For four days now my old body is fighting the COVID19. In this I had joined some 360 million fellow human beings. I was reluctant to write on this for many reasons including that the experiences of many others is far more poignant. Two faculty members at the university and two close relatives andseveral friends lost their lives already tp this virus. Dozens of friends and relatives also survived it and described the experience to me in detail.
In an extended process that farm was purchased by Frankston City Council around 7 years ago to be added as an extension to the Ramsar Listed Wetlands. This was as a result of a grant given to Frankston Council by the former Dandenong Valley Water Authority in the early 1990's. After the purchase the Friends of Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands, who pushed hard for the purchase in 2004 and 2005, suggested to Council that the area around the former house site might be appropriate for use by other local groups for activities, such as an education centre combining the wetlands, Indigeous history and native flora and fauna, and - given the farming history of the site - a possible community garden around the former house site.
In part because of this suggestion by the friends, when Council came to prepare the master plan for the site, Council invited a number of groups who had expressed interest to a series of meetings to discuss various proposals. These proposals, and on-going discussions, have included: a Wildlife hospital (by Animalia), a sustainable farming demonstration site, an Indigenous education centre, a native plant and food walk, as well as the wetlands education centre.
These discussions, have been ongoing for some years now (and well beyond the formal council organised meetings). A wide range of groups have participated in or contributed to those discussions including representatives of Frankston Environmental Network, Frankston Food Access Network, Friends of Edithvale-Seaford Wetland, Melbourne Water and Birdlife Australia. These groups are now at a stage where proposals are being presented to the public in a public meeting. The details of that meeting are as follows, and interested members of the public (and Council) are invited:
Thursday, June 26 2014,
Seaford Community Centre Meeting Room
(flyer attached below)
Representatives from the different groups will be talking at this meeting about the proposals for the area around the house site of the former Down's Farm (approximately 3 hectares of the 20 hectare site).
Intel is the inventor of the x86 series of microprocessors, the processors found in most personal computers. Because of suspicions that Intel chips facilitate US spy-ware, like many other countries, Russia is seeking a way around this.
22 June, 2014 (Tony Cartalucci - LocalOrg) - Russia's ITAR-TASS News Agency reported in an article titled, "Russia wants to replace US computer chips with local processors" that:
Breaking the back of multinational monopolies is a matter of national security.
It also stated:
The Baikal chips will be installed on computers of government bodies and in state-run firms, which purchase some 700,000 personal computers annually worth $500 million and 300,000 servers worth $800 million. The total volume of the market amounts to about 5 million devices worth $3.5 billion.
In addition to the obvious financial benefits for Russia of locally manufacturing processors, there are several other dimensions within which the move will be beneficial, including in terms of national security.
Long has it been reported that US-manufactured processors may have vulnerabilities engineered into them, at the request of US intelligence agencies including the National Security Agency (NSA). Australia's Financial Review revealed in 2013 in an article titled, "Intel chips could let US spies inside: expert, that:
One of Silicon Valley's most respected technology experts, Steve Blank, says he would be "surprised" if the US National Security Agency was not embedding "back doors" inside chips produced by Intel and AMD, two of the world's largest semiconductor firms, giving them the possibility to access and control machines.
The claims come after The Australian Financial Review revealed that computers made by Chinese firm Lenovo are banned from the "secret" and "top secret" networks of the intelligence and defence services of Australia, the US, Britain, Canada and New Zealand because of concerns they are vulnerable to being hacked.
Internationally renowned security research engineer Jonathan Brossard, who unveiled what Forbes described as an "undetectable and incurable" permanent back door at last year's prestigious Black Hat conference, told the Financial Review that he had independently concluded that CPU back doors are "attractive attack vectors".
If correct, the allegations would raise the stakes in a growing cyber cold war, and fuel claims that US snooping leaves the Chinese in the shade.
The move by Russia would help protect government assets from foreign spying and cyber attacks enabled by the potential vulnerabilities described in the Financial Review. And because of the large scale of production that will be needed to supply the Russian government's annual demand, the possibility of Russian-made processors being used outside of state agencies and firms could help secure Russia's wider national IT infrastructure as well.
Dependence on foreign technology has created a potential threat to Russia's IT infrastructure. Technological self-sufficiency, then, can clearly be seen as a priority for national security. Developing independent technology requires an emphasis on education, research, and development, but the price of neglecting these areas renders a nation at the mercy of those that haven't.
The West's geopolitical primacy has been enabled by the various corporate-financier monopolies that exist upon Wall Street and in the City of London. Breaking the back of these monopolies requires nations to develop alternatives that undermine and ultimately displace these monopolies from within their borders. Russia's decision to produce processors domestically is one example of this. Nation's focusing on domestic food security by encouraging local, organic farming undermines and displaces the West's big-agri monopolies and in particular their attempts to monopolize the very code of life itself through the proliferation of patented GMOs.
And while governments should be focused on national-level solutions to undermine and displace foreign monopolies threatening national security, on the local level there are steps regular people can take to protect their communities and themselves - including boycotting and replacing Fortune 500 monopolies with local solutions, and the creation of local institutions and organizations that are composed and serve the interests of the people that created them.
What else you can do
- Link to this article or earlier publications of this article from your Twitter page, Facebook or your own blog.
- Discuss and link to this article this article on forum discussions.
Link to this or the original pages in forum discussions. An example of HTML to link back to this page is:
<a href=/"http://candobetter.net/?q=node/3893">Russia to Swap Intel-AMD Processors For Local Technology</a>
An example of HTML to link to the page on the Land Destroyer Report is :
<a href=/"http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/russia-to-swap-intel-amd-processors-for.html/">Russia to Swap Intel-AMD Processors For Local Technology</a>
- Republish this article on your web site. The html code source code for this article is attached as a file, which you can download. It is suitable for web-sites built with free open-source content-management software such as Drupal.
Former career mining professional Simon Michaux gives a public lecture in Adelaide describing the onset of 'peak mining' and its various implications for natural resource management. A significant and comprehensive update to the field. Governments will be watching this one and trying to ignore it.
A useful presentation of the decline in return on energy invested. The industry is having to work harder and harder in order to get returns. Of course the industry is not going to admit this to potential investors or to governments because, if they did, governments would put the brakes on, realising that we are heading for uncontrollable problems if we do not.
The United States with its fracking and oil-shale mining; canada with its tarsands etc - they are able to get money to invest in the short term because of high demand and low intelligence and education in the investor community. The same kind of thing is happening with many resources, including uranium.
This is the picture that is not shown by graphs of oil production, which manage to convey the impression that per capital production is on a very slightly declining trajectory. If the increasing cost of the extraction from the earth were actually taken into account, we would see a much more rapid downward curve.
"Every time I hear or read the word 'sustainable', for instance, in 'sustainable growth', 'sustainable living' and 'sustainable economy', I feel that we are being cheated and lured into false security."
Article by Hans Brunner
"Sustainability," a word much used and abused
Every time I hear or read the word 'sustainable', for instance, in 'sustainable growth', 'sustainable living' and 'sustainable economy', I feel that we are being cheated and lured into false security. These expressions permeate our cultural communication and continuously mislead. It is therefore time to alert people to the uncomfortable, or ‘inconvenient’ truth about to what is urgently needed in order to obtain realistic sustainability. The fundamental problem that causes all our present and future unsustainable existence is that there are far too many of us on this planet of finite resources.
Ehrlich and Flannery
Professor Paul Ehrlich (ehrlich in German means ‘honest’), in his report “People and the Planet” to the Royal Society said
“ The optimum population of the earth was 1.5 to 2 billion people, much less than the seven billion alive today. So we have to humanly and as rapidly as possible move to population shrinkage.”
A similar statement was also made by Professor Tim Flannery in The Future Eaters as early as 1995:
“Because of the structure of our economy, a population of 6-12 million (people) would give Australians enormous flexibility in dealing with environmental and other problems.”
Both professors are surely acutely aware that they have to protect their reputation when making these statements. Obviously, their conclusions must have been based on lots of accurate and unbiased information, while realizing that their research results could upset a lot of people. Both also insist that their estimates are made under the condition that the living standard per person must not increase.
Increasing number of concerned people as people numbers increase
There is now a rapidly increasing number of other people who also express their concern about over-population, many of them well informed scientists.
Based on my own experience, I am personally convinced that their statements are realistic as well as accurate. We all can ill-afford to live any longer in a fools' paradise and naively belief that the little bandage work we are doing will save the world. The truth about over-population has to come out and be shouted from every rooftop. It is sad that, in spite of this, our politicians on both sides still push for population and economic growth as if there was no tomorrow. By this, they blindly speed up the certain and disastrous consequences that will inevitably doom our future.
Easy way to inform yourself: Check out Sustainable Population Australia (SPA)
I ask the skeptics to do their own, honest research or to contact Sustainable Population Australia for information before they refuse this important warning. Acting now, even if it seems harsh and difficult, is much better than to wait for the much more brutal and out of control responses, such as inevitable wars, famine and natural disasters, to do it for us.
Since there is abundant information and many detailed studies available on the above subject, it was not my purpose to go into all the details of what has happened and why it has gone so wrong, as it would take pages to cover it all. Greed would probably be one of the most fatal factors.
So, in future, when you use the word ‘sustainable’ think at least twice and more seriously about it and then you will most likely not use it.
An ecological, rather than a business profit mindset requires thinking beyond commerce and money-making and focusing on the biological parameters that keep civilisations in existence.
Anyone who has read Malthus’ An Essay on the Principle of Population, Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb, Meadows’ et al. The Limits to Growth, Smith’s Population Crisis and most recently Lowe’s Bigger or Better? will appreciate that humanity is facing a series of converging catastrophes including fossil fuel shortages, water shortages, a food crisis, soil degradation and climate change.
The world’s population is projected by the United Nations to reach at least 9 billion by 2050. By that time the world will require twice as much the food and energy consumed today. At present resources are consumed at a rate of 1.5 times the Earth’s capacity to renew them. By about 2030 this ecological overshoot will exceed replenishment levels by 100 percent. The natural capacity of the Earth is thus being rapidly depleted.
With business-as-usual Australia’s population is likely to reach 36 million or more by 2050. This increase is occurring at a time when the converging catastrophes are beginning. The technological optimists say that Australia should first increase its population via immigration and then worry about the consequences later. This is merely a front for corporate greed: to make short-term profits while leaving the mess for future generations to clean up.
So what now? Australia continues on the path to Big Australia given existing immigration numbers and the population growth rate. Big Business continues to push for big numbers. The media generates anxiety about asylum seekers and the control of borders, when in reality the number of asylum seekers is small compared to legal migrants. Nevertheless, critics of immigration are conveniently dismissed as nativists, not concerned with the ‘global good’ when in fact the strongest advocates of mass immigration to Australia, the Big Business lobby group, are primarily concerned with their profit margins rather than morality. They get away without the strong condemnation they deserve.
An ecological, rather than a business profit mindset requires thinking beyond commerce and money-making and focusing on the biological parameters that keep civilisations in existence. Our business elites, with the notable exception of Dick Smith, seemingly have no concern beyond day-to-day profit making. This would not matter if they did not have such a death-lock on the throats of both our major political parties.
What to do? A reduction in Australia’s immigration rate to 70,000 per annum, in accordance with Kelvin Thomson’s ‘14 Point Plan’, will still enable Australia to increase the intake of refugees and meet our humanitarian obligations.
Following in the footsteps of the greats I referred to at the beginning of this message, my contribution to the cause has been my own book: Sleepwalking to Catastrophe which exposes the pro-immigrationist arguments as the sophistry which they are. This work also serves as my manifesto for an alternative economic system considering the long-term future of our environment. Ultimately, the pen is still mightier than the sword as writing remains the most powerful medium we have to educate others.
As a young person I call on all celebrities to join with me in voicing opposition to the perpetual growth model. It is important that we combine the power of writing with the public exposure of celebrities to communicate with the masses. In doing so, young people just might be able to have a future.
The once wholesome term 'sustainable' has long been stolen by the Corporate Sector - aka big business and corporatised government. The term continues to be misused and abused by those employed with communications degrees (aka 'spin doctors') to mean anything they want it to mean.
'Sustainable' has become almost compulsorily used in public relations to justify proposed works that may adversely impact on the natural environment and upon society. In so doing, the proposed works pacify potential detracting 'greenie' and 'socialist' types.
'Sustainability' has become a corporate pseudonym for 'viable' - viable for corporate sustainable profit or government saving money.
So in order to drag the Corporate Sector to social and environmental accountability, it is preferable to instead use the once popular but clearer term 'Triple Bottom Line'.
Triple Bottom Line (TBL) was coined in 1998 by John Elkington:
'An addition of social and environmental values to the traditional economic measures of a corporation or organization's success. Triple Bottom Line accounting attempts to describe the social and environmental impact of an organization's activities, in a measurable way, to its economic performance in order to show improvement or to make evaluation more in-depth.'*
It is much harder to greenwash the defined term 'Triple Bottom Line' than it is 'sustainable'.
'Sustainable Population' or Triple Bottom Line Immigration Policy
In developed countries like Australia, human population size, distribution and demographics are not influenced by organic growth, but in the main are a consequence of government open-door immigration policy. If developed countries, like Australia, applied a Triple Bottom Line test to the performance of immigration policies, then the social and environmental values of those policies would be added to the more traditional economic measures in order to evaluate immigration policy performance.
Currently, the narrow Economic/Accounting (single) Bottom Line approach only considers the economic benefits of immigration. Even then, the measures of economic impact are limited to short term macro-economic metrics such as consumption, GDP and labour force.
Of course more immigrants will demand more so consumption rises, but also demand on public services and environmental resources (such as drinking water) - which are conveniently not reported by government.
Of course more skilled immigrants will plug skills shortages of business and so business grows and GDP rises and tax revenues rise. Plus business and government save money by not having to spend on education and skills training. But this skill matching is inequitable as it displaces and disenfranchises an unskilled local population. Most job growth ignores rural and regional Australia. GDP growth also puts more pressure on environmental resources (such as coal-fired power stations) - such TBL impacts are conveniently not reported by government.
Of course more skilled immigrants will increase the labour force. But why are immigrants (born overseas) over-represented in the public service and in unskilled positions like transport drivers, while Australia's registered unemployment numbers are over 611,000? A domestic social impact of immigrant employment is domestic unemployment.
And how many of the registered unemployed are immigrants? Such Triple Bottom Line impacts are conveniently not reported by government.
Is not immigration policy a economic, social and environmental responsibility of national governments?
Picture by Sheila Newman
"Save our Bush" Rally
Wednesday 24 February from 12-2pm
on Parliament House steps
The Rally aims to draw public attention to the destruction of our native bushland by the State Government's "growth-at-any-cost" policy of building freeways -- instead of promoting alternative modes of transport.
The Rally will coincide with a motion to the Legislative Council by the Greens MP, Sue Pennicuik, opposing construction of the Peninsula Link -- which would destroy much of The Pines Flora & Fauna Reserve (220 hectares) near Frankston.
Other important areas of native bushland and wetlands due to be bulldozed for roads in Greater Melbourne and beyond include:
* Browns Mountain (S-W Victoria)
* Coomoora Woodland Flora & Fauna Reserve (Keysborough)
* Belvedere, Witternberg & Pobblebonk Reserves (Mornington Peninsula)
* Devilbend Reserve (Mornington Peninsula)
* Westerfield Heritage Reserve (Mornington Peninsula)
* Bushland in the Cities of Banyule and Kingston
Rod Quantock is M.C. and the rally will include speakers and entertainment .
Join the Rally to Save our Bush and bring as many others as possible! Please also circulate the attached poster!
Save Our Bushland Contacts for further information:
Gillian Collins – Friends of Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve (impacts of Peninsula Link on the Pines): Mob: 0414 309 960; Email: [email protected]
Damon Anderson – Save Coomoora Reserve Coalition (impacts of the Dingley Bypass on Coomoora): Mob: 0425 784 983; Email: [email protected]
Marion Ware – Friends of Banyule (impacts of North East Link through Banyule Flats and Warringal Swamplands): Mob: 0413 41 88 32; Email: [email protected]
Rosemary West – Joint Coordinator of Green Wedges Coalition (urban growth and the impact on Green Wedges): Mob: 0418 554 799; email: [email protected]
Colin Long – Greens Candidate for South-East Metro Upper House (cultural heritage value of Westerfields) : Email: [email protected]
Search for another food bowl:
The National Water Initiative, agreed in 2004 by the Council of Australian Governments, provided a national blueprint for water reform. The National Water Initiative recognised that, as the reality of changing water resource security in the south is better understood, there would be a need to consider the potential for other parts of Australia, such as the north, to support future land and water development.
One element of the plan was to establish the Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce to address its enquiries to the key surface and groundwater systems within the Timor Sea and Gulf of Carpentaria drainage divisions and the North East Coast drainage division north of Cairns.
The Taskforce concluded that developing Northern Australia as an integrated, sustainable region was a complex policy challenge.
On paper at least, the figures are indeed astonishing: some one billion litres of rain dumps on northern Australia each year. Could the north satisfy not only Australia's rapidly growing population, but also the future needs of our Asian and South Pacific neighbours?
It seems not. Or at least not to that degree according to a three-year Federal Government study into the sustainable development of northern Australia. It also points to the damage that high rainfall can do, stripping away top soil, leaving the ground infertile.
The Top End is governed by its two seasons - the wet season from November to April when it's a deluge, and the dry, when the taps are off. The north still has that powerful hold over people's imagination.
Projects such as the Green Hills dam on the Gilbert River near Georgetown, a dam on the Flinders River at Hughenden, and other water storage facilities researched for the Flinders at Richmond and Julia Creek and along the Norman River have proved to be pipe dreams for those western communities.
The CSIRO water study, presented to the taskforce last year, found there was not enough water to irrigate large swaths of land in the north without doing major damage to the rivers and the surrounding environment.
The taskforce recommended no new dams, but advocated a mosaic of small-scale irrigation systems "that have carefully combined arable land with available water".
In other words, for all the southern Murray-Darling Basin’s problems with record drought and the threat of a drying, warming climate, the Northern Australia Land and Water Task Force report found that northern Australia has only limited potential for expanding irrigated agriculture and horticulture – between 20,000 and 40,000 hectares, compared to about 1.4 million hectares in the Murray-Darling Basin.
Northern Australia’s rich biodiversity and strong Indigenous cultures are world renowned and should form the basis for sustainable economic development across the region.....There can be a strong economic and conservation future for northern Australia, but it will lie in the development of industries that are well suited to the region, such as tourism and good management of fisheries and land, says Don Henry, ACF executive director.
ACF believes a sustainable future, particularly for Indigenous communities, lies in increased opportunities in these industries.
The Murray-Darling Basin
The Murray-Darling Basin covers 1,061,469 square kilometres or approximately one-seventh (14%) of the total area of Australia (7,692,024 square kilometres).
It is the lifeblood for eastern Australia, stretching 1,061,469 square kilometres through Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The three main river systems that make up the Murray-Darling Basin include the Darling River, the Murrumbidgee River, the Lachlan River and Billabong Creek; and the Murray River itself.
It contains over 40% of all Australian farms, which produce wool, cotton, wheat, sheep, cattle, dairy produce, rice, oil-seed, wine, fruit and vegetables for both domestic and overseas markets. As Australia's most important agricultural region, the Basin produces one third of Australia's food supply and supports over a third of Australia's total gross value of agricultural production.
The Basin's most valuable resource is water.
The Murray-Darling Basin is home to a large number of different plants and animals.
About the Murray River
It has at least 35 endangered species of birds, 16 species of endangered mammals and over 35 different native fish species. Unfortunately, 20 species of mammals have already become extinct.
The Murray-Darling Basin is one of the richest sources of Indigenous archaeological and heritage sites in Australia. There are many hundreds of significant Indigenous sites along
the River. They include scarred trees, burial sites, campsites, canoe trees, hidden sites and earth sites.
Almost the entire Basin had been explored and occupied by Europeans within 50 years of the crossing of the Great Dividing Range. The development of a European way of life resulted in unintentional degradation of many of the Basin’s natural resources. This lack of knowledge about soil, climate, and geology of the Murray-Darling Basin has led to serious environmental problems including salinity, rising water tables and excessive vegetation clearances.
A 2001 report:
Forty per cent of the river length assessed was impaired, having lost a significant number of aquatic macroinvertebrates expected to occur there.
Ten per cent of river length was found to be severely impaired, having lost at least 50 per cent of the types of aquatic macroinvertebrates expected to occur there.
More than 95 per cent of the river length assessed in the Murray-Darling Basin had an environmental condition that was degraded, and 30 per cent was substantially modified from the original condition.
Native vegetation is currently being threatened by rising salinity (salt) levels; human-made changes to flooding and drying areas; and careless campers, boaters and land-developers. Nevertheless, with climate change threatening to make matters worse, finding a solution to the water crisis is becoming more urgent.
Close to half of Australia's saline seepage is located in Murray-Darling Basin, especially the Lower Murray-Darling.
Three processes greatly increase the rate of salinisation: land clearing, erection of river structures, and irrigation.
The main forms of land degradation are:
Land degradation is one of the most serious environmental problems in Australia.
Algae and nutrient pollution
Processing and re-use of sewerage (as fertiliser) is the easiest and least expensive option being examined, as over 200 towns with a combined population of over 1 million dispose of sewage into the Murray-Darling basin.
The more difficult problem of decreasing the use of fertiliser by farmers has yet to be seriously addressed.
The clearance of forests and the modification of flood plains has resulted in significant decline in biodiversity in the Murray-Darling basin system. Furthermore, the introduction of exotic species of trees (willows, poplars, blackberries etc.) has further degraded channel vegetation.
Environmental flows for the Murray
(photo: Lake Hume from Bethanga Bridge)
The Murray River has poor water quality, it has lost native plants, animals, fish, forest, and wetlands, and has experienced an increase in the presence of pests such as European carp (MDBC, 2002). Additionally, the health of the river is expected to decline further if the present management system is not changed.
A main cause of this decline is found to be the large amounts of water being taken from the Murray for irrigation and other uses. But, whilst the declining health of the Murray River is recognised by government, agricultural, and conservation groups alike, the competing uses and values ascribed to water mean that, although many accept the need for increased water flow, the decision-making process is decidedly complex.
Under Water for the Future the Government has committed $3.1 billion over 10 years to purchase water in the Murray-Darling Basin. The program will complement a range of other measures to achieve sustainable water management in the Basin. Buying water entitlements for our rivers and wetlands; and extensive investment in more efficient irrigation systems.
As salt levels rise and the river dries, tube worms have travelled upstream, building their homes on the native turtles – and just about anything else they can find. The marine worms attach themselves to the backs of the turtles, colonising them until they are so weighed down they drown.
There have been warnings of impending disaster for the Murray–Darling Basin for more than a decade, but here near the mouth it is suddenly real and shockingly rapid. Inflows to the Murray system remain at record lows. The removal of water for last summer’s irrigation, coupled with evaporation, has seen lake levels plummet. Since 2002, however, the mouth at Goolwa has been kept open only by constant dredging.
The Murray-Darling decline remains the single largest natural disaster in this country since European settlement. Unlike the other natural disasters we are currently facing, this has been a long, slow process (over the past several seasons), and has generally remained ‘below the radar’ for most of the media/general public. Many of the horticultural growers are now forced out of business by an ongoing series of disasters (frost, hail, heat wave) compounding the Irrigation Drought, and are not simply comprised of small (‘marginal’ or non?viable) growers.
The collapse of the Coorong wetlands at the mouth of the Murray River is shaping up to be one of the Australia's worst environmental disasters. Bird numbers in the region have fallen dramatically and freshwater turtles continue to die in large numbers. Professor Richard Kingsford said estimates of waterbirds for the region were 250,000 in November 2007 but a similar survey last year showed numbers had declined 48 per cent.
The absence of refreshing water from the Murray means The Coorong – listed under the international treaty for the conservation of wetlands, the Ramsar Convention – struggles.
Food Bowl Tasmania
The Premier of Tasmania, David Bartlett chose a lettuce farm on the outskirts of Richmond to spruik his long held vision of Tasmania as the nation's food bowl as an election issue. Labor has a plan for the future that absolutely incorporates irrigation and developing Tasmania as a food bowl but more to the point developing Tasmania's irrigable land such that prosperity continues to flow, he said.
Mr Bartlett said he stood by his claims that as the Murray-Darling dries up, Tasmania, with 13 new irrigation schemes delivering 250,000 megalitres a year, could become Australia's strongest food-growing region.
The 2010 Intergenerational Report just released by the government "predicts" (plans) an increase in Australia’s population by 2050 to more than 36 million, of which 22 per cent will be over 65 years old. This larger population will need to be fed, so Australia will have to ramp up our food production to avoid becoming reliant on expensive imported food.
The Intergenerational Report said Australia's population was “expected” (engineered) to grow to 35.9 million in 2050 from 22.2 million in 2010.
Peak horticulture body Growcom said the 36 million Australians would need economical, fresh and healthy food supplies. “Sustainability” has no meaning if a massive area of rivers and ecosystems and a rich biodiversity cannot endure the commercial and domestic impacts of population, industries and agriculture.
There is no national plan in place to guarantee that arable land with suitable water and climatic requirements and adequate infrastructure will be available in the future to guarantee our food supply, Growcom CEO Alex Livingstone said on Wednesday.
Our environment for "food bowls" is limited in Australia, and we are already seeing the impacts on Ramsar wetlands, extinctions and species threats, the Great Barrier Reef, the Murray Darling food bowl, the red river gums and loss of old-growth forests.
There is not one long-term problem that can be solved by larger cities. Like the Titanic, a larger population make it harder to avoid the environmental catastrophes predicted from climate change and human impacts.
Kevin Rudd has declared that climate change is the moral challenge of our times, but while he is importing some 500,000 new immigrants from overseas each year, accounting for 60% of our growth, he is clearly contradicting himself. One-issue parties, based on economic growth, will find it hard to address environmental and climate change issues while they are addicted to limitless growth - at all costs!
Photos courtesy of Wikimedia commons:
Magpie-goose -locally extinct
Eastern Hare wallaby -extinct
Pig footed bandicoot -extinct
Southern hairy nosed wombat -endangered
Spotted tail quoll -endangered
Brush-tail rock wallaby -endangered
Squirrel glider -endangered
The Fallacy of Equivalent Concerns
Despite our best efforts, there are persistent and common misunderstandings about the rudiments of overshoot and sustainability. Four come to mind:
1. The exponential function. Albert Bartlett is right about that. I can't get people alarmed by lets say, a 2-3% annual growth rate. Like the magic of compound interest, your town can double in population in a mere generation at this deceptively incremental pace.
2. Efficiency paradoxes. People don't understand that efficiencies, outside the context of a steady state economy, by making things cheaper only provoke more consumption and growth. (eg. Jevons Paradox, Khazoom-Brooks postulate).
3. Social justice doesn't solve resource shortages . The integrity of the lifeboat is more important than how the passengers treat each other. Food can be shared equitably between passengers, but if there are too many passengers, the boat will sink. The law of gravity doesn't care about social justice, human rights or human political arrangements. Moral laws, whether handed down by Stephen Lewis, Dr. William Rees or Moses, are trumped by bio-physical laws. Socialists, liberals, federal Greens, clergymen and humanitarians simply don't get it. There ain't enough to go around, however justly and efficiently things are managed or distributed. And economists of course, are equally delusional, if not mad for believing that with some technological 'fix' we can 'grow' the limits.
4. Limiting factors. The weakest link in the chain can bring a society to its knees. It can have everything in abundance, but a shortage in just one critical area can prove its undoing. This to me is the source of this current fashion of assigning "sustainability" to a series of sectors thought to enjoy some independence from others. It is this misconception which I find most pernicious.
Like the word “green”, “sustainable” or “sustainability” has become the buzzword of the millennia. Corporations and governments of the left or right feel compelled to dress up the most ecologically invasive development proposal or economic activity with assurances that it is “sustainable”. Employed as an adjective it coats the unpalatable with the sweet syrup of delectability rendering the bitter pill of upheaval and damage neutral in flavour. Growth not couched in green psychobabble went down like Buckley’s Mixture, but “sustainable growth”, “sustainable tourism” and “sustainable agriculture” on the other hand tastes like sugary cough syrup. Such is the Newspeak of contemporary growthism, the vocabulary of deceit that promises a new kind of capitalism, capitalism in a green velvet glove, business as usual with apparent sensitivity to environmental concerns that will nevertheless satisfy the shareholders.
Trade-offs or the Fallacy of Equivalent Concerns
But even the compromise suggested by oxymoronic terminology does not apparently suffice to satisfy the corporate agenda. As can be witnessed in the tourist industry, economic considerations have achieved a delusional parity in a “holistic” paradigm that sees “environmental” sustainability balanced off against “economic” and “cultural” sustainability. In this three-legged stool model of viability, environmental issues must compete with other “sustainability” concerns on a level playing field with other equally valid objectives so as to achieve the optimal “trade-offs”. This misconception may be termed “The Fallacy of Equivalent Concerns”. It is the assumption that would, if applied to the human physiognomy, rate the heart as an organ of equal importance to every other organ of the body when in fact, as we know, a patient can survive with one lung, or one kidney , or a colonoscopy, or brain impairment, but when his heart stops all of these important but ancillary parts die with the patient. The economy is a subsidiary part of society. It is, as former World Bank economist Herman Daly described it, “a fully owned branch plant of the environment. “ We make our living in an economy, but we live in a biosphere.
Environmental externalisation doesn't change Mother Nature's rules
Case in point. Newfoundland politicians were warned that the cod fishery was not sustainable, but they replied that without the cod fishery, Newfoundland’s economy was not sustainable, so the fishermen of Newfoundland continued to fish. Nature replied that what the economy of Newfoundland required was irrelevant, and so refused to yield more cod. In any such contest, nature’s agenda prevails. Similarly politicians and developers want the city of Phoenix, already at 3 million people, to grow even further. Mother Nature’s City Council, however, has set limits to the volume of water available in aquifers. One day folks in Phoenix, together with 15 million other refugees in America’s south east, will discover that any economy without water is not sustainable. The needs and wants of an economy cannot trespass carrying capacity. Nature imposes boundaries. Without clean air, productive soils, replenished aquifers---without biodiversity services---any economy will collapse. And once the environment is trashed, try milking your “robust” economy for tax revenues to buy another one. Yet that is what corporate and government green wash implies. Former social democratic Premier of British Columbia, Mike Harcourt, crystallized this confusion with a classic line of obsolete reasoning, “To have a healthy environment we need a healthy economy.” He does not seem to understand that the environment was doing quite well before human activity arrived to “manage” it. His underlying assumption seems to be that the environment is an externality, a desirable luxury that we can only “afford” once we have achieved economic “prosperity”. This reasoning is equivalent to saying that yes, while it is desirable that I have a triple bypass operation, I must postpone the operation until I can afford it by continuing to work overtime at my strenuous job.
Imagine if the officers on board the sinking Titanic claimed that the cabins on the third deck were sustainable because each had a barrel of water, ten sacks of beans, a compost, renewable energy and a water-tight door. Trouble is, they would not be sustainable 5 miles underwater. Every cabin was rendered unsustainable when the Titanic itself was unsustainable after the collision. Similarly, the space shuttle Challenger could have been said to have a sustainable oxygen supply, a sustainable food supply, a sustainable waste disposal system, and a sustainable crew compartment. But one "O" ring was the limiting factor that made the Challenger unsustainable. All the other "sustainable" aspects on that space ship were rendered unsustainable by the explosion that blew the crew compartment away, eventually crashing it into the sea. Until it hit the water, apart from the loss of air pressure, the crew survived in a 'sustainable' compartment. Our economy and our culture are like that crew compartment. They are completely dependent on the health of the environment. Without the estimated $33 trillion in free biodiversity services, we're toast. Trash the environment if you like but the so-called 'prosperity' you achieve won't buy you a new one.
Misunderstanding the structure of the real world
We still believe that we can negotiate with nature on our own terms. We can pursue business-as-usual just by genuflecting to trendy green shibboleths. Government and corporate communiqués are now laced with green-growthist double-talk. Try this from a discussion paper from the Planning Department of a typical Canadian city. Note how it attempts to appease environmental concerns with trendyisms while remaining faithful to the political mandate to keep growing as usual: “Several growth allocation/land use scenarios will...be developed and tested for impacts on various sustainability criteria (financial, environmental, social and cultural).” In other words, there are several criteria for sustainability, and the environment is just one of them. So Mother Nature, stand back. Get to the back of the line and wait your turn until cultural and economic needs have been satisfied.
Of course, what exactly constitutes “sustainability” is a matter of some debate among ecologists. As one wildlife biologist commented in response to this critique, “Because natural systems are always changing or ‘dynamic’ there seems to be some disturbing latitude in what we consider a sustained ecosystem. What degree of impairment can a system tolerate before it loses the very characteristics that ‘define’ it? The term ‘integrity’ often emerges in these discussions with predictable results. It is much easier to define what constitutes unsustainable or an irreversible change in the system. A boreal forest without fire disturbance is no longer "sustainable"? Or, can forestry be made to replace this disturbance? At what point do we no longer have a boreal forest? This does not at all detract from your argument that clearly shows that without a sustainable natural environment, all other constructs of "sustainability" are meaningless.” A dead planet indeed can achieve an equilibrium, but it cannot sustain life. And this may come as a shock to economists and nationalists alike, but human economic activity, culture, language and customs cannot exist without living human beings.
Sustainability doesn't come in different brands
Even those organizations committed to imposing limits have succumbed to this flawed understanding. An emerging immigration reform organization declares, as one of its aims, “To promote the creation of a sustainable Canada through urgently needed reform of immigration policies that are in the national interest.” Well and good. But then one opinion has it that this proposal “has some merit because it implies sustainability across a number of areas---cultural and institutional as well as environmental.” But mass immigration is not, as Samuel Gompers characterized it, fundamentally a labour issue, nor is it a cultural one. It is not about how many people our economy requires or how many people our culture can assimilate but how many people our environment can sustain. Contemporary culture as we know it cannot survive an ecological meltdown. The nation itself would not endure. When the water you drink is polluted or inaccessible, when the farmland needed to provide food to Canadians after international trade collapses with stratospheric fuel costs, when our exhausted soils starved of fossil-fuel based fertilizers cannot yield crops, when our forests are mowed down and the air unfit to breath, the fact that a lot people in the neighbourhood are wearing strange clothing or speaking in foreign tongues will be of little importance. Cultural “sustainability” in this context will be a mirage. There is ultimately only one “sustainability”. The sustainability of the whole, not its constituent parts.
According to the latest Intergenerational Report, Australia's population will balloon by a staggering 65 percent to 35 million in just 40 years' time, up from around 21.5 million people at present. This projected increase is around 7 million more than previously forecast and will be driven primarily by immigration.
Already, Australia is struggling to cope with the environmental and social effects of rapid, immigration-driven population growth. A decade of high immigration under both the Howard and Rudd governments has had a major impact on a variety of quality-of-life issues ranging from housing costs, infrastructure overload and traffic congestion to environmental quality, water shortages and social cohesion.
A lone voice of reason in the lower house, federal ALP backbencher Kelvin Thomson says the projected population explosion will have a "catastrophic" effect on the environment and has called for immigration levels to be reduced.
"We are sleepwalking into an environmental disaster," Thomson said. "There will be impact on the availability of food, water, energy and land. These things are already stretched and a 60 per cent population increase will only drive up the cost of these essentials and lower our living standards."
"And what about the impact on our major cities? Declining housing affordability, traffic congestion, over-crowded concrete jungles."
Yet, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is purported to have said that Australia's projected population explosion is "great" news.
It may be great news for the parasitic "growth lobby" which profits from both the cheap labour and additional consumer demand supplied by immigration, but it is far from good news for the rest of us who are forced to carry the costs. In fact, it's a living nightmare.
"How the growth lobby threatens Australia's future", January 24 2009.
"Australia 'sleepwalking' into population disaster", ABC News, September 18, 2009.
"Population boom 'a recipe for tragedy'", The Australian, September 18, 2009.
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.
Jared Diamond on Australia's Sustainable Population
By Dr John O'Connor
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? One well-disposed but concerned observer from abroad (a frequent visitor to our shores) is the United States’ Professor Jared Diamond, author of (inter alia) the very influential Guns, Germs and Steel (1997). This treatise is a convincing science-based exposition of the geographical and environmental reasons for the technological ascendancy of European nation-states during the second millennium, in addition to the usual social and other reasons advanced by historians. It traces humankind’s global history since the appearance of agricultural settlements in the Middle East “fertile crescent”, Nile and Indus valleys and China, wherever our ancestors encountered domesticable animal and plant species, and the consequent spread of agriculture-based societies throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.
Prof. Diamond has since published Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive (Penguin, 2005: 574 pp) which includes a chapter, "Mining Australia" (38 pp) deserving the most serious consideration by any Australian government, regardless of its party political social theories. In this tour de force, he reviews the reasons for the disintegration of cultures with legacies of abandoned ruins in Norse Greenland, Anasazi Chaco Canyon, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and other Pacific Islands, in Mayan Yucatan, and elsewhere. These reasons - mainly overpopulation and irrational actions driving local environmental degradation - have also played their part in modern tragedies including the Rwandan genocide and the impoverishment of nations such as Haiti, while neighbour states (eg. Dominican Republic) prosper. The prospects for nations including China, the United States, and others subject to environmentally disastrous values, with failure to recognise or anticipate the consequences of irrational political policies and unsuccessful remedies, are comprehensively brought into focus.
He sees Australia, not as a nation facing imminent collapse, but as the first world’s miners’ canary: a developed country facing a rapid decline in living standards as its burgeoning population outstrips its rapidly degrading natural resource base. After consulting widely with government authorities, academics (including Tim Flannery) and grassroots farmers, graziers, and Landcare-type groups, Jared Diamond compares us with other nations, past and present. He details our problems of soil fertility and salinization, land degradation, diminishing freshwater resources, distance costs, over-exploitation of forests and fisheries, importation of inappropriate European agricultural values and methods and alien species, trade and immigration policies. He concludes that the mining of our natural resources - their unsustainable exploitation at rates faster than their renewal rates since European settlement began - gives us the dubious distinction of ”…illustrating in extreme form the exponentially accelerating “horse race” in which the world now finds itself……on the one hand, the development of environmental problems……on the other hand, the development of public environmental concern, and of private and governmental countermeasures. Which horse will win? Many readers……will live long enough to see the outcome.”
Specifically, he concludes:
”Contrary to their government and business leaders, 70% of Australians say that they want less rather than more immigration. In the long run it is doubtful that Australia can even support its present population: the best estimate of a population sustainable at the present standard of living is 8 million people, less than half of the present population.”
The reasons supporting this alarming prognosis (how long is “the long run”?) are very briefly summarised as follows.
- Non-sustainability: ”At present rates, Australia’s forests and fisheries will disappear long before its coal and iron reserves, which is ironic……the former are renewable but the latter aren’t.” And: ”While many other countries are mining their environments……among First World countries, (our) population and economy are much smaller and less complex than……the U.S., Europe or Japan……the Australian situation is more easily grasped.”
- Exceptional ecological fragility: ”…the most fragile of any First World country except perhaps Iceland……many problems that could eventually become crippling in other First World countries and already are so in some Third World countries - such as overgrazing, salinization, soil erosion, introduced species, water shortages, and man-made droughts - have already become severe in Australia.”
- An informed population: we have ”……a well-educated populace…and relatively honest political and economic institutions by world standards. Australia’s environmental problems cannot be dismissed as……ecological mismanagement by an uneducated, desperately impoverished populace and grossly corrupt government and businesses……”
- Climate change: clearly exacerbating our ”obvious massive impacts on the Australian environment”.
- Australian soils, especially their low nutrient and increasingly high salt levels. Britain as a trade partner and model society have shaped Australian agricultural practices inappropriate to the Australian landscape (e.g. agricultural practices based on high-yield British soils). We inhabit ”…the most unproductive continent…soils with the lowest average nutrient levels…old, leached over billions of years…only a few small areas have been renewed by volcanic or glacial activity or slow uplift. Agriculture has therefore depended on fertilizers and cultivation of large low-yield areas, with increased machinery and fuel costs, competitive disadvantages vis-à-vis food imports, low agroforestry returns due to slow tree growth, and relatively unproductive coastal and inland fisheries due to low-nutrient runoff.
- Salinity, i.e. salt mobilization. Increasingly, low soil nutrient fertility is worsened by salt, from three causes: sea-salt blown inland over south-west W.A. wheat belt; repeated past marine inundations of the Murray-Darling basin and evaporation of inland lakes; mobilisation of salt by land clearance and irrigation agriculture. ”Salinization…already affects about 9% of all cleared land in Australia……projected under present trends to rise to about 25%.” And: ”The total area in Australia to which salinization has the potential for spreading is more than 6 times the current extent and includes a 4-fold increase in W.A., 7-fold increase in Queensland, 10-fold increase in Victoria and 60-fold increase in New South Wales.”
- Fresh water as a population-limiting factor: ”Australia is the continent with the least of it.” Most readily accessible water is already utilised - domestic, agriculture and industry. For instance, our largest river, the Murray/Darling, has two thirds or more of its flow drawn off each year (in some years no water is left to enter the ocean), and becomes progressively saltier downstream towards Adelaide, with increased burden of pesticides from cotton farming and irrigation practices. Further high-energy desalination plants now seem inevitable for urban requirements. Historically, “Australian land use has gone through many cycles of land clearance, investment, bankruptcy and abandonment” from early colonial times, due to low soil productivity and a disproportionately large fraction of pastoral and arid lands subject to low-average unpredictable unreliable rainfall. This is due to the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) climatic factor, resulting in uncertain crop returns, bare soil, and consequent soil erosion and salinization. South Australia’s Goyder Line and parts of Western Australia’s Gascoigne provide two of many examples.
- The “tyranny of distances”, imposing large extra costs, both within Australia and between our trading partners. These costs also mitigate against medium-sized towns, producing the world’s most urbanised nation (about 60% of us dwell in the 5 major cities).
- Introduced species: cattle and sheep have been of great economic value, while also damaging fragile ecosystems. Whereas rabbits, foxes, cane toads, carp, feral buffalo, camels, donkeys, horses, goats, blackberry, “Paterson’s curse”, mimosa in Kakadu, and other weed species (about 3000, alone causing economic losses of about $2 billion annually), are expensive disasters.
- Land clearance (encouraged by tax incentives), overstocking and overgrazing have resulted in dryland salinization, soil erosion and land abandonment. ”Rotting and burning of the bulldozed vegetation (in 2005) contribute to Australia’s annual greenhouse emissions a gas quantity approximately equal to the country’s total motor vehicle emissions.”
- Marine overfishing: species which have been “mined” to uneconomically low levels include coral trout, eastern gemfish, Exmouth Gulf tiger prawns, school shark, southern bluefin tuna, tiger flathead, and orange roughy. Damage to freshwater fisheries, e.g Murray cod and golden perch, may also be irreversible.
- Forestry: with only 25% of 1788 forests remaining intact, and still being mined, half our export products are wood chips (as low as $7 per ton) sent mostly to Japan, where the resulting paper sells for $1000 per ton; we import nearly 3 times our forest products exports, one-half as paper and paperboard products. ”One expects to encounter that particular type of trade asymmetry ……when an economically backward non-industrialised unsophisticated Third World colony deals with a First World country……buying their raw materials cheaply, adding value……and exporting expensive manufactured goods to the colony.”
- Trade: ”In short, over the past half century Australia’s exports have shifted from predominantly agricultural products to minerals, while its trade partners have shifted from Europe to Asia.” We are exposed to unprecedented new national security and economic factors.
- Population policy: ”The fallacy behind the policy of “filling up Australia”, despite ”compelling environmental reasons” to the contrary, arises from our aspirations for national security and economic power (with only a few millions each, Israel, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Singapore already outstrip us, implying that quality is more important than quantity?) Some politicians and business leaders still call for a population of 50 million, regardless of our declining natural resource base! This may rapidly convert us to “a net food importer rather than exporter of food”, in a world already struggling to feed an expanding population of some 6.6 billion. It will also dilute our per capita earnings from mineral exports.
Professor Diamond sympathetically reviews the many remedial policies, individual and group activities which are attempting to control these and other problems. No doubt some items need some up-dating. But his main point remain valid: because it is all happening so rapidly here, he regards our nation as a warning and an example to the developed world. For this reviewer, one local need stands out above all others: the need for a rational population policy, with numbers in balance with our diminishing natural resource base, having due regard for limiting factors listed above. Indeed, this need applies not only to Australia, but to our Earth entire, recently imaged by the outbound Voyager 2 space probe as a single pale blue pixel, a dust mote suspended in a sunbeam. On this damaged dust mote, we and our descendants will continue our species’ history, our unfolding comprehension of our origin, present existence and attainable future. Or so we hope.
Dr John O'Connor had 25 years lecturing, research (specialising in air pollution, plant stress), and consultancies (government and industry) in the environmental sciences. Now retired, he is active part-time in adult education. When submissions were called for the 2020 Summit, he sent in a précis of Diamond's chapter on Australia.
(Grayling; Photo from Wikipedia commons)
Tim Holding, Minister for Water and Tourism, didn't learn much from his brush with death recently, or about the forces of Nature.
The Thomson River is already stressed under the impact of drought but this plan will go ahead despite Mr Holding conceding that the extra extraction did pose a risk to the health of the river.
Mr Holding acknowledges the extraction could harm the river's Grayling fish population. He is happy to rob more water from the environment by taking from the already flow-stressed Thomson River, risk the viability of endangered native fish stocks and Gippsland's Lakes.
These grayling are listed as threatened species already and listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.
The Thomson is a flow stressed river. Diversions for urban and irrigation use have
reduced flows by 50% (Victorian Stressed Rivers Program; CRC 1999) and sometimes
flows in the lower Thomson cease completely in summer (EPA, 2002).
Four of six reaches of the Thomson are rated by the Index of Stream Condition as poor or very poor.
Instead of robbing water from the environment, risking the loss of biodiversity, and the expensive and environmentally threatening desalination plant, we should be limiting our population growth.
The plan for a desalination plant at Williamsons Beach near Wonthaggi, together with water drawn from the Murray-Darling Basin via the Goulburn Valley pipeline, is intended to "drought-proof" Melbourne.
Thomson dam was finished in 1983 and, when full, stored more water for Melbourne than all of the other reservoirs combined. It was to "drought-proof" Melbourne. However, Melbourne's population has already exceeded the level its dams were intended to cater for. No extra catchment areas remain available to be plundered.
Victoria’s population increased by over 92,000 in 2008. According to the DSE,
Victoria’s population is projected to grow to 7.395 million by 2036, or 42 per cent from 2006. The number of Melbourne households is projected to increase by 51 per cent between 2006 and 2036.
Almost one quarter of migrants coming to Australia settle in Melbourne. It is not about the country they originate from, but the fact that they are coming here to live. This is clearly irresponsible and risky and the only people who benefit are big businesses and land developers! The costs of unsustainability are being passed onto the public with soaring costs for water, power, rates and climate change.
Water Minister Tim Holding refused to rule out introducing stage 4 water restrictions as early as Christmas. This would mean no watering of gardens! Melbourne used to be the "Garden City"!
How many times are schemes to "drought-proof" for Melbourne to be revised? We are being dictated to by corporations that want increasing numbers of customers.
For health and safety reasons, if a venue is full then ticket sales should cease!
Surely, if Tim Holding admits that our river systems are stressed, and that our water supplies have been low due to 12 years of drought, we should stabilise our population!
Tim Holding may endanger his own well-being with his private escapades, but surely his risk-taking should not include the public, or our life-supporting ecosystems.
Mike Stasse Says:
#comment-85242" title="">November 6th, 2006 at 8:17 am
John Quiggin states:
“we can’t protect the environment unless we are willing to accept a radical reduction in our standard of living”.
Sorry, but I cannot accept this statement. If you define a high standard of living as ‘owning stuff’, then you are simply wrong. If our standard of living is so great, why is it we have to spend so much money repairing people? Why is there so much depression?
Our modern lifestyle is crap! I know, because on the whole I have divorced it. I have never been happier than since I quit working (for a wage of course, at the age of 46!) June next year, I will ditch my car, and I can’t wait! Finally organised so I no longer need it.
I grow much of my own food (spent $50 shopping in the last 2 weeks), am totally water and energy self sufficient (apart from the 60L of petrol I still use a fortnight), and I’m debt free. Free of the economy. I need so little money to live on, it’s AMAZING! I’m also so healthy now, I haven’t even so much as had a cold in over two years (I’m 54 now). Once I’ll have ditched the car, my footprint will be sustainable. Totally. And my living standard is the BEST it’s ever been. I do what I want, when I want, well almost. Just give me six more months.
JQ then goes on to say:
“On the one hand, claims that we are bound to run out of resources, made most vigorously by the Club of Rome in the 1970s, have repeatedly been refuted by experience. Most natural resources have actually become cheaper, but even in cases where prices have risen, such as that of oil, the economic impact has been marginal, relative to the long-run trend of increasing income. The recent increase in the price of oil, for example, might, if sustained, reduce income by about 1 per cent, or around 4 months of economic growth.”
Really JQ? We’re not running out of resources? So they fall out of the sky to replenish do they? I don’t know where you’ve heard commodity prices have been falling. They’re all UP! Copper wire has doubled in price just this year (I know, I’m still building my house). Gold, silver, zinc, lead, nickel, all up, all past their peak of production most likely. Supply can no longer meet demand, just as the Club of Rome predicted! Why is it they are ALWAYS mis-quoted? They tried about six different models of growing resource use, and every model predicted a collapse of civilisation within 100 years of their report, 1970. We are now 35% of the way into this period, and they are BANG ON!
But of course, you’re an economist JQ, and you measure everything with dollars! I’m an energy man, and I measure everything in MegaJoules (MJ). So when you say the increase in the price of oil will reduce income by about 1%, I say so what? What if you can’t drive to work because of shortages, how much will your income be reduced then?
By ABARE’s very own figures, unless a shitload of oil is found very very soon, Australia could be totally out of the stuff within SIX YEARS. It will then be all imported, just as everybody else in the world wants a piece of the action.
Worse, as we ‘run out’ and slide down the backside of Hubbert’s Peak, the quality of the oil worsens (thicker, sourer) and the depths at which it needs to be extracted from get deeper and deeper, such that more and more energy has to be wasted to distil it to the standard we have all become accustomed to. The same applies to ALL resources. The easiest and best resources get used first, known as the low hanging fruit syndrome.
Furthermore, food volumes produced on this planet have been in decline for five years straight. Of course, the number of people keeps going up at about 4 Australias per annum. So less food is available, and the price goes up. But she’ll be right JQ, market forces will ensure that we with the most money will always be able to get our lot…. Hang everyone else.
Your precious economy is on the brink of collapse. Right now. Yes, the end is nigh. Inflation and interest rates rises will see lots of people going bankrupt as they can no longer fuel their 4WD’s, and nobody wants to take them off their hands.
Your statements on air quality are also fanciful. All we’ve really done is export the pollution to where all our ’stuff’ is now made, namely China.
Do yourself a favour JQ, buy a copy of “Limits to Growth”, and read it again (you have read it, right?).
Markets are the most inefficient way of doing anything. It's free markets that got us into this mess in the first place, because when supply far far exceeds demand, commodities are so cheap they are squandered. This is exactly what happened to oil. And water. And farming land.
Now, and quite suddenly, population pressures are exposing all the cracks. We no longer have this super abundance, and the market's way of dealing with this is to increase prices, the idea being to decrease demand. Unfortunately, the high demand is no longer caused by over abundance, it's caused by [per capita] shortages, and the market does not know how to cope with this. It simply does not compute, growth is sacrosanct. Now I realise we 'need' growth merely to pay the interest on the accruing debts the market needs to create more 'stuff', it is fast becoming evident that growth must stop. It will stop. Growth simply cannot go on forever in a closed system [like Planet Earth]. It's immaterial whether we want to end growth or not, it simply will, just like a cancer dies when it kills its host.
Humans did not evolve in markets and money. Money and markets are not in our genes. Money and markets are social constructions.
No a-priori reason exists why people must work to live. Without money, markets or the requirement to work, we would not need banks, insurance companies or most of the institutions we have today.
The market economises "money", not natural resources. Ninety percent of the natural resources used in this country are wasted on the overhead because people are required to work in order to live. I reckon 10% of the population could do all the essential work that actually needs to be done.
Australians' diets require something like 3,500 food calories each day, yet in our idiotic Rube Goldberg social system we are actually consuming, when all energy is taken into consideration, something like 200,000 calories every day! [see below]. Clearly, the "market economy" is the most inefficient organization in the history of the world!
The only technical way to reduce natural resource consumption by at least 90% is to put everyone except those with critical jobs on welfare. Forgive debt. Almost everyone would stay home and practice birth control and Permaculture. See SOCIETY OF SLOTH: A Thought Experiment
By Jay Hanson, spring, 1999 at www.warsocialism.com/unnecessary.htm.
See also Mike Stasse interviewed on U-tube, John Quiggin's failure to grasp the resources shortage crisis