If a population is stable, the production of required food is predictable, and the continual expansion of agricultural land is not necessary. Once again, in a steady state, the emphasis can be on localization, the growing and distribution of food within an ecological region. This means fewer large-scale agribusinesses, with their huge fuel and chemical requirements. Local food production also means less packaging and transportation costs and a stronger personal connection to our farmers, as is experienced now in the growing popularity of farmer's markets in our cities, both large and small. Don't miss the whole story.Dietz and Dan O'Neill Enough Is Enough.
Once again, as illustrated in The Webs of Varok, the steady state relies on local responsibility in caring for the land and the needs of daily living. Oversight resides locally, as does problem solving--where a balance of consensus and regulation is possible, as it is with our traffic laws. More on my Goodreads blog. Global government on Varok serves only as a resource counter and health monitor, identifying problems that only the locales, working together in regions when needed, can solve.
Gone are imposed micro-regulations and solutions that might not be appropriate for all locations. The fear of top-down regulation expressed by Denzil Pugh in his review of The Webs of Varok is discussed in detail in Enough Is Enough.
On fictional Varok, resource allocation and minimal throughput are determined by democratic vote of amounts of resources to be used within sustainable numbers for long-run conservation. The elected quotas for resource mining and development are distributed by auction, their mining managed by the persons responsible for the land--on Varok those who have traded use of the land for its care, a feature not mentioned in steady state literature.
In such a system, mineral rights can't trump surface rights, as they do in this country. This problem reflects the favoring of the oil industry as seen in their exemption from RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) regulations. Overuse of energy or resources can find a balance between rule-making and consensus for need--safety, equity or security. In The Webs of Varok, Orram realizes that consensus on Varok has kept the population and minimal throughput at a comfortable level with minimal regulation.
Thanks to Pugh's review on Amazon, another discussion stimulated by The Webs of Varok is thus laid out. Can we find for the steady state the same workable balance between consensus and regulation that we practice with traffic rules? We are talking about something very new here. The steady state is neither socialism nor communism. Those are both growth economies, as is capitalism.
Here are some other issues raised in the novel: Can we recognize the metaphor that Mahntik's mind-block illustrates and improve our business ethics? Can manufacturers take responsibility for their products through their entire life, from use to repair or recycling, as some do in Europe already? Could we ever consider a Native American-inspired policy of trading use of the land for its care, instead of outright ownership? Can large cities be divided into Varokian-like locales, as they were or still tend to be? Shouldn't we begin talking about these alternatives for the future?