After American refuse centers fill with rubbish, we just build new ones, placing them far away to ensure their gases and seepage don’t leak out to bother our consumerism. We know our western culture’s buy and toss mentality is unsustainable, and yet it is our entrenched framework of capitalism that may only be reversed by crisis. Now, in parallel with our capitalistic trash piles, we have grown a nationalistic debt pile. The “hide our trash” mentality that has been successfully used to cognitively disconnect our consumer culture from its ramifications will now most likely be transformed from a physical trash mentality to a financial trash mentality.
What is required to minimally sustain the world at least at its current health and welfare level is a revolution of thought regarding commodities and human capital. Unfortunately, instead international banking will stop heaping financial debt on the spent, Western refuse piles and will simply transfer this debt to new seeping, gaseous financial and physical trash piles to the East. Capitalism will not be transformed but rather transferred at least as long as commodities exist in sufficient amounts.
However, during the next two generations, as commodities follow their parabolic rate of decline and world demand increases exponentially, the resulting accelerating cost of commodities will either drive capitalism to its risk precipice causing the captains of capitalism to once again stir their nations into reactionary world wars, or, on a more hopeful note, as new, enlightened capitalists take the helms of their strained organizations, they will encourage an alternative transformation of the world’s culture to conserve commodities and to produce end materials of lasting value.
Alternative transformation will require redesigning our world’s industrial based primary education system to support conservation. It will require reengineering our consumption cycle that during the last four decades of globalization, transferred infrastructure eastward, collected worldwide commodities, sent them through the East’s production, and distributed the quickly obsolescing end products by massive transworld shipping for consumption and trashing in the West. It will also require retooling entire civilizations to add higher human capital value per unit of product instead of higher volume of products per employee. How can such a massive undertaking occur through billions of invisible hands of competition?
How can the world preserve remaining world commodities while maintaining high employment and increasing the world’s standard of living? Its first attempt in Kyoto at preserving commodities resulted in regional attempts to punish old world oil consumers while giving new economies a leg up in future fuel consumption. Kyoto’s problematic focus, similar to WWI victors attempt to right the world through war reparations of the vanquished, resulted in the cynical knowledge that the world’s politicians were not yet up to the task. Without collective political action, is the world destined for war as has always been man’s knee jerk solution?
The ultimate consequence of a failure to retool is widespread disease, famine and destructive reduction of an unsustainable world population. Does the U.S. Government have a proactive role? Yes, it can leap frog an economically violent transition by sensing the government supported changes that will be needed after an upheaval and simply move to put them in place beforehand. Examples of such moves could include changing the tax policy to influence the reduction of planned obsolescence and the byproduct of trash. Another would be the inculcation of values and capabilities in the school system toward the commodity problems we face. While government will not replace the billions of invisible hands required to force change, it most certainly can work in concert with them to affect a less violent outcome.