Reply To: 3rd November: Joseph Tainter

Author Replies # Posted on November 10, 2014 at 09:51

Tainter analysis Nick.

1. Although I think Tainter’s theory is very useful and holds some truth in general I think it is missing out in some parts in the sense that it can’t explains everything (whichof course is impossible), but also has a quite pessimistic view on sustainablity.

One of the parts that is not considered enough in this theory is the need for growth (or as far as I have been able to read the theory). Many of the ancient examples used, such as the Roman empire, had a thirst to keep growing, and become unsustainable. Many of today collapses are similar to this, corporations grow to big to be transparent, and become too complex which inevitably ruins them. Sustainabilty is not about growth, it is about being responsible. When man makes innovations to be environmentally sound, most of do not care about how this will expands one power. Though some economic factors weigh in, everyone today is faced by the fact that we HAVE to live more ecological, and it is not as much of a choice. So even if the innovations aren’t that live-changing as before, we see the need to keep making them.

Another part is globalisation, Tainter’s theory seems to see the world as a large amount of different societies, but not the world as one society. When talking about this, we often enter the discussion as if this is going to happen in the far away future, but do not keep in mind that it could be happening right now. I think we have update our system of complexities, and have been able to outsources causes of collapse to the periphery of the world. A good example is AIDS or Ebola right now. Take Ebola, isolated in Western Africa, potentially dangereous to everyone, since medication is not good enough yet. Though our system is so complex, trans-national organization have problems getting the disease under control since it is in three different countries, with a wide variety of cultural differences and many of the populations lacks basic hygienic education or means to do so. Shortly put; it is very hard for the developed world to help the undeveloped countries (or want to). However, when one case of Ebola comes to Europe comes to US, immediatly it is possibly to get experimental treatment, and we are qute capable of detaining the disease with a good survival rate. This kind of development show that some complexities (such as experimental or to expensive drugs) are outsourced to only some parts of our globalised world, and therefore not threathening the entire society