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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves


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George Monbiot covers the important issues. Up to now he has avoided dealing with those who claim that human population growth is as the heart of our problems.

to suggest, as many of my correspondents do, that population growth is largely responsible for the ecological crisis is to blame the poor for the excesses of the rich.

That is his conclusion. To find out how he gets there you should read the article.

It affects us in the same way it affects Britain. Immigration. And that means that the people who talk about population most tend to be against current levels of immigration. And because most of our immigrants come from poorer countries, where natural population is still increasing due to the birth rate exceeding the death rate, and better infant survival, this is not going to change any time soon.

Monbiot deals more with the issues of economic growth, since our politicians are still determined that western economies must continue to grow. We seem now to have abandoned any ideas about the redistribution of wealth, or rather we seem to accept that wealth needs to be transferred from the poor to the rich. This, it seems, is an essential part of the platform of those who argue in favour of greater incentives to wealth creation. Or as J K Galbraith said – social conservatives think the wealthy need more money and the poor less. Ever since the neoliberal revolution of the 1980s the myth of the rising tide raising all boats has persisted. The fact that the wealthy only spend extra money on self indulgence, luxury goods and foreign travel, whereas the poor tend to spend any increase to their money on essentials like food, shelter and healthcare (not many minimum wage jobs give you Blue Cross too) is usually ignored. And indeed for most people on low incomes, they have not benefited as much from the growth of the economy – except they are now more likely to have multiple low paid jobs, and see even less of their families as a result. And food banks here serve the needs of the low paid – due to shelter cost – not just the indigent.

Canada is still a phenomenally wealthy country and still has huge resources at its disposal. I think we have a more important role to play in the world than propping up the United States, which I think could be entering on a period of decline, since its recent policies are clearly unsustainable even in the very short term. I have always felt a bit uncomfortable around people like Maude Barlow, because I distrust nationalism. But I do begin to see that vassalhood to the US is not a great idea either. And our growth strategy for this region has to be seen as part of a broader national approach, which means I think we need to question the role in the world that the Conservatives are seeking for us. Personally I do not see propping up the current Afghan administration as being especially important.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 29, 2008 at 10:05 am

One Response

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  1. We need more than redistribution of wealth, of course, since the planet cannot support 6.7 billion people living an affluent lifestyle. The goals must change, the metrics must change, indeed our world religion (worship of growth everlasting) must change. I think Monbiot tried to keep population on the table while focusing on economic growth. We really can’t afford to ignore either of these. And if the whole world is going to insist on following the developed world’s dubious model, then we had better get very serious about stabilizing, and then eventually reducing, population. Canada doesn’t need a “growth strategy.” It needs a stabilization strategy.

    Dave Gardner
    Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity

    Dave Gardner

    January 30, 2008 at 6:41 am

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