The Growth syndrom : a pyramid game

Richard Attenborough summarized it as follows: ” Anyone who thinks that you can have infinite growth in a finite environment is either a madman or an economist..”

The addiction to profit and money making by economists has simularities with religion fanatics. They are both afraid of the here and now, to live the life. With one difference: the one tries to escape reality by exorbitant money making, and neglect the physical borders of the system, and the other, usually less wealthy, by adoring a life after, this way also neglecting the here and now. The one supporting the other : the less wealthy, the underclass, accepts faith, that reward comes after life, the other forgets about life, while busy exploiting that belief.

However, its the planet that is the given reality, nothing else. In the triple bottom line, known as ‘people planet profit, people and profit seem only added since both, people and profiteers are afraid to be confronted with the limits of the other, the planet. It provides  escapes , to avoid living up to the planets potential, and add profit (-economy) to feel they have the idea that there is something to decide, that there are several ways out.

But there ain’t. The economy has no relation whatsoever with the physical process in time: Everything depletes, increases entropy, and the only influence/option man has, is to speed it up or to slow it down. But in the belief that reward is only after life. And economy so far has proved to speed it up. I am sorry but there is no other conclusion.

The ‘holey trinity ‘ , is a trinity of PPP , or ’triple bottom line’, is one in which people are caught between two ‘fires’: Planet and Profit. Burned by the climate or roasted by the profiteers. As such it can be seen as creating hell on earth, which makes the wish for heaven afterwards more understandable…


The dilemma is: Humans can’t choose both: Since one , profit, is invented to exploit the other, the planet. While forgetting that the planet is bound to unchangeable laws, laws of nature, no cheating possible. Whatever you try. Profit is also advocated as bound to laws, but of a kind that can be changed, and are constantly adapted. If it does not develop as the profiteers like, they change the laws. Like the interest rates. Interest by the planet is fixed, the yearly captured solar energy budget, the interest in Profit can be chosen as wished. No wonder profiteers constantly turn the wheels of fortune, to avoid the restrictive limits by the planet . And the other is dupeable on the message that growth and technology will solve things for him, That is the people in locations where the profit laws are thought up and enforced. And as long as there is some growth, people are easy convinced that its good and will remain good . Its growing , isn’t it? But what is growing? Its the capital at the top. Its a pyramid game: money flows from below to the top. Its one way traffic. The ‘belief’ that somehow anyone can profit from this, helps the myth going .


But at the bottom line people are exploited and plundered, and have to create financial debts to finance further flow of money to the top, while at the same time at the top the physical debts are enlarged, by exhausting natural resources. Debt in the sense that sources are depleted, and not regenerated. Its living on th earnings of million years of stockpiling, by which concentrated matter is degraded to dust, blown over the earth and oceans. The ecological history is rewinded. And all to make sure the bottom side keeps buying stuff, to replace other stuff, broken or outdated, to keep the money flow upwards. Money and resource flows are adverse, increasing each others debt constantly .

Which happens ever more efficient, so that Rifkin’s book got the title: “A zero marginal cost society” What he means is that in future there only will be development cost for a product, and actual production will be that massive and industrialized , it will be at nearly no cost. : its heaven on earth….[1]

Bullocks, a zero marginal cost society. Economically , maybe. But that does not mean it will be a 0-marginal resource society! Its only possible since the real value, the resources and energy, are not valued. Resources are not even part of the economical theory, they are not a production factor.[2] Only capital and labor is. And labor will be outsourced to robots, and capital is printed as wished. All this happens because the Profit world has arranged for that.

A important factor in this development is privatization, or the balance between private and public ( commons) As soon as something becomes private, it is exhausted to earn money. Of course, within legal boundaries ( usually) , but the legal boundaries don’t cover everything. They are for all based on the lobby by those that want to exhaust resources. This is among other things what I learned from a book by Kenis and Lievens : That privatization only has value if resources are limited. [3] After all, if they are unlimited, its impossible to profit from it, since it can’t be exploited in a way that a majority will be locked out from it. Capitalism is based on the limits of the earth system, and overexploiting these. Which in turn implies, that privatizing something that is limited, stimulates exhaustion…

A nice example how we are already locked in to this framing, is posing the question to someone what he can do about climate change. Most likely an answer is like: buying Solar panels. That in fact is a consumption driven answer! According to Kenis and Lievens the answer should be something like: voting for a green party. Which relates to what Standing advocates . Standing introduced the Precariat, , combination of proletariat that finds itself in precarious circumstances , a growing class of people. [4] His statement: ‘If private wealth grows, common wealth declines’. Which also implies that voting a political party that favors the commons before the private, would restore some balance in both, in planet and profit , the resources an the a more equal divided between people ( nevertheless, there is still a maximum , determined by the carrying capacity of the earth ).

Schizophrenic is also in having children… Those are the potential consumers, of which some profit sectors already have too little, like the food industry: Which can only grow creating more customers ( or by temptation causing obesity…). The pyramid game in its full glory: running out of clients at the bottom , requiring new ones to continue the game…

And similar as a pyramid game works for a while, until it fades away since no non-participants are left , the financial growth race is doomed, since no one can be debited anymore, and since the resources are exhausted. The debt has been raised too high on both sides, and the system collapses.

With a big bang. But not everyone is hurt. Since the rich upper class will have invested their money as the first , to be able to survive: in buying land ( landgrabbing) , raising dyke’s, in Renewable energy supply systems, in big near-autarctic houses , new electrical cars and smart cities with a ‘internet of things’ .

That process is currently ongoing in rich countries. Running forward away from the problems, in which climate change is misused to save their own arses, make enormous investments , and drive that same resource exhausting economy . That as a result the remaining CO2 budget , to stay below 2 degrees of climate change, a proxy fro resource use, is exhausted in a accelerated manor, is of no discussion. The driving force in rich industrialized countries is that their economy should become independent of resources and energy, so that their life style can be continued. At the cost of increased resource use, and a unfair share of remaining CO2 emissions, in this case of the global bottom side. The poorer part of the People has been exploited first for their resources in colonialism, next by their money, and now they are ripped of their CO2 budgets. ( As Huesemann expressed it: ’the third world is not underdeveloped, but overexploited’. [5] And still is. The 2 degree limit becomes a farce.

Its scandalous to still believe in liberal capitalism, in financial growth. Which embraces People Planet Profit, since they can create debt at two sides, financially and resource wise. A pyramid game squared.


1 Rifkin, J., The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism Paperback – July 7, 2015

2 The economic growth engine , How energy and work drive material prosperity Ayres et all, and

3 Kenis en Lievens: De mythe van de groene economie. The book is in Dutch, there is a extensive article in english available: Greening the economy or economizing the green project?

4 The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class Guy Standing 2014

5 Techno-Fix, Why Technology Won’t Save Us or the Environment, by Michael Huesemann & Joyce Huesemann

Author: ronald rovers