Monday, November 21, 2005

Energy Conservation??

When I bring up peak oil issues with people who are not generally obsessed with the topic the conversation often turns to energy conservation. This makes me pessimistic, because I hear conservation discussed as if there is no downside, no pain. The fact is that the flip side of conservation is recession: they come together.

The American economy is based on three things; consumption, over-consumption, and conspicuous consumption. There is no easy slowing down for us. Our economic growth, and ironically, our much admired "productivity", consists of pure full bore spending. Our republican cabal realizes this, that is why they do not want conservation. Conservation means fewer large houses in suburban developements, less shopping, less driving. It is not about turning off the water when you brush your teeth.

And when I hear about local economies, I get even more pessimistic. Our economy is based on shipping virtually everything we need from China. We are screwed if this becomes unprofitable. If this business model falls apart we will have NO economy at all. It will take many years to have any sort of local, or national, economy. And these years will be years of economic depression. Take Wal Mart as an example. I hear practically every day how much Wal Mart is hated, how it is destroying America, etc. So, would we rather Wal Mart became unprofitable, and started to close down stores, and lay off people? They are the largest employer in America, even if they do suck. And Wal Mart can't easily scale back, their whole business model is based on massive economy of scale, huge parking lots, people driving in from wherever. If Wal-Mart goes into the red, America goes into depression. We may be able to build a national, and local economy, but it will take decades, and we will have depression.

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