Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Krugman takes another foul swipe at Limits to Growth

Krugman takes another foul swipe at Limits to Growth.  No surprise that Herman Daly is not in Krugman's perch at the Times.

Slow steaming means less goods from same physical investment in ships and crew.  This is not a strategy for growth, but the reverse.  There is enormous energy embedded in the construction of ships, which limits the ability to employ this strategy, even with infinite capital pursuing negligible returns.

But the general problem with Krugman's unusually flippant dismissal of limits to growth is that we are up against many physical limits at the same time, not just energy.

Meanwhile, we can't eat virtual food or grow crops with virtual water.  There are limits as to how many real needs, not just hedonic utilities, can be met with real resources.  And if those real needs can't be met, there will be no hedonic utilities either.  In the end, we are not econocons who can live only on utility, we are people who need real stuff and whose wants usually (if not always or essentially) require more real stuff.  And the real measurements bear this out.  Krugman's world of ever growing "wealth" despite diminishing resources is an evil fantasy.

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