Big Ideas? Let's start 2015 with some narrow-minded thinking from the ABC

Once again the ABC is promoting so-called 'sustainable growth' (with a like-minded cohort of intelligentsia), as a concept where you can have your carbon cake and eat it. Even children are taught that this is impossible. Here are some observations.

What is the world coming to? 140 people per tee shirt...............

Albert Einstein: "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

"Richard Denniss, Dr Jagit Plahe & Keith Badger give heavy hits from varied viewpoints on what's wrong with our manufacturing, agriculture, taxation & growth in this Sustainable Living Festival panel moderated by Anthony James." Source:

Richard bordered on unreasonable. He compared campaigns and taxation to provide a multi-faceted way of stopping smoking to a Carbon Tax to stop emissions.

This is a bit like a psychometric test question for assessment of cognitive ability. Is the first scenario similar to the second? The answer is "No". The explanation is as follows:

The objective of stopping smoking is an end in itself. Nothing is required to replace it.
When a fossil fuel burner stops he needs something to replace the fossil fuel. If something is cheaper and effective it will be adopted. If it is not feasible to raise the Carbon Tax high enough to make the change occur the Carbon Tax will fail; which is exactly what has occurred. This is because it will distort the economy too severely before a commercially feasible alternative exists. If oil halves in value it will remain attractive. If solar energy becomes ten times cheaper it will become ten times more commercially attractive.

Attempting to use a Carbon Tax to drive such changes in an energy market subject to such volatile pricing is like trying to use a sailing boat in a tropical cyclone.

The irony is that funding renewable energy requires money, and we have a Government whose policies are aligned with those of both Labor and Greens. All these parties believe in extreme population growth despite it being economically unviable. The Liberals have adopted their historical role of cleaning up the spending mess left behind by Labor; yet these two factions are actually a double-act with exactly the same big picture policy.

Richard pointed out that $50 billion spent on defence spending is nothing and could easily be spent on renewable energy. Why didn't he mention that the extra two million people who arrived in Australia over the last decade (in addition to natural population growth) are costing the Federal Budget $17,000 per person per annum? That is an additional $34 billion every year. Is each one of those people paying $17,000 in total direct and indirect taxes? $68,000 per average family of four? The numbers don't look sustainable; but hasn't Richard noticed? Foreign aid reduced by $7.5 billion this year. Does Richard think that is nothing? For how many years can debt grow by 10% of the total Federal Budget spending? What creates the most humanitarian outcome; spending $7.5 billion in Australia or spending it in the developing world?

What does Richard see as the future for a planet with endless exponential population growth? Does he propose to introduce a Population Tax?

Jagit Plahe was quite reasonable as she spoke of multinational agribusiness and its environmentally damaging practices, and the value of subsistence agriculture. But how does that work if you double the population on a plot of land every 40 years? Is migration to Australia the solution?

She spoke of the plight of 9 million of her fellow Indians displaced by floods in NE India in 2011, but didn't mention that India's population grows by roughly 25 million per annum and that this is a key consideration for Indian food self sufficiency and avoidance of deforestation and other environmental impacts in India.

Keith Badger actually mentioned population growth (Hooray) but instead of following through to the logical need for managing it, he took a sweeping 90 degree turn and identified marketing as a root cause of the 6th great extinction !! He highlighted consumption per capita as a primary issue. Remarkable perspective. He doesn't seem to be applying the basic principles of exponential growth. For Keith's benefit, based on current rates of population growth Melbourne's population in 200 years will be 593 million people versus 4.25 million today. Keith referred to keeping a favourite old tee shirt that he now treasures because instead of throwing it away he had it darned by an old lady from a different, less wasteful, era.

I wonder if Keith has done this sum: 593/4.25 = 139.5. This means to avoid consuming any more tee shirts Keith's tee shirt will need to be shared by 139.5 people 200 years from now. Does he think this kind of reduction in consumption is feasible?

2014-15: Migration program set at 190,000 places; humanitarian intake 13,750 places.
SOURCES: Department of Immigration; Australian Bureau of Statistics.