[Marxism] Class Struggle, Fossil Fuels, and Environmental Catastrophe

S. Artesian sartesian at earthlink.net
Thu Jun 19 14:22:22 MDT 2008


Just a quick, I hope, reply to what I think is the nub of the issue:

You ask if I think the earth has the ability to sustain limitless growth. 
My answer is quite simply, I do not know.  I don't think anybody knows.   I 
think questions about "carrying capacity"  are social questions, not 
geological ones.  So the argument made today about carrying capacity could 
have been, and was, made in 1970 by the ZPG people.

Let me rephrase the question, or offer some alternative questions:

1. cheap energy and fossil fuels:  Is there evidence that the actual costs 
of production of "fossil fuels," coal/oil/gas, have increased to the point 
that those increases are behind the increased spot market prices of oil?

2. Is it impossible or too expensive to access greater stores of 
not-yet-tapped hydrocarbon energy-- i.e. methyl hydrates, to support social 

3. When you argue that living standards cannot be maintained, do you mean 
that the general levels of social indicators that are pointed to with 
differing amounts of pride by advanced countries-- literacy, death in 
childbirth, infant mortality, life expectancy, access to clean drinking 
water and adequate sanitation facilities, cannot be maintained in those 
countries much less achieved in less developed countries?

4. What is the carrying capacity of the earth and how is that derived?

5.  And I offer some opinions:

 population growth rates decline with development and this leads me to 
believe that there aren't too many people on the planet, there are too many 
poor people on the planet, and too many capitalists (any number greater than 
0 being too many)

much of the energy consumed on earth is from biomass, that this biomass 
consumption is associated with less developed areas where living standards 
are not just lower, but barely living standards, that hydrocarbon based 
fuels represent much greater efficiency than biomass.  I personally conclude 
from this that development, rational socially useful development can be more 
sustainable, more "friendly" to all life than enforced poverty.

Finally, if we don't have enough time to institute socialism, who is going 
to make the rational decisions required to save the planet and all living 
things?  I think, unfortunately, you will find yourself appealing to some 
notion of an "enlightened bourgeoisie" when history shows us that there is 
not and cannot be any such thing.

 Who for example is going to tell and enforce upon women the "1 child per" 
rule?  Why would you even phrase it that way? Why not 1 child per man?This 
is not just a question of language-- it's the social content of the world in 
which we live creeping into the best of intentions-- where somehow it's 
women and their reproductive abilities that have to be controlled, but ever 
so rationally, by.... the ever so rational men who have, it can argued, 
cocked things up royally.

And what happens if the child dies, because we have cut back on the energy 
required for sanitary and safe childbirth and child rearing?  What happens 
if the woman dies because of that?

The problem is that, in my opinion, these arguments for rationally "reduced" 
living standards require, at the bottom line, draconian and irrational forms 
and organs for enforcement.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "ehrbar" <ehrbar at lists.econ.utah.edu>
To: <sartesian at earthlink.net>
Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2008 11:26 AM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Class Struggle, Fossil Fuels,and Environmental 

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