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Jared Diamond

Easter Island, Nauru and the Future-Eating Global Growth Economy

Expansive Economies and Limited Economies: Industrial capitalism is characterized by population growth, economic growth, expansion and intensification. [1] Although there was a short-lived case of industrial capitalism between about 1585 and 1622 in the Netherlands, [2] industrial capitalism as we know it today really originated in England, based on the apparently limitless fossil reserves of coal and the presence of many landless people who had to live by their labour. [3] These vast reservoirs of fuel gave rise to technologies that permitted mass production and facilitated the conquest and settlement of lands all over the globe. In the 20th century petroleum oil replaced coal as the fuel of industrial expansion, particularly where wheeled transport was concerned, although coal remained a mainstay for electricity production.

Jared Diamond on Australia’s overpopulation problem

Perhaps the single most astonishing, ridiculously contradictory set of public policies we face, is the left hand of government promoting reduced greenhouse emissions, conservation of diminishing freshwater, soil fertility and other declining natural resources, while the right hand promotes rapid population growth through high immigration. Is this a classic example of the left hand not knowing (or wanting to know) what the right hand is up to?

In the following article, originally published in the Winter 2008 issue of The Independent Australian magazine, Dr John O'Connor draws attention to Professor Jared Diamond's book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive and the chapter in it specifically on Australia and its overpopulation woes.

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