Since today is Earth Day it seems fitting to write something about the event and our efforts to Save the Planet. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with wanting to save the planet, though apparently many self-centered human beings do. So, even more fitting, on Earth Day, is a humorous yet deadly serious Earth Day essay by Joseph Romm. Please spend 8 minutes of your Earth Day reading his commentary. Then let me know what you think. Then, let’s get back to saving the planet, for it is the only way to save ourselves!
Physical expansion & population growth are costly
I owe you an election report on my recent city council run in my hometown of Colorado Springs. I wasn’t sure the citizens were ready to embrace a modern, sustainable economic model that recognizes perpetual growth is impossible. But I thought I might get traction from the fact that growth is no longer profitable. My city, like most, and like our entire nation, is in a state of crisis. Our tax revenue is down thanks to the collapse of the housing and consumption bubbles.
As I feared, current leaders believe we just need to rev up the growth engine to solve this problem (their faith in growth everlasting prevents them from seeing that our growth boom of the past two decades created more problems than it solved). It created costs faster than revenues. And it didn’t exactly do wonders for our quality of life. I wanted to offer an alternative to re-inflating the housing bubble, a smarter, more sustainable long-term solution.
Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist
– Kenneth Boulding
This week, world leaders, politicians, pundits and a solid majority of the population continue a global vigil – praying the world’s economies will return to robust growth. We hold our breath with the release of each new economic indicator – job creation, consumer confidence, retail sales, new home starts.
this week, if you find yourself cheering a return to growth, you may be inadvertently celebrating our acceleration toward an ecological cliff edge
– Andrew Simms, Policy Director and Head of Climate Change and Energy New Economics Foundation
The economic crisis continues to dominate the news and is a common topic in holiday party chatter. CNN calls it “Issue #1.” As a documenter of growth mania, I find this crisis an irresistible and fascinating opportunity.
Step back as I do, and take a detached, thoughtful look at our behavior. Ponder the following questions, and then ask a few of these while chatting with friends at your next holiday party. Let me know the reactions.
If we were designing a global system to meet our basic needs and provide opportunities for happiness and fulfillment, would we choose a model that only works if we need/want/make/sell/buy more automobiles this year than last, a system that falls apart if our needs have been met?
“Do you have…protection?” The U.S. Border Patrol officer patted his holster as he asked. “No, do I need to? I replied. He suggested to his supervisor perhaps one of them should escort me. This section of the U.S.-Mexico border has been one of the most dangerous.
That’s a 16-foot border fence behind me in the photo. The escort idea was nixed due to lack of manpower, so I bid the officers adieu and struck out for the main channel of the Colorado River, lugging tripod and video camera across 1/3-mile of delta. In places I sank so deep in the silt that it poured into my boots.
As expected there was not a drop of water in the river. It had all been diverted to Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and the Imperial Valley. Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography recently calculated a 50 percent chance lakes Mead and Powell will dry up by 2021, and a 10 percent chance the lakes will run out of usable water by 2013. Yet growth addicts in our metropolitan areas are busy plotting to make sure they get every drop of water they have a legal right to, water that is unlikely to be there.