Mark O’Connor of Overloading Australia comments on “”

2 by Dick

Mark O’Connor, the author of Overloading Australia, has provided some very insightful observations on the preservenet website (see link here) , which features Siegel’s important article.  Read Mark’s comments as follows:

The “” website is a very well set out website and very lucidly argued.  It would make a good high school course in the theory of steady state economics.

I think young people, who are not yet accustomed to the ever-longer hours that employees are often required to work as they get more senior, would respond very well to its argument that the growth economy is stealing our leisure.

Turning that message into a form that would get through to thousands of young people  — perhaps by a system of tweets, applied day by day and week by week to items in the news  — would be an interesting challenge for Award applicants/winners.

I found a few less satisfactory parts in the site’s argument.

1. I would hate to think that such a high proportion of medical operations were unnecessary as they claim. If that were true in Australia there would surely have been a scathing 4 Corners program on it and a public outcry. I would like to think it’s less true than they claim, even in the USA. Even there, surely, a doctor who recommends an unnecessary operation simply to keep up the profession’s level of economic activity, is a fraudster.

2. I skimmed the argument that much or most educational spending is unnecessary, but I did wonder if it would stand up. No doubt there is waste in the education budget as in all large departments, but my understanding is that the main thing for which more money is needed is to have more (trained) teachers so that class sizes can be smaller. This reduces the burden on overworked teachers, and enormously improves the success rate of students.

3. The argument about population is fudged. In effect their line is “Yes, population is a multiplier, but we don’t need to worry about it because it’s going to level off quite soon.”

Not so !  In the USA — and almost all their remarks on other topics focus heavily or exclusively on the USA — population is rising rapidly and out of control, with absolutely no end in sight.  It is quite wrong to suggest the USA’s population problem has been solved.  And even at global level, their argument is week. First, the predicted growth to over 9 billion is not negligible. Second, this is only the medium variant.  The UN offers no guarantee that that world population will peak at 9 billion, and concedes it could go as high as 12 billion if we slacken off our efforts (as this site almost recommends). Thirdly, current trend is for UN population projections to creep upward slightly, in part because various countries (including Australia and Kenya) in which the battle to bring population growth under control seemed to have been won  are now backsliding.

Overall I think we are seeing the same problem that Overloading Australia  documents in its chapter on the poor performance of our Greens — the feeling that population growth is an unpleasant and awkward topic that is best not thought about too hard. Consider this far-too-optimistic quotation from the site
Population growth has already been the focus of national and international efforts, and fertility rates have declined dramatically during the last few decades. We should continue to work on limiting population, but this is an issue that people already understand and governments are already willing to act on.

These three faults make me wonder how rigorous their thinking is on the more economic parts of their argument. Economics is not my strong suit, so I’ll defer to others on this.

Evolution’s Edge by Graeme Taylor

2 by Dick

I found this to be one of the best books I’ve ever read in relation to the issue of population and a sustainable world. I do have one slight disagreement with the author – that is, he believes we need a new economic system based on idealism and co-operation. I would love to have that if it would work, however I don’t think it would. Human beings seem to have evolved to be motivated by self-interest and self-preservation. I believe our present free-enterprise, capitalistic system can work without growth. It simply requires regulation. Capitalism can simply evolve and prosper not through increasing numbers of consumers, but by improving efficiencies (plublished by New Society Publishers, 2008)

2 by Dick

I receive a lot of correspondence from a great many people who have felt strongly about population growth for some time. Here is an example, and I thank Bruce Keir of NSW for his candour (address withheld) – bruce keir, nsw – may 2010

2 by Dick

I was forwarded the following letter by Mr Bob Komoll. Bob had submitted this letter to the Sydney Morning Herald’s Letters to the Editor. As to whether it was published, I’m not sure. However, Bob makes some excellent points which I am delighted to publish here:

18 May 2010


For over two hundred years, those who grazed stock on this ‘desert island’ knew a bit about carrying capacity. It is usually expressed as D.S.E. or dry sheep equivalents.

With the emerging bonanza of the new black sheep (fossil fuels) the feeding frenzy to dig up our best farming and grazing country should focus our attention on that other carrying capacity – how many people can Australia support while maintaining first world standards? Many would say we are already over.

With our capital cities consuming farms for housing, much of the eastern seaboard fragmented into urban lifestyles and retirement uses and increasing areas subject to soil salinity and acidity, good farmland is fast becoming a vanishing commodity.

One can’t blame the farmers for selling out at the prices the miners are offering. But as we cry all the way to the bank, having sold the jewels in Australia’s agricultural crown, we should realise that when the fuel is burning and gone there’ll be nothing but a hole where fertile soil and underground water once prevailed.

Recently I travelled through the Liverpool Plains. The crops, stock and pastures were a picture. To the south, the cancerous spread of the Hunter Valley open cut coal mines, although perhaps temporarily halted at Murrurundi, give stark warning of what’s to come.

Is the black sheep really a Judas goat? Maybe it’s time for a new D.S.E.

Bob Komoll
Bayview, NSW

Reg Morrison – Research on Population / Climate

2 by Dick

Reg Morrison is a photographer who has spent many years researching population issues.  I have included (below) three of his presentations.  I found them fascinating, especially his explanation in relation to hydrogen and the world.

Australia’s Population 

Climate Debate

Population Debate

Useful Links & Articles