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I'm back. I'm sorting through pictures to produce tighter "best-of"… - Transience Divine
September 18th, 2011
07:59 pm


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I'm back. I'm sorting through pictures to produce tighter "best-of" posts, but time is tight with classes now a couple weeks in. I just turned 30 yesterday. We threw a fun "surreal" themed party-- with upside-down flowers and all drinkable foods.

I have a poem to post, some recent software work, and a rant against people who say the problem with the [world, country, government] is some other group of people. But now I wanted to respond to something I just read.

I'm reading an article by Kenneth Arrow (big econ guy; "Are We Consuming Too Much?", 2004), which claims to be a meeting of minds between economists and ecologist, but is pretty solidly economist-think, just about the nature of sustainability. The claim is, sustainability is endlessly rising consumption.

Not only is that vision intrinsically grotesque, there are a couple points that I think turn it on its head:

  • Poverty is not about insufficient average consumption. An Irish friend (in my program) explained to me at the party that during the Great Irish Famine, Ireland was producing enough food for everyone. But moneyed interests were exporting it all to England. Today, worldwide, poverty is a result of inequality and a lack of support systems.

  • As part of that, as a world, we already consume too much. Not only is our level of consumption too much for the environment, it's also too much for our own well-being. Thailand has a per-capita income of around $5000 ($13/day)-- an income at which you have food, shelter, education and work (they have 1% unemployment), and people seem wonderfully happy. World per-capita income is now at $7000... and yet about 3.5 billion people (half of the world) lives on less than $2 per day.

Forget about increasing the world economy. Let's shrink it-- we can worry about living on more than $13/day later, after we get a better grasp of the whole climate change thing.

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