Any new inquiry into Australia’s migration program needs to assess the full costs and benefits of population growth, especially the costs to our environment and the risks of collapse. I wish I had a dollar for every pro-population-increase article I have read that begins by telling the reader that Australia is a nation of immigrants, with some 25% born overseas and about 50% with at least one parent born overseas.
New "Teal" politician and economic growthist, Allegra Spender, promotes immigration rates of 220,000 p.a. over the next 2 years, (ABC RN 9 June 22) in the context of also promoting reduction in carbon emissions, rising energy prices, and economic growth.
It's been a long time since I have seen my friends and family, who live interstate in Australia. There have been unprecedented border closures and, even when we could travel, it's been too risky, because we could pay dearly for our trip with two weeks isolation on our return. No doubt, due to the current COVID-19 situation, there will be those we will not see again. Some grandparents may never see their interstate grandchildren. Many special occasions will be missed.
This is pretty serious stuff. In fact, it is next in seriousness to the possibility of becoming very ill or dying from COVID-19.
Most of the Australian population has been very cooperative in trying to contain the virus, through self discipline and adaptability, and this has worked. Victoria brought a fairly torrid situation under control in 2020 through a severe lockdown, over many weeks. They are now, perhaps rather belatedly, trying to do this in NSW. These lockdowns cost us dearly in terms of people's incomes, loss of social outlets, loss of classroom education for schoolchildren, increased workload for teachers and parents. The arts have had to mark time for about eighteen months. There are delayed medical and surgical appointments, and then there are the mental health costs.
The financial costs will have been partially covered with "job keeper" and similar payments but the emphasis is on "partially." Rentals and mortgages have actually climbed during the pandemic, due to the protected status of the property development industry. The unreasonable price of keeping a roof over one's head means that no government payment can match the real cost of living in Australia. And, ultimately, who pays for this government protection of the incomes the industry deems its due, whilst renters and home-buyers cannot even go to work?
We hear much anxious talk about the future cost of COVID-19 tailored welfare payments, but will maintaining the property development industry, in the style it is accustomed to, mean reduced spending on other official hardship programs, like unemployment benefits and pensions?
One way or another, we are in a precarious situation.
Yet our Federal Government seems willing to increase the risks still more for all of us, by repatriating people currently overseas, in countries where new variants of COVID-19 are literally running rampant. Inevitably, many of those we repatriate now, will bring these infections with them. Inevitably, the virus leaks out of our makeshift quarantine arrangements and half a million Australian children suddenly cannot go to school again! Is this reasonable?
Much public sympathy is canvassed on the corporate and public media for these returning Australians, who went to see their relatives in another country, yet the same media never seem to express comparable sympathy for Australians who would like to see their relatives in another state again one day!
It is incomprehensible to me that the Federal Government apparently holds the Australian population in such low regard. Many of our woes were entirely avoidable. We knew the behaviour of the virus early last year, eighteen months ago. We knew it could be transmitted for up to fourteen days in asymptomatic people. That's a fundamental problem and requires either closed borders or purpose-built quarantine, not a stack of excuses. Our governments have failed to protect us and, in addition to treating our health and welfare in cavalier fashion, they have trashed our local economy and cost individuals and taxpayers $multi-billions.
I remain aghast at our political elite's repeated wilful reinfection of Australia's population, because they are also risking their own lives, and those of their wives, mistresses, friends and families. Similarly, I am completely bamboozled by the way they are also prepared apparently to trash the economy, normally their greatest priority and obsession, as it stalls with every outbreak.
The situation raises questions, which must have answers. Obviously there are benefits for some elites by letting overseas people return, even at the risk of being infected themselves. These benefits must be significant. One can only speculate as to what they actually are.
In the meantime, why have they not built proper quarantine facilities? How hard is it? True, they would need multiple well-trained personnel prepared to work in remote locations, and regularly quarantine prior to taking any leave. What would be wrong with using the army for this? It has doctors and nurses, prepared for every kind of event, and disciplined to remain on location until leave is deemed appropriate. At least, such a project would represent a planned inconvenience, rather than the series of botched quarantines by which we have been jolted.
Another possibility is that our political elites and their economic advisors operate with a kind of nincompoop optimism, and just hope that there will not be another outbreak, each time there is one. And so, they just put off organising better quarantine facilities. Along the same lines, the incomprehensible economic approach might be due to the fact that the usual economic theorists do not have a paradigm to deal with our current reality - or any reality, really. Usually they deal in trends, as if those trends were crystal balls to the future, although they are just extrapolations with a few variables. The pandemic has interfered with most trends, especially the population-growth trends beloved of corporate and government economic planners. This is like smashing the fortune-teller's crystal ball, while the wild wind of nature snatches away her tent, exposing the overdressed tart beneath.
Then again, the big boys, like the banks, the multinational internet companies, and many traditional corporations, are making billions hand over fist, and this is reflected in bloated but buoyant sharemarkets, so how could our financial and political elite really be sincerely concerned? Sure, there are going to be a lot of mortgage defaults and evictions not too far down the pandemic track, but the banks can always resell those foreclosed properties, so, why would they care about the fate of their ex-owners?
There is obviously money to be made by prolonging the pandemic.
I will leave you with that thought.
Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) believes there is nothing to fear from the downward projection of population size in the Inter-Generational Report (IGR) from 40 million to 38.8 million by 2061. National President Jenny Goldie says what is to be feared are the environmental, social and economic cost of adding another 13 million people to the population.
“The IGR fails to take into account the costs of infrastructure which amounts to at least $100,000 in public money for each new person, be they immigrant or born here,” says Ms Goldie.
“The IGR fails to take into account the environmental costs of urban encroachment on natural bushland, threatening iconic species such as the koala, and adding to carbon emissions,” she says. “It fails to address the social costs of crowding, housing unaffordability and longer waiting times that generally accompany population growth.
“Having more people generally means a bigger GDP but not necessarily GDP per capita, which is a better measure of living standards. In fact, GDP is well past its use-by date and, before the end of the IGR time frame, will have ceased to be used. In looking so far into the future, we should be using a range of the newer measures of living standards and well-being.”
Ms Goldie says neither should we fear an ageing population.
“The projection that there will only be 2.7 workers per person aged over 65 in 40 years’ time will probably be wrong,” says Ms Goldie. “In fact, as the working age population shrinks and the labour market tightens, fewer people will be unemployed, and employers will improve wages and conditions to attract job-seekers.
“This will have the effect of drawing more people into the workforce who were not working, or keeping people in work who would otherwise have retired. In other words, the participation rate will improve.”
Ms Goldie says rising health expenditure, while a problem in narrow fiscal terms, is actually a good thing, by keeping people happier and healthier for longer, and by reducing human suffering.
The statements being made by politicians and commentators re the size and growth of the population/immigration intake are (deliberately) ignorant, seriously uninformed or deliberately politically biased. And the coverage of this issue by your program and ABC journalists more generally also lack quality research, lack of 'joining the dots', failure to question unfounded claims by the above and, in some cases, unquestioned acceptance and repeat of demonstrably untrue statements.
Please consider the following demonstrable facts and follow the inevitable conclusion.
Infrastructure, including, schools, hospitals, police stations, utilities for water and electricity, roads etc. do not last forever. It's estimated that across the broad sweep of all infrastructure, infrastructure has a life of ~50 years. Thus 2% of the total capital value of all infrastructure must be spent every year just to maintain but not to improve infrastructure for the existing population.
Recently, largely due to high immigration intakes, our population has been growing at 1.6% pa. Not long ago the rate was as high as 2%. But at 1.6% this means that 3.6% of the total capital value of all infrastructure must be spent each and every year just to maintain the level of service; that is an 80% increase in the cost of infrastructure just to maintain the same level of service.
This cost is not only ignored when it is claimed that high immigration is economically beneficial, the error is massively compounded and used to mislead by the way in which GDP is used as the criterion of economic benefit. The additional cost of the required 80% increase in infrastructure is added to GDP not subtracted. This is a function of the way GDP is calculated. It adds together all the dollars spent on goods and services whether the 'goods' are 'goods' or 'bads'. This money spent on expanding infrastructure cannot be spent on other things to improve real welfare for the existing population. Everyone seems to agree that the infrastructure required by the deliberately expanded population (through the Federal Government's immigration policy) should be built before the new intake arrives. Witness the very loud and universal applause on your QandA program when this point was made. Thus the burden falls on the existing population one way or another. If the infrastructure is not built before the new intake arrives, existing citizens suffer a decline in service, if it is built before the new intake arrives it is the existing citizens who pick up the cost. This is consistent with several Productivity Commission reports that it is not the existing population that benefits but the migrants.
Nor does the dishonesty over claimed economic benefits of high immigration stop there. As populations increase and cities expand most ordinary citizens bear increased costs: car maintenance, travel distances, petrol etc. These are real costs borne by these citizens but they add, yes add to GDP. It is this failure of GDP to measure, but to be used by many, including ABC journalists, to be a surrogate measure of quality of life that is used to mislead.
Another related matter poorly presented by the ABC. The Premier of S.A. is calling for an increase in migration to South Australia, again claiming economic benefit, yet at the same time hospital services have broken down badly: ambulances are banking up at emergency departments (ramping) and nurses and doctors are bitterly complaining about inadequate facilities to serve their patients. There are 4,794 public hospital beds in South Australia. If our population is to grow by 1.6% per year we would need an additional 77 beds this year and an exponentially increasing number in following years as populations became larger. Against this 77 extra beds the Marshall Government has pointed with some pride at reopening 20 beds in the old Repat Hospital. The hospital problem is clearly related to the issue of high population growth rate but journalists are not making the connection.
This is not in any way to blame migrants for these problems. It is the Federal Government that is responsible for the migration program, not the migrants. Nor is the above any reflection on the composition, religious background, sex or sexual orientation of migrants. This is simply about numbers and the failure of most media including the ABC and your program to do some simple maths and join the dots.
The U.S. credit card system siphons off excessive amounts of money from merchants. In a typical $100 credit card purchase, only $97.25 goes to the seller. The rest goes to banks and processors. But who can compete with Visa and MasterCard? It seems China’s new mobile payment ecosystems can. According to a May 2018 article in Bloomberg titled “Why China’s Payment Apps Give U.S. Bankers Nightmares”:
[Article first published at Truthdig on August 22, 2018]
The future of consumer payments may not be designed in New York or London but in China. There, money flows mainly through a pair of digital ecosystems that blend social media, commerce and banking—all run by two of the world’s most valuable companies. That contrasts with the U.S., where numerous firms feast on fees from handling and processing payments. Western bankers and credit-card executives who travel to China keep returning with the same anxiety: Payments can happen cheaply and easily without them.
The nightmare for the U.S. financial industry is that a major technology company—whether one from China or a U.S. giant such as Amazon or Facebook—might replicate the success of the Chinese mobile payment systems, cutting banks out.
According to John Engen, writing in American Banker in May 2018, “China processed a whopping $12.8 trillion in mobile payments” in the first ten months of 2017. Today even China’s street merchants don’t want cash. Payment for everything is handled with a phone and a QR code (a type of barcode). More than 90 percent of Chinese mobile payments are run through Alipay and WeChat Pay, rival platforms backed by the country’s two largest internet conglomerates, Alibaba and Tencent Holdings. Alibaba is the Amazon of China, while Tencent Holdings is the owner of WeChat, a messaging and social media app with more than a billion users.
Alibaba created Alipay in 2004 to let millions of potential customers who lacked credit and debit cards shop on its giant online marketplace. Alipay is free for smaller users of its platform. As total monthly transactions rise, so does the charge; but even at its maximum, it’s less than half what PayPal charges: around 1.2 percent. Tencent Holdings similarly introduced its payments function in 2005 in order to keep users inside its messaging system longer. The American equivalent would be Amazon and Facebook serving as the major conduits for U.S. payments.
WeChat and Alibaba have grown into full-blown digital ecosystems—around-the-clock hubs for managing the details of daily life. WeChat users can schedule doctor appointments, order food, hail rides and much more through “mini-apps” on the core app. Alipay calls itself a “global lifestyle super-app” and has similar functions.
Both have flourished by making mobile payments cheap and easy to use. Consumers can pay for everything with their mobile apps and can make person-to-person payments. Everyone has a unique QR code and transfers are free. Users don’t need to sign into a bank or payments app when transacting. They simply press the “pay” button on the ecosystem’s main app and their unique QR code appears for the merchant to scan. Engen writes:
A growing number of retailers, including McDonald’s and Starbucks, have self-scanning devices near the cash register to read QR codes. The process takes seconds, moving customers along so quickly that anyone using cash gets eye-rolls for slowing things down.
Merchants that lack a point-of-sale device can simply post a piece of paper with their QR code near the register for customers to point their phones’ cameras at and execute payments in reverse.
A system built on QR codes might not be as secure as the near-field communication technology used by ApplePay and other apps in the U.S. market. But it’s cheaper for merchants, who don’t have to buy a piece of technology to accept a payment.
The mobile payment systems are a boon to merchants and their customers, but local bankers complain that they are slowly being driven out of business. Alipay and WeChat have become a duopoly that is impossible to fight. Engen writes that banks are often reduced to “dumb pipes”—silent funders whose accounts are used to top up customers’ digital wallets. The bank bears the compliance and other account-related expenses, and it does not get the fees and branding opportunities typical of cards and other bank-run options. The bank is seen as a place to deposit money and link it to WeChat or Alipay. Bankers are being “disintermediated”—cut out of the loop as middlemen.
If Amazon, Facebook or one of their Chinese counterparts duplicated the success of China’s mobile ecosystems in the U.S., they could take $43 billion in merchant fees from credit card companies, processors and banks, along with about $3 billion in bank fees for checking accounts. In addition, there is the potential loss of money market deposits, which are also migrating to the mobile ecosystem duopoly in China. In 2017, Alipay’s affiliate Yu’e Bao surpassed JPMorgan Chase’s Government Money Market Fund as the world’s largest money market fund, with more than $200 billion in assets. Engen quotes one financial services leader who observes, “The speed of migration to their wealth-management and money-market funds has been tremendous. That’s bad news for traditional banks, where deposits are the foundation of the business.”
An Amazon-style mobile ecosystem could challenge not only the payments system but the lending business of banks. Amazon is already making small-business loans, finding ways to cut into banks’ swipe-fee revenue and competing against prepaid card issuers; and it evidently has broader ambitions. Checking accounts, small business credit cards and even mortgages appear to be in the company’s sights.
In an October 2017 article titled “The Future of Banks Is Probably Not Banks,” tech innovator Andy O’Sullivan observed that Amazon has a relatively new service called “Amazon Cash,” where consumers can use a barcode to load cash into their Amazon accounts through physical retailers. The service is intended for consumers who don’t have bank cards, but O’Sullivan notes that it raises some interesting possibilities. Amazon could do a deal with retailers to allow consumers to use their Amazon accounts in stores, or it could offer credit to buy particular items. No bank would be involved, just a tech giant that already has a relationship with the consumer, offering him or her additional services. Phone payment systems are already training customers to go without bank cards, which means edging out banks.
Taking those concepts even further, Amazon (or eBay or Craigslist) could set up a digital credit system that bypassed bank-created money altogether. Users could sell goods and services online for credits, which they could then spend online for other goods and services. The credits of this online ecosystem would constitute its own user-generated currency. Credits could trade in a digital credit clearing system similar to the digital community currencies used worldwide, systems in which “money” is effectively generated by users themselves.
Like community currencies, an Amazon-style credit clearing system would be independent of both banks and government; but Amazon itself is a private for-profit megalithic system. Like its Wall Street counterparts, it has a shady reputation, having been variously charged with worker exploitation, unfair trade practices, environmental degradation and extracting outsize profits from trades. However, both President Trump on the right and Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the left are now threatening to turn Amazon, Facebook and other tech giants into public utilities.
This opens some interesting theoretical possibilities. We could one day have a national nonprofit digital ecosystem operated as a cooperative, a public utility in which profits are returned to the users in the form of reduced prices. Users could create their own money by “monetizing” their own credit, in a community currency system in which the “community” is the nation—or even the world.
There is an urgent need to translate our environment back into its true value. In a decade the price tag given today will look like a joke and we will ask, ”How could we have relinquished that land, (that river, those wetlands) for such a small sum?”
Over the last 40 years our environment has been increasingly spoken of in the public domain in terms of its monetary value. This was reinforced to me at a recent meeting where the speaker made it clear that tree and general nature conservation arguments must be expressed to the powers that be and associated bean counters in these terms. The attribution of a dollar value to something so complex and so vital to us as our natural environment is absurdly inadequate yet it has blinded and desensitised the minds of many to actual values. A translation back from the dollar is needed.
Once upon a time there was barter: transfer of goods between place of origin and place needed in exchange for what was considered of equal value. Then there was “currency” which acted as an intermediary for this exchange.
Currency was and still is used for its convenience, as it allows for a time lag in reciprocation and the ability to store credit. It serves a purpose.
Fast forward a few thousand years and find yourself in Australia. In the early 21st century. Not only goods are given a monetary value - let’s call it a $ value- but all that we see around us, all of nature, including natural processes that serve our needs and are vital to our survival are not real to those in power unless they are given a $ value. The $ (a human construct ) has become the end rather than the means. Trees that shade our local environments, keep us cool and are home to the birds whose song we enjoy may only be retained after their effects are translated into an ongoing $ value as in the savings on air conditioning and road re-surfacing. The $, whose buying- power is in fact fugitive and changeable, becomes the ultimate “measure” of the worth of things !
Bays and waterways, national parks and wild life, are considered by governments in respect to their tourist-pulling power rather than their intrinsic value as our enduring heritage and common wealth. The cart now goes before the horse, the tail wags the dog and the $ is now our tyrant . This despotism turns our attention from what we have to what we can aspire to, what can be acquired at the local mega store, to fulfill our material dreams. Or so we think.
When we are thus distracted from our surroundings , we can, in the blink of an eye, lose what we already have.
Translation of everything into the dollar ($ ), reduces beauty and benefits to numerals, and completely ignores subjectivity. So the joy of seeing something or being somewhere is not counted. This imperative to see everything in DOLLAR ($ ) terms means that our governments, our bureaucrats are dissuaded from using their mature judgement, abiding instead by the formula. Normal everyday people now even talk this way, in $ terms as though this is the real currency of our environment.
There is an urgent need to translate our environment back into its true value. In a decade the price tag given today will look like a joke and we will ask, ”How could we have relinquished that land, (that river, those wetlands) for such a small sum?”
We have been had. The value of an urban forest must be seen for itself as a cooling, calming, wildlife-accommodating irreplaceable oasis to be enjoyed, rather than a $2 million piece of potential housing real estate. $2 million will look totally ridiculous in a decade and the loss is permanent. It cannot be bought back once it has been put to another use. The $ value is ultimately meaningless.
We need to see things again for what they are, not through the $ medium. $s are handy for every day transactions but ridiculously inadequate and inappropriate for a unique geographical feature or area. Let’s ditch our $ glasses and really see our world, maybe for the first time in some people’s lives.
Let’s not lose our world in the useless one-way translation into the $ dollar. Earth is not a tradeable commodity.
Available in kindle and in print. This book was inspired by 'collapse theory' to look at stable systems in animal and human populations and to define their principles. It introduces a new biological theory of human population numbers, land-ownership and property inheritance. As such it is also about the economic 'fundamentals' of civilisation. Using the concepts of endogamy and exogamy the author points out the persistent importance in world affairs of clans and tribes - be they royal dynasties, family corporations or nation states. Newman shows that in Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia, power, wealth and land are accumulated in fewer and fewer hands by systems that promote disorganisation and displacement of the masses. In contrast, other modern systems in continental Europe and elsewhere, enable families and clans to much better defend citizens' rights and to democratically conserve local land, resources and environment, effectively resisting population growth. This information is not available elsewhere and needs to be widely known. The book is the first of four volumes. SECOND VOLUME NOW OUT: Demography, territory, law 2: Land-tenure and the origins of capitalism in Britain, Countershock Press, 2014.
Population science: A completely new theory
"Concerning Sheila's [theory] chapters, they are very sound according to my knowledge. I could not find anything to be critical of. There is no question of the genetic benefits of avoiding incest in populations, but the selection processes are a little difficult to understand. Sheila's two chapters appear to be sound to me and I do not have any suggested changes." Prof. Pimentel, Population scientist, Cornell University.
"An amazingly good piece of work and definitely a major scholarly work." Dr Joseph Smith (Environmental Law)
"This book takes us to a completely new paradigm in multiple species population science. It shows how little we understand, and how much we need to know, of the sexual reactions when closed colonies with an orderly reproduction system are destroyed, be it people or animals."(Hans Brunner, Biologist and Forensic Animal Hair expert)
A new theory of the biological basis of land-use planning, political systems and demography by an evolutionary sociologist. It exercises the kind of “consilience” that E.O.Wilson hoped could save biodiversity.
The author identifies a poly-species norm and a genetic algorithm using well-established biological and anthropological studies, then relates these to the human land-tenure systems which underpin our political systems. The book convincingly shows how one land tenure and inheritance system promotes steady state societies and the other promotes uncontrollable growth and overshoot of resources. This theme is developed more in the subsequent volumes of this series, which compare the Germanic (English) and the Roman (Napoleonic) systems in European history.
The Rules ... begins by describing the social costs of infrastructure expansion and population growth in economic growth systems in some modern societies. After reviewing population theories, Newman introduces a new theory of an additional function of genetic diversity in two chapters that look at impacts on fertility opportunities of the Westermarck Effect and incest avoidance in non-human species. A final chapter compares these with kinship marriage restrictions and non-sale of land in Pacific Islander and other traditional social systems. It's all about the balance between endogamy and exogamy, which makes and breaks clans and tribes and their control over territory. We learn that modern societies ignore these traditions at their peril and that Anglophone systems with rapidly growing populations a seeming norm are quite different from those of continental Europe, where population growth is slowing. We come to understand that our destinies and societies are still very dependent on who we are, whom we marry, how far away we live from our parents and whether we inherit, buy or rent, plus the transport we use.
Most economic demographic theory begins with the industrial revolution as its norm, ignoring the exceptionality and relative transience of this period and treating other species and the natural environment as ‘externals’. Although informed by ‘collapse’ theory (Tainter) Newman is interested in what keeps some societies going for thousands of years. She finds that stable populations are not limited to hunter gatherer communities. Newman has a completely new take on the 'riddle' of Easter Island which will surprise everyone.
Demography Territory & Law: Rules of Animal & Human Populations, Countershock Press, 2013, is the first of four by environment and energy sociologist, Sheila Newman, in a series identifying and comparing the biological origins and outcomes of two major world demographic economic and political systems. The rest of the series develops this theme and theory in the following titles, of which the second will be available within weeks and the third late 2013 and the fourth by 2014:
Demography, territory, law 2: Land-tenure and the origins of capitalism in Britain, Countershock Press, 2014.
Demography Territory & Law 3: Land Tenure and the Origins of Modern Democracy in France
Demography Territory & Law 4: After Napoleon: Incorporation of Land and People
The core biological theory of this series was first published as The Urge to Disperse., Candobetter Press, 2011. This new book provides human societal examples to which the Urge only referred in passing. Sheila Newman is also known as editor and author of energy resources analyses including, The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Ed. Pluto Books, 2008. Her website is at Sheila Newman, where she writes as a journalist and researcher on growth lobby politics and illustrates articles.
Global economic turbulence and the prospect of deep recession as we move towards an energy crisis, presents huge challenge. There has been little forewarning and planning. Every local and national authority needs to start now to address these challenges seriously, yet still we carry on with our head in the sands, wasting resources on an epic scale.
According to a little noticed report in 2009 by the respected (US) Energy Information Administration, the supply of the world's most essential energy source is going off a cliff. Not in the distant future, but within two years. It says Production of all liquid fuels, including oil, will drop within 20 years to half what it is today, when energy demand is rising rapidly. And the difference needs to be made up with "unidentified projects".
If the EIA is right – and it has been endorsed by the US joint military command, we stand on the edge of a precipice, with no prior warning from either the industry or governments, which ostensibly protect the public interest.
A huge problem is nearly all alternative energy sources are poor energy performers because they need a high-energy input to provide a given energy return.
Already there is a crisis in ‘business as usual’ capitalism, with little sign of recovery, warns Robert Peston in his December 11 BBC programme, ‘The Party’s Over’.
Many world leaders are spending billions they haven’t got in a panic “to restore growth,” whatever it takes, in a world of rapidly depleting resources. Maybe we should be welcoming this warning for the endless "growth is good" mindset that will devour our planet. Do we plan for a secure and better life or do we carry on blindly toward a minefield of lethal limits?
The perpetual growth myth knows no ecological bounds. Damage to ‘the environment’ is considered to be a mere externality. Resource shortages can be relieved just through expanding trade and technology will find a substitute for any depleting resource. Perpetual growthists regard any critics as imposing a dangerous drag on the world’s growth-based pursuit of progress.
The crisis has revealed the fragile interdependence of the globalised economy, where many countries can be involved in the supply chain to produce a component manufactured in one of them. In a few years, the markets will face another major trauma when they realise that once plentiful oil supplies are running down rapidly and the 'globalised' economy this has supported will have to rethink completely.
A clear opportunity now exists to transform our economy and our society for the better. The current global recession should be an opportunity to forge a new economic system able to avoid the shocks and negative impacts associated with our reliance on endless growth. Where is the strategic thinking to build a dynamic, steady state economy in a sustainable environment?
The UK-based New Economics Foundation publishes a "Happy Planet Index," which shows that it is possible for a nation to have a strong sense of well-being with a lower consumption and ecological footprint.
Some Inconvenient Facts for Growthists
If prosperity depended on growing populations to feed economic growth, the Philippines and many countries in Africa would be rich, not poor.
According to the World Bank, the top ten wealthiest countries, as measured by per capita GDP, were, in order of wealth: 1. Luxembourg: 491,000 people. 2. Norway: 4.8 million people. 3. Singapore: 4.8 million people 4. USA: 306 million people 5. Ireland: 4.5 million people 6. Switzerland: 7.7 million people 7. Austria: 8.3 million people 8. Netherlands: 16 million 9. Iceland: 319,000 people 10. Sweden: 9.1 million.
Many countries have small populations and are quite prosperous and successful - New Zealand and Botswana are examples. Of the ten countries listed, all but one, the United States, have small total populations and The United States, with runaway population growth in the past two decades, has not been doing well of late.
Japan is often seen as a forerunner of all that is doomed in the economies of the euro zone and the United States because of its ‘ageing population’ and what is seen as a static economy. But look at Japan's economic performance over the past ten years and "the second lost decade", if not the first, is a misnomer. More than half its population is over 45, but most Japanese have grown richer. In part, because its population has shrunk whereas America's population has increased rapidly.
In aggregate, Japan's economy grew at half the pace of America's between 2001 and 2010. Yet if judged by growth in GDP wealth per person over the same period, then Japan has outperformed America and the euro zone.
Relationship between Growth and Prosperity in 100 Largest U.S. Metropolitan Areas (Eben Fodor, December 2010. www.FodorandAssociates.com)
Most cities operate on the assumption that growth is inherently beneficial and that more and faster growth will benefit local residents economically. The report examined the 100 largest metro areas, representing 66% of the total U.S. population, finding those that did best have the lowest growth rates.
The annual population growth rate of each metro area from 2000 to 2009 was used to compare economic well-being in terms of per capita income, unemployment rate, and poverty rate. The report found:
- Faster growth rates are associated with lower incomes, greater income declines, and higher poverty rates.
- The 25 slowest-growing metro areas outperformed the 25 fastest growing in every category and averaged $8,455 more in per capita personal income in 2009.
- The policy of pursuing growth is enormously expensive, costing local taxpayers more than a hundred billion dollars every year for the new infrastructure alone.
Australia’s GDP per person for the December 2008 quarter fell in every state – linked to population growth, says Dr John Coulter, former President of Sustainable Population Australia. Tasmania, with the lowest population growth, showed only a 0.1% fall per capita. Western Australia, with the highest rate of population growth, showed the second largest fall in per capita GDP at almost 2%. South Australia with a high rate of population growth relative to the economy had the largest decline in per capita GDP at 2.5%.
For centuries, before the industrial revolution humans have lived in a relatively steady state economy. There was virtually no interest in economic growth as a policy objective anywhere before 1950. Yet, by the 1960’s, rapid economic growth had bubbled to the top as the overriding objective of policy to remedy all the ailments of western economies.
In 2010 the United States population reached 308 million and is (conservatively) predicted to grow to 430 million in the next 40 years – an increase of 122 million people. Taking a (modest) average household size of 4 people and a modest 1.5 jobs per household, this means an extra 95,000 jobs need to be created every month for the next 40 years just to meet minimum demand for new jobs. US unemployment is currently around 9% (officially) and unofficially significantly higher.
Globally - present population around 7 billion, at a conservative estimate population in 2050 will be 9.3 billion - increase 2.3 billion, Assume five people in family unit instead of the four in the US calculation, and assume only one job per family unit. Based on those estimates we need to provide over one million new jobs per month for the next 480 months.
Can we really meet such relentless demand in a world of diminishing resources?
The world’s largest economy created 64,000 private sector jobs in September 2010 and lost 95,000 jobs overall. (US Labor Department). Over the last decade net job creation in the United States was zero.
UK data extrapolated from Summary of National Labour Force Survey Data Table 1.
United Kingdom Age 16+ (Thousands) seasonally adjusted
Total in Employment
Quarter January-March 1971 24,613,00m
Quarter February-April 2011 29,239,000m
Change in 40 years + 4.6 million
Of the total 29,239m, 7,953m worked part-time. 15.6% wanted but could not find full-time work. (Table 3)
The world was completely transformed by oil for the duration of the twentieth century, but if the EIA graph is right, within 20 years it will be vastly depleted as we face rising demand and trying to support over 4 billion more people in just 40 years. Here are just some of the issues:
- planning for the replacement of oil in its essential role in EVERY industry;
- planning how to replace cars and transport in our daily lives, and distribute agricultural produce and manufactured goods;
- manufacturing and installing millions of home energy installations to replace fossil fuel-sourced heating;
- planning how to replace and fuel the largest military establishment in history, almost completely dependent upon oil;
- supporting a global population that, at currently fertility rates, is heading for over 11 billion people by 2050 (UNPD) - without the "green agricultural revolution," made possible by the age of oil and where over two billion are already suffering from malnutrition;
- re-powering tractors essential to producing food on a large scale;
- securing imperilled water pumping and sewage plants, dependent on fossil fuel energy to work.
There will be few oil-burning ships transporting grain and other goods to the billions now dependent on them, or oil-burning airlines serving the world's major cities and the vital global tourist economy. Yet in September 2011 the Airbus Company predicted that the global passenger plane fleet will more than double by 2030. They are in dreamland.
– not least greater national food security, not more speculative office blocks on prime agricultural land. There is a vast amount that could be done without impacting on our quality of life. Some reductions many people would welcome. To name just a few:
- reducing unnecessary road lighting in the country and reduced but better lighting optics in our towns, along with cutting office lighting at night;
- cutting TV advertising screens in supermarkets and multiple TVs in bars;
- controlling the mass of unsolicited mail-shots falling out of papers and through our doors;
- cutting multiple daily flights on short-haul routes, by expanding high-speed train networks;
- cutting production of gas-guzzling performance vehicles.
Every local and national authority needs to start now to address these challenges seriously and examine services considered most vulnerable to long-term reduction in available fuel supplies. Still we carry on with our head in the sands, wasting resources on an epic scale. There has been little forewarning and planning. Our children won’t thank us for inheriting a world taken to an abyss.
Australia's rising emissions
Australia is on course to miss the bipartisan target of a 5% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020.
The emissions for the 12 months to December 2010 are 0.5%
higher than the previous 12 months , according to figures released 18th April. An increase in emissions was offset by a drop in electricity demand due to lower temperatures, the flooding of Queensland coal mines and greater use of hydro-electric power due to greater rainfall.
These temporary offsets disguise the fact that it means national emissions of over 570 million tonnes per annum in 2020, well above the target of about 530 million tonnes.
Australia's annual emissions rose to 543 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent as at December last year, up from 500 million tonnes in 2000, meaning the nation is already nearly 70 million tonnes over its 2020 target.
Based on even the highest population growth projections, the 2020 target will still make Australia one of the world’s most carbon-intensive economy, producing more than 20 tonnes of CO2 per person - ahead of the likes of the United States, Canada - even Saudia Arabia.
Population growth out of control
Melbourne University reproduction expert Roger Short argues that Australia's population growth – apparently increasing by one person every two minutes - is out of control, and in a paper to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, recommended that the Copenhagen conference 2009 acknowledge the importance of population as a key driver of climate change. It didn't happen!
While Australians are supposed to be reducing greenhouse gas emissions, at the same time our government is pushing for high rise developments and population growth.
High density housing advocates say planning policies must compel higher density in order to save energy and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and to accommodate population growth. However studies using a diversity of methods demonstrate the converse. The Australian Conservation Foundation Consumption Atlas calculation of greenhouse gas emissions shows that those living in high-density areas they are greater than for those living in low-density areas, and that with increasing density and loss of open green areas , our cities are becoming hotter and less sustainable.
High-rise developments mean that residents are much more reliant on non-renewable energy and have higher per capita greenhouse gas emissions than those in lower single houses with gardens, solar energy, recycling, trees and shade, and water tanks.
Climate change will affect the availability and cost of reliable food, water and energy supplies. It will threaten remaining natural ecosystems and biodiversity and increase storm intensity and the likelihood of both wildfire and heat-related deaths.
Population growth not "projected" but "targeted"
The Third Intergenerational Report's "projection" (or "targeted") is that Australia's population is likely to reach 35.9 million by 2050.
The people of Australia should be consulted, and respected and be the first priority of government . They should not be manipulated by the economic interests of the business elite and (the) academics entrenched in the economics of constant growth.
Population growth can't be ignored in the context of anthropogenic climate change.
Braking the rise in Earth's population would be a major help in the fight against global warming, according to an unprecedented UN report published in 2009 . It draws a link between demographic pressure and climate change. Population growth is among the factors influencing total emissions in industrialised as well as developing countries, it says.
Government posturing on climate change
Our growing population and relatively emissions-intensive economy means that we will have higher adjustments costs than many other developed countries to reach ostensibly similar goals. Our government's posturing on climate change and ghg emissions is purely rhetoric while we in Australia continue to boost our population. How can we be taken seriously, internationally, with such discriminatory attitudes – that we can continue to grow our population and economy but other nations must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and "save" the planet?
Emission reduction in Australia must occur in a context of rapid population and economic growth. If Australia’s population reaches 35.9 million by 2050, a 60 per cent decline in total emissions by this date will require a cut in per capita emissions from 28.8 tonnes per head in the year 2000 to 6.1 tonnes per head in 2050.
Strong ghg emissions in growing nations
In developed countries with relatively high rates of population growth, including Australia, Canada and the United States, total greenhouse gas emissions have increased strongly by comparison with countries with low rates of population growth (notably in Western Europe).
(Population growth and sustainability, by Dr Bob Birrell, Monash University}
According to modelling, the growth in greenhouse emissions of 221 million tonnes to 774 million tonnes in a business-as-usual case (or 184 million tonnes) was attributable to the six million population growth – compared to 2000 level of 19.2 million but with the GDP reaching projected levels at 2020. Thus population growth was responsible for 83 per cent of the overall growth in greenhouse emissions between 2000 and 2020 under the business-as-usual case.
The carbon footprint of farming will become larger over the next 40 years as we feed a rapidly growing world population. With an additional three billion people in the world by 2050, producers will face a unique challenge. To feed the world, farming emissions must rise
The link between population size and carbon emissions can't be ignored when reporting anthropogenic climate change. They are irrevocably linked to our numbers, economy and lifestyles.
Australia is one of the top nations for per capita greenhouse gas emissions. Our population growth rate is the largest in the developed world. Each person added adapts our lifestyles and add to our total output. Australia has a limited "carrying capacity" due to poor regular water supplies, poor and arid soils, vast deserts, limited arable soils, and sensitive biodiversity that has evolved slowly. The "canaries in the mine" - our wildlife - are being pushed to the edge of extinction at a global rate. What ever we do individually to recycle reduce and re-use is being negated by undemocratic governments who are relying on property development and population growth to keep our growth-based economy ticking. It's unsustainable.
Australia an "embarrassment" Senator Sarah Hanson-Young
Australia is an 'embarrassment' on climate change, says Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
Many other countries have already put a price on carbon and introduced realistic pollution reduction targets. And while they are spending significant public and private dollars firming up investment in the technologies and energy sources for the future, Australia is still locked in a debate over whether big polluters should even pay for their pollution. We are also still locked into the retro "populate or perish" economic growth ideology!
The Greens have no population policy. It's all based on vague possibilities and limitations, flexible and ambiguous statements and non-quantitative slogans. They even want to create another category of refugees under "climate change" so they can be resettled in Australia! Surely anthropogenic climate change - and all the environmental issues they say they want action on - can't be fulfilled if the elephant in the room of population growth/size is ignored.
Europe has population stability, not an economy based on growth! They can actually spend money on implementing climate change technologies, and plan ahead, not just try and keep up with infrastructure "shortages" and shortfalls. Contradictory policies will keep the Greens out of office.
Our MPs are indeed in a position to change the climate of debate in government circles , towards a culture of stabilisation rather than businesses-as-usual promotion and acceptance of environmentally damaging unending population growth.
Click here to go back to the article with the smaller graph.
This large graph is to supplement a smaller graph accompanying the main article on a different node.
Sources: Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings, Australia 2003, Catalogue no. 4430.0, ABS, Canberra, 2004; Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery, Catalogue no. 6291.0.55.001; General Social Survey 2006, Confidentialised Unit Record File supplied by the ABS
Notes: The ABS defines a profound disability as one where the person always needs help with one or more of the activities involved in communication, mobility and self care, and a severe disability as one where the person sometimes needs such help.
The data on labour force participation are for December 2009, but detailed age break downs were only available for June 2009. All of the data have been standardised to the age/sex structure of the population in June 2009.
Graph by Assoc. Prof. Dr Katharine Betts, (Swinburne University, Victoria) author of Immigration Ideology, MUP, 1988 and The Great Divide, Duffy and Snellgrove, 1999. She is also the co-editor, with Bob Birrell, of the Monash demographic quarterly, People and Place..
Sustained protest delays nasty political act
Sustained protests from Australians who are horrified at the cold-blooded policies pushed by the NSW Cabinet seem to have had an effect for the moment. It is believed that public reaction to this bill has put the wind up members in marginal seats. The proposal has the obvious 'pay-off' for a cash-strapped spendthrift government of pushing through another unpopular privatisation - this time of a state lottery.
"A decision was deferred until further talks could be held with the Shooters. The Opposition, the Greens and environmental groups oppose the bill and the Government had been accused of supporting it because it relied on the Shooters Party for critical support [to sell off a state lottery] in the upper house."Source:The Sydney Morning Herald
Shooters Party & NSW Labor - Rees Government
The Shooters Party had introduced a private member's bill to "allow recreational hunters to shoot native animals and birds and to allow for private game reserves to be set up for professional safari hunters."Source:The Sydney Morning Herald
NSW Liberal Nationals declare strong opposition to notion of sporting shooting in National Parks
The NSW Liberal Nationals portray themselves as strongly opposed to the shooting of Australian native species in National Parks, and the establishment of private shooting reserves. SourceThey say they will introduce amendments to the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill to ban it, according to Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Catherine Cusack MLC, and the Shadow Minister for Primary Industries Duncan Gay.
"The NSW Liberal / Nationals' move comes following a backdoor attempt - with the apparent support of the NSW Labor Government - to introduce unprecedented shooting of Australian native animals, including in National Parks, as well as private game reserves,” said Ms Cusack.
“We will oppose this and introduce other amendments aimed at genuinely managing the real environmental and other threats posed by feral animals - not Australian native species.
"The shooting of Australian native species in our National Parks or exotic species in private 'game parks' are offensive concepts. If this legislation is brought on the NSW Liberal / Nationals are armed and ready to move legislative amendments to make sure it doesn't happen.”
Illegal release of animals for hunting purposes & feral pig and deer problem
One of these amendments includes changing the Game Act to increase the penalty by four times as much for anyone caught illegally releasing animals for the purpose of hunting. The fine will now be $22,000 for persons caught illegally releasing animals.
“The feral pig problem in NSW is due to the deliberate release of piglets and juveniles for the purposes of hunting,” said Ms Cusack.
“We are also seeing deer being released in many National Parks - they are spreading weeds and are an incredible threat to agriculture as well as the environment.
“I challenge the NSW Labor Government to support our tougher penalties.”
Mr Gay said NSW National Parks and their neighbours needed a comprehensive and strong approach to managing the threat of feral animals - especially as the State comes out of drought and feral animal numbers go up.
“Strongly regulated professional shooting is part of that - unprecedented and unrelated new rights for people like wealthy overseas hunting tourists should not be," Mr Gay said.
"We need comprehensive and strong management of feral species including professional conservation shooting - we don't need for NSW to inadvertently become the Safari State of the Southern Hemisphere.”
Details of Other legislative amendments to be moved by the NSW Liberal / Nationals
Other legislative amendments to be moved by the NSW Liberal / Nationals will:
* Put strong regulatory limits and controls on the use of professional, limited shooting for the appropriate management of feral animals;
* Give Forestry and DECC officers stronger powers to oversee feral animal shooting - rather than the proposal to make it an offence for them to approach hunters;
* Give the Minister for Environment the regulatory power to classify in which National Parks feral animal shooting should take place - rather than the proposed 'one size fits all' approach that makes all National Parks - be they urban or rural - public hunting lands;
* Continue to allow farmers to appropriate manage feral animals on their properties - rather than requiring the proposal that they be forced to pay for licences;
* Ban trap shooting with live birds
Mr Gay said the NSW Liberal / Nationals would fight strongly for these and other amendments because of the need to protect Australian native animals and manage feral animals.
“That's in the best interests of both the environment and rural communities that border National Parks,” he said.
Ms Cusack urgently called on NSW Labor to do the right thing and support the Coalition’s amendments.
Report on the Victorian Transport Infrastructure Conference
11-12th May 2009 @ the Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre
by Catherine Manning
President, Southern Victoria Community Action Group Inc.
Foreword: A huge thank you to all of the groups and individuals who contributed to the cost of a ticket so that our community could be represented at this conference. As expected, the conference failed to provide any new information about the implementation of the Victorian Transport Plan (VTP) and seemed to have left some who'd paid up to $1655- for a ticket deeply disappointed. (One participant told me he was so stressed about what he was going to report back to his boss, as he'd convinced him it was worth spending the money to go and 'do business'.) However, I believe it was well worth SVCAG being there, as I was able to publicly question several ministers and bureaucrats on behalf of all of our groups, and made it known that we were concerned at the 'exclusivity' of the event that was publicised as a 'high level forum for discussion and debate'. To download a copy of / or view the VTP please go to www.transport.vic.gov.au
Disclaimer: I have compiled this report from my notes taken at the conference. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information, only to say this is purely an honest account of how I saw the event, but others may have seen it differently. I have tried to dot point as much as I can, and have added some questions that I asked (and some I didn’t !).
MC: Rob Gell opened the event .
Rob Gell thanked the sponsors/supporters: Project Link, Theiss, DLA Phillips Fox, Vibropile, Brifen, Coffey Rail, Leighton, Dial Before You Dig, GTA Consultants, Engineers Australia, and of course the State Govt - Dept. of Transport.
Jim Betts - Secretary, Department of Transport Victoria
After explaining his disappointment at his title of ‘secretary' which made it sound as though he should just be ‘taking minutes’, Jim convinced us that he is really a very important person. He then proceeded to give a quick explanation of the VTP...
• Melbourne @ 5million and the Victorian Transport Plan were produced together and will be updated every 3-4 years to adjust figures ie. population growth, etc.
• would like to work with industry to spread the freight task
• Into the future 2030 - more freight 'immune to economic issues’
• Vision for a 24hr operation, mass transit orbital system, significant expansion in port rail as per Eddington Report.
• 'We're planning for Hastings at the moment'
• Mentioned the 'Freight Futures' document (more on that later)
• Channel Deepening (plug for)
It was then opened up to the floor for questions. Rob Gell asked about four questions on interstate rail, emissions reduction and fuel efficiency.
(I didn’t hear a substantial answer, other than 'we're working on it' or words to that effect.)
Tim Holding as Minister for Finance, Victoria
• restated that the State Budget saw an $8b investment in 09/10 infrastructure for transport, schools, etc..
• Victoria the best place in the country, best workers... Wants to be the 'best placed in the country' - jobs jobs jobs... in transport - freight & logistics.
• VTP is the plan, the vision, the context to tell the community where to go with infrastructure projects...
• Sustainability is at the heart of this plan…sustainability…sustainability..
• mentioned Peninsula Link, Epping Line (rail upgrade), Lynbrook (road)
Catherine Manning Southern Victorian Community Action Group (SVCAG): Minister, I notice you say 'sustainable and sustainability' a lot, what is your definition of sustainable when it comes to this Transport Plan? How can more and more growth, less local manufacturing, a massive increase in freight imports, more port development i.e. Hastings, and the associated truck movements, be anything but unsustainable?
Tim Holding: ‘freight needs the best possible infrastructure to be sustainable’, etc., etc. Said something to the effect that now we all expect higher quality living, we have to develop Hastings so we can provide it. (Incredibly, he then went on for another ten minutes without answering my question….)
Halvard Dalheim - Director, State Strategy, Planning Policy Branch
1. Green Spaces. Spoke about Melb @5million, 1.8 additional people by 2036. 600,000 dwellings in the next 20 years. How are we placed to deal with growth? Govt response was to release its 'transport policies'.
2. Challenges - Shaping Victoria, linking regional Victoria, Sustainable Growth, unblocking congestion, responding to climate change.
3. Unique Collaboration - benefits/new approaches/relationships/new opportunities - VicRoads/DOI (now DOT)/DSE. Urban Growth Boundaries - new issues raised and discussed...loves collaboration...(group hug with DSE/VicRoads/DOT)
4. Managing Melbourne's Growth
5. Scale of Growth .. (up, up and up..). How do we accommodate this growth?
6. Components of Growth - international migration levels never seen before...address future labour force. Long term drivers - migration. Health infrastructure needed - maternity wards.
7. Trends of Growth Maps - bridge the Yarra/Maribyrnong
8. Affordability and Growth - affordable living, housing, etc.
9. Shaping Melbourne's Growth - The growth equation: 316,000 established areas. 284,000 growth areas. 134,000 new growth areas. Shift new growth areas North and West. Expand growth areas and high density living in Melbourne.
10. Urban Form and Growth. Block sizes.
11. Accessible Jobs. Can't keep building roads and tunnels to handle our transport issues. So now we have 'land use and transport planning' so we can influence potential behavior patterns.
12. Disadvantaged with Jobs
13. Mode of Travel and Jobs - cars cars cars.
14. Proximity of Jobs
15. A Sustainable City Form. 'Polycentric' Multiple major centres - jobs close to home. Box Hill, Broadmeadows,Dandenong, Footscray, Frankston, Ringwood.
16. Inner Core - housing.
17. Tram Network
18. Conversions - housing
19. New Opportunities
20. Infill - across metro area
21. Residential Initiatives - lot densities. 'Local intelligence' looking at City of Moreland.
22. Melbourne's Newest Sustainable Communities - rail links, smartbus, Northern Suburbs.
23. Delivery - 'Transport plan.....shaping Victoria....jobs...jobs...jobs.'
Ray Kinnear - Dep Director Strategic Policy and Planning, Public Transport Division
• Growth rate exceeding current growth forecasts across all models
• More people on public transport: Why?Fuel costs, Global Financial Crisis, 20% environmental concerns
• Operating railway - creating a metro
• Local Bus Networks
• Offer early bird schemes to encourage travel before peak.
• Rail infrastructure projects underway...New track Laverton, Clifton Hill Rail Project..etc...$18b over next 2 years
• $10b sought from Building Aust Fund
• Regional Rail Link - Western part of Melb - sharing tracks/bottlenecks. Build new line west of Werribee on Geelong Line. Able to run v-line trains - no longer on suburban line.
• Build a second tunnel- Dynon area across to Parkville-Domain.
• South East capacity problem. Metro tunnel to Caulfield - all lines independent.
• Waiting for Govt Funding
• 70 new trains 50 new trams, maintenance facilities, light rail, more stops.
Question from Cameron of Coffee Projects: How long do you anticipate that growth to continue?
Answer from Ray Kinnear: planning on continuing at 8%p.a.
Jonathon Metcalfe - Exec Chair Connex
• challenging times
• Pollution 'we've talked about that'
• PPP's - more from the VTP about what's being delivered....
• more PR pitch about keeping customers happy and 'managing dissatisfaction'.
Question: What about level crossings?
Answer from JM: Where there's a business case.
(mass exodus - about 15 people left the auditorium at this point)....
Question unposed: When you say ‘pollution – we’ve talked about that’, when exactly did we talk about it? I’ve been awake the whole time…did I miss something?
Question unposed: Shouldn’t we refer to climate change as a problem, not a ‘challenge’? I know it’s very ‘Chopra-esque’ to say ‘challenge’, but doesn’t that make it sound like a fun run or math’s quiz, not the serious environmental issue that it is? It may be challenging to find solutions, but if we’re to be really honest, wouldn’t you say that climate change is really a big ‘issue’ or ‘problem
Brad Vann - Partner, Clayton UTZ
• Cost $60b to replace all of Victoria's level crossings - how to deal with this in Global Financial Crisis?
• Impact of credit crunch - lack of liquidity - banks retreating from long tenure and complex lending
• Cost of funding PPP's - as liquidity in markets decreases, lending margins increase....
• Feast or Famine: sales pitch for PPP's - alternatives: Govt underwrite financing bids (potential conflict of interest) - unsyndicated portions of debt taken up by govt entity until full syndication possible - shorter concession periods - shorter term financing.
• Market disruption risk
• Govt takes back some risk - ie. Hospital infrastructure project - decrease payments from the private sector if not bringing in the $$$.
• Unbundle the project
• Peninsula Link 'economic infrastructure' - No toll, therefore needs $$$. then Govt repay private sector. Govt looking at this way.
• Super Funds - Institutional Funds. Govt guarantee to lift the quality of the project and attract investment thru super funds etc. In turn, super and industry funds invest to keep their members in work.
• Regulatory changes - at the moment there is better returns for people to invest overseas.
• Develop by Govt then sell to private sector [Comment by editor: This is privatization in advance]
• Ask Industry Fund Managers, if we meet operational parameters of the project, will you agree to support it?
At this point just before lunch, the MD of Theiss got up and said 'we need accelerated spend up on transport infrastructure'. However, I didn’t notice anyone jump up and wave their wallet around.
Lunch: Met a few of interesting people. Am beginning to think I'm not going so mad after all. Some of these people do seem to get it too, and aren't as excited about all aspects of the VTP as I thought they would be.... Almost managed to attract a few new members (LOL).
Darren Bilsborough – Director of Sustainability, Parsons Brinckerhoff
Rob Turk – Associate, ARUP
Sean Murphy – GM Infrastructure & Environment, Worley Parsons
Glenn Hedges – Environmental Manager/Project Services, Thiess
Refreshingly, Darren Bilsborough spoke of the ‘elephant in the room – climate change’
• the VTP failed to adequately address climate change, health impacts, peak oil or our aging population.
• minimising environmental impacts by collecting run off from freeways (used Frankston Bypass as an example) to provide solutions to other issues ie. Water.
• offset planting, ‘integrated resource management’, using road corridors as IT corridors (i.e. Broadband network infr.) and ‘smart energy zones’.
• the formation of the ‘Australian Green Infrastructure Council’, formed in 2007 by various industry reps, applying for state govt funding to try to create a ‘green star’ national rating scheme for business/developers.
Lots of talk about ‘fast tracking’
• geopolymer concrete / fly ash – being used as a better alternative to concrete. 80% less emissions.
• Waste vegetable matter for ‘sandwich panels’ – reinforced skins.
• Glass work – discharge from desalination plants to replace timbers, beams, concrete, etc.
Glenn Hedges repeated much of what had already been said, plus
• A ‘promo’ for Theiss providing indigenous communities with training & jobs to build a construction workforce
• More about the Green Inf. Council and Theiss’ efforts to replace lightweight truck bodies instead of stainless steel. Auto timing switches on mobile lighting banks, and more use of diesel
Questions for panel:
Rob Gell asked: Why geopolymer concrete wasn’t used for the construction of citilink and eastlink when the government had been consulted extensively on its benefits?
Questions from Catherine Manning: What payoff will there be for developers fastracking development to seek endorsement from Aust Green Inf Council, and will it have any real effect?
Answer: No real effect as yet, but it will be a ‘feel good’ exercise. There will be no legally binding contracts
Question from Catherine Manning: Doesn’t this just provide a vehicle for developers to appear green without being green when there are no real ‘green’ guidelines for development (apart from what comes out of the EES – EPBC Act). Where we have Work Cover and legal guidelines for other things, why aren’t there laws for developers to abide by when it comes to environmental/health impacts, etc.?
Answer: inadequate policy.
Question unposed: Do you think the Global Financial Crisis is being used as justification to fast track development so that even less community consultation can be justified?
Dr Lewis Gomes and Peter Zahnleiter (Brisbane Roads and Tunnel Experience)
• Spoke of the project delivery (if you really want me to document this, let me know, but it was about as exciting to me as watching grass grow).
• Their airport link averaged $56million per kilometer.
Peter Bentley – CEO Connect East
We then heard yet another promotion and back patting exercise about Eastlink. $3.8b for 39klm of toll way. Heard about Mullum Mullum Valley, the untolled Ringwood and Dandenong Bypasses, 88 bridges, 17 interchanges and 2 tunnels.
• 270,000 trips during the toll free period
• 135,000 once tolls introduced.
• Community consultation…’no one can ever say there was a lack of dialogue on this project’. Local community forum settled community matters
• Thanks to EPA ‘s communication between groups, there were ‘no public appeals when Connect East got works approval for the tunnel/ventilation project.
• 60 wetlands established / 3.5million shrubs and trees planted
Wrap up of day 1: So much of today sounded like repetitious, back patting, spin. There was nothing learned that wasn’t already in the VTP book. I got the sense by the end of the day that many of us hoped that tomorrow would provide far more substance, and we looked forward to ‘doing business’ and having that ‘high level debate’……
*I contacted the conference organisers beforehand to enquire about media access to the event. I was told there was none. However, Jason Dowling from The Age was there on the first day. On Day 2 Jillian Verhardt from Radio Port Phillip was permitted to attend (I didn’t see any other media at all).
Good morning Rob.
The Hon. Tim Pallas, Minister for Roads and Ports, Victoria, Steve Bracks Advisor 1999.
• The VTP will connect communities, build economies..etc…enhance livability, enhance amenity….etc…etc..
Apparently famous for his PowerPoint prowess, Mr Pallas lived up to his reputation and provided a lovely slide show….
10 Challenges facing infrastructure.
1. Congestion: $20.4b p.a. cost of congestion by 2020
($2.6b p.a. cost of congestion now)
‘Victoria is Australia’s Freight and Logistics hub’ – more talk about VTP Projects.
2. Port Capacity: 2035 - 8million containers annually.
Expand Swanston Dock – berth extensions
Webb dock for container handling
Transport plan for Hastings
Move Sth Dynon Rail terminal to Donnybrook
75% of channel deepening done – physical works due to be completed by
end of August.
3. Transport Linkages: Seymour Wodonga – Standard Guage Rail
4. Road Toll: duplicated roads safer than unduplicated
5. Freight Mode Share: more freight onto rail
Retain status as manufacturing state
90% of freight travels on road
Rail freight subsidies/freight access charges to encourage larger off-peak
use of port.
6. Intermodal Capacity: Container volumes not yet at a stage where rail is viable.
Until then encourage larger road transport to get freight around.
30m / 28m b-doubles and b-triples: tried and proven.
‘the public are accepting of b-doubles sharing the road’
7. Airport Capacity: Melbourne Airport Strategy
See Draft Airport Master plan 2008
Infrastructure Funding: imbalance – requirement of state to raise revenue, failure of states to deliver. Money taken from road fines/tolls etc. goes back in to building/infrastructure.
Availability of PPP’s – i.e. Peninsula Link
9. Residential Amenity: Freight Futures
Truck action plan: new off ramps Westgate Fwy at Hyde St will remove 1.2 million trucks a year. Sunshine/Dempster/Paramount Rd – trucks will divert around Seddon using tunnels and new routes.
10. Port of Hastings: Bolte’s vision – lots of talk about ‘vision’
Question: Jason Dowling (Age News) asked about the funding of the Peninsula Link, state gov. has allocated $350m but nothing in the Fed. Budget.
Answer: Tim Pallas said he was confident they would receive the Fed. funding and said it was not unusual for items to be funded after any given main budget.
Question: 30mt. super B trucks, are they suitable for our roads?
Answer: Length is an issue, so they will only be trialed on certain routes, monitored by gps system to ensure they stick to nominated roads. See map.
Question: Catherine Manning – Considering all roads in the VTP lead to Hastings, is it not a bit dangerous to put all your eggs in one basket prior to any environmental assessment or EES? There are other ports around Victoria that could service our needs. What is ‘Plan B’ if Hastings proves to be an unviable location for major port development?
Answer:Tim Pallas: There is no plan B. Hastings is it. The EES just tells us what we need to watch out for, not whether or not we can do something. Minister Pallas assured the audience they would secure the necessary environmental approvals/considerations. Geelong has limitations. The EES is not a yes or no process. Hastings will happen.
Justin Madden – Minister for Planning
Again spoke of VTP and Melb @ 5million. Spoke about:
• Fast tracked approvals for infrastructure developments / collaboration
• Housing – growth growth growth….
• 325,000 will live in provincial areas by 2026
• Something about extra help for councils to measure households within their municipalities
• Online planning systems / ‘modernising’ planning and environment act
• Finally, we need to consult communities
A man from Moonee Ponds: Why hasn’t growth been considered around Geelong etc.,…?
Answer: Again, hard to decipher, but something about ‘social issues as population reaches 3+million’, and ‘hamlets, villages and hinterland…’
Question: Jason Dowling of The Age asked if the Minister would sack his staffer after recent revelations re Brimbank Council.
Jason them commented cities over 3M seem to consistently present increased crime and other social problems.
Further reply from Minister, that our City is Attractive, especially housing as it is cheaper than Sydney. House and land packages here are around $60k less.
When does the population growth & infrastructure expansion come to an end?
Q. Catherine Manning: Considering your PowerPoint showed massive growth on Melbourne’s outskirts, are you concerned about the impact of all this growth on our food bowl, particularly the Koo Wee Rup Swamp/Gippsland regions? When does the growth come to an end?
A. (the following is a summary of what I understood of his lengthy response):
The south/east is almost at capacity and they are planning to move more people out to the West where there are larger tracts of land to be built upon (I then asked ‘so why develop Hastings???’ to which he said ‘Minister of Ports answered that’ – oh did he??? Well, just because it was ‘Bolte’s dream’ isn’t a good enough answer to me!). He said the rezoning of the 6 areas identified on the far edges would be done so in an environmentally sensitive manner. The North and West were definitely the only places to develop. He then went on to say that he welcomed my questions and was assuming my next would be about the EES process after Minister Pallas’ comments (well, actually I was planning on letting him off the hook on that one as I thought I might be removed from the gallery if I asked another question!!!) He spoke about the EES as something the community feels contains a ‘do nothing’ option. He said they (govt.) were more sophisticated now and complexities have to be managed. However, he did mention that although it ‘sounds like a done deal’ (my words), he would still have to seek federal approvals (EPBC Act).
Terry Garwood – Exec Director, Freight Logistics and Marine, DOT, Victoria
• More talk about more people, more freight, more, more, more. Planning, building managing freight network.
• Victoria is home to most efficient element of road industry: B Doubles – larger b-doubles under consideration to be trialed on certain roads.
• Freight task to double from now to 2030 ‘efficiency/capacity/sustainability
• Private sector moves freight on shared networks: trucks/cars, air freight/passenger, recreational boating/shipping.
• Government owns ports ( the ones in the VTP)
• ‘Planning and protecting’, ‘building and maintaining’, ‘managing and regulating’….( lots of buzzwords!)
• National rail that bypasses all major cities (now you’re talkin’!)
• International terminal at fresh market
• Truck Action Plan: building the network, freight charge during the day – encourage night road use
• Port of Melbourne’s charter to change to expand its role outside the port gate, giving them more power beyond the fence line of their current site.
• New policy document: Port Futures – tweaking the PLUTS
• This document will take Hastings and the UGB’s into consideration.
• There are no plans to introduce b-triples onto our Victorian road network, just longer b-doubles.
Question: Would Rail-Share suffer with the introduction of larger trucks?
Answer: Yes. Intra rail is port related. Interstate Rail non port related. National by passes all Capitol Cities. eg. Donnybrook Terminal. Metro rail freight is currently zero.
Question: Rob Gell: were green-house gas emissions part of the over all decision making process, especially trucks?
Answer: Aviation was quoted as 1.5% emissions, shipping 1.5% emissions. (Maybe he meant shipping and Transport, but that needs to be looked at.)
Rob said if Darwin was the Sea/Container terminal, how about train to the rest of the nation?
Further A. Melb. to Sydney Rail attracts barely 5% all freight movements. Funds are likely to be directed to increase rail and they are in close contact with Fed. Gov.
Question Unposed: Have the social impacts been considered or ‘costed in’ of the hundreds and thousands of ‘Daddies’ out there encouraged to drive their trucks only at night?
Stephen Bradford – CEO, Port of Melbourne Corporation
After a few figures relating to the Global Financial Crisis’s impact on freight movements, Stephen Bradford got stuck right in to the community for daring to suggest that things might not go so well to plan as expected. Here’s a rundown:
TEU’s (containers) Motor Vehicles
Dec. down 5.2% down 28.7%
Jan down 16% down 33.8%
Feb down 7.6% down 35.9%
Mar down 7.6% down 38.7%
TEU’s down 1.5% to Mar 09
Cars down 15.9% to Mar 09
Dry Bulk down 1.8% to Mar09
Long Beach down 30%
Seattle down 24%
Tacoma down 15%
Oakland down 16%
Los Angeles down 17%
(anyone wanna buy a transport plan???)
• 8 million TEU by 2035
• 60% container vessels are draught constrained, need ‘a hole in the sand’ – dredging.
• $12million EES
• Headlines cut and pasted on PowerPoint of ‘Negative Headlines’
He then went on to show news footage of ‘community reaction’, including the ‘Battle Zone’ story with Jo Hall, a Blue Wedges Rally, protesters and the exclusion zone, Federal Court story….etc..
• EES – after 130 recommendations from initial panel, rebuilt the team, performed the highest environmental studies, project liaison group, ‘subsequently we then had the SEES peer review by experts not on the original panel as selected by the state government’.
• Successfully dredged with no environmental impacts
• On schedule and within budget
• Port corporation took the option to be vigilant and open
• EMP is very rigorous
Followed by the ‘Big Tick’ video of the Queen of the Netherlands
• Took on an advertising campaign
• Showed the media ad
• More justification of media campaign
• Looking at Hastings and other ports
• By the way, loves the little penguins – lots of monitoring of the little cuties.
Question: What benefit to the environmental outcome of spending the $120M second/further EES re Bay Dredging.
Answer: He said it was worth it, they learned more about sea-grasses, penguins and turbidity. He also commented that the second 'team' convened to carry out the 'further' EES were almost an entirely new crew.
Question: CEO RACV Negus asked about increased container volumes on roads.
Answer: Negus was directed to the presentation by the previous speaker and he had answered all that. Negus only attended for the Bradford presentation and left the conference shortly after.
Question: Was Mr. Bradford concerned about increased severity of storms, King Tides etc. adding to an increase water level in the bay.
Question unposed: When you say the port corporation ‘took the option’ to be vigilant and open, what was the other ‘option’?
The Hon. Jacinta Allen, Minister for Regional and Rural Development
More of what seemed like a ‘press release’ from the VTP.
Question Jillian Verhardt (Radio 3RPP): Despite a recent massive upgrade there is great congestion at times at the Tulla/Calder merge. Bendigo and towns such as Gisborne had been touted as ‘commuter satellites’ for those seeking affordable regional housing yet wishing to remain working in Metro yet get home at a reasonable hour. Asked about the Melbourne City to Tullamarine light rail in terms of alleviating serious congestion, and stated that the airport had been doubled in capacity around 5 years ago, and the management were out there last year stating another doubling would be required to keep up with increased aviation activity.
Answer: Dismissed the question as it was in her opinion a metro issue, yet the highway, Calder and Tullamarine Freeway are heavily used already. As other road issues around the freeways are ‘addressed’, it is assumed that will ease congestion.
Tim Ryan – GM, ARTC
Helen Newell – Director, Corporate Dev. & Government Relations, Asciano
Andy McNicol – Coffee Rail
• Nth/Sth rail corridor: Melb/Bris/Syd – 16m gross tonnes to 28/35m 2015
• East/West: Melb/Syd/Perth – 80% market share - focus to sustain operation – not much growth in it.
• Include customers, deliver what the market wants, location of terminals to take long trains, commercial opportunities in regional areas.
• Trucks have access to good road networks, makes it difficult to compete for $$$ for rail infrastructure.
• 1.8klm trains Syd/WA 1.5klm trains Bris
• Engage with stakeholders
• Freight transport through inner urban areas an issue
• Need proper debate to find the best place for development (she’s speaking my language!) Hastings provides ‘many challenges’.
• Containers from Tasmania
• Asciano prefer development out west (i.e. Geelong).
• National freight rail system only way to justify freight on rail.
• Rail freight under 500klm cannot compete with trucks.
• Asciano position: move freight to west out of Dynan precinct to allow double stacking of Rail
• Literally arrived in Melbourne from Scotland 4 days ago.
• Was impressed by the ministers and audience being so embracing of the VTP and mentioned that there was much more ‘debate’ about such matters overseas.
Catherine Manning: Andy, you say that you are impressed that the Ministers and audience at this conference seem to be ‘embracing’ of the VTP. That may be because this is a ‘target audience’. The exorbitant cost of a ticket to this event prevents many community groups from attending (I am here representing a number of groups across Victoria). Further, when Tim Pallas said earlier that ‘the community had accepted b-doubles on the roads’, I beg to disagree. I don’t believe we’ve ‘accepted them’ at all, what choice did we have? They just arrived, and I can tell you that amongst the greater community there is huge support for a National Rail System that would reduce the number of trucks on the road, removes the parochialism and assesses the best place for port development.
To Helen Newell, if the cost to society of health impacts and safety issues were assessed and added to the cost of trucking freight, would that not bring the margin closer and make rail more competitive?
Helen Newell's response was that we’d be pleased to hear that the Federal Government are looking at this very issue and are about to release a document that she couldn’t elaborate on as yet, but that we would find it very encouraging. She went on to say that health issues and safety of trucks is being considered - Asciano stated it would help if trains were priced more economically, using all the columns. When they did their study, using all aspects, including safety, congestion etc. it produced a compelling argument showing trains can reduce road stressors currently present around centres.
(With this in mind, I wonder if we should hold off on the whole VTP until we can ‘collaborate’ with everyone for the best possible outcome for our freight needs! So far, the budget looks like it has done that for us, and I didn’t see anyone pulling dollar bills out of their pockets at this conference….)
More q & a for the panel:
Q. Freight via large trucks (all) around Port of Melbourne has a curfew to avoid commuter peak times and maybe residential considerations.
Is Infrastructure worth the cost to solve? Sydney has 4 hr curfew morning and evening re rail movements (noise and road closure/s?) where trucks are not limited there making it hard for rail to compete.
A. Asciano talked about doubling the track to Wodonga/Albury and said the Melb. to Bris. rail system was a major impediment.
Sydney was a rail bottleneck, in terms of getting freight through, especially sharing tracks with commuters as above.
Q. Wyndham Planner? The West is preferred location for rail terminal in a highly built up area.
A. The North-South and East - West must be connectable. The Sunshine triangle is part of this. North or West, both need corridors as a location. Donnybrook is 'looking good'.
Q Rail Lubrication from an expert in reducing friction, wear and tear etc. Apparently Aust. is using ineffective product and this adds to maintenance both trains and tracks.
A. This Q was dismissed immediately by the 3rd member of the 'panel', he explained he had heard of superior products but was sticking with existing suppliers and technology.
Q. Regional Hubs, who might be the operators? Terminals, rail, have their own economies of scale.
A. Financially, Rail always struggles. Multiple users is an answer and other business is required other than simply 'lifting' containers.
Single box rail transport does not pay.
Footnote - US does not allow double B's. Their policy is if the freight is that big, it must go by rail.
• Freight and Congestion have risen sharply. Though, traffic volumes appear to have leveled off. Public Transport is steady and has experienced strong growth. Of the $38B, how best to use.
• Plan beyond today’s needs, we are simply catching up with a back-log not actually creating future capacity. Look at least 30yrs ahead.
• Current government plans will barely provide for the next 10 yrs.
• EIS is the opportunity for Community to improve the environment.
• Land use is predicator for location of transport.
• The presenter used Boston as the model to demonstrate how transport planning can work, for both commuters and road users.
• Development on roads are best, in their opinion, near major intersections.
Over and out.
Southern Victoria Community Action Group Inc.
P.O. Box 707,
Article written by Catherine Manning
I am not a prude, but my children have a right to childhood
I am not a prude. (I know, it's a shame that women have to clarify that point before commenting on pornography, but just before you grab your keyboard to type a response, I am not opposed to adults accessing legal pornography.) What I am opposed to, is children being exposed to pornographic images in milk bars, service stations and newsagents.
We have a great local store. The vendor takes the time to serve the children of our community one by one as they choose their lollies the 'old fashioned way', and as if they're making the biggest decision they'll ever make in their lives. My kids look forward to their once a week treat, and I enjoy helping to foster what I think will one day be a positive childhood memory.
However, last week as I stood waiting for an order with my four year old son, I noticed at children's eye level two magazines with almost naked, unnaturally busty, spread legged, pubeless 'women', faces with parted glossy lips wantonly staring out as they pull down their knickers, just beside the icecream freezer right in front of us. With headlines such as 'Fit to F*#K', World's Oldest Porn Star', 'Keep on F*#king','Porn star goes down on chopper pilot's chopper', etc., there wasn't much left to the imagination. (hey, if you're freaking out reading this, imagine how I felt with my child in tow.)
Does the right to make money cancel out my children's rights?
I spoke with the storekeeper about this, and although he understood my concerns, his job was to make money. In fact, he informed me that many of his clients, the truckies passing through who park out the front of our primary school, actually think he should stock more of the 'hardcore stuff'. (gee, that's comforting I say as I push my stomach back down from the back of my throat....). Apparently, according to the storekeeper, less offensive magazines such as Ralph and FMH do come covered, but these two, which have progressively become more explicit, have escaped the same censorship. Therefore, the storekeeper (and anyone else) can have these magazines sitting anywhere in their shop and as in our case, right between the lollies and icecreams about half a metre from the floor. (Have an icecream kids, and would you like porn with that?)
Our children are victims of pornography
Our children are victims of pornography. They are being exposed to images of a sexual nature long before they can comprehend their meaning, but these images make an impression. It tells boys what to expect of girls and tells girls how they should act. We have a society full of girls and young women with eating disorders and serious body image problems, and a fast growing cosmetic surgery industry (which cashes in unashamedly on those with body image issues). We have what seems like an 'epidemic' of paedophilia, with more and more men accessing sexual images of children. The news is full of stories about footballers physically and sexually assaulting women, yet society still allows our kids to be brainwashed with pornographic images at an early age.
I'd like to know that when my kids go in to the local store for a bag of lollies or some milk, that they are safe and not exposed to things they shouldn't and wouldn't see at home. Sadly, I've come to learn it's something I shouldn't 'expect', but surely it's not too much to ask.
About the author:
This article is by Catherine Manning, President of the Southern Victorian Community Action Group Inc, and the newly formed Cardinia Township Association, and an ordinary parent/citizen concerned about the future for our children, in this case, the impacts of inappropriate exposure to pornography.
All around Australia, indeed all around the world, towns are fighting against having huge costly marinas foisted on their communities and much loved beaches. It is about time that someone founded an international anti-marina association to coordinate democratic movements against unsustainable business proposals for locally unwanted marinas .
Below we reproduce correspondence between the Frankston Beach Association Inc to the Hon. Justice Madden MLC, who is Victoria’s current Minister for Planning. It was the latest in Frankston community’s attempt to make itself heard in a more than 30 year battle to prevent a marina from being forced upon the community. The letter was a response to nine dot-points made by the Minister in an attempt to justify the [many times reproposed] marina in question. Ed.
"Frankston Beach Association Inc.
Preserving the beach for all to use"
Registration Number - A0031686R ABN - 68 874 762 644 Secretary: Graeme Lyell, 2A Fenton Crescent, South Frankston, 3199 Tel: (03) 9783 7445
1st March, 2009
Hon. Justin Madden, MLC
Minister for Planning,
8, Nicholson Street,
East Melbourne, Vic 3002.
Proposed C50 Frankston Planning Scheme Amendment relating to a marina at Olivers Hill
The Committee of the Frankston Beach Association (FBA) wish to thank you for your correspondence of the 30 January 2009, responding to our letter of 19 December 2008 and our submission of 17 December 2008 commenting, (at the invitation of the Frankston Council) on the proposed Frankston C50 Planning Scheme Amendment.
Detail of your correspondence was conveyed to us by Mr. Alistair Harkness, MP. A copy of this January 30 correspondence is attached for your reference.
The Frankston Beach Association is puzzled and disappointed with the statements made in the nine points in your correspondence, responding to our 17 December 2008 Submission relating to the proposed C50 Amendment.
None of the 'nine points' in your correspondence, directly address the financial, environmental and social concerns and issues that we have clearly detailed in our Submission of 17 December 2008.
Rather, these 'nine points' appear to be a clumsy attempt by the three Authorities referred to in your correspondence, ie., Frankston Council, the DSE and Tourism Victoria, to justify their support for a grossly enlarged Marina at Olivers Hill, by falsely suggesting that their support is consistent with the previous EES and Advisory Panels' and Ministers' 'Recommendations'.
Is the Minister aware that the 'nine points' in several instances are inaccurate and misleading and appear designed to obfuscate important facts?
We briefly comment below, on each of these 'nine points'.
Justin Madden MLC wrote: “The concept of a safe boat harbour at Olivers Hill, Frankston has been actively supported by Council, the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), Tourism Victoria and the boating industry.”
Since the formation of the FBA in 1982, no member of the Public has advised that they are in favour of providing a marina at Olivers Hill, at the cost of destroying the Frankston Beach and Daveys Bay.
Why are Frankston Council, the DSE and Tourism Victoria controversially wanting to develop a grossly enlarged marina, significantly larger than the one currently approved and larger than the Frankston CBD, with a diameter twice the length of Frankston Pier, that:
i. On the advice of seven eminent scientists and coastal engineers will likely destroy Frankston Beach and cause Daveys Bay to silt up? and
ii. Is more than twice the size required to accommodate the boating and retail, commercial and industrial activities prescribed by the proposed C50 Amendment?
The activities proposed in the C50 Amendment can adequately be accommodated in the 15.8 hectare marina area currently approved.
Why are these Authorities pursuing a development for which no credible cost analysis or financial viability studies have been made public, no environmental studies have been undertaken and which directly conflicts with and contravenes the financial, environmental and social parameters and standards established by the past Planning Processes?
Justin Madden MLC wrote: "Olivers Hill has undergone a comprehensive planning assessment including an Environmental Effects Statement, Planning Scheme Amendments and Ministerial Assessments."
This point states that Olivers Hill has undergone a comprehensive planning assessment and refers to the 1999 EES and the 2003 Planning and Advisory Committee Panel Reports, and the two Ministers' Assessments in 2000 and 2003.
This statement falsely suggests that the recommendations and standards prescribed in these Reports and Assessments are continuing to be adhered to.
In reality, Frankston Council, DSE and Tourism Victoria are paying little more than tokenism to these recommendations and through the proposed C50 amendment they are arbitrarily rejecting and disregarding many of the financial, environmental and social standards and recommendations prescribed in the Panel Reports and Ministers' Assessments.
Does the Minister accept that such conduct by these authorities is deceptive and misleading and makes a mockery of the State Planning Process?
Justin Madden MLC wrote: "The Frankston Planning Scheme was amended in 2003 to facilitate the provision of a safe boat harbour at Olivers Hill."
The Frankston Planning Scheme was amended in 2003 to facilitate the provision of a 15.8 ha marina including a reclamation area of 5.8 ha.
The development and operation of this marina was subject to compliance with the Recommendations of the 1999 EES Panel Report and 2000 Minister's Assessment and the 2003 Panel Report and Minister's Assessment.
Justin Madden MLC wrote: "The Environmental Effects Statement (EES) assessed the impacts of rezoning 35 hectares of land and sea to a Special Use Zone for use as a safe boat harbour. The revised model proposed by Council encompasses 22 hectares and is still within the parameters initially tested by the EES."
This statement is totally incorrect and misleading.
The 1999 Environmental Effects Statement (EES) did not assess the impacts of rezoning 35 hectare of land and sea to a Special Use Zone.
The EES assessed two areas for a marina development ie., one of 6.6 hectare (option 2) and one of 15.4 hectare (option 3). The EES did not assess any specific area for rezoning to either a Public Park and Recreation Zone (PPRZ) or a Special Use Zone (SUZ).
The 2003 C15 Panel of Inquiry and Advisory Panel assessed the impacts of a 15.8 hectare marina within a 35 hectare PPRZ. The Panel recommended that a SUZ would be more appropriate than the proposed PPRZ .
Within the 35 hectare SUZ, the Panel and Minister approved a marina of 15.8 hectare including 5.8 hectare of reclaimed land, the development of which was subject to specified detailed recommendations, parameters and standards being complied with.
The proposed C50 Amendment increases the size of the marina from 15.8 hectare to 22 hectare. We ask the Minister, why increase the size of the marina? (seepoints 5 and 7)
Justin Madden MLC wrote: "In 2006, Frankston City Council completed a cost analysis for a preferred development model. The revised model identified more land to be reclaimed, a larger breakwater to increase the number of berths, the introduction of dry boat storage, an increase in parking provision, short term accommodation and increases to floor area for boat repairs and for retail purposes."
No credible cost analysis has been made public for the larger 22 hectare marina.
Contrary to the current Planning Scheme, no size limit has been specified in the proposed C50 amendment, on the amount of land that can be reclaimed.
As less than half the 22 hectare marina is required to accommodate both the prescribed 330 marina berths and the permitted commercial, retail and industrial activities including the stacked dry boat storage and 60 berth hotel, what additional activities are intended for the remaining unused area? (See points 4 and 7).
Justin Madden MLC wrote: "Council’s revised model contains dry boat storage and an increased commercial area. The current planning controls in the Frankston Planning scheme do not facilitate these elements. Therefore an amendment to the Frankston Planning Scheme would be required to accommodate these changes."
Council's revised model, described by the proposed C50 Amendment, contradicts and conflicts with the environmental, financial and social recommendations and standards determined by the 1999 EES and the 2003 Planning and Advisory Committee Panel Reports, and the two Ministers' Assessments in 2000 and 2003.
Justin Madden MLC wrote: "In May 2007, Council adopted a preferred development model for a safe boat harbour. I referred this model to the Priority Development Panel (PDP) for advice and evaluation."
The proposed C50 model recommended by the Priority Development Panel, differs from the 'Preferred Development Model' adopted by Council in 2007, following advice from their financial advisors, by removing the upper limit to the reclamation area.
With very high breakwater construction costs, no developer will build a larger marina than one required for the permitted activities, unless expecting the permitted activities to be further expanded.
What additional activities do Council, DSE and Tourism Victoria intend for the extra land inside the larger breakwaters? Will additional activities be offered and permitted as inducement to a developer? Will these activities include residential housing and more commercial, retail and industrial development? Will they also include an entertainment complex?
Has the Minister been advised of and considered these implications?
Justin Madden MLC wrote: "The PDP worked closely with key stakeholders, Frankston City Council, the Frankston Design Panel and representatives of the State Government including the DSE and Parks Victoria. Advice was sought on a number of issues including the environmental sustainability of the proposal. The Frankston Beach Association was also invited to make a submission during the process."
The Key Stakeholders were nominated by Council. In total they numbered approximately 13 organizations and 8 individuals.
Does the Minister consider this miniscule amount of community consultation adequate and appropriate in a community of approximately 150,000 persons, where many residents and visitors use the beach throughout the year, when the proposed marina is putting Frankston beach at risk?
The statement is made in this point that, 'Advice was sought on a number of issues including the environmental sustainability of the proposal'. This statement is meaningless. Who was invited to give this advice, when was the advice sought and on what part of the proposed marina development did the advice relate to?
Was advice sought on the effect of the marina on the Frankston Beach and Daveys Bay? No environmental studies to determine the effects of the marina on these assets have been undertaken.
Insufficient data is available on which to undertake these studies and data over a period of more than one year is required.
Are such flippant statements relating to environmental standards acceptable to the Planning Minister?
Justin Madden MLC wrote: "Frankston City Council will seek tenders from private industry to fund the construction of a safe boat harbour. State Government funding for public infrastructure through the DSE and Vic Roads Asset Management Program for slope stabilization at Olivers Hill and funding for boat ramps through the Boating Facilities Grants through Marine Safety Victoria may be made available."
The funding advice made in this point is contradictory to the funding information approved by Council and proposed to be placed in the Tender Documents.
Council's information in the proposed tender documents commits the Government to all public infrastructure funding, including Public Boat Ramps, and car parking and trailer parking and five boat launching ramps together with stabilization of Olivers Hill.
Is the Minister satisfied that Frankston Council has the authority to make this financial commitment on behalf of the Government, when development costs have not been determined?
Is the Minister aware that contrary to the current Planning Scheme requirements the proposed C50 Amendment fails to require the proponent to be financially responsible for beach restoration, sand bypassing and maintenance dredging costs?
Is the Minister aware that construction costs may be more than $150 million and more than half these construction costs, plus future costs associated with beach restoration, sand bypassing and maintenance dredging will be to the account of the Government, unless the C50 Amendment and Tender documents are changed from those proposed in the C50 Amendment?
Are Frankston Council, the DSE and Tourism Victoria being open with the Government and the Public with respect to the issues raised above?
Frankston Beach Association continues to harbour grave concerns as to the financial, environmental and social probity of this proposed development. Our main concerns relate to safeguarding Frankston Beach and Daveys Bay for the present and future use of residents and visitors to Frankston City.
A small number of self-interested parties continue to perversely push ahead with a so-called iconic development that will put Frankston on the map. This proposed development is flawed, and if it fails, the Frankston community will pay the price.
We are currently witnessing the financial failure of iconic developments world wide. The community of Frankston can ill afford a financial, environmental and social disaster on their doorstep at this time.
We respectfully request that our concerns carefully detailed in our 'Comments and Review of the proposed Frankston C50 Planning Scheme Amendment' dated 17 December 2008, be individually and properly considered and be factually responded to.
Secretary Frankston Beach Association Inc.
 Ed. Attached was this document from Justin Madden, from which I have transcribed the nine dot points corresponding to the responses of the Frankston Beach Association.
A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.
In 2008, I made the outrageous claim that all debts ought to be forgiven. This statement was of course meant to outrage, but now that I have an ever better understanding of what went wrong, I feel even more justified in supporting this idea.
This last year, I discovered the most amazing website (www.chrismartenson.com/crashcourse). Not only did Chris Martenson, a Master Communicator, consolidate all the things that I felt were going wrong with the world, he explains how these things are all coming to a head. The Crash Course goes for over three hours, so no amount of trying will cause anything I write here to completely determine our dilemmas, but I shall try.
For over twenty five years, I could not understand why as a civilisation we have this fascination with Economic Growth. Everyone tells us that growth is good for us, even though most of us don't like it, and consternation abounds when it goes away, as is happening right now. Well dear reader, it's all clear as a bell now. Capitalism, and its cousins the Free Markets, are fundamentally flawed. Capitalism is doomed to fail, no matter what we do, and here is why.
Everything around you is based on debt. Everything. The car in your garage, the garage, the road outside, the paper you are holding in your hands, was all paid for with money, and money is debt, (www.moneyasdebt.net) 90% created out of thin air by the Reserve Bank. In fact, much of this 'money' does not exist at all now, thanks to computers which are able to make electronic ledger entries in spreadsheets to the tune of any millions you like if the spending can be justified by later earnings. But there's a sting in the tail of all this debt: the money to pay the interest on that debt does not exist either!
So to create the interest payable, even 'more stuff' needs to be built or manufactured or invented. Newer better faster computers, bigger houses, bigger cars, plasma screen TVs, more air conditioners, and of course the interest money on that 'stuff' doesn't exist either, so the dog starts chasing its own tail..... except this dog's tail keeps growing, and it will choke the dog. I hope you are still with me on this, it is very important.
The other aspect of all this growth, is that it is exponential in nature, and an exponential curve looks like this:
This curve is of population, but they all look the same; flattish to start with, then they go skywards. Some of you might hopefully remember something I wrote last year about test tubes and bacteria, and test tubes filling up at midnight? So many things are now growing exponentially, like numbers of cars, roads, houses, debt itself, carbon emissions, water consumption, computers, topsoil loss, fisheries collapsing, that the list is way too long to publish here. As Chris Martenson says in the Crash Course “if you feel as though your life is accelerating out of control, well that's because it is...”
Now, have you noticed how, even just a few years ago, if you had a million bucks you were very rich, but today the very rich are all billionaires? And that when they talk about economic matters today, increasingly, the word Trillion is entering the vernacular? You have to put this into perspective actually. A Million dollars is a pile of tightly packed $100 notes about one metre high. But a Billion dollars is a pile one kilometre high! I can still get my head around that, sort of..... but a Trillion dollars, well that's something else altogether, that's tightly packed $100 notes laid horizontally all the way from here to Sydney!! Just let THAT sink in for a while, because they are using piles of money that large to bailout failed companies and banks where Uncle Sam lives. Money supply is also growing exponentially.
OK, now back to the fundamental flaws. Because debt has been growing exponentially and is going up with that train, the amount of money required to pay all that interest will not be paid in Trillions... but Godzillions! Still with me? Trouble is dear reader, there are not enough resources left to build $Godzillion worth of economic growth, and so the debts can never be repaid. NEVER.
Economists continue speaking in forked tongues, saying we have a financial crisis on our hands, when in fact we have a DEBT crisis.
When Peak Oil caused the price of oil to reach $147, everything (petrol, food, building, and most services) went up with it. The Powers That Be, assuming inflation was causing this, raised interest rates. How helpful was that? Treasury doesn't seem to understand that inflation is caused by too much money being circulated (remember, they print it!), thus causing money to be worth less, and the cost of everything going up. This time, however, it wasn't inflation that caused price rises, it was Limits to Growth. The government is now clutching at straws, they do not understand Limits to Growth. Computer says NO! Limits to Growth means, the debts cannot ever be repaid.
All this was predicted, as long as twenty years ago. But nobody listened, and now we have a huge problem to sort out. I have some ideas on how to fix this mess, but they are all way too controversial to happen before the entire deck of credit cards falls over in a big heap. A several Trillion dollars heap. The powers that be certainly have no idea what to do, they are borrowing ever more money and throwing it at the problem, when in fact someone ought to be shouting “STOP!” very very loudly. But there you go, this is all too much, it wasn't meant to happen, and the best they can do is clutch at straws and hope it will all go away.
But it won't go away, and soon, we will all be on our own. Will we let the multinationals repossess everything because they screwed up? Should we bail out stupid car companies because they ignored all the warnings about Peak Oil and Climate Change and insisted on making us cars that eat the planet? Or do we retake the streets and tell them to get lost (I'm being very polite here!) because we don't want them doing any more damage?
Food for thought for 2009. A crisis is a terrible thing to waste. What are we going to do about it? Next week dear reader.....!
Economic house of cards, ecological devastation
That the home building industry is the prime mover and catalyst of our ecological ruin was never more clearly illustrated than by statements recently made by University of West Florida economist Rick Harper, director of the UWF’s Haas Centre for Business Research. Harper argued that the real estate market would never recover from the current recession until population growth soaks up existing housing inventory and prices consequently begin to appreciate. “If we don’t stimulate population growth…we are going to take 10 years or more to recover from this recession”, he said, “we’ve had a huge overbuilding of the housing sector, there was just too much investment in residential structures.” He therefore advocates an easing of immigration standards to allow more people of higher education and net worth into the country.
The former Premier of New South Wales, Bob Carr, once offered Australia a choice. It could sustain jobs and economic security by using its brains, by being a smart economy, by adding value to the products it produces and by transforming manufacturing. Or it could continue to be a “lazy Australia” that depends on job growth simply by driving up population numbers and depending on the growth you get by building homes and shopping malls. And that is indeed what is it has done, adding a third to its population in less than three decades.
The Bush administration followed a similar course. By outsourcing decent working class jobs and tolerating the blatant mass employment of millions of low wage “undocumented” service sector workers they not only relegated 5 million Americans from the middle class but eviscerated what was left of the manufacturing sector. Land speculation and homebuilding assumed a greater importance in this new economy with a hollow core. Like a drug addict who has forsaken proper nutrition for energy, the new economy of real estate growthism relies on an immigration fix (and birth incentives to a lesser degree) for energy.
One fix never enough for an addict
But each succeeding fix requires greater injections to achieve the same jump start, and the cycle of boom and bust plays out with greater and greater consequences. More severe labour shortages, that call for more foreign injections, and the devastating ecological results, largely unsung, manifested in massive losses in prime farmland at a frightening pace and a cost in wildlife habitat that lies at the perimeter of expanding urban boundaries. Not to mention the greater energy consumption, waste disposal and pollution involved with never-ending urbanization. North American studies reveal that at most, rational land use planning could only mitigate half these problems. The other half are the inevitable consequence of largely immigrant-driven population growth.
Never enough fuel, never enough money
But real estate development itself requires fuel. It requires a favourable interest rate climate, and local governments bought and paid for together with their planning departments, staffed with growth managers who can converse in “greenspeak” and greenwash to assuage anxieties about their development plans. And of course it requires home buyers. People. The more the merrier. And where do people come from? Through the airport or the maternity ward, and the federal government is the gatekeeper at the first and most important port of entry, and quite influential in manipulating the volume at the other port too. Home buyers, in turn, have a requirement too. Financing. This holds the key, at least in Canada, to the demographic pyramid scam of the immigrant-propelled economy. For the big Canadian banks and credit institutions are not only the essential lubricants of home purchase and land development, but potent immigration lobbyists and influence peddlers as well.
Royal Bank of Canada
In fact the president and CEO of Canada’s dominant Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in 2008 reiterated the position taken by an October 2005 RBC report that the government should hike its annual immigration intake from its present approximately 240,000 to some 400,000. No doubt he would be speaking on behalf of his competitors in that ambition. What is most impressive about Mr. Gordon Nixon’s political strategy is that is conducted on a broad front. RBC realizes that the federal government may be the gatekeeper, but the environmental movement is the barking dog which must be silenced if the gate is to be left open wide for the avalanche of consumers that it wants.
So RBC laid out a Machiavellian plan. To cover their quest to underwrite the conversion of Canada’s best farmland to sprawling subdivisions and hundreds upon hundreds of species at risk to extinction in the process, they concocted an “Environmental Blueprint” that would signal to the environmental movement that “(they) support environmental sustainability”. They declared that would not for example“engage in new financing activities with corporations operating unsustainably in tropical rainforests or High Conservation Forests”. But the trees of urban Canada were presumably fair game, as are the rich fields of BC’s Fraser Valley and the Class 1 farmland of Ontario that is being developed at a pace of perhaps 60,000 acres per year. One might think that this kind of ecological damage, not to mention this threat to our national food security, would meet with the outrage of our environmental NGOs. Apparently RBC thought so too. That is why they bought their silence.
Silencing the barking dog
To prove their determination to “direct a significant portion of our philanthropic efforts to environmental causes”, they arranged to steer money to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) for each client who switched to electronic bank statements. A cute deal for both parties. NCC, always thirsty for dough, got a corporate bag man, and RBC got to wear a green cloak over its mercenary endeavours. It was not done for the environment, it was a strictly commercial transaction, ecological dispensation for suburban sprawl in return for cash and acquiescence.
Failure of environmental flagships
Many of us have been dumbfounded by the failure of flagship environmental NGOs like the Sierra Club of Canada or the David Suzuki Foundation to publicly contest the federal government’s mass immigration policy. NCC not surprisingly has been silent too, even though population growth is an obvious culprit in habitat loss. How could environmentalists ignore the Elephant in the Room? How could they ignore the obvious ecological impact of immigrant-driven population growth in Canada? Why didn’t they take the release of the Census report of March 2007, which revealed that Canada had the fastest growing population of all G8 countries, as an opportunity to attack government policy on this issue, and to educate people that population growth is a key variable of environmental degradation? That reducing per capita consumption without containing population is a futile enterprise.
Ideological myopia and donor bases
The answer was not to be found primarily in their ideological myopia, but in the examination of their carefully guarded donor base, which should, but isn’t, made easily available for public scrutiny. A look at the accounts of the David Suzuki Foundation reveals that the Royal Bank of Canada not only gave an award to the good Doctor, but is a significant contributor to his foundation. No wonder that Dr. Suzuki will not publicly say what he says privately. That the importation of people from low consuming third world countries to Canada so as to convert them to “hyper-consumers” is, in his words, “nuts”, and that industrialized countries are already overpopulated.
The Sierra Club is equally gripped with demographic lockjaw. The 2005 Report of the BC Sierra Club, the country’s largest, showed that the Toronto Dominion Bank and the Van City Credit Union empire, both big real estate lenders, were prominent contributors to their “environmental” organization. Given these contributions, to paraphrase Upton Sinclair, it is retrospectively clear why it has been difficult to make Sierra Club directors understand the environmental significance of mass immigration “if their salary depends on not understanding it.” Or is it that they understand it, but they tell “the silent lie”. The lie of knowing that something of vital importance is true and needs to be told, but deciding not to tell it. In this case, to protect a donor base at the cost of the raison d’etre of the organization, and the environment itself. Bureaucratic self-preservation seems to take on a life of its own. Truth, integrity and courage are its casualties.
Arguably then, homebuilding is not the prime mover of ecological ruin after all. Nor is it the greed of developers or the banks that finance them, or the dreams of the people that flood in to buy houses. It is, in my judgment, the ‘green’ watchdogs who haven’t barked because big money has thrown them a bone.
Quadra Island, BC
Reducing consumption key to a sustainable future
Based on then ground-breaking modelling, the forecasts of global ecological and economic collapse by mid-century contained in the controversial 1972 book; The Limits to Growth, are still `on-track' according to new CSIRO research, published on 11 November 2008.
The Limits to Growth modelled scenarios for the future global economy and environment and recommended far reaching changes to the way we live to avoid disaster.
In a paper published in the current edition of the international journal; Global Environmental Change, CSIRO physicist Dr Graham Turner compares forecasts from the book with global data from the past 30 years.
"The real-world data basically supports The Limits to Growth model," he says. "It shows that for the first 30 years of the model, the world has been tracking along the unsustainable trajectory of the book's business-as-usual scenario."
"The original modelling predicts that if we continue down that track and do not substantially reduce our consumption and increase technological progress, the global economy will collapse by the middle of this century.
"We've had the rare opportunity to evaluate the output of a global model against observed and independent data," says Dr Turner."The contemporary issues of peak oil, climate change, and food and water security, resonate strongly with the overshoot and collapse displayed in the business-as-usual scenario of The Limits to Growth."
This is the first time anyone has comprehensively tested the predictions of the first, and still one of the most comprehensive, global models linking the world economy to the environment.
"We've had the rare opportunity to evaluate the output of a global model against observed and independent data," says Dr Turner.
To date, the recommendations of The Limits to Growth, which included fundamental changes of policy and behaviour for sustainability, have not been implemented.
The The Limits to Growth documented the results of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study carried out by Meadows et al, who were commissioned by The Club of Rome to analyse the 'world problematique' using a computer model developed at MIT called World3.
TheThe Limits to Growth became the best selling environmental book in history, selling more than 30 million copies in 30 languages.
"In the years since 1972, The Limits to Growth has provoked much criticism but our research indicates that the main claims against the modelling are false," Dr Turner says.
CSIRO is investigating how Australia can address the challenges of economic, environmental and social sustainability facing communities across Australia.
Source: http://www.csiro.au/news/The-Limits-To-Growth.html Reference: 08/179
The Biosphere and the Lithosphere
Humans live in and from the biosphere. But in the first decade of the
21st Century, 85 percent of the primary energy consumed by the 6.7
billion humans comes from the lithosphere.
About 40 percent of this energy is oil. Another 40 percent comes from
natural gas and coal, and 6 percent more is from uranium.
This represents close to 10 billion tons of oil equivalent, extracted
every year from below ground.
The technosphere, that recent human creation, transforms the
biosphere, with the extraction, transformation, and transport of
useful materials from the Earth crust at a rate of about 33 billion
tons per year. In addition, about 36 billion tons of the accompanying
ores and some 30 billion tons of earth crust cover are extracted. In
total, the 11 billion tons of equivalent oil of primary energy are
needed every year to extract, transform and transport about 100
billion tons of materials, including the energy materials themselves.
Without that energy, these movements will not be possible. With
decreasing energy supplies, the extraction of materials and the
related services will decrease accordingly.
Nature of this sphere
Being a sphere, the Planet is limited in size. It is obvious,but in
this world needs to be continuously emphasized, that the resources
contained in it are also limited. Geologists in general and the ASPO
community in particular, know very well that the extraction of
resources from the lithosphere is subject to a given pattern that
limits and shapes the extraction rates. It has, more or less, the
form of a bell shaped curve, shown in its logo. It is the Hubbert
curve. Even admitting that the shape of the curve may drift apart in
some cases, from the theoretical one, due to social causes, the
principle is out of question.
Resource peaks and energy flows
And some of us feel that we are reaching the oil peak in our ascent,
and other neighbouring peaks as well, even the present financial
storms and other geopolitical clouds may disguise that cordillera, as
exclusively a monetary problem.
Then, it is a question of flows, diminishing flows, rather than the
end of oil or gas. It is a physical and geological issue, rather than
an economic one. Pouring more paper money into the markets will not
help to realize where we are. Those present frentic movements very
much resemble the classic film scenes of thieves throwing and
dispersing the bank notes of the loot in the middle of a crowd, to
create a momentary convulsion and thus, trying to escape from the
police, while keeping a couple of rolls in the pockets.
Limits of human economics
As M. King Hubbert said: `There's no monetary mechanism in existence
that can find oil that God didn't put there and the price isn't going
to increase that amount of oil'. The same can be applied for all
other materials that humans demand today in increasing amounts.
And there is a clear evidence that global economic growth and global
energy consumption run parallel and are very directly related,
despite some anomalies in specific countries, which claim
improvements in efficiency, in the GPD/Unit of product or service
ratio, while diverting and outsourcing the burden to third countries
o regions. Technology improvements and higher financial investments
help to delay the peak or plateau of the bell curve or reshape it,
but can neither fight the reality of gradual depletion.
There are also clear indicators that greenhouse and other gas
emissions are also directly related to the fossil fuels, extracted
from the lithosphere and burnt to provide goods and ser-vices to
However, classical economists still work, think and behave as if they
lived on a flat Earth with limitless resources to be made available
by Man's ingenuity and market forces.
Very serious issues are at stake caused by the growing gap between
the available fuel supply, which is subject to natural depletion and
the ever growing demand implied by classical economic theory.
In the same way as a seed takes time to emerge from the ground and
form a plant, we will soon have to face the paradox and the dilemma
of returning to the biosphere and its resources for survival, and
rely more and more on renewable energy resources above ground.
The Sun projects onto the Earth some 8,500 times more primary energy
than we consume, but it is, again, rather than a question of volumes,
a matter of flows and feasible energy capture rates of this as
beautiful as dispersed energy.
We urgently need to determine the extent to which we can maintain the
present socio-political and technological environment with more of
the renewable energy resources from the biosphere and less from the
lithosphere, by using the human ingenuity and technology; or by
reshaping our way of living; or perhaps and better, a wise
combination of both.
Seventh ASPO International conference in Barcelona, 20-21 October 2008
We will be analyzing and discussing all these important questions in
detail in the 7th. ASPO (Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas) International Conference at the World Trade Center in Barcelona, Spain, on October 20th and 21st.
See the Official program (pdf file) "From Below Ground to Above Ground"
Join us by registering here
For questions and contacts, please address to
Welcome to Barcelona.
Article by Pedro from Madrid, subtitled by Sheila Newman for candobetter.org
Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, catholic Italian economist, writes a long article, – where else ?- in the über catholic newspaper The Osservatore Romano, the official voice of the Vatican Curia. It starts with the following incipit:
"We should have the courage to affirm that the fragility and vulnerability of the Western economy are strictly connected, if not the cause, of the demographic crisis, which started 30 years ago and that presides over the sudden collapse of the rate of population growth, from more than a yearly 7% to almost zero. This crisis has provoked indirectly larger and more rigid public expenditure with the consequent difficulty of reducing tax revenues and, directly, a minor growth of the financial wealth produced by families savings."
Dr. Tedeschi, a respected economist, places the responsibility in the hands of insufficiently fertile Western couples for producing the Perfect Storm: current recession, banks crashes, underemployment, Stock exchange and market collapse. Maybe also, like GW, kidney stones, droughts, unusual rain, hurricanes, desertification, snoring and so on.
Unflinchingly, this dangerous propagandist for the Church's outdated doctrine of unrestricted rabbity activity, continues to ask rhetorically, why and how this crisis is connected to the demographic issue?
He delivers the usual lesson on population ageing, which we have all heard before, but adding a very sensitive argument: the plight of the Family, which has lost much of its strength (in numbers):
"The drop of family wealth has been of 2/3, while the vocation to consume of a growing portion of families has forced them to fall into debt. … The process (of running into debt) will worsen because of the demographic crisis... Imagine future scenarios: the hope of using the liquidity and wealth created in the big Asiatic powers like China and India are to be reappraised. These economies which generate a growth rate of their financial activities of more than 10-15% and that have in the past sustained the USA's public deficit, in the future will invest in the home market or to acquire a competitive autonomy by acquiring access to resources.
"To correct the demographic deficit by a politic of steady import of immigrants doesn't produce immediate or even medium term compensation. Leaving aside the problem of solidarity, immigration is necessary for acquiring a growing workforce, but for a long time will be represented by only a fraction of immigrants from European countries, who have a better capacity to generate wealth, but a limited capacity to contribute to the social expenditure.
"To increase fertility is an excellent programme, but it is too long term and its results will be seen only in 25/30 years. However, if families will be stimulated to have courage and bring forth a greater number of children, they will represent an engine of wealth creation, a capacities to overcome difficulties, because they will feel more responsible, they will save more and invest more ...."
from The Osservatore Romano, 11th September 2008
Now, we can together have fun in picking out the contradictions, the ignorance, the superficiality, from this masterpiece Maybe it is too easy.
For example, starting with the Stock exchange crisis, it started in the USA, the country in the Western world which is enjoying – so to speak - major population growth...
And the more the number of children per family, the less opportunity there will be to spend money.
But Dr. Tedeschi lives in another world and he hears only the bells of S.Peter in his head.