> analysis and technological innovation, the crash can be prevented and
> homo sapiens can continue on pretty much as we have been, only
> better. Is that a fair summation?
The main thing that needs to change is the ability to bring products to market. Some innovations catch on very quickly like solar powered yard lighting. Others are great but not brought to market due to perceptions or because they would challenge the powers that be.
There are numbers behind everything, but right now our method of bringing those numbers out is horribly flawed. The world is not a 2 variable system, and no 2 variable system is accurate. All economics and most social theory is based on 2 variable systems because the math is easier. Their results don't agree with their hypothesis, so they ignore, skew or misrepresent their hypothesis in order to "be right". Being right but saying that the situation requires more study keeps them employed.
I am preparing to challenge many of the premises that this society is founded on. If I am right, most current and prevailing economic theories should be thrown out the window or treated as failed thought experiments. For the changes to be fully implemented, the tax code would have to be thrown out and a new system of accounting created. I do not believe those changes can be made here. Indeed, the story I'm writing is about the premise we can't even merge the two systems at all.
So in terms of "as we have been" I say probably because I mean that we can probably still have cars and houses and music and movies. Note that I did not say books, DVDs or CDs. As for the technology changes, I have 3 world changing innovations that I'm holding back. One is system of generating power that uses gravity and any temperature above freezing to create large amounts of energy. 3 Physicists (1 doctorate) have said that it will work. The second innovation would decrease the cost of ocean cargo drastically, from $1-3 million per day in fuel costs down to 1/10th or 1/20th the existing amount. Free fuel in some very specific cases. 2 ocean shipping experts and 2 physicists said it will work. The third system is a digital currency, that will be released in a partial format. The full implementation removes the need for credit cards, checks, banks (aside from S&L as optional services).
All three systems are drastic improvements in sustainability. Sustainability is the primary goal of all 3 systems. The ripple effect of these changes makes other things that are not currently cost effective (like electrolysis of hazardous waste into useful chemicals) not only effective but desirable. There is a 4th innovation that is key, designed by someone else, perfect recycling using depolymerization. Put shit in, get gasoline, industrial grade chemicals and fertilizer out. The first plant is turning turkey guts into gasoline and fertilizer. (patent number and links available by request)
There is a 5th innovation but it can't be implemented for another 10-40 years, whereas the other systems can be built, and in some cases have been built, today. This change is no less than the next step beyond mass production, and it represents the final mecca for sustainability: no inventory, no wasted products, no transportation costs, no wasted resources. Microproduction. The ability to cost effectively make 1 of something on the spot. Nanotech will help it, but nanotech isn't necessary.
This is of course, all void and null if a smarter than human AI is created and we have a Singularity. www.singinst.org
As for the sustainability metric itself, I believe it is a combination of time and resources. Accurately modeling the relationships in systems. Small, then larger. Anything that does not use systems accounting is not "computable". It may tell you that carmello is 10 times more sustainable than snickers bars based on land use, etc. The noble response is to change the pricing accordingly. The lower level thought process is to add a tax based on sustainability, assessed at international (import/export), national (import), state (duty taxes, sales taxes) and local (sales tax) levels.
The use of sustainable materials (steel, aluminum, *some* plastics, etc) would be measured favorably over others (wood). Why is wood bad? It is food for insects, which then have to be killed, which pollutes the environment, which kills species and has to be cleaned up. My system isn't a bunch of equations sent out over the radio, it is a simple documentation process about what we already know, but organize so poorly. We have 30 year loans on houses that last (hopefully) 30 years.
The main problem with our current economic system is that feedback is distracted, filtered, delayed and destroyed. If you *knew* what the right choice was, and what you felt in your heart matched what you saw on the street, you would be more likely to make it. At the top levels, add in the tax systems and so on, and the viable choices are more desirable.
I'm not saying there is a single right way to live. America is corn and wheat based, Japan is rice based. Is one better than the other? No idea yet. I suspect both are viable solutions. The real question is: how are those resources used?
If people can make a living, and feel like they are making a difference, if it is possible to have a real contribution, then they are less likely to turn to drugs and crime. These are symptoms of a broken system, not separate issues. I'm not preaching utopia, I'm saying we should find out how much stuff actually *costs* us before we spread it around. No that won't change the consumer whore mentality. Yes people will resist. But you know what, a lot of people look at prices before they buy, and most have looked at nutrition information on their favorite foods even if only acting upon boredom and curiosity.
We could start tomorrow by pushing for congress to pass a sustainability labeling act. Great, show us how it works? Has anyone else done it? How much would it cost? Who would handle the labeling? Don't know... Don't know... dont know...... dont ... know..... Bill failed.
I start by trying to figure out what *sustainable* really is. Daniel Quinn doesn't know (I also emailed him). Apparently nobody knows out of the hundreds of resources I have checked. I have thousands more to check. Since everybody keeps saying the same things so far, and nobody has even mentioned sustainable systems theory or sustainability metrics even in passing, I am assuming that I have a lot of work to do.