The federal electoral urgings of the Australian Academy of Science are pretty much what you’d expect. It wants more funding for science, technology and engineering. This will ‘drive innovation and growth into the future’, it says.
The Academy is oh-so-keen on economic growth. It says, “More than three decades of exponential growth in Australia’s per-capita GDP is tapering, and if nothing changes Australia will fall out of the G20 within 15 years.”
But wait! Wasn’t this same Academy sponsoring a Green anti-growth agenda as it cranked up its Fenner Conference on the Environment less than two years ago? The conference, at the University of NSW, was titled, “Addicted to Growth? How to move to a Steady State Economy in Australia.” The Academy approves, brands and seed-funds these annual Fenner gigs at up to $10,000 a time.
The conference flier reads: “Novelist Edward Abbey once noted that ‘Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell’. Our economy is meant to be a ‘servant of society’, not its master, yet is this true today? On a finite planet nothing physical can keep on growing forever – yet that is the ideology of the ‘endless growth’ neoclassical economics that now dominates the thinking of most governments and business. This has led to a rapidly worsening environmental crisis that degrades the nature on which we all depend. We cannot keep avoiding talking about this issue – hence the need for such a conference…”
The Academy has no economics expertise. But it promotes the eco-catastrophism of the global warming religion, having failed to notice that there has been negligible warming for two decades,[i], contrary to all the scary stuff from the IPCC computer modelling.
When common-sense flew out the Academy windows, the leadership became suckers for any variety of green ideology, such as divestment last year of its fossil fuel shares (but continued unprincipled use of fossil-fuel-powered electricity).
Dr Frank Fenner, after whom the conferences are named, was himself a mega-catastrophist, saying warming will make us extinct and whatever we do now is too late. He played a leading post-war role in defeating the scourges of smallpox, TB and Australia’s rabbit plague. He also set up a perpetual endowment fund to support Academy conferences on the environment.[ii]
The Academy’s conference organisers[iii] welcomed multiple green warriors to its platform, such as an ex-strategy adviser to the Green’s Bob Brown, and various home-grown and overseas eco-lunatics. Some were strongly opposed to a zero-growth economy. That’s because they preferred economic contraction.
Speaker Haydn Washington of the Center for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy quoted Ted Trainer, guru of the “simplicity movement”, who lusts for a 90% drop in Australian living standards:
“(P)resent rich world levels of consumption are grossly unsustainable and we will probably have to reduce them by something like 90% if we are to achieve a sustainable and just world. Most people concerned about the state of the planet don’t seem to realise how huge the changes would have to be.”
Trainer’s “necessary and non-negotiable radical restructure of our society” would involve complete elimination of growth, eradication of the profit motive except for little firms and co-ops, and shifting of ‘just about all’ economic activity to small-scale, local and highly self-sufficient enterprises. In frugal, cooperative sufficiency we would find true happiness, he urged. We would work for money only two days a week and have the other five days for arts, crafts and personal growth amid a “leisure-rich landscape” and supportive community.