With the industrial revolution, beginning around 1775, large flows of energy and resources began to bypass the majority of humans under control of the higher sociopolitical layers. As represented by the dark arrows, fossil fuel and mineral resource flows fed a rapidly developing “high-technium”, implemented by engineers, architects, and managerial talent, and controlled by “capitalists” or political leaders. The lower social majority had to find a way to serve the Technium as “labor”, or continue basic subsistence largely outside the transformational processes of the Technium.
World population growth and rapid economic development in the less developed countries has put inexorable pressure on the value-chain economy. Over the past 40 years we have recognized that we are exhausting our fossil fuels, mines, soils, forests, and fisheries. The value chain economy is dyin
Advanced anaerobic digestion is the best technology available for cost-effectively and environmentally recycling municipal organic wastes back into the ecosystem and returning value to the econosystem. It has not been deployed in the United States simply because until recently our economic calculations have not incorporated environmental costs and benefits. When the values of green energy, GHG reductions and organics recycling are added into the equation, anaerobic digesters are the “natural” solution.
If humanity had a brain – if we had a truly global society rather than a world of suspicious and antagonistic tribal nations – it would be obvious what we must do. We would collaborate on a massive overhaul of our buildings, transportation systems and economic infrastructure to improve energy efficiency and to shift away from burning fossil fuels. But we cannot wait for a slow process of consensus. Let us not whine about whether we will be somewhat disadvantaged by moving first in a direction which all must move eventually. It is better to take a small disadvantage ahead of the crowd, in order to gain the benefits of leadership.
A sustainable economy can include a human society that delivers more good to its members, even while enriching, rather than degrading, the ecosystem we live in.
It is time to put aside, explicitly and decisively, the objective of higher GDP. GDP measures quantity, not quality of production. GDP presumes that a growth in production is a growth in quality of life, when in fact we have reached a point that the opposite is true. Not even our current level of goods production can be sustained, much less continual increases.