2015 January

Unlimited Growth? Infinite Wealth? Or “what’s my line?”

A number of years ago, I read Paul Zane Pilzer’s book:
“To put it simply, we live today in a world of effectively unlimited resources–a world of unlimited wealth.  In short, we live in what one might call a new Alchemic world.” – Unlimited Wealth

Enter: Peak Prosperity and Chris Martenson

“At the essential center of the framework of the Crash Course is the almost insultingly simple idea that endless growth on a finite planet is an impossibility.

It is so simple it could be worked out by a clever 4 year-old. And yet it must not be so simple because the main narrative of every economy in every corner of the globe rests on the idea of endless, infinite growth.

Various rationalizations and mental dodges are made in people’s minds to accommodate the principle of endless growth.  Some avoid thinking of it all together.  Some think that perhaps we will escape into space, and continue our growthful ways on some other yet-to-be named planet(s).  Most simply assume that some new wondrous technology will arise that can allow us to avoid pesky limits.

Whatever the rationalization, none stand up well to simple math and cold logic.

At the very heart of endless growth lies the matter of energy.  To grow forever requires infinite amounts of energy.  Growth and energy are linked in a causal way.”
Now, I understand both arguments.

Both are true…based on their assumptions.

YET, which is reality?

I had thoughts of helping you see how these are developmentally biased…the idea that at one level, one is organizing lower level actions in a non-arbitrary way to arrive at a more complex level of thinking.

Now, which of these is the more hierarchically complex truth?

Since I’m going to use this example for the upcoming MFC program in February, I’ll play with it a little bit here to illustrate how hierarchical complexity of task performance works, or so I imagine, hehe.

If we do a simple concept map, we see (oversimplified now for brevity), we see CM (chris martenson) organizes all the finite physical resources into a “cold logic” and see that we are playing a zero sum game, run out of any of them and things constrain infinite growth (his term btw).

Infinite growth seems like a very complex order of complexity, but I suggest to you, it’s not, basically because 1) it’s not elaborated in any way by him, 2)only “assumed” that we all know what infinite growth is, 3)which means it’s a fairly simple idea for all of us to conceptualize, and that means its not really complex, maybe third order at most! 4) infinite doesn’t mean complex, as most people would gather, since we have a difficult time conceptualizing the term “infinity?”

[For CM fans–which I am one–excuse the simplicity and pandering;) ]

PZP (paul zane pilzer) indicates there are no limits to growth but organizes and coordinates physical resources and NON-physical resources which coordinate “ideas, thoughts, innovation, non-material items.”

In CM, he coordinates and organizes all “PHYSICAL” or material items, with no reference that I can see to non-material, non-physical. In his “cold-logic” (sorry i’m being facetious)…the idea of ideas is not a resource?

In the concept map, you would have RESOURCES made up of material and nonmaterial?

It gets very interesting here, and of course, we start to evoke “values” issues into this discussion as well.

In another form, CM indicates that energy is physical, I can see no reference to any quantum mechanics, only those energy-denominated things we can see, feel, taste, touch, and sense–MATERIAL things again, so the concept map would include energy equivalents noted and assumed, but NOT nonmaterial items such as organized in a non-arbitrary way by the quantum definition of energy + information. (I could be wrong, but I’m filtering for my example, not the truth, or reality;)

Ok, now let me add something:

MHC is a special theory because it attempts to do two things simultaneously (at least as I understand it, and that’s of course what I’m going with, not the truth;)…

It assigns complexity to the task, as well as the response, so each side have a HC, and to the extent that the response is equal to the task, we can propose a HC (hierarchical complexity).

Now, what’s interesting about cold logic, is who uses it, I guess.

If you define a boundary and you say I am going to organize all the things and coordinate them within this boundary, that is one thing. However, while the “set parameters may be true” the response, or the task is only as complex as the set.

If CM defines all resources as material, then coordinates and integrates those material resources to conclude through “cold logic” that we are running out of resources and thus can not continue infinite growth, that is an argument and conclusion based on his notion of boundaries, which he seems pretty clear about and that is material resources.

However, here we have a guy–>PZP come along and say, that’s all well and good, but if you include nonmaterial resources, you can coordinate and integrate lower order in a non-arbitrary way into a different HC…and he does.

His argument “for this example” is more HC.

Again the concept map:






He organizes and integrates his solution based on a less complex (HC) task, which is to organize all material resources in a non-arbitrary way, which he does well, noting that energy is the linchpin which governs (non-arbitrarily) growth and limits growth, not alone disparages infinite growth (which I do also btw, but whether you, me or we like it, infinite growth may be at the root of all things to organize!;)

PZP says, wait a minute, you forgot the whole category of nonmaterial resources–>ideas, innovation, patents, information equivalents, etc.

RK (ray Kurzweil) goes farther and looks at technology as another task/response to organize and coordinate…fyi…and yet more than likely a more HC task and response in non-arbitrary formulation emerges.

CM organizes and coordinates all material resources and the task/response is at one level of HC–more than likely a “systematic” level, although there are probably elements of metasystematic reasoning present, but the inability to realize, organize and include nonmaterial resources, and organize them with material resources is not the same level of HC as someone who is able to see clearly that what happens materially is governed by what happens nonmaterially as well…and of course, if we look at the idea of removing the limits to growth as defined by physical resources–someone invents a bug to eat pollution, as an example (not truth)…then of course we see that our “bounded” or rather CMs bounded assumptions are not the truth, only as far as those assumptions hold…but a truth emergent from a particular level of HC.

Now, many will say…

WHY on earth would you go to this much trouble to think about your thinking? Or for that matter, CM or PZP?

I think the exercise can be helpful for critical thinking and decision making in a VUCA world.

Now, there is no implied guidance here that a more complex argument, task or response is actually in truth, or reality, more efficient, effective and sustainable (EES)…than the other because the most EES task or response is always the combination with the narrowest gap and the least entropy associated–>I suspect.

What that means is that each situation, or in the case of HC, need be no more complex than necessary to achieve a favorable or desired result, but when a person names a task which is less complex, as in CM’s notion of using only material resources to define history…then the solution will also be less complex than reality! And that too, I also suspect.

So, what is the wrapper here?

What did you learn?

Name three things you learned and can apply to other leader situations?

[Of course you can argue all my points, but it was designed to be a real-life example within boundaries of the complexity used for helping people understand HC and how it applies in real life ideas.]



2 replies on “Unlimited Growth? Infinite Wealth? Or “what’s my line?””

Thanks you elaborating your point!

You go far!
My 3 points:
On a level CM has a very stringent case backed up by a lot of solid data. It’s a healthy reaction to the consumer society promises which are crumbling.
I cannot follow PZP, but then the world is full of surprises and doesn’t necessarily follow the conclusions of the “cold logic” extrapolated from a certain point in history. Be open to the conversation.
There is nothing like a high powered optimist to find a way out of a seemingly hopeless situation, hehe.


Thx for playing…

PZP said that paradigms get wrecked by ideas and for every paradigm that says this is it…another emerges… Infinitely;) (paraphrased)


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