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An Angry Reply - In the Shadow of Leaves
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mcpye
mcpye
An Angry Reply
The Australian Financial Review's piece (Red alert over Greens threat, 31/10/2002), included the laughable-if-not-so-treacherous 'weasel' phrase: "a headlong rush to sustainability". This is probably an example of one type of "Straw Man". Argue against a nonexistent danger of "a headlong rush putting everything else aside".

I would characterise it more as the headlong rushing of tortoises uphill through chilled molasses. Consider:

We are currently commemorating the 40th anniversary of Rachel Carson's publication of "Silent Spring" (it took me, barely in primary school, a few years to work out which of several possible meanings that title meant). There had been earlier discussions of the problems being caused by the kinds of things happening around humans, but it was this work that caused a major public reaction, where the others tended to be among specialists & particularly interested groups.

It is nearly 30 years since "The Limits to Growth" report from the Club of Rome was disseminated.

A lot of good work has been done since then. Things could be worse than they are, but the "headlong rush" has in general been in the opposite direction to sustainability. Many statistics demonstrate this. One easy one: a Tom Lehrer song from near the time of "Silent Spring" about nuclear destruction (We Will All Go Together When We Go) hymns "nearly two billion hunks of well-done steak"; recently I think I remember newpaper reports of events marking the six-billionth human alive at present.

Reports from plain simple things like satellite images demonstrating the magnitude of human effects have also been released in the last year.

The Fin Review also quibble that "sustainability" is poorly defined. Contemplate other poorly defined concepts such as "life", "death", "love", "money", "good", "evil" or "human".
Somehow, despite sometimes violent disagreements about them, humanity has agreed that they have considerable importance. Many people & societies have come to ways of dealing with the majority of incidences of these of importance in most peoples lives, while
conceding that there are 'hard cases' in all of them which fortunately occur less frequently than the others.

I wonder how we could calculate how many people have been born, then died early because of the physical & social destruction? How much (nett) water, air, land polluted or lost, how much valuable ecological infrastructure destroyed (with how much human & non-human suffering), how much social capital dried up & blown away like the lost soil, how much other damage done in those 40 years? Then we'd have to see how the balance sheet worked in the other column, like that fellow who's recently published a book of selected good statistics. Of course, we can have some good discussions about how to value the things in the different columns, or even how to define them. Unfortunately, while talking continues, so does time & lost chances.

Consider also perhaps some ideas opposite to "sustainability".
Concepts like: "greed", "selfishness", "short-term vision", "stupidity" (in the sense of failing to learn from repeated previous examples &/or failing to grasp clear logical connections), "unviability" and, particularly "destructiveness".

Can the Oz Fin Rev manage to support these in any kind of thinking way?
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