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North Korea, green jobs and “Guns, Germs and Steel”

September 5, 2011

Pirates’ Cove pointed me to the Register – which had an article on a  UK study about how green jobs destroy economies.

I think the word “Destroy” is probably too harsh – deconstruct or dissassemble would be more accurate. I’ve said before that Green jobs & sustainable energy are the energy equivalents of  hunter-gatherer societies – economically speaking, they only produce / consume what they need to live on for a specific day or year. This is a technological reality of that type of energy. You can’t store it, transmit it long distances without losing a lot of it – or transport it in containers.

The Register equivocates the outcome with that of North Korea – but doesn’t mention WHY this is the case.

Going back to “Guns, Germs and Steel“:

The birth of farming in just a handful of places around the world had a profound impact on the course of human history. Wherever communities could produce a sufficient agricultural surplus,….villages, towns and cities would eventually follow….A surplus of agricultural products allowed some members of a community to leave the fields behind, and develop new skills. The earliest evidence for this lies in the Fertile Crescent

The earliest farmers provided food for the earliest builders, stonemasons, plasterers, blacksmiths, weavers and potters. Economic specialization had begun. With the urban explosion came culture and politics, democracy, dictatorship and war

So, what do you NOT see in the basis of what we know to be civilization? The word “sustainability”  – able to be supported as with the basic necessities or sufficient funds: a sustainable life. You instead see SURPLUS that supports “economic specialization” (a concept that says you don’t have to personally farm and harvest crops in order to NOT starve to death)

Sustainable energy is a subsistence crop. Subsistence living is North Korea – not just because there’s a nutty dictator starving his people out. Subsistence living is ‘sustainable’ because there’s no surplus. Green jobs – by definition – do not produce a surplus of energy products that can be sold or bartered for other goods.

The Register missed one teeny connection – green jobs deconstruct civilization if they result in a huge opportunity cost for OTHER jobs that would normally create a surplus.

Brass tacks bottom line:  My grandfather – a dairy farmer who lived through the Depression, said that if you had a farm, you could at least eat, even if you wouldn’t be wealthy. That statement would be most people’s  reality in an economy where most surplus is consumed by that which is subsistence/sustainable.

It’s surprising that the intelligent haven’t put these dynamics together – it will probably be filed under the “unexpected”consequence if it does come to pass.

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