Reflexões Planetárias

Friday, May 24, 2013

Para onde vamos segundo Tainter

Para Joseph A. Tainter a relação circular entre a complexidade e os recursos é o processo que, por via de "rendimentos marginais decrescentes" (custos crescentes para benefícios decrescentes), levou ao colapso as sociedades complexas do passado: civilizações, como a nossa "sociedade moderna".
Articulo a seguir passagens finais da sua obra "The Collapse of Complex Societies", na língua original para não desvirtuar o sentido numa tradução apressada:

"Past collapses(...) occurred among two kinds of international political situations: isolated, dominant states, and clusters of peer polities. The isolated, dominant state went out with the advent of global travel and communication and what remains now are competitive peer polities.

(...) Peer polities then tend to undergo long periods of upwardly-spiraling competitive costs and downward marginal returns. This is terminated finnaly by domination of one and aquisition of a new energy subsidy (as in Republican Rome and Warring States China), or by "mutual" collapse (as among the Mycenaneans and the Maya).
Collapse, if and when it comes again, will this time be global. No longer can any individual nation collapse. World civilization will desintegrate as a whole. Competitors who evolve as peers collapse in like manner.

In ancient societies the solution to declining marginal returns was to capture a new energy subsidy. In economic systems activated largely by agriculture (...) this was accomplished by territorial expansion.

(...)In an economy that today is activated by energy reserves, and specially in a world that is full, this course is not feasible(...) The capital and technology available must be directed instead toward some new and more abundant source of energy. Technological innovation and increasing produtivity will at some point be essential.

(...)In a sense, the lack of power vaccum and the resulting competitive spiral, have given the world a respite from what otherwise might have been an earlier confrontation with collapse. Here indeed is a paradox: a disastrous condition that all decry, may force us to tolerate a situation of declining marginal returns, long enough to achieve a temporary solution of it. This riprieve must be used rationally to seek for and develop the new energy source(s) that will be necessary to maintain economic well-beeing. This research and development must be an item of the highest priority, even if, as predicted, this requires the reallocation of resources from other economic sectors.

(...) If collapse is not in the immediate future, that is not to say that the industrial standard of living is also reprieved. As marginal returns decline (a process ongoing even now), up to the point where a new energy subsidy is in place, the standard of living that industrial societies have enjoyed will not grow so rapidly, and for some groups and nations may remain static or decline.
The political conflicts that this will cause, coupled with the increasingly easy availability of nuclear weapons, will create a dangerous world situation in the foreseable future."

Vale a pena olhar para o futuro com a experiência do passado pelos olhos de Tainter. A sua visão será porventura redutora, mas parece ajustar-se bem à realidade actual.
Se nos ficarmos por aqui ela é também muito sombria, mas se lermos a sua história até ao fim encontramo-la surpreendemente redentora, pois que o colapso que está no nosso horizonte, tal como no passado, será o fim dum rosário de problemas e o princípio duma solução: no nosso caso, uma alternativa post-industrial.


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