Skip

Tis the season for stuff.
December 5, 2007 2:19 AM   Subscribe

...you cannot run a linear system on a finite planet indefinitely. The story of stuff.
posted by allkindsoftime (61 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
you beat me to this by 2 minutes, darn it!
posted by pjern at 2:23 AM on December 5, 2007


ummmmmm....is this something that I'd have to have lived in a box for 40 years to be surprised by?
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:33 AM on December 5, 2007


no. you could just be an idiot. that would work too.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:39 AM on December 5, 2007


I was riveted by this. Thanks. Also, eponysterical.

is this something that I'd have to have lived in a box for 40 years to be surprised by?

No? Are you saying you knew everything in the video but without the years of research? Or what?
posted by Avenger50 at 2:40 AM on December 5, 2007


It bothers me how she uses 'synthetic' and 'toxic' interchangeably.
posted by chrismear at 2:57 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I wonder if this guy is related to The Poopsmith.

Related: Paul Graham's article on stuff.
posted by sillygwailo at 3:11 AM on December 5, 2007


It's interesting how we as a society no longer seem to value quality and timelessness as important aspects of consumer goods.

All of my woodworking machinery was made before 1960. My table saw was made in 1949, my band saw in 1945, my shaper in 1934, my radial arm saw in 1955. All of it is still in good condition, and if you open one up and look at the quality of the castings and what-not, you recognize that aside from the bearings the rest of it is going to last forever, essentially, with good care.

If you look at the modern equivalent, it has more see-whiz stuff but the core is cheaper and much less durable, and, interestingly, is less satisfying to use.

Think about your home phone, if you have one. I still have a telephone from the 1970's which is in perfect operating condition. Sure, all it does is ring and allow me to speak and dial, but all of that works great. Compare that to my desk phone, a cordless panasonic which, just like its predecessor, is just about at the end of its useful life after just three years. That's insane.

Just go to askme and you'll see that all the time in questions and answers about cars. People who only buy new because "they don't want someone else's problem" or "need something reliable"...and yet cars are pretty darn reliable. A Model A is almost entirely recyclable and a Prius is not.

The thing that kills me most is packaging. Think of all of those plastic containers and impossible to open blister packs stuff comes in these days, and the ubiquitous plastic bags. I swear I buy stuff once a day where the packaging is more elaborately engineered and uses more material than the actual item inside of it.

I look around and see I'm no model anti-consumer, though I try to buy most stuff used. But my desk has a server, a laptop, a work computer, a cell phone, a digital camera, the aforementioned cordless phone, speakers, monitor, keyboards, mouse, wacom, clock, calculator, printer, not to mention pens, papers, books, calendars...you name it. When you start to list it out, it seems a bit crazy. And that doesn't even get into the closet full of non-working electronics and other bric-a-brac.
posted by maxwelton at 3:31 AM on December 5, 2007 [10 favorites]


Order a DVD!
posted by aye at 3:48 AM on December 5, 2007


I linked this a while ago, but I think it complements your post: Island of Flowers
posted by maryh at 4:02 AM on December 5, 2007


I manage to pack my whole life into a few boxes to move every couple of years, but my brother is so un-consumerist that when he thought his car had been stolen (containing everything he owned in the world, while he drove around Australia for a year), he thought of it as 'an opportunity to do something differently'. I am in awe of his Zen.
posted by jacalata at 4:07 AM on December 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


This is really well presented. Thanks for posting.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:13 AM on December 5, 2007


I didn't have time to sit through all of this, but loved the presentation. Everything I need to know, from here on out, I want to learn from Lady and her graphics.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 4:26 AM on December 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Nice.

She strays into that "screaming liberal speak that you have to be a screaming liberal to be hear" mode on occasion, and I'm sure some of her bluntly stated facts could be argued against, but on the whole it's important stuff expressed informatively. It's great work and despite the fact I could feel myself getting smugger the more of it I watched, it's good that it's out there.

So, kudos to the lady in the scary cartoon world.
posted by seanyboy at 4:37 AM on December 5, 2007


I totally agree with the concept behind this polemic.

But, "Buy the DVD!" and the, I dunno, optimism of it (you think corporations are going to just roll over? They OWN the government - why oh why would they do something not in their immediate best interest?) makes me sad.

Thanks, though. It's a message that can not be reiterated often enough or loudly enough - no matter how it's presented.

"Church of stop shopping" prev.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:38 AM on December 5, 2007


"screaming liberal speak that you have to be a screaming liberal to be hear"

Which part was that? Did we watch the same video? If you heard it, does that make you a screaming liberal?
posted by chillmost at 4:44 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


is this something that I'd have to have lived in a box for 40 years to be surprised by?

No? Are you saying you knew everything in the video but without the years of research? Or what?


I don't think there was anything qualitative in the video that was news me, and I don't think I'd be willing to take their word on the quantitative stuff.

Overall it's not a bad video and broadly I agree with most of it but I feel like they're overstating their case. On the basic premise that if it contains mistakes about a subject I do know the details of, then it prolly makes mistakes in other areas that I don't recognise as such, it failed the credibility test for me.

"... so I opened up a big desktop computer to see what was inside and I found out that the piece that changes each year is just a tiny little piece in the corner. But you can't change just that one piece because each new version is a different shape."

At best that's a misleading over simplification. Less generously it's just wrong. And that's a shame, because it's an important message but you're just preaching to the choir if you go down that road.
posted by adamt at 4:46 AM on December 5, 2007


Of course it's very simplified - how else could you make so many large & thorny issues accessible in 20mins?

It aims to communicate to a wider audience than just enviro-aware computer builders (of which I am one), and this also necessitates simplification.

I loved it - thanks allkindsoftime.

Shout it loud from the rooftops! And don't throw away those shoes with holes in. They make great slippers :O)
posted by algreer at 4:55 AM on December 5, 2007


I'd like to get indefinitely linear with her finite space, if you know what I mean. And if you do, please explain it to me, because I am bad at math and threatened by women.
posted by StopMakingSense at 5:02 AM on December 5, 2007 [11 favorites]


Of course it's very simplified - how else could you make so many large & thorny issues accessible in 20mins?

Fine, so leave out the details. Don't put in details that are wrong.
posted by adamt at 5:05 AM on December 5, 2007


Ooh - the resources section of the site has references for all her claims! Two PDFs.
posted by algreer at 5:06 AM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


It's interesting how we as a society no longer seem to value quality and timelessness as important aspects of consumer goods.

Not true at all.

We value it immensely. The problem is, we can't afford it.

There will always be a place for the artisans, their years of craft-honing, and their attention to the details that makes your widget somehow more unique and special than their widget, which was produced on a factory floor in Namibia by a gang of untrained children.

This is why I get such a belly-laugh at people who wear "designer" labels, since labels tends to infer mass-production, which is considered vulgar and distasteful to the top-1% of the population that can afford otherwise. As for the quality and longevity of the purchase... well, you get what you pay for.

ultra-wealthy w
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:27 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Um, ultra-wealthy w is not my new sig, just so you know.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:27 AM on December 5, 2007


The only part of her talk that touches on something I am knowledgeable about (the bit about newer computer only having a different CPU but designed not to fit) was completely untrue. Makes me wonder about the rest of her claims...

Not that I disagree with the general message...
posted by rubin at 5:27 AM on December 5, 2007


Am I the only one who found her unbearably preachy? I mean it's a great message but opposing propaganda is still propaganda, ya know?
posted by Skorgu at 5:39 AM on December 5, 2007


Ahh.. footnote 52. Yes, she really did take apart a computer and... oh, no "and". That's not really helping.

However footnotes 24, 26, and 43 were more useful on other points that raised my eye brow so I guess over all I'm happy.
posted by adamt at 5:39 AM on December 5, 2007


She really answered Andie MacDowell's question about all the garbage, and then some.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:42 AM on December 5, 2007


If you heard it, does that make you a screaming liberal
Yep.

Point 52 is nonsense. Point 51 (The "Disposable BBQ" bit) is pretty laughable too.
Cartoon shows a big 3 foot high domed BBQ being thrown away. The actual disposable BBQ is some coal in a 2x2 tin foil container covered with paper. It's hardly the "crazy" disposability that the author is talking about.
posted by seanyboy at 6:02 AM on December 5, 2007


"...in fact, I spent 10 years..."

She's a bit of a fanatic. Maybe even a nutter (or maybe just a screaming liberal). And considering the afformentioned misrepresentations presented as facts, the whole thing just doesn't work for me.

Air this kind of stuff on Nickelodeon though, maybe it'll sink in on the next generation to the point it might make a difference.

Nah... they like their new technology too much (which means throwing out their old technology).
posted by Doohickie at 6:04 AM on December 5, 2007


Let me reiterate here before I get accused of trolling.

I'm all for the message, but by making claims that don't bear up under scrutiny, the author is furthering the chance that this message will only get played out to the choir.
posted by seanyboy at 6:04 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Agreed seanyboy.

And for all of us left-leaners that are amazed at the fear mongering being used to drive the sheeple on the right toward supporting war and stuff, this kind of thing is just as bad in the opposite direction. It's the same kind of tactic used in a different direction for a different purpose.

The "screaming liberal" thing is part of the reason I'm secretly glad Gore never became president even though I voted for him. He has that same kind of delivery (although I would call it something more like "preaching mother" than "screaming liberal"). Either way, it's the tone of someone who comes across as a know-it-all, and to defeat the premise a know-it-all presents, all you have to do is discredit one or two of the facts presented.

So here we all are, agreeing with her premise and poking holes in her assumptions anyway.
posted by Doohickie at 6:12 AM on December 5, 2007


Agreed seanyboy.

ultra-wealthy w
posted by From Bklyn at 6:36 AM on December 5, 2007


Agreement with Doohickie and seanyboy.

There are damned low expectations of the audience here: just agreement. This is an argument by truthiness. (What we used to call "verisimilitude", but honestly "truthiness" is better.)

Bundles many thorny issues (environmental degradation, commodification of goods eroding quality, etc.) in stark moral terms, without sufficient care for accuracy. Harmful.
posted by ~ at 6:40 AM on December 5, 2007


Am I the only one who found her unbearably preachy?

No, you're not. Too bad, I really liked the graphics.
posted by teleskiving at 6:40 AM on December 5, 2007


Yeah. I am really wary of the "partisan telling the facts in a slick flash presentation" genera these days. In the first few minutes of the video, she's heavy on exposition. "This is how it is!" stuff. An informative video should prove its points, not just say them.

The fact of the matter is, any crackpot can put up these videos, regardless of rightness or wrongness, and Often you'll hear them say lots of true stuff and then veer off into crazytown, like this.
posted by delmoi at 6:49 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Reduce world poplulation. Problem solved.

Next?
posted by flarbuse at 6:59 AM on December 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Reduce world poplulation. Problem solved.

Next?


Where to put all these skulls...
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 7:06 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Where to put all these skulls...

Well, with mine, I'm making a throne atop a tower at the end of a bleached white road.
posted by seanyboy at 7:09 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]




*sigh*

Now I gotta go work my job in retail.

At least I can take solace in that a lot of what I deal with is antiques.

Reminds me of an MST3K short where the film was describing family roles. The narrator says, "After dinner Timmie's dad does repairs around the house" and it shows Timmie with his dad in the garage, repairing a chair.

I couldn't help but notice the clamp dad was using cost several times what the chair cost today.
posted by sourwookie at 7:45 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


The only part of her talk that touches on something I am knowledgeable about (the bit about newer computer only having a different CPU but designed not to fit) was completely untrue.

Yes, that stood out for me as well, as one of many places where the analysis is so far removed from reality as to be almost meaningless. I wouldn't call it completely untrue, just mostly wrong. Computers have become a bit more disposable than they used to be. I'm old enough to remember the days when buying a new computer often got you the schematics to go with it. Everything was fairly easy to repair. It's considerably more difficult now, and you don't often find places that will even attempt to repair a motherboard. Easier to swap in a new one. Not that this has much to do with planned obsolescence, it's more of a convenient side-effect of the new technology. On the other hand, there's no good reason why schematics and specification should be so hard to get. The habit of secrecy about these things in both hardware and software, in all kinds of consumer electronics, is a bit discouraging. Desktop computers are, however, one of the least problematic categories of consumer electronics in this. Cars and computers are about the only two big consumer products I can think of that have such a wide variety of easily-available, interchangeable, standardized, repairable components.

"The tools and software required for repair are increasingly complex, thus creating a need for accurate disclosure and fair access to these technologies. Difficulty in obtaining this information and equipment has created significant consumer concern."

I am curious about the statistic that 99% of consumer products are disposed of within six months. If it includes food products, and is counted by unit volume rather than dollar value, it seems pretty much entirely meaningless. I don't know how typical I am, but I guess 90% of the stuff I buy is food and fuel, which are obviously not going to last for six months no matter what.
posted by sfenders at 7:45 AM on December 5, 2007


The post itself (not the linked content) reminded me of this video.

That said, I have to agree 100% with maxwelton when he talks about our disposable culture. I recall an old fan we had when I was a kid, it must've been from the 20s. Anything we had that was made in the 70s was still going, but stuff made in the 90s? It all began to break down. The 20s was solid steel, quality work.

The same for our vacuum. My parents had it when they were married in the 50s... Still had it when I was a kid, until the 90s. Not quite as long as that fan, but certainly it ran and ran well until it died.

I've gone through 3 freaking vacuums in one damn year! And they're all plastic.

Is steel worse or better than the environment for plastic? Mining vs non-decomposable products?
posted by symbioid at 8:47 AM on December 5, 2007


Man, I'm a tree hugging liberal save the world kind of dude, but I couldn't listen past production. Here's a percentage! Here's a percentage! It all screamed wonky propaganda, and even though it's promoting what I feel to be MY damn cause, it turned ME off, which means it's not going to work on anyone it needs to work on.
posted by cavalier at 9:00 AM on December 5, 2007


The "piece in the corner of my computer is a different shape" thing was where she basically lost me. My immediate thought was: you can just shove a quad core CPU into a motherboard designed for a 386 -- it's a "different shape" for several good engineering reasons, such as improved bus architecture, additional registers and cores, increased cache, etc. Furthermore the jump from 16 to 32 bit, or the jump from 32 to 64 bit necessitates huge changes to all aspects of the system.

However, we should think critically about this. She's not an engineer, and the point she is trying to make with this specific--though flawed--example is that companies are all too willing to have you throw out the whole system and do not do enough to ensure that you can only replace the parts you need to replace.

And she's right if you step back and look at the overall picture. Every Dell system I see companies buying has a case that is designed to hug the motherboard, CPU and specific accessories you customize in at order-time as closely as possible. You can't just go buy a new motherboard and processor from Dell and keep the same case, power supply, harddrive, etc, without getting out a blow torch and a pair of pliers.

I bought an Enlite server case 10 years ago. It's made out of titanium and has housed ever machine I've owned for the last 10 years. It's big and ugly, but everything always fits. If Dell put a little effort into it, they could make the core pieces--motherboard, cpu, ram--modular enough that you don't need to throw away a case and power supply (huge source of mercury and lead in the environment) when you want to upgrade.

Furthermore, the way it stands now almost all non-OEM machines require significant experience to assemble inside the box. You have to figure out the right screw/stand pattern to mount the mother board, figure out which wires go to which devices, etc. The outside is all color-coded and simple (to reduce support calls). If the inside were made that simple--which we all know is possible--than anyone could swap out those pieces.

So, cut her (and by "her" I mean "her, the makers of the video, et al") some slack on this one. The point is that all manufacturers should think in these terms.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:39 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


symbioid: Buy a Miele. They last quite a long time. We've had ours for only two years, but Mrs. Jeffamaphone's parents have had theirs much longer.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:41 AM on December 5, 2007


It's a nice idea but she fails on a few points.
- Her delivery and argument points only seem to be an intellectual appeal. She is actually making an emotional appeal through most of it. This will be lost on many people.
- Her understanding of chemistry and biochemistry is either incomplete or flawed, starting at toxic in toxic out. (See Olives)

IMO, The whole thing showed how a very important idea with a gorgeous delivery can be ruined by oversimplification and a shrill delivery.
posted by Fuka at 9:43 AM on December 5, 2007


Ah, all you people are so damn picky. So she's not a computer engineer and doesn't understand busses and RAM and motherboards and shit. It is most certainly true that new CPUs will not fit in your old computer's motherboard. All of the surrounding reasons are more technical than her main point which is that you can't just easily swap out CPUs across generational cycles. There are complex technical reasons why this is true, but you still *can't*... That old Pentium 1 machine you got in the basement, you can't drop a contemporary processor in there and hope that it works. It won't fit.

You folks can't see the forest for the trees, you're all caught up on this one tree (she called it an oak, and it's clearly a maple, so she's stupid), when she's pointing out a bigger picture that we can't infinitely mine the earth, make stuff out of it and immediately throw it all away indefinitely. This is true. There's a big picture here.

It reminds me of THX 1138, where all the drugged out workers go off and buy their abstracted consumer products, which they bring home and dispose of.

I loved it. I thought it brought together a kind of big picture thinking to the problem of current industrial/consumerist practices and pointed towards the need for sustainability.
posted by MythMaker at 9:43 AM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


I am curious about the statistic that 99% of consumer products ... I guess 90% of the stuff I buy is food and fuel ...

Dude, I just had a brilliant idea on how to solve this problem, and fix the housing market at the same time.

By far my largest expense every month is my mortgage (30yr fixed). If everyone goes out and buys a house that consumes so much of their salary all they can buy in addition is food and fuel, then they won't be able to buy all the random crap that we consume.

Lets all get house poor to save the environment!

Note: this comment is meant to be a joke.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:46 AM on December 5, 2007


Ah, all you people are so damn picky.

We're not picky. We've just been round the block enough times to realise that the over-exaggerations in this piece are enough to turn away those people who aren't already convinced.

This was neither good propaganda or intelligent debate, so it sort of fails on all useful counts.
posted by seanyboy at 9:59 AM on December 5, 2007


I turned it off at the part where Annie Leonard came in.
posted by poweredbybeard at 10:19 AM on December 5, 2007



Reduce world poplulation. Problem solved.

Next?

Where to put all these skulls...


Joke all you want, but when she says "you cannot run a linear system on a finite planet indefinitely. ", that should include population growth. The ways I've seen to slow population growth is mass destruction, prosperity (more stuff), and draconian measures by the state. Documentaries are neither. Add to that the fact that most want an end to many industrial farming practices, and more people growing their own food, and having larger families starts to look a lot more attractive.

I'm really reminded of this article from Worldchanging, especially this passage:

The third usual answer is that we ought to be going without. To be more fair, some say that in order to live more sustainably, we simply must consume less. We need to choose a path of voluntary simplicity. The root of all our ills is that we're using too much in our effort to live more prosperously. Therefore, we need to scale back a bit, give up some prosperity, if we want to have a chance at reaching some sort of equilibrium with nature. Looking at our dilemma, it's the pretty clear and simple answer.

Unfortunately, as HL Mencken said, for every complex problem, there's an answer that clear, simple and wrong.

Don’t misunderstand me. We might as well do those things we can to reduce our impact. They do help. They also teach us some really important lessons about the connections between our lives and the natural world. We should recycle, reduce, reuse, compost and conserve, garden and walk.

But we ought not to kid ourselves that these are enough, or even likely to make a profound difference. For one thing, consumption reduction as a strategy hasn't yet worked anywhere. Even in those green and liberal cities where recycling is a religion, like Seattle, the amount of solid waste the average person generates each year is still going up. Even in bicycling Meccas like the San Francisco Bay Area, the average person still drives farther each year. Even with 30 years of being chided to turn off the lights when you leave a room, total power usage is still climbing everywhere in the industrialized world.

And are we really willing to cut back enough to live lives that are truly sustainable? I certainly don't see any evidence that we are. I grew up on communes, I’ve worked most of my life around and with environmentalists and I consider myself a pretty eco-conscious person, and I’ve met only a handful of Americans who live truly sustainably, using less than their fair 1.9 hectares. The rest of us drive cars, eat imported foods, travel internationally and generally go around mucking up the planet worse and worse while trying to do a little better. And if we aren’t willing to live within those limits, why do we think everyone else will be?

...

That’s the real problem with the strategy of voluntary simplicity: it depends on the entire planet, or at least nearly the entire planet, agreeing spontaneously to all forgo the myriad pleasures and enticements of modern wealth and live in a simpler, perhaps truer way. This is what I think of as the Mythological Universal Conversion Event. Needless to say, the Mythological Universal Conversion Event hasn’t yet arrived. If you still believe it’s coming, that’s fine: I don’t.


If you look at the page where she sketches out possible solutions you find almost exactly that: "recycle, reduce, reuse, compost and conserve, garden and walk."
posted by zabuni at 11:03 AM on December 5, 2007


Metafilter: I wouldn't call it completely untrue, just mostly wrong
posted by Doohickie at 2:14 PM on December 5, 2007


I want to say one word to you. Just one word.

Are you listening?

Plastics.
posted by oncogenesis at 4:36 PM on December 5, 2007


The problem is not my stuff, the problem is all you people’s crap.

“The thing that kills me most is packaging.”

Y’know what else is the thing that packaging kills most?
Turtles.

I gotta go with you on the quality thing. Part of what used to sell something was it’s quality, and it had to be quality because you depended on it. Today, advertising convinces folks something is worth buying and there isn’t much that you actually depend on, that can’t be, and really that isn’t designed to be, easily replaced.
Probably because it’s so easy to ship stuff so quickly. Which is the hidden and artificially deflated cost
I bought a candy bar in the middle of nowhere the other day and it was fresh and it occurs to me I’m many miles from where they make these things and it’s less than a buck. I haven’t had a candy bar in years, and I’m thinking people eat enough of these things that they can ship them in bulk such that it’s worth it.
Same deal with the cheapo desk fans and other stuff. If you can replace it right away, you can tolerate it being disposable.
But way back when it was tougher to get stuff right away, things had to last. And the things you got were things you couldn’t make yourself and so we’re things you actually needed instead of perceived conveniences.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:58 PM on December 5, 2007


you cannot run a linear system on a finite planet indefinitely

Except for that line, it was a really great talk. What it reminded me of was that Looney Tunes cartoon of the mouse professor giving an economics lesson in a filing cabinet drawer - By Word of Mouse.

I tend to be big on the quality factor myself, but.. Really old computer gear was really over designed mechanically. Massive castings, seriously thick sheet metal.. You can look at all kinds of "high end" market sectors and see quality that is out of whack with utility. Those kinds of quality are just as wasteful, in a different way, as the garbage you get at Best Buy..

The numbers about average lifetime of consumer goods, and quantity of goods produced to create a consumer good, were especially interesting. I'd love to read some of the real evidence that supports (or refutes) those points.
posted by Chuckles at 12:52 AM on December 6, 2007


We've just been round the block enough times to realise that the over-exaggerations in this piece are enough to turn away those people who aren't already convinced.

Examples?

It seems like a lot of the comments here are being deliberately obtuse.

Other than her perhaps questionable example with the computer, Where is she exaggerating?
posted by chillmost at 10:34 AM on December 6, 2007


I didn't get through the entire video, but here are a couple of things that stood out for me either as stated explicitly or by implication:
  • Toxins in, toxins out
  • toxic == synthetc
  • production takes all manner of resources and just strips them bare
  • the third world is used as a resource factory by the first world
  • there's only n% of the forests left on America.
None of it is precisely wrong but it's loaded simplification.
posted by Skorgu at 12:21 PM on December 6, 2007


There are complex technical reasons why this is true, but you still *can't* [...]You folks can't see the forest for the trees, you're all caught up on this one tree...

There are complex technical reasons why you can't just eat an engine block and drink some cognac and then be able to run at 150mph, too. It's unfair, I tell you!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:33 PM on December 6, 2007


But what does that have to do with sustainability? She's using broad examples to make the point, perhaps too broadly, that we consume too much and throw it all out in the garbage, and aren't creating sustainability in a world with finite resources.

This is all true. Our economy is not sustainable in its current model. We *will* run out of petroleum. We *will* eventually (this may be far, far in the future) mine all the metal out of the earth (maybe not the iron, since the Earth has a molten iron core), but on a long enough time scale, what she is saying is absolutely true. Not everyone in the world can own an SUV - it will strain the world's resources too much to do so.

What I predict is that in the future what we'll see is instead of mining our raw materials from the earth's core, there'll be a huge industry around going through old garbage pits and taking all the packing materials and turning them into fuel or whatever.
posted by MythMaker at 6:19 PM on December 6, 2007


We *will* run out of petroleum. We *will* eventually (this may be far, far in the future) mine all the metal out of the earth...

Well, no not really. As $COMMODITY gets more and more rare, it gets more and more expensive. As it gets more expensive, previously-uneconomic substitutes become more appealing. This is exactly what is happening right now. Oil is a bajillion dollars a barrel, and suddenly the NuclearHydrogen and CornEthanol economies are scaling up. I suspect that we'll (slowly) see similar movement in other natural resource markets. Copper for example is insanely expensive right now, so more substitute goods are being used for things like home water piping.

Now I'm not saying that we should sit back and let The Market take care of it, but we shouldn't keep on these obviously false canards like running out of things. We should be helping the market along, trying to predict the future and giving a boost (subsidy) to technologies that take us in the direction we want to go. Otherwise the undecideds will (rightly) pass our arguments off as "the sky is falling." If we say the sky is falling it had damn well be on its way down.
posted by Skorgu at 6:02 AM on December 7, 2007


What I predict is that in the future what we'll see is instead of mining our raw materials from the earth's core, there'll be a huge industry around going through old garbage pits and taking all the packing materials and turning them into fuel or whatever.

I bet it's a lot cheaper to mine a garbage pit for metal that's already been processed than it is to get it from rocks buried miles under the surface of the earth.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:49 PM on December 7, 2007


the female Al gore is better than Al Gore.
posted by huckhound at 2:41 PM on December 8, 2007


« Older Terry's Chop Shop   |   Hunting Rebel Gold Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post