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Prosperity without Growth?

The UK's Sustainable Development Commission has released a major new report: 'Prosperity without Growth?: the transition to a sustainable economy'. Fuller details at this address. Reproduced here under the SDC's Creative Commons Licence.

The economy is geared, above all, to economic growth. Economic policy in the current recession is all about returning to growth – but an economic crisis can be an opportunity for some basic rethinking and restructuring.

Two objectives other than growth – sustainability and wellbeing – have moved up the political and policy-making agenda in recent years, challenging the overriding priority traditionally given to economic growth.

SDC's "Redefining Prosperity" project has looked into the connections and conflicts between sustainability, growth, and wellbeing.

As part of a two year programme of work, we commissioned thinkpieces, organised seminars, and invited feedback. This project has now resulted in a major SDC report: 'Prosperity without Growth?: the transition to a sustainable economy' by Professor Tim Jackson, SDC’s Economics Commissioner. Prosperity without growth? analyses the relationship between growth and the growing environmental crisis and 'social recession'. In the last quarter of a century, while the global economy has doubled, the increased in resource consumption has degraded an estimated 60% of the world’s ecosystems. The benefits of growth have been distributed very unequally, with a fifth of the world’s population sharing just 2% of global income. Even in developed countries, huge gaps remain in wealth and well-being between rich and poor.

While modernising production and reducing the impact of certain goods and services have led to greater resource efficiency in recent decades, our report finds that current aspirations for 'decoupling' environmental impacts from economic growth are unrealistic. The report finds no evidence as yet of decoupling taking place on anything like the scale or speed which would be required to avoid increasing environmental devastation.

Prosperity without growth? proposes twelve steps towards a sustainable economy and argues for a redefinition of "prosperity" in line with evidence about what contributes to people’s wellbeing.

SDC intends to generate discussion and debate on the challenges on the issues that Prosperity without Growth? raises. We have sent the report to the Prime Minister, government leaders in the devolved administrations, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and other government ministers, as well as business and civil society leaders.

The following is the Foreword to the report. You can download the whole report from the url at the top (3MB pdf). Well worth reading the whole thing.

Every society clings to a myth by which it lives. Ours is the myth of economic growth. For the last five decades the pursuit of growth has been the single most important policy goal across the world. The global economy is almost five times the size it was half a century ago. If it continues to grow at the same rate the economy will be 80 times that size by the year 2100. 

This extraordinary ramping up of global economic activity has no historical precedent. It’s totally at odds with our scientific knowledge of the finite resource base and the fragile ecology on which we depend for survival. And it has already been accompanied by the degradation of an estimated 60% of the world’s ecosystems. 

For the most part, we avoid the stark reality of these numbers. The default assumption is that – financial crises aside – growth will continue indefinitely. Not just for the poorest countries, where a better quality of life is undeniably needed, but even for the richest nations where the cornucopia of material wealth adds little to happiness and is beginning to threaten the foundations of our wellbeing. 

The reasons for this collective blindness are easy enough to find. The modern economy is structurally reliant on economic growth for its stability. When growth falters – as it has done recently – politicians panic. Businesses struggle to survive. People lose their jobs and sometimes their homes. A spiral of recession looms. Questioning growth is deemed to be the act of lunatics, idealists and revolutionaries. 

But question it we must. The myth of growth has failed us. It has failed the two billion people who still live on less than $2 a day. It has failed the fragile ecological systems on which we depend for survival. It has failed, spectacularly, in its own terms, to provide economic stability and secure people’s livelihoods. 

Today we find ourselves faced with the imminent end of the era of cheap oil, the prospect (beyond the recent bubble) of steadily rising commodity prices, the degradation of forests, lakes and soils, conflicts over land use, water quality, fishing rights and the momentous challenge of stabilising concentrations of carbon in the global atmosphere. And we face these tasks with an economy that is fundamentally broken, in desperate need of renewal. 

In these circumstances, a return to business as usual is not an option. Prosperity for the few founded on ecological destruction and persistent social injustice is no foundation for a civilised society. 

Economic recovery is vital. Protecting people’s jobs – and creating new ones – is absolutely essential. But we also stand in urgent need of a renewed sense of shared prosperity. A commitment to fairness and flourishing in a finite world. 

Delivering these goals may seem an unfamiliar or even incongruous task to policy in the modern age. The role of government has been framed so narrowly by material aims, and hollowed out by a misguided vision of unbounded consumer freedoms. The concept of governance itself stands in urgent need of renewal. 

But the current economic crisis presents us with a unique opportunity to invest in change. To sweep away the short-term thinking that has plagued society for decades. To replace it with considered policy capable of addressing the enormous challenge of delivering a lasting prosperity. 

For at the end of the day, prosperity goes beyond material pleasures. It transcends material concerns. 

It resides in the quality of our lives and in the health and happiness of our families. It is present in the strength of our relationships and our trust in the community. It is evidenced by our satisfaction at work and our sense of shared meaning and purpose. 

It hangs on our potential to participate fully in the life of society. 

Prosperity consists in our ability to flourish as human beings – within the ecological limits of a finite planet. The challenge for our society is to create the conditions under which this is possible. It is the most urgent task of our times. 

Tim Jackson, Economics Commissioner, Sustainable Development Commission,  March 2009

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Prosperity without growth? Equals investments without returns

Prosperity without growth? What? Do you make investments without a return?

Oh, hang on. That's what's been going on since Lehman Brothers went belly up...

Now the reality

John Pratt: "Whatever you choose to believe it is hard to deny that the average Australian or the average citizen of the first world is pumping far greater GHG emissions into the atmosphere than the citizens of the third world."

Well, they're not.

How does the third world dispose of waste? How does the population increases compare? How about damage to natural environment? Now, I understand with the third question, the sleight of hand is to book that up on the end product user. So don't bother.

We are surely saying to them "I'm alright Jack."

In your fight between good and evil, perhaps.

I imagine there's some "central truth" somewhere in the plan. Unfortunately that's only taking place in your head. It's your view on a situation. That doesn't mean the facts and your view, are one and the same thing. 

Australia cutting emissions can't actually make any difference without third world co-operation - and that's highly unlikely at present. Australia destroying its citizens' wealth also won't help. Putting Australians on the same level as third world nations (the biggest polluters), is fairly contradictory, no?

Dismissing anything that goes wrong as, oh well it's good for the environment at least, is also delusional. Every decision has consequences and ramifications. Destruction of people's economic lifeblood is one of those decisions. It would want to be for one hell of reason, not a could be, maybe, should be etc.

If such a thing was to eventuate, I'd imagine people would be none to pleased (and that's putting it very nicely). Let's say, you won't be put on most people's Christmas list.

The autocrats can find their own country

John Pratt, freedom is an over all positive thing. It will though bring with it some unwanted negatives - the unfortunate trade-off with any system. Still, I wouldn't swap it for anything else.

Though, eventually one would hope that freedom with responsibility morphs into the ideal. First though, we walk before we can run.

Over the last thirty years I've witnessed a number of freedoms taken away. Some through law, government, and many more through neglect. I don't feel this has improved society or life, in fact I believe the opposite has occurred, and taking more freedoms will continue the impact.

The argument of this century soon won't be left v right, it'll be statists v libertarian. And it's a much more important result with the outcome.

Some unwanted negatives

Paul Morrella, freedom will bring some "unwanted negatives":

The new report, The Human Impact of Climate Change published by the Global Humanitarian Forum, an organisation led by former secretary general of the United Nations Kofi Annan, concludes that climate change kills an estimated 300,000 people per year, equivalent to the number of deaths caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Ninety per cent of them are in the developing world.

"Climate change is having a real and significant impact around the world, communities and individuals are suffering," Annan said. The report predicts that the number of victims of climate change is expected to rise to 500,000 by 2030. The majority of deaths are attributed to gradual environmental degradation such as crop failure leading to malnutrition, and water problems such as flooding and draughts.

That's what I call a very unwanted negative, and one that is the result of unfettered greed.

I think freedom is important but so is the common good.

We all give up freedoms for the common good. Gun laws, road laws are all there to protect us against people who abuse their freedom and put others at risk. The state has to provide laws to protect us and in the process curtails some freedoms.

I think I prefer to live in a society where we find a balance between freedom and common good.

When the freedom to pollute is responsible for hundreds of thousands dying then I think it is time to bring in anti pollution laws. Freedom doesn't give us a licence to kill.

The choice is yours

Anthony Nolan: "So, for example, we can see Paul Morrella, in the sort of intellectually perverse move for which liberals are famous, blaming the poor for being poor."

I don't blame the poor for being poor. Nobody in their right mind would want such a situation in their life. I attempt to be constructive and change the situation, rather than patronise and linger on the situation.

The point is that the current global inequality results from more than 400 years of the most vicious and bloody exploitation by the European centre of the periphery of the world. 

People shouldn't ignore history, nor should they live in it.

The point is that if gold was given for economic hits, these areas would be swimming in it. It isn't, and it's not. Dealing with the here and now is the only progressive move that can be made.

According to his world view the poor are to blame for ecological degradation and the wealthy, who consume wisely apparently, are actually the bearers of ecological virtue. 

The word virtue implies the Earth is dependant on human constructs such as good and evil. It isn't. The poor cause more environmental damage, and you've admitted to it. My point has been made.

According to this logic the poor are poor as a consequence of historical accident rather than real history and the wealthy of the world will be its saviours by urging the poor to emulate them. 

I think sections in every country are already "emulating". It's becoming the west with the problem about this. The unwanted competition. I read recently a guy asking whats going wrong with America, why the change etc. The answer is simple: America hasn't changed. The rest of the world has though. It's catching up, and it's learning. And it's happening fast.

I'd prefer this to be taking place on an individual basis, considering individuals make nations. A nation is only as strong as its strongest member, and only as weak as its weakest member.

Liberalism's veil of ignorance

Rawls famously suggested that choice games should be played out behind what he termed a "veil of ignorance" which would effectively obscure knowledge people's ethnicity, class, gender and so on. The purpose of this was to create an artificially level "playing field" in which to test liberalism's rational choice theory which was, of course, set against a background of market relations within a liberal democratic society.  All being equal, he proposed, we would all reach similar kinds of conclusions about self interest in the historical conditions of market economics within a liberal democracy.

The problem with this particular intellectual device is that it has become a generalised choice for liberals.  In other words they expect others to operate behind the same "veil of ignorance" that they choose to employ as they ignore historical inequalities which developed over time as a consequence of the real decisions of real actors seeking to exploit their relative advantage.

So, for example, we can see Paul Morrella, in the sort of intellectually perverse move for which liberals are famous, blaming the poor for being poor. Tragically he is probably unaware of the antecedents for this within liberalism (see the Reverend Malthus on the perfidy of the poor if you have the stomach for it).  In a doubling of the sort of intellectual perversity involved we are expected to ignore the extensive history of imperial exploitation by which the industrialised nations of Europe became wealthy at the expense of the peoples of Africa, South America, S-E Asia and South Asia (India).  We are expected to simply ignore the bloody history of the English colonial Empire in India and other parts, the depredations of King Leopold in the Congo and the sorts of atrocities committed against the Putamayo Indians of South America by English rubber companies. The examples could go on forever.

An excellent path into this history is provided by Eric Wolf's Europe and the People Without History.

The point is that the current global inequality results from more than 400 years of the most vicious and bloody exploitation by the European centre of the periphery of the world.  It is correct that the most poverty stricken of the world tend to exact the highest ecological cost as they struggle to meet daily needs with no heed for future ecological needs.  This is a consequence of the immediacy of their struggle to stay alive. It takes little imagination to grasp how this happens.  It does, however, take a little effort to read history in order to understand that the world's poor are not so poor and we wealthy by comparison as a consequence of their innate inferiority and "our" innate superiority.  This situation arose directly from the real actions of real historical agents. 

This has been thoroughly explored by Immanuel Wallerstein in his dependency theory.

Without doubt the logic of Paul's arguments is obscene and deeply perverse. According to his world view the poor are to blame for ecological degradation and the wealthy, who consume wisely apparently, are actually the bearers of ecological virtue.  According to this logic the poor are poor as a consequence of historical accident rather than real history and the wealthy of the world will be its saviours by urging the poor to emulate them. 

All together now as we join liberalism in another chorus of Madonna's Like a Virgin. There, that ought to convince them of our sincerity.

The cold hard hand of reality

John Pratt: "Paul, in your upside down world the more you buy the less effect you have on the planet. In fact the poor who live on less the $2 a day have a carbon footprint about one twentieth of ours".

Actually, it's more a case of what you buy not how much you buy. Take for example a car - a guy could own five cars. He can only drive one at a time, so his car emissions may well be less then a guy with one car. Especially if emission standards are considered between the first and third world.

Wealthier nations also have EPA standards far superior to poorer nations. A wealthier person is also more likely to buy ethically, and buy a better standard of product. Say, when building a house a wealthier person will use products that in the long run are much more expensive and energy efficent. A wealthier person will generally enjoy a better diet, that would probably include organic foods etc.

"If poverty is the major cause of environmental damage how come the rich nations of the world have the largest C02 emissions?"

Your link answers the question:

"That, perhaps, is one reason that they are poor. You don't see it until you do the kind of accounting that we do here."

It's how one wishes to look at statistics - more precisely what kind of statistics.

The rich nations of the world don't have the largest CO2 emissions. They do, however, have them when taken on a per capita basis, which in itself is misleading. Take a sparse and lightly populated nation such as Australia. Australia causes 1.5% of world emissions, hardly a dent in the wall. Yet it causes the highest per capita emissions. Now, that's a big disparity, no?

You'll find Australia because of its sparse population and fixed (it won't increase production with population) mining and agricultural industry is the reason for its per capita gold medal. So to fix this problem all one would need do is increase the population, perhaps double, maybe triple etc. A direct contradiction, no? 

That's statistics, damn statistics, and statistics aren't a replacement for rational sense.

Giving people a better standard of living, increasing their wealth will be of the most benefit. In your "upside down" world, you think you can achieve this by making people poorer. You can't, it's impossible. It's already been tried, numerous times, and it fails every time.

The rich want the freedom to pollute

Paul Morrella: freedom to pollute.

What is conspicuously absent from the freedom lobby's lexicon is the word "justice." They are all for freedom so long as it doesn't include the freedom to hold them accountable for their contributions to the demise of other people's homes and livelihoods. Here they simply ignore their own arguments about property and freely trample on the rights of others to have a livable climate. The private property zealots refuse to acknowledge that the atmosphere belongs to all of us and that that implies that no single person or group has the right to abuse it.

What the freedom lobby has conveniently forgotten is that society is a social contract. As philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote, without that contract we would be free to do whatever we wish and the result would be a "war of all against all." The ruling ethos would be that of "might makes right."

Whatever you choose to believe it is hard to deny that the average Australian or the average citizen of the first world is pumping far greater GHG emissions into the atmosphere than the citizens of the third world. We are surely saying to them "I'm alright Jack."  

Wealth reduces environment problems

Our plan is to take VBP and increase population by 50% making it VBP x 1.5 and then we plan to increase per capita income by around 300% by 2050. So our “plan” is to have VBP x 1.5 x 3. In case your maths isn’t so good, that = Complete Catastrophe, also sometimes referred to as civilisation’s collapse.

A cursory glance around the world tells anyone who looks that birth rates reduce with increases in wealth. These figures above are plainly wrong - obviously based on nothing more than what's taking place in this guy's mind. Though it's an internet link so it must be true!

Poverty is the major cause of environmental damage. It should be obvious why. Poor people simply don't have any choice about how they live. Their only choice is what's on offer. The wealthier people become the more they'll survey their surroundings. That's why rich people don't live atop toxic waste dumps.

Rich nations have developed at the expense of the poor

Paul Morrella: "Poverty is the major cause of environmental damage."

You must be joking.

The study found that there are huge disparities in the ecological footprint inflicted by rich and poor countries on the rest of the world because of differences in consumption. The authors say that the west's high living standards are maintained in part through the huge unrecognised ecological debts it has built up with developing countries.

"At least to some extent, the rich nations have developed at the expense of the poor and, in effect, there is a debt to the poor," said Prof Richard Norgaard, an ecological economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the study. "That, perhaps, is one reason that they are poor. You don't see it until you do the kind of accounting that we do here."

Paul, in your upside down world the more you buy the less effect you have on the planet. In fact the poor who live on less the $2 a day have a carbon footprint about one twentieth of ours.

National carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per capita.

If poverty is the major cause of environmental damage how come the rich nations of the world have the largest C02 emissions?

As Gary Snyder said, the real wilderness is within

I couldn't agree more with the sentiments expressed here by Bikku Bodhi:

The entire drive of contemporary civilization has been towards the conquest and mastery of the external world. Science probes ever more deeply into the hidden secrets of matter and life, while technology and industry join hands to harness the discoveries of science for their practical applications. No doubt science and technology have made appreciable contributions towards alleviating human misery and have vastly improved the quality of our lives. Yet because the human mind, the ultimate agent behind all the monumental achievements of science, has pitifully neglected itself, our patterns of perception, motivations, and drives still move in the same dark channels in which they moved in earlier centuries — the channels of greed, hatred, and delusion — only now equipped with more powerful instruments of destruction.

As long as we continue to shirk the task of turning our attention within, towards the understanding and mastery of our own minds, our impressive accomplishments in the external sphere will fail to yield their proper fruits. While at one level they may make life safer and more comfortable, at another they will spawn baneful consequences of increasing severity and peril, even despite our best intentions. For the human race to flourish in the global age, and to live together happily and peacefully on this shrinking planet, the inescapable challenge facing us is that of coming to understand and transform ourselves.

The business logic of sustainability

At his carpet company, Ray Anderson has increased sales and doubled profits while turning the traditional "take / make / waste" industrial system on its head. In a gentle, understated way, he shares a powerful vision for sustainable commerce.

Tomorrow"s child.

It is time to change our thinking.

Money it's a crime

Jay Somasundaram: "Money, on the other hand, is just a cheap piece of paper which has value only because the government says it does".

Actually, no.

Money doesn't need to be paper. It could mean anything that is used as a intermediary to trade. Paper is merely the link we have with money at the present time.

The government doesn't have any say over the value of money. The market decides on its value. Governments have the authority to supply and decide what "money" constitutes legal tender.

Dark Age: you betcha

Jay Somasundaram: "On which pages are they? Or are you saying that his arguments will logicially lead to their loss? If so, you need to explain this logic so that I can follow your train of thought."

He argues against personal freedom as opposed to community, which is a communist ideal and indeed an ideal of the religiously controlled Dark Ages. The very nature of no growth is a rejection of the Age of Enlightenment. It implies the world has reached its peak, it's perfect.

God made the world, therefore, it's perfect. Everything that changes is a sin against God - that will bring with it punishment. Substitute the word God for nature. You should see what my train of thought is.

The environmental movement (large sections of it) is a religious cult. I think that's becoming more and more clear every day.

The easy answer

John Pratt, I won't be giving up any of my freedoms. And I teach my children to always be on guard of theirs. I wouldn't be alone.

We may also have to ration our demands so others can simply live.

"We" can ration whatever he likes, that's "we's" choice. I won't be rationing my life

A very big problem

 Paul Morrella, we have a Very Big Problem.

Ecological Limits.Think about the maths. We currently have a series of ecological strains and stresses that threaten the system’s capacity to support humanity. (This is not opinion, this is science). Lets call that “Very Big Problem” (VBP). VBP is our current economic system with its ecological impacts racing out of control.

Our plan is to take VBP and increase population by 50% making it VBP x 1.5 and then we plan to increase per capita income by around 300% by 2050. So our “plan” is to have VBP x 1.5 x 3. In case your maths isn’t so good, that = Complete Catastrophe, also sometimes referred to as civilisation’s collapse.

The good news is that it is not going to happen! Why not? Well first of all, physics and biology define physical limits and their behaviour won’t change, even with the cleverness of New York Cowboys. So we’ll have no choice but to change. Secondly we are very, very clever when we put our minds to it. So we can change very fast and that’s a good thing.

Unless you and your children find another planet to live on you will find that we (including you) will have to change.

We cannot continue business as usual

Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, former Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Requirements and Programs, warns that to ignore the national security implications of our current energy system would be extremely unwise.

“We have less than 10 years to change or fossil fuel dependency course in significant ways. Our nation’s security depends on the swift, serious and thoughtful response to the inter-linked challenges of energy security and climate change. Our elected leaders and, most importantly, the American people should realize this set of challenges isn’t going way. We cannot continue business as usual.”

We must move to a sustainable economy. Our dependence on fossil fuels is threatening our security. One way we could reduce our dependence is to mandate more fuel efficient vehicles and energy efficient buildings and appliances.

By the year 2100, earth will be hotter than it's been in 3 million years. Three million years ago, probably not one species that you're familiar with on earth today was alive. So, yes, there were species, there will be species in the future, but the problem is that the earth that people have adapted to and are familiar with will be very different in the future. We will be outside the bounds of anything humanity has ever experienced.

A serf to this idiot? I think not

Jay Somasundaram: "You are right, many people will show an antipathy to the Communist Mamifesto, but that is mainly because of a learned antipathy to the words "communist", "bourgeoisie" and "proletariat"."

I don't think a large majority under forty has an antipathy to communism. Not because they think differently, more because they lack a tangible experience of which to draw upon. What communism really means for them probably has never crossed their mind.

Today's communist is obsessed with labels and word play. It's a case of "don't mention the war" - in this case, the true road to their ideals. So I give the English commie dude his due, he doesn't leave the reader in any doubt. If you wish to take some of his preferred policies, I'd be more than willing to explain the possible other side. The downside. What the bad bits are, what it could mean etc.

So Paul, I would like to know exactly what in "Prosperity without growth" do you disagree with and what do you agree with.

Very broadly:

I agree that personal, community, and world environment is less than perfect. I also agree that all these things could be improved. Things can always be improved.

I disagree with his rejection of the age of enlightenment. This rejection is expressed through his disdain for personal freedoms. Things such as liberty become a disease, and the "selected collective" becomes the cure. The almost obsession with wiping out competition (personal improvement) all stems directly from the rejection of liberty.

This person thinks that the base minimum rather than the maximum should be sought of people, that seeking personal maximums should be discouraged, and if necessary by force. It's a latter day year zero in all measurable aspects.

Intangibles such as emotions, "wellness", "happiness" etc, are presented as a collective measurement. They are in fact personal and because of this impossible to measure in such a way. We have nothing except his word for it.

His theories aren't progressive, they're regressive. They support moving away from the age of enlightenment toward a previous era. That era is universally known as the dark ages.

Just cause

I find no reason to disagree with what you argue for, Paul, and am surprised that Professor Jackson rejects (1) the age of enlightenment, (2) personal improvement; and (3) liberty. Are you sure he says that? On which pages are they? Or, are you saying that his arguments will logicially lead to their loss? If so, you need to explain this logic so that I can follow your train of thought.

Emotions, wellness and happiness are being measured. Depression, for example, is a medical illness whose severeness can be assessed and treated. Money, on the other hand, is just a cheap piece of paper which has value only because the government says it does.

Your false Gods

John Pratt:  "Paul, why do you argue against these changes?"

Let me be clear: I don't argue against a better environment. I most certainly would like to live in a better world environment. I argue against the authoritarian streak both you and your "preferred links" exhibit. I also believe many only use the environment as a handy prop for devious means.

Society must lose something to gain something, in this case, one's freedom of choice, is another of your often projected, red herring fallacies. People most definitely don't need to lose the tenuous freedoms they cling to, in order to improve anything. In fact I'd argue the exact opposite is the case.

I reject entirely your notion that improvement is a forced collective on the same level. More precisely when that involves bringing people down a level or two or three....That's not improvement, that's destruction. It's burning the village to save the village. It's utterly false and it can become a very dangerous and destructive thought process if generally accepted.

Sometimes we give up freedom for the common good

Paul Morrella, you believe that many use the environment for devious means.

Sometimes governments bring in regulation for our own safety. For example the compulsory wearing of seatbelts and other road laws, gun laws, building regulations and various health regulations. We all give up certain freedoms for the common good.

I believe protection of the environment fits into this area. The government should regulate efficient use of energy, to protect the planet until we have replaced fossil fuels with clean energy.

We may also have to ration our demands so others can simply live.

We should not use freedom as an excuse to grab more than our share or to pollute the planet.

Please teach me, Paul

Paul Morrella, in your comment This one really goes the extra distance, though you are ostensibly replying to me, you didn't answer my question on your opinion of collaboration as an alternative to competition.

In your post, you say you'd like to pass on your 'learned knowledge'. And I would dearly like to learn from you. You've read it twice, which would suggest about 5 hours of work you've put into it, which is much more than me. But you don't say exactly what parts you disagree with and what you agree with.

Marx's theory is now firmly integrated into mainstream culture. Gandhi's challenge to British imperialism, the Nationals' fight against urban drift, Dick Smith's fight to 'buy Australian', all have their roots in Marxism. You are right, many people will show an antipathy to the Communist Mamifesto, but that is mainly because of a learned antipathy to the words "communist", "bourgeoisie" and "proletariat". If the manifesto was simply delivered in modern speak, most people would yawn and say "yeah we know all that."

So Paul, I would like to know exactly what in "Prosperity without growth" do you disagree with and what do you agree with.

A very basic life and economics lesson

John Pratt: "If we choose to own luxury cars instead of giving our excess wealth to save these children we are indirectly choosing to let these children die. As I said, every time we turn the key of a luxury car or live an excessive lifestyle a child dies. You have made the decision that your right to luxury is more important than a child's right to life. Money is power and you have the power to choose life or death."

People should read the above statement very closely. The above is exactly the slippery slope aiming for negative growth puts one. It might start with a luxury car, it won't end with a luxury car. History is a clear guide to the only possible destination.

Economics isn't a zero sum result, that's exactly why economies aim for rates of growth. One person owning a product doesn't take away from another person owning a product. The rise of the personal computer is a good case in point. What was once thought impossible, and only in science fiction books, now is thought as essential. That's classic growth theory in action. My example could be applied across the board.

The world until very recently has witnessed communism at work. The world has also seen what it meant for environmental and personal health - that should make any rational person stop and really think!

Jay Somasundaram: "If we can't even sustain a collaborative dialogue with members of our own community such as Paul Morrella, how do we convince strangers?"

I don't know what circles you travel in. However, I doubt the English version of the Communist Manifesto is going to find traction in many circles at all. So you could take my name and multiply it by a few million "strangers". That's my best educated guess.

GNH not GDP

Paul Morrella, you might find this interesting:

We need to redesign our economies in a way that we will be able to feed ourselves with nutritious and healthy food, provide clothes, housing, clean water and a good life for all 8 billion of us in the next 20 years. That’s quite a challenge, but it is doable. It is doable if we have a real democracy. If we don’t, then the corporations and politicians may successfully defend the global market economy. If you have real democracy, than people can pass the law that is in the interest of their common good. They start to think about the economy, about what is really best for them and, I hope, they start to act responsibly, if they are told what the environmental consequences of their actions are and what impact it will have on their future.

The way the economy works, the very economic model, has an influence on human relations and the environment. Modern capitalism, for example, is based on self-interest. As Adam Smith points out: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” Another important feature of capitalism is competition in the free market that is supposed to keep the prices low and provide an incentive for innovations. Hmm, since everyone is concerned with their own interest, then how can capitalism help to create healthy communities where people help one another? The answer is: it can’t. That’s just not what it was designed for. It was designed for increasing profits and minimizing costs for the companies, while the invisible hand of the free market was supposed to help the rest society to improve their material standard of living. Unfortunately, the struggle for profits encourages polluting the environment to keep the costs down and saving on work conditions. There is no doubt that capitalism can increase Gross Domestic Product fast. But it does so at the expense of social life and the environment. Yet, ever increasing GDP doesn’t have to be the aim of the country’s policy anyway. How about a good life instead? In Bhutan the national policy is focused not on GDP but on GNH - Gross National Happiness.

I believe the human race will overcome these challenges. We will move to clean energy, we will see a just society where everyone reaches their full potential. Food, shelter and education for all -  it  can be done. I believe that the sooner we act the sooner we will reach these goals.

I try to be a champion for the necessary change. I feel an urgency to act: people are dying in their millions while we argue over what is luxury and what is not.

It seems obvious to me that those of us in the first world will have to temporaily sacrifice so others can live. When we can give a minimal standard of living to all we can then advance together arm in arm. That is why I support change, that is why I encourage the move to clean energy, that is why I think we need to have a look at our economy and look at ways of making it work better for the poor and for the planet.

Paul, why do you argue against these changes?

Can you dream of a world powered by cheap clean energy, where no one goes hungry and all have the opportunity to reach their potential?

It's possible, we can do it.

Please don't stand in the way.

When we lose our freedoms we get this

John Pratt: "We are currently witnessing the effects of global warming. I think a lifestyle of excess is gluttony. It is a sin if I remember correctly."

From a person who claims no religion. I'll let others make up their mind on that claim.

To accept your theory, one needs to accept perfect climatic conditions can exist. Extremes in climate and conditions have always existed and they always will. Your above statement proves nothing. It's meaningless. It relies on faith alone. You simply attempt to use science as a tool of deception.

Children are dying because they are poor. A few dollars can save a child's life.

It's possible.

You also don't know what I do with a "few dollars".

If we choose to own luxury cars instead of giving our excess wealth to save these children we are indirectly choosing to let these children die.As I said, every time we turn the key of a luxury car or live an excessive lifestyle a child dies.

A luxury car is a product. No different to any other product. You could apply your argument to a computer say. How many children have you killed turning yours on? Though, no doubt you have this problem worked out.

You have made the decision that your right to luxury is more important than a child's right to life. Money is power and you have the power to choose life or death.

No I haven't and no I don't.

Why are you arguing with me?

Paul Walter: "Well, Paul Morrella reckons free markets are working just because they are."

No, what I wrote is that a true free market system doesn't exist at the moment. I've written numerous times I'd like to see one. You, it appears, would not. And It's not me wanting to see the corrupted (your words) government authorities being enlarged. That's you!

You keep writing how wrong I am, and then you write how bad things are. I decided on those things you're writing about fifteen to twenty years ago - I don't need convincing.

I work and live within the system like everybody else. There isn't any other choice on offer at this point in time. Now because I don't like something, that doesn't mean I don't understand it. And it doesn't mean that I shouldn't get maximum reward out of that understanding.

Now that was strange

John Pratt: "So far this year we have witnessed the terrible bush fires in Victoria and now we have floods in Queensland and NSW. These dramatic events are a warning of what we can expect as the temperature increases."

Complete baseless nonsense without even the slightest thought of refrain. One step removed from sacrificing virgins at alters.

We should be more excited when we see figures showing our emissions are falling than ones that indicate that we have returned to economic growth.

I think people will be happier with increased economic growth. Their lifestyle does depend on it, and so does yours.

You like the big boys toys and nothing is going to stop you from having them.

I do own more than one, so you could say it's a hobby. I'm not on the raod every day so I don't cause the emissions of most. That might cheer you up a little.

It is the rich who are biggest polluters and unless we realise that our excessive lifestyle is based on greed the lifestyle you encourage will only lead to the destruction of the planet.

I would like to advance as many people as possible. Unlike you. Socio-economic environment makes a great difference. 

Doesn't there come a time in life where we have satisfied our needs and we life to give to others?

I'm satisfied my needs are provided for. I feel reasonably happy with what I give back to society.

I hope you really enjoy those luxury cars. Every time you turn the key a child dies.

And the reasons supporting these odd claims are what exactly?

Fires and floods due to global warming

Paul Morrella, is this complete baseless nonsense?  

Higher temperatures could lead to increased droughts and wildfires, heavier rainfall and a greater number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes.

We are currently witnessing the effects of global warming.

I think a lifestyle of excess is gluttony. It is a sin if I remember correctly.

The "consumer society" is a misnomer suggesting that at least, as regards consumption, the average citizen is the uncrowned King. Though his material conditions have in many ways improved beyond recognition, modern man is still an alienated producer and a highly conditioned buyer of goods, a dissatisfied purchaser of leisure and pleasure with very little control over his environment. A producer society, guided by industrial and commercial profit, would be a much more accurate description. That problems such as pollution and urban decay are tackled only when they become unbearable is in the logic of things. Modern capitalism has changed enough in method and manner to face up to the unprofitable when it is under pressure. But it has preserved its essence. Profit remains its ultimate driving force, and it is intrinsically unable to confront the collective or individual problems of our society from any other angle. Consciously or unconsciously.

You ask me to support my claim that a child dies every time you turn the key to your luxury car.

Pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, measles, HIV/AIDS and malnutrition are the primary killers of children in the developing world. These children die because they are poor, they do not have access to routine immunization or health services, their diets lack sufficient vitamin A and other essential micronutrients, and they live in circumstances that allow pathogens (disease-causing organisms) to thrive.

Children are dying because they are poor. A few dollars can save a child's life.

If we choose to own luxury cars instead of giving our excess wealth to save these children we are indirectly choosing to let these children die. As I said, every time we turn the key of a luxury car or live an excessive lifestyle a child dies.

You have made the decision that your right to luxury is more important than a child's right to life. Money is power and you have the power to choose life or death.

Moving to mainstream

Thank you for an excellent link, David.

It's good to know that it is not simly a few on Webdiary, but elements of the British government who think this way. Sadly, though, I suspect that these elements are in the periphery of government, perhaps even so formed to give the illusion of action without action.

A major problem, I think, is that the message is taken as an attack on  economic growth, as if there are only two options, either black or white, either economic growth or full blown depression, with mass unemployment and starvation.

If we can't even sustain a collaborative dialogue with members of our own community such as Paul Morrella, how do we convince strangers?

Global warming will be worse than predicted

The new projections, published this month in the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate, indicate a median probability of surface warming of 5.2 degrees Celsius by 2100, with a 90% probability range of 3.5 to 7.4 degrees. This can be compared to a median projected increase in the 2003 study of just 2.4 degrees. The difference is caused by several factors rather than any single big change. Among these are improved economic modeling and newer economic data showing less chance of low emissions than had been projected in the earlier scenarios. Other changes include accounting for the past masking of underlying warming by the cooling induced by 20th century volcanoes, and for emissions of soot, which can add to the warming effect. In addition, measurements of deep ocean temperature rises, which enable estimates of how fast heat and carbon dioxide are removed from the atmosphere and transferred to the ocean depths, imply lower transfer rates than previously estimated.

So far this year we have witnessed the terrible bush fires in Victoria and now we have floods in Queensland and NSW. These dramatic events are a warning of what we can expect as the temperature increases.

Sea levels are predicted to rise twice as fast as was forecast by the United Nations only two years ago, threatening hundreds of millions of people with catastrophe, scientists said yesterday in a dramatic new warning about climate change. Rapidly melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are likely to push up sea levels by a metre or more by 2100, swamping coastal cities and obliterating the living space of 600 million people who live in deltas, low-lying areas and small island states.

How many will have to die before we are willing to make the necessary changes? What will it take for us to reduce economic growth?

We should be more excited when we see figures showing our emissions are falling than ones that indicate that we have returned to economic growth.

Economic growth

John Pratt: "What will it take for us to reduce economic growth?"

Leaving Rudd and Swan in charge of the economy is one sure way.

Free market

give me a break!

Well, Paul Morrella reckons free markets are working just because they are. No, when the people in charge rig the rules to suit themselves, as happens with trade conferences, World Bank, IMF etc  as arms of the rich West coerce poorer countries into abandoning meaningful comparative advantage and the welfare of their citizens on Western terms and threaten sanctions and even armed incursions when their version of the free market is questioned, I'd say even by your own narrow terms the system is botched: what we really have, as I said previously, is a nihilistic Hobbesian jungle, red in tooth in claw, that props barbarianism, not civilisation.

Is it a real free market  when the rich and powerful can hire whole regiments of law firms to battle on behalf of their narrow interests to maintain an anti free market agenda involving market access, competition, resale price maintainence, monopolies and the like which may by a narrow definition be seen as "legal" (as opposed to just) presented with enough skill, usually as to plausible deniability"?

Steve Austin eat your heart out

John Pratt: "The market has failed and now regulation is being used to control the greed of the free market."

I think the regulation with regards to gas mileage is pointless. Outside of the fact of extra regulation, which nobody really needs, the market was always headed in this direction.

The regulations are for passenger and small truck vehicles. Family vehicles are a market where gas mileage has become an issue. It's not an issue for the sports car category (of which I amongst many am a happy customer). So the high performance V8 isn't going anywhere.

Obama isn't speaking to American enviro beliefs, the 600 billion dollar man is learning more and more every day. He's appealing to deep concerns Americans (across the board) have about dependence on foreign oil - often from nations Americans don't like very much. He's also appealing to the average American monetary situation. So it's certainly not an "anti-greed" or capitalist message.

Actually, it should have been the original message. It has some very valid points, as opposed to scare campaigns and boogie man.

The day of the corporate giant dominating the globe is over.

It may be, I can't call that far into the future. I find it highly unlikely that much will change from our present market system. I'm certainly happy I based my life on achieving through this system, it's allowed me many advantages of which I'm very grateful. I also feel I owe it to only encourage others looking for the same experience.

V8 sports car: bugger you I'm alright Jack

Paul Morrella, you say you drive a V8 sports car, and you encourage others to do the same. I guess that you have no interest in the size of your carbon footprint.

You like the big boys toys and nothing is going to stop you from having them.

If everyone was to drive a V8 and has the same attitude that you encourage we will never be able to decrease our GHG emissions.

It is the rich who are biggest polluters and unless we realise that our excessive lifestyle is based on greed the lifestyle you encourage will only lead to the destruction of the planet.

Doesn't there come a time in life where we have satisfied our needs and we life to give to others? I think that driving luxury cars while others starve is immoral but then I am only an atheist, what would I know?

Big polluters

John Pratt, you are wrong when you say the rich are the big polluters. The big polluters are the millions of poor people in China and India.

Go to these countries and see the pollution they are pumping into the atmosphere. Whatever we do in this country regarding emissions is useless when China and India are swamping us.

The other day I followed an old Holden whose back window and boot were covered with stickers from The Greens, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, it was also spewing out fumes that my luxury Merc would not be allowed to do.

If all the luxury cars were pulled off the road, there would still be people starving.

No, there is never a time in life when we have satisfied all our needs, but that does not stop me from giving to others.

The rich are the big polluters

Alan Curran, per capita Australia has C02 emissions of 26.9 tons.

Compare that to China 5.5 tons and India at 1.7 tons.

The rich are the big polluters and if we are to make room for the developing countries we will have to drastically reduce our emissions.

We are the ones who have caused the problems are we will have to be the ones to fix the problems.

Our excessive lifestyles are unsustainable.

If the rich were to give just a small portion of their income to the poor millions would have enough food to survive.

It is estimated that one billion people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition. That's roughly 100 times as many as those who actually die from these causes each year.

About 24,000 people die every day from hunger or hunger-related causes. This is down from 35,000 ten years ago, and 41,000 twenty years ago. Three-fourths of the deaths are children under the age of five.

Famine and wars cause about 10% of hunger deaths, although these tend to be the ones you hear about most often. The majority of hunger deaths are caused by chronic malnutrition. Families facing extreme poverty are simply unable to get enough food to eat.

The Hunger Site began on June 1, 1999. In 1999, a year marked by good economic news, 31 million Americans were food insecure, meaning they were either hungry or unsure of where their next meal would come from. Of these Americans, 12 million were children.

I hope you sleep well at night.

The study shows the richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth. The most comprehensive study of personal wealth ever undertaken also reports that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total. In contrast, the bottom half of the world adult population owned barely 1% of global wealth.

I think this unfair distribution of wealth is immoral, and anyone who ignores this is immoral.  

I hope you really enjoy those luxury cars. Every time you turn the key a child dies.

Polluters

John Pratt: "Alan Curran, per capita Australia has C02 emissions of 26.9 tons. Compare that to China at 5.5 tons and India at 1.7 tons."

Pity you forgot to tell us these figures are from 2000. In the last nine years both China and India have grown alarmingly in the pollution race.

On my recent trips to both India and China you could hardly breathe because of the pollution, a hell of differance to the air in Sydney.

I give a portion of my income to three well known charitable organisations. However, I suspect a great portion of it is wasted on administration.

"For your information I will sleep well tonight as long as I don't think of you turning the key in your car."

I can tell you one thing John. If you think that The Greens have the answers you are in for one hell of a shock.

Australia still four times the GHG emissions per capita

Alan Curran, the average Australian pumps four times more GHG into the atmosphere than the average Chinese. Check those figures again - they are 2005 figures. Nothing has changed. The smog you witness in Asia is from all the manufacturing industry we have exported. The Chinese are doing the dirty work so that you can live in luxury.

It is no secret at this point that the US and China are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. China is thought to have matched or surpassed the US in total GHG emission in the past couple years. The comparison, of course, is unfair because there are four times as many people in China. A more equitable metric – per capita emissions – finds that the average American, Canadian and Australian is responsible for more than four times the GHG emissions of the average Chinese citizen.

The Greens may not have all the answers, but whoever is in power we will have to move to a sustainable economy.

Believing in continuous growth is the same as believing in fairies at the bottom of the garden.

GHG

John Pratt: "The smog you witness in Asia is from all the manufacturing industry we have exported. The Chinese are doing the dirty work so that you can live in luxury."

I have been telling you this since I sold my business to the Chinese in 2007, and I really do not mind living in luxury whilst they do the dirty work.

I'll pass on the product

Paul Walter: "With the discussion currently occurring with Paul Morrella and John Pratt, can I suggest the cross-come from different understandings of a fairly open-ended term; (the) "free market"."

One either has freedom of choice or one does not. The degree to which either applies is the degree to which we have a free market.

We need economy for the most efficient fulfilling of human needs and humans do not live by bread alone - I for one, can't accept the inequalities of this world as an appropriate representationof what my idea of what a genuinely free market can / could / should be.

This is where you and I differ. I wouldn't complain about something and then ask for more of the same. That''s classic failure reinforcement. We are a world of large government and regulation. It's either working or it isn't. Running down a product, whilst trying to sell the product, is self defeating. In my mind it's not about left or right, it's about libertarianism and statism. That will be the evolving argument in this century.

The statist takes the view that humans are inherently anti-social. That like domestic animals they need training and regulation. I take the totally opposite view. I believe the more intervention in lives, and the more regulation of lives, gives people an excuse for poor behaviour, even an encouragement.

In the above communist report, the fellow bemoans the loss of "society". People looking out for one another and so on. The reason this is taking place should be self evident. People don't need to look out for others because somebody else has the job - the government. That is after all what taxes are paid for? A contract for another to do something, so we don't need to? Like contracting a gardener and so forth.

Our greatest statist society achievement has been getting people off the responsibility hook. Our biggest argument now is how much that service should cost each of us.

PS I did laugh at the report suggesting much higher taxes and much larger government. And in the UK of all places.

After passing some of the most outrageous tax theft anywhere in the world, UK politicians have shown exactly what they think of their countryman and women (politician rip-offs). They clearly regard them as little more than cash cow flotsam.

Frankly, if you willingly allow yourself to be stolen from, as the English public has willingly accepted for years, you deserve to be regarded and treated in such a shoddy manner. Perhaps it's past time they too (UK public) thought about changes and other means and ways?

semantics

With the discussion currently occurring with Paul Morrella and John Pratt, can I suggest the cross-come from different understandings of a fairly open-ended term; (the) "free market".

Troublesomely there can be degrees of emphasis. We could be thinking differently about a  theoretical free market within which predictable types and sequences of transactions may occur, against a real life  "free market "of all of unfolding current reality. The second must take into account all sorts of variabes, in its unfolding, relating to human nature, for example.

We can see that not everyone is going to be happy even in the best of worlds. But to sit back and fatalistically say that the way it is, it is, not even worth bothering to find an answer to what appears bad or unfair and fix it is just abdication of personal autonomy in favour of perversely wilfull lack of imagination and contempt prior to investigation.

If we say all kids should have good food and an education, we can see there is no such thing as an even playing field of a market up and running. The current state of reality determines that its more important for Greg Norman to own a hundred million dollar yacht, than have all children fit for a productive adulthood.

Yet we had to provide the urge for Greg Norman to perfect his skills and provide a code of sport that allows people rest and relaxion to return to work after the weekend in good spirits for productive work. We are faced with the problem of how to implement opportunity, if we believe in the fair go, without unfairly penalising people who have played by the rules to accomplish what they have already in real life.

Whatever the underlying "real" market, we still have the reality of "designed" markets from which the present is derived. So I wouldn't want to give up the struggle to see things less obviously uneven as they are, not least because too much apathy and slackness would see me likely "rolled" also.

Must come from different ideas of what a market should be about and do, mediated by normative conceptions. For my part, I think the species at this time in that phenomenon called history, with the benefit of its hindsights and insights, ought to be able to improve on from an inefficient Hobbesian jungle and I would push for a persuaded evening out of resource distribution to ensure that the free market of human affairs desired becomes actually that.

We need economy for the most efficient fulfilling of human needs and humans do not live by bread alone - I for one, can't accept the inequalities of this world as an appropriate representationof what my idea of what a genuinely free market can / could / should be.

Responsibility really can be a bitch

John Pratt: "Yes that's the attitude: I'm alright Jack. Forget these poor suckers"

When nothing is left, appeal to emotion. A step above unseen fears, I'll grant you that.

If I attempt to help somebody I do so by trying to improve their lot, not by taking myself or others down to their lot.

The free market is the best option available to the world. It's the best available option for the majority of people. That's why when the chips are down people opt for it. That' why it's opponents need the "boogie man". 

Seems to me that there are more losers than winners as a result of the so called free market system.

And what are you judging a free market type system against (there isn't a true free market system in practice)? Like, could you give me an example of your superior system in work?

I know there will always be some that do better than others. I long ago accepted this - most sensible adults do. Succeeding in bringing the most people into the "better" category is the best result that can be aimed for.

There isn't anything particularly attractive about an overly idealistic grown man. It's not noble or even helpful. Frankly, it's downright self-aggrandizing - which opens questions of itself.

Now if you were a early twenty-something doe-eyed female, maybe, but you're not. And I'm not going to treat you such.

Controlling the free market

Paul Morrella, an example of the free market being regulated.

We have over the course of decades slowly built an economy that runs on oil. It has given us much of what we have -- for good but also for ill. It has transformed the way we live and work, but it's also wreaked havoc on our climate. It has helped create gains in prosperity unprecedented in history, but it also places our future in jeopardy.

Ending this dependence will take time. It will take an incredible effort. It will take a historic investment in innovation. But more than anything, it will take a willingness to look past our differences, to act in good faith, to refuse to continue the failures of the past, and to take on this challenge together -- for the benefit not just of this generation, but generations to come.

The US is introducing regulation to make cars and trucks more fuel efficient.

The market has failed and now regulation is being used to control the greed of the free market.

Regulation will be necessary to create a sustainable economy. The day of the corporate giant dominating the globe is over. It is time for the nation state to regulate the excesses of the free market.

The only way the disenfranchised or  future generations can join the free market is when the nation state is prepared to regulate on their behalf.

I am not sure why you have a problem with idealism. I think we should all dream of a better future. We should all have hope that we can in fact improve conditions for the poor and at the same time not destroy the planet.

Singing for your supper

John Pratt: "Paul Morrella, the free market has failed us".

Who is this "us" you keep quoting? The free market hasn't failed me.

Fair trade? Seems like this is another term for charity. You either judge a deal on its true merits or it's a form of charity. There isn't a middle in these circumstances. So why the need to be coy about it?

Believe it or not, selling charity is the same as selling any other product. If these guys hit the right strings they might close the deal.

Poverty isn't imposed - well, not as such. What's imposed are attitudes that keep people in poverty. Say for example your selling a charity. Do you know the people your salespitch is directed? Do you really know their attitudes? Or is it a case of keep shouting and hope? And if it is, without success, have you ever even bothered to backtest your results? This example could be applied across many situations.

The moral here is that the righteousness of the situation doesn't tangibly pay for a lack of sale. The immorality is people that know it doesn't, allowing, in some instances, even teaching, that it does. That's ingrained poverty for you right there.

I'm all right Jack

Paul Morrella: "The free market hasn't failed me"

Yes that's the attitude: I'm alright Jack. Forget these poor suckers

ABOUT $6 billion has been wiped from the value of mum and dad investments after a meltdown in the nation's $30 billion unlisted property trust sector.

or

AUSTRALIAN banks and investment funds have distanced themselves from any involvement in a $US50 billion ($A75 billion) Wall Street scandal that has sent shockwaves around the world and counts wealthy investors, superannuation funds and charities among its victims.

or

Of the current 6.5 billion people in this world, 50%, or 3.25 billion, live on a daily wage of $2 that has not changed in years, despite the fact that significant erosion in the purchasing power of these $2 over the past decade. In turn, the billions of people that subsist on $2 a day spend $1 on food daily. Simple math dictates that if the price of basic diet staples in the developing world (rice, corn, wheat, etc. but specifically rice) rises to $2 or $3 a day or more, more than 3 billion people will no longer just be hungry, but will begin to die from starvation.

or

One in four of the world's 5,487 known mammal species face extinction, according to a new conservation "report card" unveiled today.

Marine mammals face even steeper odds, with one in three species at risk of disappearing, according to the study.

Seems to me that there are more losers than winners as a result of the so called free market system.

I guess that is what I mean by us.

Poverty is imposed from the outside

Paul Morrella, the free market has failed us.

We cannot depend on the systems which substantially caused the current crises to fix them. No amount of new light will bring adequate fairness, accountability and transparency to these systems. Poverty never needed to exist. As Nobel Prize winner, Professor Mohammend Yunus says: "Poverty does not come from the inside. It is imposed from the outside." Unfortunately, people do not survive the free market, they become commodities; the planet simply cannot survive the free market

Fair Trade is more than a price paid. It is more than money. It is a relationship. Fair Trade means that I respect you and you respect me and that together we will be good for one and other. Fair Trade means, transparency, and accountability and fairness in all of our dealings and those dealings are built on principle. The principles of Fair Trade mean that we live socially and environmentally sustainable lives; they mean we live for the next generation and not for ourselves; they mean we invest in each other for the good of us all; they mean we enable democratic process and liberty for all people to do the best for themselves and their communities; they mean that being human is more that being part of a machine; they mean we favor prosperity for both our friends and our foes in the knowledge that equality and freedom will bring peace and quality of life and make conflict and misery increasingly irrelevant. Fair Trade principles mean a lot and people need to know that. Everyone needs to know that.

We must end the tyranny of divide and rule and we must bring people together and prove beyond any doubt that there is another way, one that works and work better than anything that has gone before because it holds people at its heart and uses finance to invest in the future of us all. As the light shifts closer and our shadows shorten, we need to be bold enough to stand our ground and let the world know that we have found another way. Only a Fair Trade solution can end the tyranny of greed humanely.

My good friends, World fair Trade Day is upon us. We have called it BIG BANG!! because it is the start of a new way of thinking and living. Please do not hide in the shadows, be sure to do your part. You have an opportunity unlike any before. Be the change.

Paul Myers, President, World Fair Trade Organization.

Rather than a free market we need to develop fair trade.

About time myths got explored

John Pratt: "Continual growth is impossible and if we continue with this folly we will condemn generations following us to a diminished life."

Continual growth isn't impossible, where do you people learn this stuff?

Growth in basic terms is the increase of goods and "services". Think about this and the possibilities for a few minutes. Then think what putting a line through all future growth would actually mean.

Now I don't know how future generations will fare, and neither do you. What I do know is that if at the dawn of the industrial revolution, society had decided on the option advocated by the numb-skull Luddite this thread centers on, things would now look a lot different.

This present political environmental movement (a large umbrella) is a backlash against a changing social structure. The "environment" is merely the all-encompassing prop. The prop is used when the economic argument falls to pieces. As it always does.

Certain critical limits to growth

Paul Morrella, continual growth is impossible. It is the same as perpetual motion - it is a dream.

The planet can only hold so many people. Whether that be 10 billion or a 100 billion there is definite limit to population growth.

Economic growth is limited because because we will eventually run out of resources and people.  There is a limit to the amount of food this planet can produce. Already nearly half the planet's human population is on the verge of starvation.  Many species are on the verge of extintion.

Clearly there are certain critical limits or thresholds beyond which different kinds of natural capital cannot be replaced by anything else. Unfortunately, in most cases scientists cannot even tell us approximately where these critical limits are. Moreover, is “survivability” really a sufficient criterion for preserving natural resources? Even if humanity could survive without the unique beauty and biological diversity of coral reefs or tropical rainforests, would we agree to deprive our grandchildren of the opportunity to see them? That is why many development experts advocate the principle of precaution in depleting any natural resources, particularly where there is a risk of serious or irreversible damage.

A real danger to our freedom

John Pratt "As we chew up all available resources and pollute the planet to the point of extinction we give little thought to future generations".

The finite argument is meaningless and untruthful. You also don't know what "we" think about future generations. What you know is your own opinion.

The sun for example is finite. One day it'll burn up, and with it, life on earth. Nobody is talking about changing life as we know it in preparation - nobody outside a mental institution that is.

Let's address the finite resource argument:

Indeed resources such as oil are finite. How finite (when will they expire) is the question? Well nobody really knows the answer, is the answer. What I know is the market will be the best guide. How so? As the scarcity of product increases so does its base price. So you won't wake up next week and suddenly be without oil.

The process of expiry will be an incremental one. With each price stage, more and more of the product will be directed toward more profitable usage (essential). In basic terms: the free market is doing the job of rationing better than any government or person ever could.

The radical environmental alternative:

Stop or at least interfer with the natural market rate of price and production. Interference will cause the exact thing people are claiming we should be fearful of. It doesn't make any sense does it?

What we have is white collar communism running under the cover of environmentalism. Fraudsters and cranks the lot of them.

My argument is and has always been if people wish to live a communal life, that option is open to them. These people can all go off somewhere and live together. By attempting to make me or others live this way, my freedom of choice is being trampled on. That's authoritarianism. And that's exactly the light this nonsense should be viewed under.

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