The Steady State Economy – M. King Hubbert

Posted on November 21, 2011


When King Hubert testified before Congress in 1974, the human population was approximately four billion, with an annual compounding growth rate of about two percent.  Today, the human population exceeds 7 Billion… Lets go back and look at some of the things Hubert told Congress 35 years ago – classic quote.

“I was in New York in the 30’s. I had a box seat at the depression. I can assure you, it was a very educational experience. We shut down the country because of monetary reasons. We had manpower and abundant raw materials. Yet we shut the country down. We are doing the same kind of thing now but with a different material outlook. We are not in the position we were in 1929-30 with regards to the future. The physical systems were ready to roll. This time it is not. We are in a crisis in the evolution of human society. It is unique to both human and geological history. It has never happened before and it can’t possibly happen again. You can only use Oil once. Soon all the oil is going to be burned and all the metals mined and scattered. That is obviously a scenario of catastrophe but we have the technology. All we have to do is completely overhaul our culture and find an alternative to money. We are not starting from zero. We have an enormous amount of technical knowledge, it is just a matter putting it all together. We still have great flexibility but our manoeuvrability will diminish with time. A non-catastrophic solution is impossible unless society is made stable. This means abandoning two axioms of our own culture, the (current) work ethic and the idea that growth is the normal state of life. Our window of opportunity is slowly closing, at the same time it probably requires a spiral of adversity. In other words, things have to get worse before they can get better.”