Jason van Tol, Myocum
With the upcoming federal election, it’s worth noting that every political party, so far as I’m aware, including the Greens, has growth as a core part of their macroeconomic policy. This shouldn’t be surprising since standard economics treats economic growth as producing only goods, rather than bads, and as something independent of physical resources.
Growth means physically accreting matter and using more energy, which is precisely what happens as economies grow, even while they are measured in abstract units of dollars, euros, yen etc.
On a finite planet, clearly that can’t go on forever. Development means to reorganise a given amount of matter and energy while growth is held at zero. The Rails pig cartoon (20/2), to choose just one random example, continues to use the word development in place of growth. Byron Shire has in fact not seen much development in recent years, but it has seen lots of growth. ‘To speak new words in new ways is not a cosmetic activity, it is to become a new person,’ stated Neil Postman many years ago.
Let’s choose our words carefully.