Chickens of energy shortage come home to roost in London stock market

In London the growth economics gravy-train for golden boys is going off the rails and it looks like 10,000 to 40,000 traders may lose their jobs, according to a report on the French news on France2 Info 20h on 28-5-08. London has been known as a world financial capital for a few years now and thousands of traders go to work every day there. The so-called sub-prime crisis, however, and oil prices, seem to be coming home to roost. Since the beginning of the year, 4000 traders have been quietly sacked. The sackings are made discretely, very quickly, to avoid demoralising those still on board. Traders won't risk their jobs by talking about the situation, but it is anticipated that up to 40,000 will lose their jobs by the end of the year. Sheila Newman

Senescent colonial avidity greets UN expansion of undersea continental boundaries.

A Sydney Morning Herald article by Phillip Coorey, "Australia gets bigger and richer," (April 22, 2008) describes how the UN has extended Australia's undersea boundaries by 2.5 million square km. Typically the cargo-cultists currently in charge of the continent (more usually known as The Federal Government) have "forecast a 'potential bonanza' of oil and gas riches following a decision by the United Nations to grant Australia an extra 2.5 million square kilometres in land - all of it under the sea. We are a nation of addicts and the continent is developing middle-aged spread.

Australian ecological history - and future

Hi Denis. Hope you will find my changes helpful. Note that the input format has been changed from 'Filtered HTML' to 'Full HTML' to allow for the inclusion of image files and tables. The 'p' tags enclosing your paragraphs aren't strictly necessary. On most non-non drupal sites, they are. Here they are not, but I like to put them in anyway. Drupal automatically generates them if they are not there. - James

Consider the history of the development of Australian civilization over the past two centuries in terms of the various forms of tangible capital . That intangible capital based on money has had a major influence on the decisions that have been made but no impact whatsoever on what has actually happened in the substantial operation of the ecosystem so the influence of money is only marginally relevant to this examination. The operations of Australian civilization have, of course, been very dependent on natural income, like sunshine and rainfall, but only capital usage will be examined here. The income will be presumed to continue, as ever. The crucial point is that everything done and used by society entails the irreversible consumption of some of the natural bounty whether it is income or capital. Natural capital has been transformed inefficiently and temporarily into material capital but know how and tools have improved that to give industrial capital . Whilst natural capital and material capital are tangible deterministic materialistic structures, industrial capital is largely an abstraction. The worth of the construction is dependent on its contribution to the operation of society. A derelict skyscraper does not contribute to the operation of society so is worthless industrial capital although its construction entailed an appreciable depreciation of natural capital being transformed into material capital. The industrial capital being considered here is the construction, infrastructure, goods and services that make worthwhile contributions to the operation of society. Society has good reason to be proud of many of the achievements in building up industrial capital, as they have enabled a high material standard of living for many. Unfortunately the irrevocable eco cost has not been fully taken into account. At the same time, social capital had also increased, partly because automation has given people more time and energy for learning and other positive activities . But society now seems to have been spoilt by all this easy to unsustainably consume natural capital.

[ a figure is intended to go here when I can sort out how to move it]

1800 1850 1900 1950 2000 2050

This figure roughly depicts what has happened. The major aspect of the development has been the construction of material capital at the expense of the natural capital, albeit inefficiently and only temporarily . The combination of the natural capital and the material capital has continually decreased due to wear and tear of the material capital combined with this inefficiency of the transformation and the operational costs involved. The industrial capital, however, has increased rapidly due to the increasing know how and improved technology enabling better use being made of the natural capital . Thus the worth advantage (WA) curve illustrates the ability of humans to make what may be deemed to be worthwhile use of the depreciation of natural capital entailed in building up civilization. This is the progress that society is encouraged to believe in. There is reason to believe that the increase in WA has slowed down in recent decades and it may well have peaked, as depicted in the figure. This is because so much effort has in recent decades gone into building up the edifice of civilization that is not really worthwhile while the foundations have been allowed to deteriorate . The use of the fossil fuels has enabled the construction of this edifice – and the initiation of climate change. So some of the non-worthwhile constructs have come at a grievous eco cost. A case can also be made that social capital in Australia peaked decades ago but that issue is not being considered here.
It can be argued that the increase in industrial capital in Australia in the past century roughly offsets the resultant decline in the natural capital. Know how and technology can be deemed to have offset the deleterious consequences of using the natural capital. In fact, many people would argue that the life style so many people enjoy in this country is well worth what has been done to the environment. That is a myopic view. It does not take into account the facts that the industrial capital will need to use natural capital in the future for maintenance as well as operation while its availability is declining.

The general expectation of society, fostered by governance and business, is to believe that industrial capital will continue to increase along the lines of the upper, future curve (a) in the figure. That is, what is regarded as the material standard of living will continue to increase even though some problems are emerging due to population growth and urbanization. That belief is a simple mistake. It is not possible. The natural capital curve for the future indicates why. Natural capital is declining at a rapid rate now but that rate cannot be sustained . The current slope is very high, due largely to the rapid use of the fossil fuels and fostered by population, consumption and infrastructure growth. The rapid increase in fiat money and the inappropriate use of credit has just speeded up this rate of use of the limited natural capital. This rate cannot be sustained as capital becomes scarcer, as the future trend to the limit indicates. It is bound to follow a trend like that indicated by the (b) curve . This means that the rate of industrial capital development will also decline, especially as problems coalesce. Improved understanding and technology may affect the trend indicated by the (b) curve slightly but the problems will be exacerbated as long as population and consumption growth continue. It is quite likely that the social capital will also decline quite rapidly as people find it hard to come to terms with what ‘progress’ really now means as ecological forces exert their control. WA is bound to decline too as resources have to be assigned out of the limited remaining capital to repair some of the crumbling infrastructure.

These curves roughly represent a stochastic situation, especially with respect to the future. The natural capital that has been used can be estimated quite accurately and the consequential material capital nearly as accurately. The industrial capital is even more stochastic as the definition of what is worthwhile or useful is quite subjective. The well off in the cities have very different views to the more realistic ones in rural communities. It can be argued that the remaining natural capital is particularly stochastic. For example, drillings off shore in the North West shelf may enhance Australia’s limited reserves of oil. That could shift the expected natural capital curve up slightly, (c), but this makes little difference to the nature of the prognosis. It may even inhibit the waking up to reality, so exacerbating the impact of other problems!

It would seem that the operations of society are being profitable if the rate of increase in industrial capital (the rate of return) exceeds the rate of decrease of natural capital (the eco cost). That is, the use of know how and technology amplifies the material capital increase rate sufficiently to make WA >> 1. There is a good case that current Australian civilization shows an accrued profit because the efforts of the community over time have far outweighed the irrecoverable costs of using natural capital. But this profit should be written down by the commitment to maintain the deteriorating infrastructure during its lifetime in combination with the loss of useful know how . The reality then is that the current profit is gross profit and the net is that left after the write down . Some time in the future there will be insufficient natural capital left to enable the operation and maintenance of the declining material, so industrial, capital . Eventually this capital will tend to zero as will the aggregated net profit . Australian civilization will then have been a blip on the evolutionary time line that operated through using up the limited natural capital available to it in combination with using natural income.

A natural question is what can society now afford with this view of the future reality. Know how and technologies in combination have enabled the construction of the infrastructure of civilization that has a high worth advantage by using up natural capital. This enables many of the population to have a high material standard of living by consuming natural capital at a high, unwise rate. The cost has been the depreciation of natural capital so the need is to make wiser use of what is left. Society will have to power down to do this but how much of the advantage has to be surrendered? How much of the worth of cities and associated infrastructure can be retained , bearing in mind that they have to be maintained as well as operated? The point is that people will not be able answer the question. It is ironical that civilization irresponsibly and unknowingly initiated an irreversible but unsustainable chain of events . Humans will now have to try and live with the consequences using blunted tools. Ecological forces are now belatedly taking control of the operation of the foundations of civilization. Economic forces have fostered the exuberant depreciation of the natural capital, so, ironically, the strengthening of the influence of the ecological forces . Civilization is running out of oil. It has already used over half of this natural bounty capital and adjusting to a declining supply will not be easy . The loss of climate familiarity and soil fertility will not help the necessary adjustment of food production for the loss of support provided by oil as population continues to grow. Pollution of land, sea and air will just exacerbates all the other problems, including the lack of potable water. The question that society should be addressing is what can be done to make the wisest possible use of the remaining capital, bearing in mind that natural forces really do control most of what will happen in the future. Will many of society be able to concentrate on using their particular skills because they can be confident that others can still meet their basic needs? That is very doubtful. The impact of the declining availability of natural capital is likely to trickle up so even the well off will become impotent in due course. It is ironical that for all its supposed value, money will continue to be impotent. It cannot change the course of the future although it can change the speed to destruction slightly. It has accelerated the rush to this destruction very much this century, with the Asian giants taking over from the Western powers in the race. Australia is just following this global trend as befits a faithful hound.


Population sociologist Sheila Newman posited the view that Growthism was the new totalitarian religion, much like medieval Catholicism or fundamentalist Islam. A state religion of this kind does not yield the floor to critics. Not then, not now. Why then are we surprised that we are shunned by state broadcasting and other media for presenting alternative cosmologies? Now another position is being advanced by Paul Edward Gottfried in "Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt". He nominates multiculturalism as the new religion, or more narrowly, political correctness. Its mission is to fashion beliefs and behaviour in conformity with the multicultural outlook, which is one of victim and victimizer.(American Conservative). In this goal it has become a substitute for Christianity. It is my view that the totalitarian religion of the Anglophone world and of Western Europe is syncretistic. It consists of a fusion of Growthism and multiculturalism. As I have written many times, "diversity" is promoted as a smokescreen for mass immigration, which as growthists know, accelerates growth. More and more people coming from many more different places makes us so much more enriched, and some people simply rich. It also makes people more withdrawn, according to sociologist Ernest Healy of Monash University, who finds that the rate of volunteerism drops in multicultural areas. This conclusion dovetails with that of Harvard’s Robert Putnam who found that the level of trust declines in more diverse communities, and people vote for less redistributive policies because they are reluctant to share with those dissimilar from themselves, who are deemed less trustworthy. I would submit that this lack of trust inhibits the formation and support for organizations that would challenge or mitigate corporate authority. Multiculturalism as an agency of social fragmentation therefore is a prop for corporate capitalism. So I would tend to see not Growthism but perhaps "Multicultural Growthism" as our reigning Ingsoc. Corporate executives not only speak of the bottom line, but of how "diverse" their workforce is and how this very diversity was essential to the company's future success. All the cliches and slogans of multiculturalism find a home along side the economic bromides of higher productivity and team work Perhaps this concept needs discussion to worked out further. I think Growthism and Multiculturalism are twin pillars and the relationship needs exploration. It is not about people wearing funny folk costumes, dancing to old folk music and serving delicious exotic food. It is about how their recruitment is used to fuel economic growth.


I didn't coin the term "growthist", but I think it is clever. In case you wonder what a growthist is, see here: I think growthism is an even worse threat to humanity than sexism, racism, agism or any other 'ism' dedicated to a belief in a superior category or ideology. Why? Because growthism is erasing forests, polluting water, fouling the air, paving over farmland, depleting soil fertility, burdening us with dependencies on complicated technologies and wiping out the variety, quality, and quantity of species. Growthists believe that we need to grow human populations and economic activity without ever saying when will be enough. If present 1% annual population growth continues (70% from immigration), Canada will have 1 person per acre in under 434 years, 1 person per square meter in under 806 years or 1 person per square foot in under 1507 years. IF YOU ASK SOMEONE THESE QUESTIONS AND THEY AVOID GIVING YOU ANSWERS, THEY MIGHT BE A GROWTHIST: 1) Do you think Canada's present population is sustainable in the long term; (think post-fossil fuels) meaning that we can support our own population with our own resources (self-sufficiency) without needing imports from other countries and preserve Canada's variety, quality, and quantity of wildlife at the same time? 2) When would you finally advocate negative net migration? Once we're at 40 million? 50 million? 60 million? How about 1 billion? Would that be enough for you? Or would you try to emulate Britain by having 1 person per acre so that Canada would have 2.47 billion people? 3) Would you expect very many of Canada's native plants and animals to avoid extinction by the time you finally decided we have had too much immigration? So next time you watch a business journalist on a TV station like CBC, Global, or CTV listen carefully to their choice of words, which reveals their bias. They will say things like: "Last year we enjoyed 3% growth but pessimistic economists say we might suffer stagnant growth this year due to fears of sluggish housing starts caused by the US sub-prime housing slump." In reality it is those same growthists who are the preachers of gloom and doom because everything they value directly equates to increasing environmental degradation


Like they used to say about marriage, the NDP and the Sierra Club (social democrats in hiking boots) go together like a horse and carriage. A horse with blinkers on that is. In matters environmental, both believe that the ecological consequences of population growth can be steered out of harms way by thoughtful planning, or simply ignored. “Growth is good”, declared deposed NDP Premier Lorne Calvert, so long as it is “shared”. Others are not so necessarily sanguine. They merely say that it is “inevitable”—so lets make the best of it. One local NDP President articulated this attitude quite well when he said that “there is always going to be growth as long as the population keeps growing and cheap land is available but that doesn’t mean it cannot be planned or channeled. City councils and regional districts have a lot of clout with zoning by-laws. They can ensure that the true costs are paid, that certain areas are a ‘no-go’.” Of course the notion that the tap of population growth could be turned off by the federal government by the simple expedient of turning down immigration is not considered, for that would strike at the heart of NDP policy of a yearly “1% plus” immigration quota. A Sierra Club spokesperson echoed the above prescription, for in environmental and planning parlance, it falls under the rubric of the famous, or infamous, “Smart Growth” recipe. It is emphatically not an anti-growth position. It is a managed-growth position. The problem is, we don’t manage growth, growth manages us. Smart growth failed in its birthplace of Portland, Oregon, and across the United States. Tight zoning laws cannot indefinitely defend farmland, wetlands, nature reserves or parks from relentless population growth. And the people who live in strictly defined, dense neighbourhoods still have a footprint, they still generate wastes and green house gasses to the tune of 20 metric tones annually for each Canadian. The GHG reduction policies of the NDP in Western Canada and federally are flawed by the same assumption that the Sierra Club makes. Namely, that political timidity, outmoded technology, and poor energy choices by industry and households are responsible for our poor record. When asked by CTV News why Canada was failing so badly, John Bennett, a senior policy advisor with the Sierra Club of Canada, said there were three key reasons: A surge in carbon energy exports, especially oil and gas, a loss in nuclear generating capacity in Ontario in the mid-1990s and its replacement with coal-generated electricity, and a lack of political will to force action on the issue of cutting emissions. What neither Bennett, nor any NDP or Green politician mentioned was the fact that since 1990, the Kyoto base line year, Canada’s population grew by 19%, which one might think would account for a good portion of the 24% increase in GHG emissions since then. Similar correlations can be found elsewhere. Between 1970 and 2004, America’s population and its GHG emissions both rose an identical 43%, while Australia saw its population and GHG rise almost identically at 31% and 30% respectively between 1990 and 2006. In fact, per capita emissions have remained stable in Canada, so it is only population growth that can be held responsible for the country’s last place standing in carbon emissions growth. Yet it is to the individual consumer, the “per capita” rather than the volume of “per capitas”that Sierra Club officials direct their appeals. After all, it was Saint Al Gore who said that “each and every one of us can make changes in our lives and become part of the solution.” The watchword is personal responsibility. But oddly, the choice not to have children is never listed among the several steps to fight climate change. After all, it is more cost-effective to avert a birth than to attempt contain that human’s C02 emissions after the fact. A non-consumer has a smaller footprint than a green one. This past fall, in welcoming Al Gore to British Columbia, the Sierra Club launched CERCLes (Carbon Emission Reduction Clubs) and invited me to join them in “making a personal commitment to meaningful and measurable change.” But I already did that when I resigned myself to a life of celibacy. Was the Sierra Club handing out condoms? I was then invited to find out how I could “take action to reduce my carbon footprint.” Well, the best climate change strategy for me I think is to ensure that there is no “pitter-patter” of little carbon footprints running around the house. And the person best able to most effectively “take action” is Citizenship and Immigration Minister Diane Finley by subtracting 250,000 “footprints” from the quota she had slated to bring into Canada. Then to persuade her cabinet colleagues to end any “baby bonus” that would serve as an incentive to have children here. Whether a consumer enters this country of profligate waste through the maternity ward or through the airport is of no concern to the biosphere. Both are burdensome. It is no wonder that Sierra Club endorsed the NDP as Canada’s most environmentally-friendly party. It is a marriage of eternal covenant, a tag team of denial. Tim Murray Quadra Island, BC December 10, 2007