The Australian electronics retail legend Dick Smith has recently been touring NZ on a crusade to change the way big businesses operate and makes the following statements:
- “When people advocate economic growth they were really advocating ”perpetual” growth, which in many contexts was unsustainable.”
- ”Nothing in nature grows perpetually.”
- “Anyone with any common sense knows that perpetual growth in a finite world is not possible.”
- “Pressure on big businesses to provide never-ending profit growth is driving our economies towards a big brick wall”
- “Both economists and cancer cells believe in perpetual growth. And cancer cells quite often kill the host.”
We can still have growth in efficiencies and quality of life but not in using more and more resources.
These days the word sustainability is bandied about by everyone trying to sell something – be it a product or a political viewpoint.
The United Nations define sustainable development as development that, “meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
The concept of sustainability has been embodied in the traditions of many indigenous peoples; for example, it was a precept of the Iroquois Confederacy’s ‘Great Law of Peace’, that chiefs consider the impact of their decisions on the seventh generation to come.
This is a far cry from the thinking of much of western culture, “Why should I do anything for future generations, what have they ever done for me?”
The word sustainable has become widely used to refer merely to practices that are reputed to be more environmentally sound than others.
No continuous rate of use of any nonrenewable resource is sustainable and to be sustainable, the use of renewable resources must proceed at a rate that is less than or equal to the rate of natural replenishment.
Sustainability requires that substances introduced into the environment from human activities be minimized and rendered harmless to biosphere functions.
“Sustainable growth” as now commonly used by policy makers and many economists is an oxymoron.
The economic downturn is our wake-up call to slow down, consume less, help each other, and live more!