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The operating assumption of 20th Century economics, contrary to what is taught about scarcity with regards to opportunity cost, is that there is an endless abundance of raw materials to feed the perpetual growth engine of the global economy. This assumption is blatantly wrong and we're starting to experience the consequences.

We live on a finite planet that contains a limited amount of renewable and non-renewable resources. No amount of ingenuity can increase the amount of land, rare earth metals, fresh water, or other vital inputs for a healthy society than that which the Earth is able to create through its vast web of ecosystems.

--Joe Brewer

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Comment by David Allan on November 26, 2010 at 12:24pm
Thanks for commenting, gentlemen. Modern Chicago-school (Calgary-school) econorats might have been discredited, but who is paying attention? It seems few people really believe that our way of life must change. People in power, or just regular folks, believe in techno-triumphalism, for that is the history of the 20th C., and it is all people know. Certainly the PM is still fully in the thrall of supply-side, it ain't worth nothing until you cut it down, dig it up, or burn it economic thought. Climate change is being trumpeted by this gov't as something that will be beneficial to Canada. The rich still believe their little pieces of paper will save them, they are still firmly ingrained in the business-as-usual model.

Even pols who seem to be aware of the troubles ahead are often in the "technology will save us" camp. Mayor Robertson, speaking to a big crowd of bicycle advocates, activists and riders, briefly commented upon peak oil (playing to the crowd) but the next comment was along the lines of electric cars will be the answer.

Every aspect of our society is based on growth, and no pol will jeopardize their next election by speaking cold hard truth to the people. Even if they do, pshycology tells us that people will tune out any message that doesn't correspond to their pre-conceived notions.

I maintain the idea that most people are willing to change, so long as it doesn't affect them in any meaningful way.
Comment by Lawrence Boxall on November 25, 2010 at 6:36pm
Politicians will not take their heads out of the sand and we are all going to have to deal with the consequences of their lack of courage and foresight. The only resource we have in abundance is each other working in communities of co-operate concern to nurture real values rather than riches which poison the planet.
Comment by John Robertson on November 24, 2010 at 4:19pm
I am reading Limits to Growth: the 30 year update. There are many articles by reputable economists about limits. The Chicago school of economists have tended to ignore limits but have been discredited by the collapse of 08. The problem is with the political class; if they admit growth has ended they have to deal with debt and other problems now; future growth will not solve their problems. No politician I know of has abandoned the gospel of growth because no one wants to deal with the consequences.

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