Singing for <strike>Jesus</strike> the Economy
Ok, Parax demands someone pick a hole in the singing example. Well, here goes: It's not actually producing anything of sustainable value. You are turning something without material cost (your voice) into something without material value (a song). Can be done without much magic any day of the week.
But then, you'll say, how come people pay for it!? Well, to be honest, that really is a puzzling question. How many people have bought the winning singles from X-Factor over the years? Loads, I would suggest, given the fact that it is being tried every year again. How many are still proud owners of the winning X-Factor single of, say, three years ago? (I can't for the life of me remember what it was and must, therefore, resign myself to not call it by name)
So, people spent money on something (come to think of it, even for music, resources are actually <strike>wasted</strike> used, for CD production, distribution, recording, etc) which, ahem, did not exactly keep its value... Burning money on nothing is not actually creating wealth, though, is it? For the people involved with the original production, of course, but the purchasers do not get to keep something of equal value. So there is no overall improvement. Which we did not expect from X-Factor anyway.
And now for the actual article, which clearly hails a "dead Reg" icon: Every bit of human experience is that we improve design, yes, but in overall terms increase consumption all the same. You make CPUs faster and cheaper - yet their increased sale increases total use.
By simply claiming that improvements in a single unit of anything clearly means growth can be reached without additional resource consumption is ignoring the bleeding obvious: Growth first and foremost means increasing numbers. There was a time when a computer filled a whole room and had next to no computing power and memory, no graphics, no storage and no sound. I bet, it was a resource hog, too.
Still, at the time, all the computers in the world didn't use nearly as much electricity to run as the computers in a single medium-sized company will today. Despite the current ones being so much more efficient individually.
Scale up any other development in the world and you'll find the same thing. Yes, we improve the designs. Efficiency means less consumption per unit - but the increase in units always makes up for it. More than.
And one final thought on music: There was a time when music was heard by making it. You played in the privacy of your own home. You went to a concert, possibly directed by Mozart of Beethoven themselves. And the energy spent on making the music was nil beyond the living requirements of the musicians.
These days, people have massive audio systems, likely in more than one room in their house, in all of their cars and if they are out and about, iPods and their competitors will happily sap away some batteries' power to play music straight into their ear canals. And you are going to say that growth (i.e. the sale of all those things, because growth is measured in sales values) comes without an increase in resource consumption?