How Economics Drives Excess Consumption

We are using everything up!

Virtually all our resources are being taken from the earth at an astounding rate.  We know most of this is driven by demand but we have to work harder to conserve resources so that there is something left for future generations.  Unfortunately, the  current  economic imperative is to make as much profit as quickly as possible, with no real regard for a truly sustainable future.

Economics drives everything in this world!

The way the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank operate is to base their loans on increasing a country’s GDP and exports. So they directly drive the mad rush for growth, paying little heed to how a country could measure its quotient of contentment and happiness.

A mining company, which wants to exploit a resource, can only get funding if they promise their lenders a crazy “market rate” (set by the lenders, of course) return on investment.  This means that a mine will be dug out in the fastest number of years possible.  Local communities, who would like to see the mining operation, which brings jobs to the area, take place over a much longer time-span, just get laughed at.  Why extract over 20 years when the extraction can take place in ten?

This economic approach applies to just about every big business you look at.  The Shareholders, who have been led to expect large dividends, scarcely care where the profits that provide the dividends come from.  They have a right to a “return on investment”.  Unfortunately, we are right in there with the Shareholders.  Where do you think our Superannuation funds are put?  Obviously with the businesses which will return the highest dividends.  So, we all have to share the responsibility for the mad drive for more and more investment and returns.

The rate at which we are using up the earth’s resources

Yet, when you look at figures on global resource use, it is obvious that there will be virtually nothing (except coal) left for the future, and the mining community, which grew up around the mine, will have to “up stakes” and search for work all over again.  Meanwhile, the mining company does the absolute minimum required by weak environmental law to leave the mined area and the local ecosystem intact.  They just walk away and start somewhere else.

Mining has been a big factor in human development.

We would not have many of the good things in life that we currently enjoy without mining.  It is the sheer scale and major expansion of mining that is breathtaking to anyone who wants to see a sustainable future.

The scale of our consumption of resources

Intense population growth, economic increase and environmental damage in various sectors are all increasing simultaneously. At least two thirds of the earth’s resources have been used up in the past 100-150 years. And this was a time when we were being told that expansion was inevitable and attainable.

The UK Guardian covers resource use quite well.

The sheer arrogance of the United States

George Bush senior famously said at the first Rio Earth Summit on environmental sustainability. “The American way of life is not negotiable.”  [He knew that America was consuming far more than its fair share of the world's resources and that it was doing it as a government policy.]

“Yes dear,“ affirms Mother Nature, knowing what is coming, “it is not negotiable.”   Unfortunately, the people who will be most affected by the scramble for the remaining resources, with the consequent higher prices, maybe even wars for water, land and minerals, will as usual be the poorest and the underemployed.

What can we do

Can we do anything about this?  Can we?  We can, actually, if we can get together and work towards a better and more sustainable world by getting the truth out there.  We can start right here in Australia and lead the world. Start in your own home, in your school, in your community, by co-operating with other nearby communities, by getting on-line support from other concerned citizens.  You’ll love it!  The feeling that you are doing something for a better world!

 

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