Human progress has been by making use of increasingly dense forms of energy.
Let’s Burn Rocks to Produce Energy for Civilization has been moved to a sub-page.
In his article Economic growth: it’s not dead yet, Colin McInness writes:
In contrast, in a recent article in the Guardian, Life after the end of economic growth, Richard Heinberg claims that it’s all over. Millennia of growth has now apparently come to a crashing end, from the slow burning Neolithic revolution which re-arranged nature to our liking through agriculture, to the great expansion of the industrial revolution which eventually freed us from the land itself. However, growth sceptics such as Heinberg need to ask why economic growth should end right now, in the early 21st century when we are more prosperous and resourceful than at any time in the past. …
The key point to Heinberg’s argument against growth is that it is constrained by the availability of energy. In this he is correct. Physics tells us that we can put order into disordered matter using high-grade energy, generating low-grade waste heat in the process. …
However, Heinberg argues that high-grade energy is becoming scarce, that we have eaten the low hanging fruit. Consequently growth must end as we lack sufficient energy to rearrange matter into more useful forms, whether smart phones, tractors or vaccines. In reality, high-grade energy is anything but scarce.
The real worry of Heinberg’s vision of a post-growth world is his straight-faced assertion that “there should be [an] increasing requirement for local production and manual labour”. This chilling claim is more Year Zero than zero growth. A return to carbohydrate fuelled manual labour may be appealing to Heinberg and others as a means of powering down our lives, and reconnecting with the land. But we shouldn’t expect a long queue of volunteers.
Imposing the burden, hazards and tedium of manual labour on people, when there are viable alternatives is de-civilisation.