Just pouring my thoughts out onto 'paper' here, after witnessing an election here in Canada where a good chunk of the electorate are not really informed enough about where the world economy is headed.
Simply put, the countries in the future that will prosper the most (just like today) are the countries that produce the most energy for the lowest cost.
For the past few centuries, the energy that the world demanded was in the form of kinetic energy, powered by coal (steam), then fossil fuels, and more recently bio-fuels. This is all well and good, but its not even arguable that electricity is going to replace them all in the long term, and in the future the entire globe will be one giant connected power grid. This is coming, it is inevitable. We are living in and still expanding the information technology that powers our global economy. Crypto is a part of that, so is robotics and automation.
The real question is, will there be any room left for people in this future?
I personally believe that those at the top running the show are mostly Narcissistic and self-indulging, and aside from all the geo-political turmoil this causes, it also means that the 99% at the bottom still have a purpose once everything is automated and connected to the world-wide information-power grid. Narcissists need an audience, a big one. Just look at someone like Trump, a textbook case of someone who must have the attention and adoration (or hatred, its all attention either way) of as many people in the world as possible. The whole world is laughing at the USA, and not with, but that doesn't matter; the attention must continue.
So as we move into a new economy, very slowly at that, our use as laborers and workers will continue to diminish, but our use as an audience continues to grow. Our attention is worth more than money, it fuels those at the top and excites them. It's undeniably the case.
So having jumped way ahead into the probable future of humanity, one has to ask, how does the world get there?
Simple. Energy production.
This is the part of the post where I get serious, because there are so many uninformed or misinformed people out there on Facebook and elsewhere that have bought into various different propaganda regarding green energy vs. fossil fuels. Fossil fuels is a short term gain, long term pain investment. In the short term oil and gas allow a sovereign nation to produce a very large amount of energy for very little effort, mainly because they are not producing the energy, but rather extracting it from the ground and refining it into a usable state that can be sold and transported around the world. From there it is burned to produce electricity, or burned to power transportation, or used to make plastics and clothing and other goods.
Cheap, cheap, cheap. That's the sound the birds make when flying over oil rigs.
Where the long term pain comes in is not just environmental. People focus on the environment like it's the make or break argument, but it's really not. The bigger problem is already being faced today by energy producing countries. Canada, for example, extracts oil via oil sands, which is quite expensive and inefficient, but still profitable when the world's oil supply is low. This expensive oil comes into direct competition with other nations that can produce oil cheaper than us, and so we have little choice but to import oil when the world's supply is higher than normal. Basic economics.
But it isn't just this volatility that causes economic pain, it's also when the supply runs out. The nations in the world who run out of cheap oil will take a hit economically, while nations that have a larger supply left to still extract will grow in power on the world stage, unless they are militarily suppressed and controlled. Hence, why the USA and Europe have been bombing the Middle East for ages.
Energy is the lifeblood of the world economy, not necessarily oil. Oil just happens to be the most convenient, and therefore the most efficient in the short term. In Canada (except for people living in the prairies who are already in dire straights), we recognize that we are in hot water economically if we cannot find a way to produce energy that is sustainable and will not run out. We have a lot of oil still, far more than most people know about. Our Alberta oil sands isn't the only source, with an even larger source hidden under the ground in Saskatchewan. Most people don't know that, but it was discovered over a decade ago and people in Saskatchewan who are aware of this oil are eager to share in the wealth that Albertan's enjoyed from the oil sands. There's just one catch: Other countries are producing oil for cheaper.
So one might think, okay so what's the problem? Canada will have oil long after the rest of the world runs dry, isn't that a good thing for Canada?
Well, not really. Not if we don't want to become the next middle east. We would either be forced to fight for our oil militarily, or we'd have to kneel before other nations and beg them to not hurt us while they rob us of our oil. That is the future we have in store for us if we do not help to move the world towards renewable energy. I don't think Albertans or Saskies have really thought that one through, probably because it will be their grandchildren who have to face that reality.
And so, we circle back to the question: how do we reach that place where we are no longer dependent on fossil fuels?
Clothing doesn't need to be made from polyester or cotton, as hemp is far more durable, and hemp can also be made into plastics that decompose over time, unlike oil-based materials.
Solar, Wind, Tidal, Geothermic and other forms of energy are far, far less efficient than oil, but they are not going to deplete like oil eventually will, and they won't leave parts of a nation (i.e. Alberta) in turmoil when the price of oil goes down. It's a trade off, we don't get to have our cake and eat it too. If we stick with oil, we doom future generations to a global war that will leave most family trees looking like a stump as powers fight over energy that gets more and more expensive. I would ask, what kind of conservative would be so reckless? The answer is simple: they're not conservative at all. conservation of the environment, which is the worlds only true source of life, should be the pinnacle of a conservative agenda, yet it is just the opposite. It's funny how different factions evolve over time to no longer represent the words they use to define themselves.
But I digress.
The big bugbear that a lot of people in the West have is a carbon tax. Most people see the word tax and lose their shit. And who can blame them, they're being taxed through inflation of the currency, income tax, sales tax, capital gains tax, luxury tax, sin tax, and just about every other way you can be taxed. It's reasonable to be upset that yet another tax is now here.
However, there is more to the story than whether taxation is bad or not. In Canada, the carbon tax is one solution, while there are other solutions as well. The conservatives want to pull funding from art, science, education, healthcare, etc and move those funds towards renewable energy. I don't see that as a reasonable solution, as this merely robs Peter to pay Paul. A carbon tax leaves existing policy in place, and scrapes additional wealth off the top to fund renewables. In both cases, Ontario and Quebec pay to grow the renewable markets in the prairies, but one of them is far more risky in the long run.
I don't like tax, nor does anyone, but if the choice is between us paying the bill, or our children paying the bill, I think most people would rather save their children from paying the price that comes with cuts to education and other programs. Someone from the USA may not understand exactly what I am talking about, but thats okay, in Canada we socialize anything that government and private markets fail at, and it works for us. Bernie Sanders seems to think it can work for the USA too, but just like in Canada there are a lot of people who really don't get what's at stake, and so the pressure against socializing healthcare or education or energy production is far stronger down there than it is up here. I'm glad the pressure up here to privatize isn't as strong, because in the long run privatization of universal needs follows a one-way track to disaster. Just look at the financial system in the USA, and tell me it's working great. Up here, the people own the central bank, and we've benefited greatly from it, and we will continue to benefit because of it.
I guess I've blabbered on for enough time, but I think I said what I wanted to on the topic. I don't care about right or left politics, I have an analytical mind and in the end there is the best way of accomplishing something, and there are all the other ways that are inferior. I suppose it comes down to what people value the most. If people value other people the most, they will work towards sustainability and the prosperity of their offspring. If people value their own wealth in the short term, they and their children will lose all of it through war or occupation.
I wish people were smarter and could see the obvious dilemna, but we're all hardwired to care about our short term survival, and it doesn't help that the economies of the world are on life support, it just makes your average Joe and Jane Doe more aggressive about short term survival, and far less receptive to solutions for long term survival. And even after reading everything I just wrote, there are many who have been programmed through propaganda to shout "fake news!" or use whatever means they can to character assassinate me and anyone else that would dare disagree with what they've been told is the truth.
All I can say to people of the future who might stumble across this post is: We're trying, and if we fucked up then all I can say is sorry we couldn't do more to stop the parasitic side of humanity from ruining your life. Sadly, some things are just inevitable I suppose, but hopefully this time things will be different (famous last words).