Saturday, May 2, 2009


Forgive me, but this is a joke. An essential ingredient to a steady state economy is population control. Not only do the Greens not evidence any understanding of this, their party is committed to the 1% immigration target of the opposition parties in Ottawa. That is right. The Greens favour an immigration quota that is 25% higher than the present intake of 265,000 immigrants per year. Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May is oblivious to the fact that immigration since 1990 is responsible for 3 to 4 times as much GHG emissions as the Alberta tar sands project, which she claims makes immigration a relatively trivial issue. Immigration is not only responsible for 80% of our 30% overshoot of the 2012 Kyoto emissions target, but it is responsible for sprawl that is 3-4 times the size of Toronto or 3-4 times the size of the tar sands. And that sprawl consumes 60,000 acres of prime farmland per year in Ontario alone. When confronted by the absurdity of taking the “P” out of the IPAT formula, Greens reply with standard clich├ęs

. Elizabeth May says that population growth is not the issue, the issue is, in her words, “Shall we live like Ghandi or live like Bill Gates”. It is all just a question of overconsumption. She is confused. On the one hand she touts smart growth as a method of blunting any ecological consequences of mass immigration, but when shown the failure of smart growth experiments in Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles, she replies that New Canadians can be settled in northern and rural Canada where local governments are crying out for more people. She wants both densification AND dispersal, in other words. The problem is there is no constitutional mechanism to keep immigrants in regions that they don’t prefer to live in. Like native born Canadians who have left those areas, immigrants tend not to like desolation, isolation, sub-zero temperatures and black flies, much preferring the major urban centres close to the border. And since land use planning is in local hands, and not federal, she must know that local governments are bought and paid for by developers, who finance 75% of local political campaigns. OK, that is the federal Greens. But the ideological bent is in that direction elsewhere.

Ontario provincial Green leader Frank de Jong is similarly confused. He told me, when pressed, that Canada is probably overpopulated “by a factor of 4 to 10”. But publicly he has stated here and in Australia his oft-repeated line that “population is a red herring”. Economic growth is too, he claims, because we can grow the economy ten fold as long as we reduce “throughput”. An economy of yoga teachers and musicians would be ecologically benign, in his estimation. But how can a service industry exist without secondary and primary industry to support it? If not locally or in Canada, then through “appropriated capacity”? What is the morality of making a foreign locality do the dirty work?

Elizabeth May claims to be against economic growth, quoting Ehrlich in saying that it is “the ideology of the cancer cell”. Yet how can we inject 330,000 new consumers into a hyper consumer economy from immigration each year and NOT grow economically? How can British Columbia accept 60,000 newcomers, half from other provinces and half from overseas, every year, and NOT grow economically? Do Greens propose that we live like Fred Flinstone? Or is economic growth generated by ghosts? If Chris Clugston’s Societal Overextension Analysis of America is applied to Canada, we have a choice. We can live as we do now, but only with a population of 1.12 million Canadians, or the population of Ottawa-Carelton and Cornwall, Ontario combined. Or, we can keep our 33 million consumers, but subsist on a Cambodian income of $1800 per year. Try making it through a typical Canadian winter trying to heat your home on that budget. Alternatively, we can occupy an intermediate position of say, 10 million Canadians earning $20,000 each. Sounds good, but we still have to off-load twenty million people or so. Elizabeth May’s immigration plans would not fit in with that prescription. Perhaps we could trade her for Australian Green Party leader Bob Brown, or any New Zealand Green politician, both of whom see the Elephant on the pool table and have proposed a Population Plan for their respective countries.

To achieve a steady state economy for the province of British Columbia, we need zero net migration at the very least federally, eliminate birth incentives and over-ride the freedom of movement clause in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Only then could do what Albert Bartlett said was necessary for successful local planning: Stabilize the regional population. Locally we could then apply the tools used by Noosa Shire, Queensland, Qualicum Beach, BC and Okotoks, Alberta to cap local growth. But I don’t know whether Greens will ever go there. They are, like the NDP, growth managers, not growth-stoppers. And as we know, you don’t manage growth, growth manages you.

In the meantime, I intend to vote with a write-in ballot---for the Cambodian Party of BC.

Tim Murray

Greens propose steady-state economy for BC
By Colleen Kimmett April 14, 2009 10:08 am 2 comments

The Green Party is proposing a steady-state economy for British Columbia, party leader Jane Sterk told The Hook this weekend.
In March, the Greens released their platform without a budget. Sterk asserted that "we would have had to do what the NDP did, which is to create unreal numbers with an unreal statement," and said her party is proposing a different way of accounting.
"We would be looking at the costs and benefits of the economy, the environment and the social fabric," she said. "Translating the budget as it is now into that triple bottom line thinking would be an extraordinarily resource-intensive exercise which would require economists and financial analysts and we simply don't have the resources to do that."
Sterk called the gross domestic product measure of the economy an additive measure that doesn't account for the negative effects of actions, as long as they generate revenue.
"We're proposing to add into our measure of our society the genuine progress indicator, which would say that if you have 13 per cent of your population living in's not a healthy economy."
Sterk acknowledged that a model of limited economic growth might not be an easy sell, but added that it could also be difficult to convince a public to consume goods they don't really need in order to save the economy.
"We see strong regional economies with a lot of job development, a lot of green industry development. We're saying better, not bigger. I think that's a saleable model for most people."

1 comment:

Realist said...

Either Brian Gordon or Bill Hulet would make a more suitable Green Party leader than Elizabeth May.