before the industrial revolution the mass of any
population was stuck in "laborious poverty"
energy was limited and population tended to rise
are there limits to economic growth or does
technology allow us to get around those limits?
technology does allow improvements in the productivity of the
land, but they will reach a limit
coal allows dramatically improved productivity (Wrigley makes
one argument for 100x on page 244)
100x the energy per person doesn't get you much if you can't
grow enough food, so those improvements are also crucial
Necessary conditions for the industrial revolution?
- increasing food production
- unlimited (in the medium term) source of
- demand for products--consumption as a value
- capitalism/free market
- belief in progress
- value placed on technological innovation
- steady development of infrastructure
- economic change (and technological change) brings many
unexpected (unintended) consequences
- it is hard to realize that fundamental things
have changed: in the mid 19th century J.S. Mill still
argued that the law of diminishing return would apply to
industry as it did to agriculture
- much higher standard of living for the mass
- industrial warfare
- economic instability
- environmental damage
the industrial revolution created wealth, abundant
resources, a rise in the general standard of living
substantially altered human lives
technology-based economic growth has depended on exponential
growth in energy use
what would it take to continue that?
what technologies are Pandora's jar technologies today?