Dick Smith's Wilberforce Award - Endless Growth is Not Sustainable  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

Phil Hart at TOD ANZ has a post on Dick Smith's efforts to promote discussion of sustainable population levels - Dick Smith's Wilberforce Award - Endless Growth is Not Sustainable.

Dick Smith is a famous Australian, an entrepreneur, aviator and well regarded 'good guy' who was honoured with the 'Australian of the Year' award in 1986. Until recently, he was not prominent in the environmental movement or the sustainability debate. But over the last year he appears to have had an 'epiphany' and is now running a crusade on 'the population debate' and slowly (not too fast to scare anyone) linking the dots with the consumption and availability of fossil fuels. He has vigorously pushed the population debate in Australia over the last six months, under the banner of "Dick Smith's Population Puzzle". His new documentary is available to watch online for another week.

Now, he has launched the 'Wilberforce Award', a prize for a young person under 30 anywhere in the world who gets publicity and raises awareness of the fact (old news to many here) that 'endless growth is not sustainable'. The prize.. ONE MILLION (Australian) DOLLARS.

3 comments

Thomas   says 7:31 AM

I usually respect Dick Smith but he is embarressing himself here with an outdated and damagingly misleading fixation. Population growth is not the issue; resource mismanagement is. Sustainability and minimal consumption are very worthy goals but they are very different from the aim of curbing population growth. Most of the world's resources are used and misused by a relatively small and slowly growing fraction of the world's population, whereas the poor and quickly growing majority of the the world's population hardly strain resources at all, comparatively speaking. If you want to reduce global growth rates, then help the poor get out of poverty - and fight Catholicism. If, however, you want sustainability and lower consumption in Australia, say, then raise taxes on cars and petrol, invest in public transport infrastructure, use modern and appropriate farming and water-management techniques, implement modern recycling infrastructure, raise that 10% energy efficiency in Australian business production, and fight the Australian dream of owning a house.

Well - ypu won't get any argument from me about this - I agree that population growth isn't the problem - so long as we make it level out around 9 billion people (by reducing poverty) and rework the supporting industrial and agricultural systems so that they are sustainable.

I don't like population doomers but the issue does need to be discussed - the Malthusians just need to be firmly put in their place when it happens.

As much of a fan I am of the various steady state proposals, and am skeptical of the sacred cow of "Growth", I'm disappointed by the focus many steady staters (and other environmentalists/ecologists, etc.) have on "population growth". Malthusianism seems so out of perspective to me.

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