J Thomas wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:It ain't efficient to grow bananas in minnesota compared to more temperate places. Possible? Probably, but ludicrously more difficult.
Now, all trade over distance relies on transit. The higher the cost of transit, the less you can take advantage of competitive advantages, and the less efficient ALL societies are.
Sure, but in practice it's devilish hard to be sure you're getting the advantages of comparative advantage. People make mistakes, where the theory predicts that they will not make any. And governments get involved. The bigger the system the more governments that can do stupid things to distort economies. If the chinese government does something stupid it might have drastic effects here. It's possible comparative advantage might in practice work better with smaller systems than with giant ones.
Comparative advantage, that's the one, yes.
The theory does not postulate that people will make no mistakes, examples used to demonstrate the theory are simply done without mistakes because it clutters the demonstration needlessly.
And yeah, sure, governments can distort the economy, and those distortions are unhelpful...but they're not required by the theory, and can, at least in theory, be minimized.
Also we can survive even if the global economy starts to break down. We don't have to buy a lot of cheap stuff from all over the world. We can survive with the cheap stuff we make ourselves. We don't have to have a great big population decline and massive loss of information, unless things go really wrong.
No, but we do suffer a massive lost of efficiency, which means we get less stuff total. Regardless of if that is less health care, or less R&D, or less...anything, really, it's still a loss. Probably a very significant one.
morriswalters wrote:Local food is whatever that can grow where you are at. And in most places in the US that means for the growing season. How about them fresh greens in the winter.
We can survive without that. It used to be people didn't have that at all and maybe the lifespan was shorter etc, but the population survived and grew.
The green revolution and preceding advances are almost all derived from transportation and gasoline. Fertilizers, for instance, are heavily fossil fuel dependent. Once upon a time, a third of our society was engaged in growing enough food to keep us alive. Now, it's about a third of a percent. That efficiency is what frees up people to build a society filled with technology and all the advances we enjoy today....to say nothing of the massive lifespan boost.
I think people react to the doom-and-gloom and assume it just won't get that bad. And they're right! So, we have been concentrating our population in cities partly because it's cheaper to deliver social services and healthcare etc that way. If you live 30 miles from the nearest hospital then if you have a medical emergency an ambulance may have a 60 mile roundtrip before you get advanced care. But when people aren't going to get social services or medical care anyway, then we can afford to spread them out. We can build little rural dwellings and let people help out with the harvests, and the population will survive just fine. We'll have a lot of adjustments to make and we won't be rich like we are now, but it needn't be as bad as people imagine.
Yes and no. Many things are indeed cheaper in the city, but concentrating people in close proximity also brings problems. Crime is higher in cities. That fire that burns down your house? More likely to spread to your neighbors in a city(huge problem in cities in earlier times). Basically all of your people problems are magnified when people are close together. If John the crazy hermit blows himself up tinkering with a match and a bottle of gasoline in the country, well...that sucks for John, but probably isn't a big deal for everyone else. If crazy John lives in an apartment building, well, now you've got issues. No doubt something similar could be said about a number of disease issues.
These sorts of issues are one reason why taxes are so frequently higher in cities. More services are demanded to deal with these issues, and thus, money has to come from somewhere. Now, having a pool of specialized people allows for easier trade, and in a healthy city, despite the taxes, incomes rise by enough that you're still better off there than in the country....but unhealthy cities are also possible...detroit springs to mind.
Currently, we're still highly dependant on fossil fuels to maintain any given cities lifestyle. Especially in dense inner city areas, it may not be even possible to grow enough food for everyone living there. Literally not enough space. Even if it is...those people don't have those skills. Just because subsistence farming was a common skill a hundred years ago doesn't mean it is today. A transition back to that lifestyle is something many people are utterly unprepared for.
We need energy to maintain our lifestyle, and we need a lot of it. And we also need it to be at least sort of close to what we're paying for it now. And it does seem probable that fossil fuels are not infinite. Even if there are natural production sources of them, those probably have a finite output rate, so an increasing energy demand as the developing world, well, develops, is going to be an issue. It doesn't HAVE to lead to social collapse, but it's something we need to consider.
Also, I regard the singularity as untestable nonsense. In fact, even things like the overall rate of innovation are...incredibly subjective. It's really hard to gauge the worth of an innovation even with many years of hindsight.
As for tomatos and why they're grown in florida, it's the same reason that tons of stuff are grown in CA. Four growing seasons a year, and lots of insolation. Before that, you know why the Big Mac didn't have tomatos in it? Because tomatos didn't exist everywhere year round back then.