Without question Sunday’s Viewpoint commentary, “Our jobless future” paints a grim future for humanity. This is a not-so-distant future run by robots that sounds vaguely apocalyptic. “Regardless, at best we have another 10 to 15 years in which there is a role for humans.” Thus writes Viviek Wadhwa, a fellow at the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University.
Such a view could only form in the rarified atmosphere of academic economics departments and corporate boardrooms detached from the physical realities of our planet and the social realities of our species.
Let’s start with physical realities. We are living in the twilight of the oil economy. Even with the hyper-acceleration of hydraulic fracturing in the U.S., we have managed to increase domestic production by only 25 percent. Because worldwide conventional oil production most likely peaked in 2006 and 10 years post-peak is an inflection point where production drops off dramatically, I estimate that we are going to see dramatic cost increases in fuel prices in a few years. Oil is fuel for transportation and food production.
Now consider social realities. The under-employed masses of the developed world are still experiencing recession. We are heading for worldwide depression.
How can we live decently? Our local and state governments can start to invest in small infrastructure projects, employing skilled trades, such as building a distributed “smart” grid composed of thousands of solar and wind generators. We can live simply so that others can simply live. The meek shall inherit the earth.