Saturday, January 14, 2012

Economic growth at all costs?

How much are we prepared to gamble on continuous economic growth?

Some of you will be aware that I've been reading widely and deeply about climate change, global warming and peak oil in preparation for the A-Z blogging challenge in April. It's been a remarkable journey so far; I've met some amazing people, attended scientific lectures and corresponded with scientists, journalists and super switched on people around the globe.

What has been surprising is that far from being the devastating, miserable, depressing experience I anticipated,  I've become more resilient as I've begun to discuss openly and understand the implications of the change we're experiencing. Perhaps it's a bit like the expression: "Know thine enemy", or possibly "Knowledge is power", or as Dr Russ Harris (ACT and mindfulness expert) says: "Make friends with your demons".

With greater knowledge has come a shift in the chasm of fear I'd experienced earlier - intriguing!

That's not to say I'm not pretty spooked at times, particularly with the lack of foresight and action on the part of governments and some major companies, but far less so than 6 months ago. (I'll save my anger at the greed, lies, obfuscation and lack of ethics and integrity for another time.) Hoping that climate change, global warming and energy depletion is all a bad dream that will go away when I wake up isn't, unfortunately, going to work.

The following 6 minute video produced by the Post Carbon Institute is one of the many informative, accessible explanations of looking at the change that we are beginning to experience as cheap plentiful energy begins to decline.

They explain that the Industrial Revolution was possible due to the harvesting and use of cheap energy. We imagined that this energy was inexhaustible, and many of us in the western world have enjoyed the abundance of goodies available as growth and rampant consumerism overtook values of restraint and moderation. Many of us, including governments have borrowed against the future and are not sure how we're going to repay the debt (or even in some cases if it's possible at all).

More and more economists are questioning the wisdom of continual growth, and are expressing their concern that our current measurement of Gross Domestic Product isn't working as well as they'd been taught. It isn't measuring the health our our economies adequately - as any carer or parent knows, their work isn't included even if they're working 24/7, yet the quality of many people's lives depends on their unpaid work.

We know growth can't go on for ever. There are practical limits to our energy sources and disposal of the wastes we're producing.  The earlier we address these and aim for improvements in our lives that don't include increasing consumption of fossil fuels and other resources, and work to build local prospering communities, the easier the transition will be.

How would you measure the health of our economies?



Manzanita said...

You are so organized and prepared .... getting a jump on the A - Z.

I don't know how Australia differs from US but we're doomed. I've come to believe (esp. in my old age) that politicians always lie and in an election year, they'll tell you anything you want to hear. WW3 is nipping at our heels. Washington is manufacturing the stage right now, hoping the provocation works and "they" fire the first shot, just as FDR did with WW2. That, of course, enrages the people who then cry, "they can't do that to us" and shout for war. So they send their precious commodities in the form of young people, to fight for their country. But fighting now is all chemicals. Every munition or anything they touch is a killer chemical.

Did you know that 50% of the returning military eventually get cancer or some life-threatening disease. The injured neurons in their brain are now causing all the murders and suicides and it's from the chemicals. The government denies this and they can't get an appointment in a vet hospital. But it's population control and puts big bucks in the pockets of the elite.

Don't get me started.... you only asked about the economy, didn't you? Oh well, it gives you an idea of what I think about the economy.

Take care and have a great week end.

sue said...

Manzanita, it's great to hear from you. There was an interview on TV last week discussing the devastating effects on soldiers who are trained to kill, and what it does to their psyche. They touched on the ripple on effects of the training and dreadful problems these mean and women have fitting back into "normal" society. Chemicals weren't mentioned in that particular story but they'd add even more weight to the argument that all is not well - (now there's an understatement)