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I think it's more that economic growth has been channelled into following a technological path since the Enlightenment.

Before that growth was defined by physical empire building and slavery.

When most of the world had been claimed and fossil power came to be cheaper and less trouble than slave power, growth switched towards better tools, and a culture of tool building.

However you slice it, our current beliefs about technology are underwritten by access to cheap energy. Without that, not only does the technology stop working, but new technologies stop being developed.

Moving to a steady state culture doesn't just mean a change in practice, it means a change in metaphor. Expansion seems to be built into culture - it's not just a Western ideal, it happens everywhere the environment doesn't already offer an easy overabundance of food.

So youy can't take existing Western culture and make it sustainable without some serious cultural dislocations of expectation and morality - to the extent where it's unlikely to look like anything we're familiar with now.

It's not just about persuading people to grow their own food and stop using oil, it's about persuading them to change their minds about what's possible, what kinds of behaviour are acceptable and what kinds of stories they should be telling themselves about themselves and the world.

This won't be as easy as it sounds.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jun 7th, 2008 at 07:55:09 AM EST
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