Humanity is the weed in the garden that grew stronger, faster, taller than all the other plants, leaving no room for competition. It is the magic bean stalk that climbed so high, it lost touch with the ground. Unable to feel its own roots, unreacheable by the bees, it is the poison weed that no one wants to eat, no one has any use for.
It is ironic that the ancient Greek word “oikonomia”, which literally translates into “the laws of the house”, has a double meaning in modern Greek. Along with “economy”, it also means “conservation” if used in a different sentence structure.
The massive irony of this of course is that modern human economies are as far removed from the concept of conservation as they could possibly be. If anything, the key mantra of any economy created by humans is, and will always be, “grow or die” – never “conserve”, never “stay the same”. The grow or die dilemma is of course false. In fact, the faster you grow and expand, the sooner you die, just like an obesity patient.
There is however one economy in the world who got it right. It neither grows or dies, and actually manages to stay the same, or at least it did, until recently. It is the most ancient economy that has ever existed, and which has been around for billions of years before humans even arrived: the economy of Earth. The real economy of this planet is its forests and its oceans. The currency it uses is water, food, oxygen, sunlight. Its stock market is the ecosystems and climate systems that balance the value and allocation of these resources, and its stakeholders are the 8 million species that live here and contribute to this economy, each of them in their own unique way.
Humans are under the impression that they “invented” the concept of economy. What they have in fact invented is a series of Ponzi scheme economies that tend to parasitize the real natural resource economy of the planet. On the outside, human economies may look vibrant, diversified, and healthy, and they tend to behave like a real economy. There are three criteria however which they do not meet, and which are the giveaways which prove that, as a matter of fact, they are parasites.
The first giveaway is that their balance sheet is constantly negative. Human economies are blood suckers that die once they have killed their host. They are completely dependent on outside nutrients from Nature. They depend on Nature’s rains and rivers to water their crops and produce potable water and energy. They depend on Nature’s energy, stored as fats, carbohydrates and protein, to survive. Even oil is chemical energy that was carefully captured by billions of plants through photosynthesis and stored in the ground. Humans never generate currency. They steal it.
Human economies have always run a negative balance: their debt towards nature exceeds their GDP by several hundred multiples, and this gap has continued to widen throughout their history. And since greed is the fundamental driving force behind all human economies, all of them are fundamentally unhealthy, just like a gluttonous diabetic who cannot stop eating. They easily falter, succumbing to inflation, deflation, and all sorts of malaises. They often have to cut their own limbs off, go to war and endure starvation, issues which are very rare in the only real economy that ever existed: the natural bio-economy of the planet.
Humanity’s parasitic economies always run back to the CBE (Central Bank of Earth) for a bailout: a new rainforest to destroy, a new river to reroute for human consumption, and so on. They always run to the only healthy economy of the planet for funding. Because unlike the dysfunctional human economy, in the real economy of this planet, until very recently there was no price inflation, no economic boom and bust cycles. Except for rare extinction events, the CBE had a solid, steady performance and a positive balance sheet. The value of the trees, the food, the oxygen stayed pretty much the same for millions of years: priceless, yet renewable. It was an immortal economy, built to last until the end of time. It was founded on the concept of sharing and recycling, as opposed to greed and destruction. In the CBE there are no tellers, no bankers, no cash machines. Everyone is expected to use only what they need and bring back what they haven’t used. And still, human economies have all made a run on the CBE, taking out personal loans way beyond their means. Humanity is that one, super-obese customer you always see in an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant who sits alone, gets up every ten minutes to refill their plate, keeps eating and just doesn’t know when or how to stop.
The second criterion that human economies fail to meet is the concept of output. They don’t actually produce anything. Sure, they produce lots of consumer products for humans, but this is only one of the 8 million species on the planet. Human economies are parasites because they give nothing back to the host that they have infected. All other 8 million species on this planet make contributions to the CBE, and therefore to humans, and take loans from it when they need. Humans however, are of absolutely no use to Earth and its 8 million species. They offer nothing.
Human economies have no sound business principles, since they are based exclusively on theft, exploitation and the permanent depletion of resources. The human economy doesn’t actually have any “output” within the bio-economy, yet human businessmen often brag about what they have “achieved”, as if it was a difficult feat. It is in fact the easiest feat for any business, for any economic system or individual to become successful by stealing from Earth. All business steals from Earth, and our contemporary economic systems lie upon a foundation of colonialism, slavery and exploitation within even our own species. This is not called success. It is called theft. If Earth’s age was compressed into a single year, modern humans don’t arrive until approximately 11:36 pm on December 31st. Only a terrorist can do so much damage, in such little time.
The Central Bank of Earth is the sole big lender that props up the bogus human “economy”, but it has already declared bankruptcy hundreds of years ago, trying to service the massive debt that humanity has accumulated. The current collapse is essentially a long overdue default against this debt. The CBE will be run down to the ground, down to the bricks and mortars of its foundation until there is nothing left, because nothing and no one can bail it out. Its assets cannot be “leveraged” or “quantitatively eased”, these are economic instruments that only human mobsters know how to use. This bank will continue to be depleted, as long as the human economy is following the main principles of capitalism: Exploit. Destroy. Leverage. Accelerate. Monetize. Grow. Inflate. As long as this planet continues to be run as a for-profit business as opposed to a self-regulating, all-inclusive socialist commune of 8 million species, everything that has ever been created on Earth will end up in a car boot sale. Today’s predominant global business model can be summed up in nine words: fuck up the Earth, exploit the people, make money.
The third reason why human economies are not economies is that they worship death, in the literal sense of the word. We live in a death cult. For capitalism to function, everything must die and end up in a dumpster, just so that demand can continue, and factories can keep churning out useless products. The human economy has grown based on this model: converting almost everything into a single-use commodity with a finite expiration date. The core growth principle of all human civilizations has been to exhaust, rather than to sustain. Only if products and life-forms become “consumables” can the production machine sustain itself.
Money has been central to this destruction and devaluation of the CBE’s existing assets and equities. Earth’s assets are systematically turned into “products”, price tagged, and placed on a supermarket shelf, their numerical price nowhere close to their real value, which actually goes beyond the concept of money and is eternal: the molecules of these so-called “consumable products” are meant to go on, to be re-incarnated into other useful things into eternity, literally until the end of time. This of course is not taken into consideration when pricing them. In the human economy, everything is de-valued, and placed on the shelf to wait for its death when the expiration date approaches. Earth has already become one big supermarket, and all of us are working at the cash register, until the fire sale is over, and we all call it a day. Everything now has death programmed into it, and we are all made participants of this death cult. We are made to believe that products, once “consumed”, become worthless and need to be replaced by “new” products.
Humans think that they have invented the concept of economy, but they have in fact invented the concept of trash. They have invented a death cult.
Of course, an expiration date-based economy can only be a short-lived system. Ever since Earth was hijacked by business, all life forms, including humans, have reached their lowest value on record: all of us have become single-use commodities, just like the products that we buy. Everything is bought, sold, used and then made extinct in Earth’s final, closing down sale. If you treat natural resources and people as consumables, then it follows naturally that one day they will be exhausted. If you treat the world as trash, then trash is what it will become.
Nothing was ever meant to be “consumed” on Earth. Everything is eventually recycled, including civilizations. If every time we used the word “consume” in a sentence we instead replaced it with “borrow”, which is more accurate, we would perhaps realize the massive debt towards Earth that humanity has amassed, and the predicament that it is in. Go on, try it.
All institutions within these “economies” were therefore built with the aim of supporting, organizing and streamlining the death cult of accelerated growth and natural exhaustion. The unsustainable nature of these institutions means that they will undoubtedly collapse, taking all of civilization down with them. This is a natural process that is impossible to stop, as stopping it would require the radical and complete redesign of the fundamental driving principle behind these institutions, as well as the operation of the societies that support them, both at the individual and collective level. The entirety of humanity has already become one big business, and each of us is, willingly or not, part of this ever-growing, destructive, polluting, utterly pointless corporation. Our civilization has become a monster: destroying our environment and using each and every one of us individually to achieve this goal. As a result, almost all humans on planet Earth have a vested interest in seeing this planet destroyed: whether to keep their jobs or maintain their lifestyle, they are hostage to a system of natural destruction that they can simply never unshackle themselves from. Our revenue-driven social system prefers to render us consciously unconscious, diligently going through the motions of a mechanical existence where we have an abundance of purpose, but little meaning till the end of our lives.
But the accounting department has no clue how to run things. It is staffed by a bunch of mafia mobsters. In fact, the human economy is a Ponzi scheme, holding the entirety of Earth’s economy hostage, and making every single human participant a stakeholder who has everything to lose if it all goes south. These stakeholders then go on to devise the religions, lies and myths that they need to keep telling themselves, and everybody else, in order to keep the Ponzi scheme going.
As with all Ponzi schemes, exponential growth is always followed by exponential collapse. The human garbage party will soon be over, ending in a spectacular plastic bonfire.
“Sorry Humans, my records show that there are no funds left in your account” – Central Bank of Earth
George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books
5 thoughts on “The Dead End of Exponential Growth”
This is a brilliantly written essay. Clear, complete, concise and spot on. Thanks George. I will discuss this in my community after they read this essay.
I hope you’re well Sophie. Greetings to all. Love, George
Thanks. Hope you are well. I will share with my wacky crowd
Good. One correction. Oil is formed from billions of marine organisms, not plants.
Thank you for the correction