Energy is limited. (Though both are so huge that no mere human is ever going to get near those limits.) But resources are something else. To get resources, you take all the available matter and all the available energy, add them together, and then multiply the result by ingenuity. And ingenuity is infinite.
Precisely. So, what is Timmy's conclusion?
The end result of these trends is a world in 2100 where all regions of the world are enjoying, with some 7 billion people, the current middle class northern world existence. There are no shortages of anything.
Now it is also true that this is one of the high emissions scenarios, with a temperature rise greater than some of the other families of scenarios. But the trope that capitalism, or markets, or globalisation, cannot continue because we do not have the resources for this to lead to the poor becoming rich: well, we've got a great big bloody report that states precisely and exactly the opposite.
Remember, chaps, that blogs are inferior because the MSM writers check their facts properly, whereas we bloggers just fire from the hip, never support our arguments with evidence and, frankly, are simply not as reliable as the MSM.
So, fuck you Garton Ash and fuck the MSM.