Monday, April 18, 2011

A Non-Partisan Option For Electoral Protest

I have no preference for any of the five main parties. All have one agenda---massive and unending immigration-driven population growth. There is no candidate in my constituency worthy of my vote. But as Churchill said, while there may not be anyone worth voting for, there is always someone worth voting against. And if I cannot cast a vote against someone in another riding, I can always lend financial support to the candidate best positioned to defeat the worst candidate. Therefore I would send money to the following campaigns:

The (Liberal) candidate who has a chance to defeat the NDP Immigration critic, Olivia Chow.
The Conservative incumbent Gary Lunn, who has the best chance of defeating challenger Elizabeth May of the Green Party.
The Bloc candidate who has the best chance of defeating Liberal immigration critic Justin Trudeau. ---and---
The Liberal candidate who has the best chance of unseating ethnic-ass-kisser Immigration, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenny.

I am an equal oppportunity quisling-hater. All these open-borders champions---Chow, May, Trudeau and Kenny deserve to be turfed from the public trough and returned to the hole that they sprung from. A curse on them and all like them in whatever party. We need MPs who will put Canadians first.

Tim Murray

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Sierra Clubbers Anonymous

A 12-Step Program for Recovering Population-Deniers and Green Growth-Managers

You finally hit rock bottom—and you just can’t seem to summon the stamina to climb out. But don’t despair. Realizing that you are in trouble and are powerless to get out of it without assistance is the first step to recovery.

Once when you had control of your life you were an authentic environmentalist. You regarded the “IPAT” equation as axiomatic. That is, you accepted the fact that environmental impact (I) equalled the population level (P) times per capita consumption (A) times technology (T). But then you fell off the wagon, and in deference to political correctness you discreetly dropped the “P” and refused to acknowledge that population growth, and particularly immigrant-driven population growth was a key variable of environmental degradation. You could only think about one thing, “over-consumption”, or another, “green technology”. Until one day you woke in the gutter without a brain and without integrity, without everything that made you an intellectually independent being. You suddenly came to realize that your escapism and self-indulgent quest to feel good about yourself by making token “green” consumer choices only promoted more growth, and that growth of any kind was harmful. Oh, the guilt and the shame of it. You are ready to change but you just can’t find the strength within yourself to make it happen. Where do you turn to? Whom do you turn to?

Friend, Sierra Clubbers Anonymous (SCA) is there for you. You are not alone. Other soft greens have also lost their way and lost their wits too. With their help, together you can locate that strength, that power that exists beyond yourself that you can draw on to effect and repair the damage you have done by your denial. At any time of day or night, at your weakest moment, when you feel that you must forfeit your new found courage and return to the soft but suffocating bosom of an environmental NGO and surrender your mind to Sierra Group Think---members of Sierra Clubbers Anonymous will be there for you to steady your faltering willpower and keep you to the path of redemption. If they are not immediately at your door they will be at the other end of telephone to guide your through you the darkness of despair back to a comprehensive understanding of the causes of environmental damage. Just when you were about to give up all hope of understanding why things are going to hell, SCA will come to your rescue. Change is possible.

But first you must admit to yourself that numbers matter, that it is not just about per capita consumption but the sum total of “capitas”. You must acknowledge that would be pointless for a society to cut its per capita consumption in half only to turn around and double the population. And you must accept that there are no miracle technological solutions to what is essentially a moral problem—the need to stabilize and reduce our population level. By making things more efficient, new technology makes them cheaper, and therefore provokes even more consumption than before. More efficient use of scarce resources allows for and promotes more growth. You must finally grasp that smart growth is dumb. In short, you must make the decision to think for yourself and not swallow the filtered information of the Sierra Club executive or rely upon CBC Pravda for the facts. You must choose reality over delusion
As a signal of this commitment, you must pledge to follow the 12 steps to full recovery. They are,

Step 1: Honesty

After many years of denial, recovery can begin when with one simple admission of being powerless to regain your intellectual independence without reaching out for truth and that a self-righteous Sierran yuppie who is semi-literate in the laws of sustainability is more a fool than a so-called blue collar redneck who has no pretensions of superior consciousness.

Step 2: Faith
You must first have faith in biophysical laws and that the Commandment “Thou Shalt Not Trespass Carrying Capacity” trumps anything that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai or the optimism of the green apostles of false hope.

Step 3: Surrender

You must surrender your dependence on Sierra Club newsletters and set out on the lonely journey of educating yourself. You must start by understanding the exponential function and the limits to growth. You must understand that the world is finite as are its resources. No feat of human ingenuity can conjure up extinct species, replenish cheap oil or rehabilitate mined out soils without the use of fossil fuel-based fertilizers.

Step 4: Soul Searching

There is a saying in the 12-step programs that recovery is a process, not an event. The same can be said for this step -- more will surely be revealed. You must conduct a fearless moral inventory. Have any of your feel-good green gestures made a whit of difference? Did that solar panel you installed create more energy than was involved in making it? Did that so-called smart car you bought not involve an industrial process, was ore not mined , smelted and transported to a factory to rendezvous with rubber derived from fallen trees? Did not the so-called green factory it was made in consist of materials that inflicted a cost on the environment to make and transport? Were not the gains you made by riding a bike to work wiped out by taking that annual plane flight to Mexico or Bali? By siring or giving birth to two children did you not effectively double your ecological footprint and be responsible for more carbon emissions than a meat-eating man or woman without children could ever make up for? Are you not a hypocrite with your holier-than-thou green conscience?

Step 5: Integrity

Probably the most difficult of all the steps to face, Step 5 is also the one that provides the greatest opportunity for personal growth, the only kind that is benign. You must examine the financial reports of any environmental organization that you belong to and follow the money trail. You must renounce any group like the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy or the David Suzuki Foundation which accepts corporate donations. You wouldn’t accept your beloved NDP accepting such dirty money, so why is it acceptable for these groups to receive money from financial institutions and energy corporations? “Hear no evil, see no evil” is not the posture of anyone with integrity.

Step 6: Acceptance

The key to Step 6 is acceptance – accepting that you have been WILLFULLY ignorant and tolerant of corruption in the environmental movement. You must accept that you need an education. Start with Christine MacDonald’s “Green Inc” which documents how much mainstream environmental organizations are on the corporate take. Then take a look at Canada and ask, why is the Royal Bank funding the David Suzuki Foundation and Nature Conservancy? Why is the Toronto Dominion Bank doing the same for the Sierra Club? What do they want in return? What are these green organizations doing, or more to the point, not doing and not saying to get that money? Why does Suzuki accuse climate change deniers of being shills for the petroleum industry while his foundation accepts donations from the natural gas giant Encana? Why haven’t YOU being doing this homework? Why haven’t YOU being asking these questions? Are not you the same kind of person who shakes his head when Christians in an evangelical church still support a minister who has been exposed for dishonesty, betrayal or adultery? Are you not a credulous dupe too?

Step 7: Humility
The spiritual focus of Step 7 is humility, realizing that your smug superiority complex is unwarranted. That the average logger or fish farm worker is no more responsible than you are for the system that we are trapped in.
Step 8: Willingness

Making a list of those that have been harmed by your support of false gods. The first casualty is the farmland we have lost to development fuelled by our having the highest population growth rate in the G8 group. And the many hundreds of species that are now at risk of extinction as a result. You must include on that list the fact that the environmental groups you blindly supported by their unwillingness to bite the corporate hand that feeds them have refused to fight population and economic growth and therefore made meeting Kyoto targets IMPOSSIBLE.

Step 9: Forgiveness

You must ask for the forgiveness of those you have slandered and race-baited, and from the constituency that you have betrayed by allowing them to think that your group was a watchdog guarding the environment. Your green “watchdog” stopped barking when corporate Canada fed him a bone.

Step 10: Maintenance

Nobody likes to admit to being wrong. But you must continually remind yourself that your blind obedience to a corrupt, money-grubbing corporate lackey for so many years demands your consistent apologies.

Step 11: Making Contact
You must make contact with reality and with knowledge that your organization and the editors of the politically correct rags that you read do not allow you to see. As the Romans said, “nullius verba”---take no one’s word. Don’t take their word or my word. Do your own research.

Step 12: Service

You can make amends for some of the damage that you have unwittingly done with your ill-informed good intentions by redirecting your donations and your efforts to projects and causes that make a difference. For example , instead of sending money or support to a nation like the Philippines that has no intention of controlling its population growth, re-deploy it to countries like Thailand or Madagascar that are serious about birth control programs. Money to nations like Ethiopia, Haiti, Afghanistan, the Philippines and the like essentially amounts to a birth incentive and too often a bounty on wildlife.

Finally, you must ask yourself, is your loyalty to an organization an informed loyalty to its ideas, policies principles or are you more loyal to the neighbours and friends in it? It is fundamentally a social club that you can’t bear to challenge, is fellowship your main motive? If your allegiance is to the tribe and not the cause then you must ask, is a friendship that is contingent on your fixed opinions and organizational support more important than your integrity and intellectual growth? Are you too weak to stand alone? Is “getting along” by “going along” your survival code? If it is it, you are very human. And that is why we are in very big trouble.

Tim Murray . In your face and on your case. You gave me no quarter, so you shall receive none. With apologies to Diderot, the environment will never be safe until the last counterfeit environmentalist is strangled with the entrails of the last banker or developer.


1. Overpopulation is more than a third-world phenomena in scope. Even industrial societies with relatively stable and falling population levels are overpopulated.

2. We are not obliged for any compelling reason to replace current population levels anywhere. On the contrary, our obligation is to effort the most rapid population decrease as politically possible in the least inhumane of effective ways.

3. Population growth is a major ingredient of environmental degradation.

4. Immigration is a major ingredient of population growth in many jurisdictions, most especially Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia, and therefore deserves our focus.

5. Restricting immigration not only constrains domestic population growth, it constrains population growth in those countries in chronic overshoot who use emigration as a safety value to relieve ecological pressure and avoid coming to terms with it. Porous borders in affluent nations often stimulate fertility rates in countries of emigration.

6. Restricting immigration and suppressing domestic fertility allows respite for biodiversity.

7. The loss of biodiversity services and natural habitat is a more imminent and serious threat to humanity than climate change.

8. Biodiversity loss and C02 emissions are to a large measure, the product of human population growth. Whether CO2 emissions are an agency of climate change or not, they are ultimately a function of population and economic growth. Therefore addressing population growth is the most efficient approach to solving or mitigating biodiversity losses and containing C02 emissions whether they are of valid concern or not.

9. Reducing population levels is in itself, not the answer to all problems but it makes all problems easier to deal with. Population growth may or may not be THE root cause of all problems, but it is certainly A root cause of all problems.

10. We do not have an energy shortage, or a food shortage, or a water shortage, or a housing shortage, or a job shortage. We have a people longage. Peak oil is not a problem, it is a solution, as are lack of food availability, or a limited supply of water. Growth is the problem. Not the lack of resources that fuel growth. We need limiting factors, not a more efficient method to extract limited resources or make more efficient use of them. The greatest calamity that could ever be inflicted on human and non-human species alike would be the discovery of an abundant, cheap and perpetual energy source, or unlimited availability of cheap food and universal and uninhibited access to bountiful water supplies. Until we put the horse before the cart, that is, reducing and stabilizing the population within the framework of a zero growth economy, relieving the bottlenecks that resource shortages place in front of us offers temporary relief at best. Humanity always grows to meet supply. It is Says Law---Supply creates demand. There is no technological fix to growth and the problems that result from it. Efficient and renewable technologies only provoke more total consumption of the input that is thought to be in short supply, just as freeing up land for more production promotes as well as accommodates human expansion in numbers and appetites. A commitment to the scientific method does not imply a faith in technology---only belief in a rigorous and rational method of discovering truth.

Tim Murray
February 9, 2010


The fate of Westbank resident Jorden Martz did not surprise me. I have seen it coming for five decades. Martz was the young man who was cut down by a hit-and-run driver at 3am in mid January while he was riding his bike to work at a Tim Horton’s outlet. As he staggered for help suffering the agony of fractured ribs and a broken leg, not one of the half dozen cars he tried to flag down stopped to assist him. Not one driver even bothered to roll down his window an inch to ask if there was a problem. Martz’s sister, reflecting upon his experience, confessed that her perception of the city and its people was henceforth changed. She had once thought of Kelowna as the home of friendly people with a strong sense of community, but that particular incident indicated otherwise. Kelowna had arrived. It was now an urban paradise. The city that developers, businessmen and politicians across Canada aim for. A growing, “vibrant” , “community” with an array of amenities that human beings allegedly can’t live without. Fine restaurants, expansive malls, sports complexes, big box stores and a college. The drugs, the gangs, the violent and petty crime, well , those are the expected growing pains along the road to greatness. A little “planning” will take care of that.

Call me old-fashioned-- a charge which I quite eagerly admit to---but I prefer the Kelowna I knew in 1958. That was a paradise. No one locked their homes or their cars. The beaches were relatively empty and the orchards were unmolested by bulldozers. The mood was friendly and the pace of life relaxed. No wonder--- there were 10,000 residents then. Today there are more than 106,000. And the current OCP (Official Community Plan) growth strategy projects the “City” population to be 153, 222 in 2020, with the addition of another 22,666 people in the following ten years. But as a discussion paper revealed, “With a revised growth strategy, the City would see an additional 22,666 people during the 2011 to 2020 time period and an additional 17,887 people from2021 to 2030, for a total population of 161,701.” Compound growth rates will decline from 2.13% presently to 1.22% in two decades. But this is meaningless when it is remembered that a lower growth rate for a larger population base will add more people to a region than a larger growth rate would for a smaller population. The environment cares little for percentages. It is the total impact that counts, and the absolute number of consumers and the rate of their consumption and waste is what factors in.

Naturally the quest for more profits and more business will be couched in the deceptive language of trendy growth “management” and “sustainability” principles. Residents will continue to be told that the city can have its cake and eat it too. Those on the left will be recruited to this cause by the tired old arguments of growthism. They will be told that more employment will be needed to uplift those with lower incomes. That more tax revenue will be needed to provide the social services that they will require. That economic growth will allow for the provision of that most Holy of left-wing Grails, “affordable” housing. And the “left” will buy it as they always have, for two reasons. One is that many in the so-called “progressive” coalition have a vested interest in growth. Growth allows the number of dues-paying members in unions to grow, growth increases the number of students and classrooms for teachers and college administrators, growth generates work for the social workers and psychologists who feed off the social problems that come with growth---more cases, more case workers. Growth and the taxes it yields can improve the job security and benefits of public sector workers, a pillar of the progressive constituency. As NDP leader Carol James declared at the party’s convention in November of 2009, “We need to grow the revenues.” And growing that revenue for modern social democrats cannot be done by raising corporate taxes or killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. It must be accomplished by creating a “business-friendly” environment. By encouraging economic growth. And only through continued growth, or “prosperity” as it is termed, can we “afford” a clean environment. Notice that the rhetoric of the left has now become almost indistinguishable from that of the right. Both want to “grow the pie” but merely quibble about how it is to be sliced. Growth is good, according to NDP leader Jack Layton, so long its ‘benefits’ are “shared”. So not only do progressives have a mercenary stake in growth, they have an ideological commitment to it as well. That is the second reason for their membership in the growth lobby.

Both left and right want growth, and both attempt to dress it up with assurances about sustainability, now a buzz word devoid of any meaningful sense. The aforementioned discussion paper for the Kelowna OCP stated that “Several growth allocation/land use scenarios developed and tested for impacts on various sustainability criteria (financial, environmental, social and cultural). Hello? There is no such thing as “financial”, “social” or “cultural” sustainability outside the context of “environmental” sustainability. As one grows tired of reminding growth advocates, the economy and the society and culture which it supports itself is a subset of the environment. We make our living in an “economy”, but we live in a biosphere. Without clean air, productive soils, replenished aquifers---without biodiversity services, any economy will collapse. Once the environment is trashed, try using your “robust” economy and growing tax revenues to buy a new one.
Of course, growth-managers will tell us that it is not “whether” we grow but “how” we grow. There is no need to document the failure of smart-growth snake oil nostrums. There is no need to talk about failures in Portland, Oregon or Los Angeles to maintain growth boundaries in the face of unrelenting population growth, or the failure of densification to contain this pressure, or the fallacy that densification reduces ecological footprints. Or that the tax revenues of urban growth are consumed by the costs of supplying new infrastructure to growing subdivisions. Or that more growth may create more jobs but it does not reduce the unemployment rate or catch up with homelessness by creating “affordable” housing. Trying to grow enough revenue to cure poverty through more growth is, to use a recent metaphor, like trying to cure Type 2 diabetes with twinkies. Or a morning hangover with another six-pack. The NDP governments in BC, Saskatchewan and Manitoba presided over some of the highest rates of child poverty in Canada. Growth never closed income gaps---it widened them. And wealth became even more unevenly distributed.

But the most compelling indictment of growth is not found in statistics, but in the intangibles, in the more subjective measurement of “quality of life”. We do not need to refer to studies like those of Professor James White of UBC who documented that people in more densely populated areas have about one-third fewer close friends than people who live in less populated areas. We can observe that big city folk are more lonely. And Jordan Martz and his sister can observe that a city of Kelowna’s scale has a much compromised sense of community. I for one noticed the change as early as 1970, when Kelowna’s population was already twice the size it had been a decade before when I saw it first. For the first time, I felt uncomfortable in one section of the city core. The drug scene then was intimidating. Imagine it now when the population is now five times larger than that.

Let’s be fair. Even with its current problems, Kelowna is, relative to most cities, an attractive destination. Eight inches of rain a year, sunny summers and tolerably cold winters, in conjunction with its lake and mountain setting, have ensured that. But nevertheless, Kelowna is a victim of a global malaise—the addiction to growth. Ironically, those few who have attempted to fight it have been labelled as “extremists” despite the fact that it is the pace of growth that is extreme, not those who oppose it.

Perhaps the most cogent argument against growth will be waged not by civic reformers, but by the return of triple-digit oil prices, which will escalate to strangle the best laid plans and projections of mice and planners. Big box stores will be empty warehouses and many cities will resemble Barkerville or Detroit. Urban centres in post-carbon Canada will suffer a demographic crash diet. That’s not my vision, or the hallucinations of a crank. It is the scenario of Richard Heinberg, James Kunstler, Michael Ruppert, Richard Embleton, Jeff Rubin, Christopher Steiner, Chris Clugston and dozens of analysts. It is the forecast of anyone who can see the writing on the wall. Oil production has peaked. And while the world will demand more and more, the cost of extracting accessible quantities will grow to exceed their value. The math is indisputable. Either deal with that reality or have that reality deal with you.

Kelowna, B.C., like countless other localities across the globe, is Paradise Lost. But after a tribulation of untold duration and misery, it may one day become Paradise Recovered. Pity I will not live to see it.

Tim Murray,
January 15/09


Growthist buzzwords that instantaneously evoke nausea and vomiting

When one is forced-fed an unrelenting diet of growthist, pro-immigration and pro-natalist propaganda, it is common to be afflicted by a medical condition known as G.I.G. (Growth-Induced Gastroenteritis). Similar in consequences to the ingestion of rat poison, it becomes medically necessary to induce immediate vomiting to expel the toxin before it becomes absorbed by your body and causes a brain seizure. It has been conventional to induce this expulsion by the oral administration of an emetic like syrup of ipecac, copper sulfate or, as in ancient times, by salt or mustard water. But recent experience suggests that certain growthist buzzwords can act more quickly and effectively without biochemical complications. These verbal emetics can be regarded as trigger words that induce instant nausea and expulsion of growthist propaganda that relieves pressure and provokes the release of endorphins into the bloodstream. For that reason the experience can prove dangerously euphoric and addictive, and many neo-Malthusians, particularly enlightened teens, have been known to adopt a bulimic lifestyle of deliberate exposure to the programming of state-broadcasting corporations like the CBC, the BBC and Australia’s ABC in order to feel good about themselves after each sado-masochistic viewing. Of particular attraction is the nightly newscast which inevitably quotes meaningless stock market indices that offer no facsimile to the real world. Some addicts organize their day around these reports and refer to the post-CBC purge as “ecstasy” and the coalition of law enforcers, health professionals and psychologists recruited to fight this phenomena have failed to stem the tide. They advise parents, spouses and loved ones to watch for dry heaves and simulated retching that these sustainability junkies often display involuntarily and habitually.

It has even been found that when a group of Malthusians watch a CBC program together, for example, once one Malthusian reacts to nauseating growthist cant, others reflexively react to his reaction. This response apparently evolved from primates who notice that when one of their party ingests harmful food and vomits, it proves advantageous for the others to follow suit. It is therefore recommended that Malthusians only subject themselves to the CBC in the company of like-minds.
What then are the trigger words that evoke nausea and vomiting? Words that once had a precise or legitimate meaning but were subsequently co-opted and rendered meaningless? This is a tentative list. Any of these verbal allergens could result in the gastric relief that victims require. You are welcome to supply worthy additions.

societal well-being
paradigm shift
zero waste
diverse, diversity
"smart" (smart growth, smart cars, etc.)
eco (eg. eco-friendly, eco-density ie. urban sardine cans coated in green paint)

To illustrate how these words can be employed to induce violent sickness, in my former community, growth brought more traffic congestion, pollution, bikers, drug-dealers, drug-addicts, criminals, transients and boom boxes. It therefore at once became both "vibrant" and "diverse". Self-serving development proposals with damaging impacts became instantly benign with the mere attachment of an adjective like "sustainable" or "green". An economy that is ripping up the landscape by deforestation, strip-mining and urban sprawl across arable land can be described as "dynamic" or "robust", but one which pauses to give the environment some desperately needed respite can be described as "stagnant". A car that was assembled in a "green" factory is designated as "smart", despite the mining, the smelting and the transportation involved in producing and delivering the final product to market, and despite the fact that this green factory was not constructed in virtual reality or with angel dust. Seen through the lens of this obfuscatory jargon, the world can be seen as a joyful and wondrous place. If you fail to see it as such, then you are "negative" or "misanthropic". Only by being "positive" can we meet the "challenges" ahead. Hand me your barf bag.

"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end, we shall make thought-crime literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it."
A character in Orwell's 1984

Tim Murray
February 5/2010


In the interest of societal well-being I feel it is our moral imperative to think outside the box, to pro-actively develop sustainable, life-enhancing, zero-waste policies that put environmental needs on a level playing field with economic considerations. To meet the challenges ahead we need to effect a seismic paradigm shift that will eventually result in a sea-change of public attitudes. A cultural regime change, if you like. Those who have issues with this agenda typically favour sexy solutions that don't impact the big picture. We can grow and prosper if we do it smart and share the benefits equitably and fairly . It won't be easy, but it is doable. As we say in America, we have a situation on our hands. We have lost our moral compass and our leaders are not held accountable. But to quote President Obama, who has achieved a somewhat iconic status of late, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. I think we can handle adversity if we pre-plan for it, and can embrace perspectives which are inclusive of the great diversity of stakeholders we have in our nation. If we remain focused on our objectives, and no one moves the goal posts, if we steadfastly reject negativity and adopt blue-skies thinking, we can make it happen. Reality is after all, ultimately what we perceive it to be. The glass is half full. If we work with each other instead of working against each other it will be a win-win situation for everybody. Tolerance must be our watchword. Do we have a consensus on that?

Tim Murray
Director of Communications
Greenwash Inc

There really is only one kind of sustainability

The Fallacy of Equivalent Concerns

Despite our best efforts, there are persistent and common misunderstandings about the rudiments of overshoot and sustainability. Four come to mind:
1. The exponential function. Albert Bartlett is right about that. I can't get people alarmed by lets say, a 2-3% annual growth rate. Like the magic of compound interest, your town can double in population in a mere generation at this deceptively incremental pace.

2. Efficiency paradoxes. People don't understand that efficiencies, outside the context of a steady state economy, by making things cheaper only provoke more consumption and growth. (eg. Jevons Paradox, Khazoom-Brooks postulate).

3. Social justice doesn't solve resource shortages . The integrity of the lifeboat is more important than how the passengers treat each other. Food can be shared equitably between passengers, but if there are too many passengers, the boat will sink. The law of gravity doesn't care about social justice, human rights or human political arrangements. Moral laws, whether handed down by Stephen Lewis, Dr. William Rees or Moses, are trumped by bio-physical laws. Socialists, liberals, federal Greens, clergymen and humanitarians simply don't get it. There ain't enough to go around, however justly and efficiently things are managed or distributed. And economists of course, are equally delusional, if not mad for believing that with some technological 'fix' we can 'grow' the limits.

4. Limiting factors. The weakest link in the chain can bring a society to its knees. It can have everything in abundance, but a shortage in just one critical area can prove its undoing. This to me is the source of this current fashion of assigning "sustainability" to a series of sectors thought to enjoy some independence from others. It is this misconception which I find most pernicious.


Like the word “green”, “sustainable” or “sustainability” has become the buzzword of the millennia. Corporations and governments of the left or right feel compelled to dress up the most ecologically invasive development proposal or economic activity with assurances that it is “sustainable”. Employed as an adjective it coats the unpalatable with the sweet syrup of delectability rendering the bitter pill of upheaval and damage neutral in flavour. Growth not couched in green psychobabble went down like Buckley’s Mixture, but “sustainable growth”, “sustainable tourism” and “sustainable agriculture” on the other hand tastes like sugary cough syrup. Such is the Newspeak of contemporary growthism, the vocabulary of deceit that promises a new kind of capitalism, capitalism in a green velvet glove, business as usual with apparent sensitivity to environmental concerns that will nevertheless satisfy the shareholders.

Trade-offs or the Fallacy of Equivalent Concerns

But even the compromise suggested by oxymoronic terminology does not apparently suffice to satisfy the corporate agenda. As can be witnessed in the tourist industry, economic considerations have achieved a delusional parity in a “holistic” paradigm that sees “environmental” sustainability balanced off against “economic” and “cultural” sustainability. In this three-legged stool model of viability, environmental issues must compete with other “sustainability” concerns on a level playing field with other equally valid objectives so as to achieve the optimal “trade-offs”. This misconception may be termed “The Fallacy of Equivalent Concerns”. It is the assumption that would, if applied to the human physiognomy, rate the heart as an organ of equal importance to every other organ of the body when in fact, as we know, a patient can survive with one lung, or one kidney , or a colonoscopy, or brain impairment, but when his heart stops all of these important but ancillary parts die with the patient. The economy is a subsidiary part of society. It is, as former World Bank economist Herman Daly described it, “a fully owned branch plant of the environment. “ We make our living in an economy, but we live in a biosphere.

Environmental externalisation doesn't change Mother Nature's rules

Case in point. Newfoundland politicians were warned that the cod fishery was not sustainable, but they replied that without the cod fishery, Newfoundland’s economy was not sustainable, so the fishermen of Newfoundland continued to fish. Nature replied that what the economy of Newfoundland required was irrelevant, and so refused to yield more cod. In any such contest, nature’s agenda prevails. Similarly politicians and developers want the city of Phoenix, already at 3 million people, to grow even further. Mother Nature’s City Council, however, has set limits to the volume of water available in aquifers. One day folks in Phoenix, together with 15 million other refugees in America’s south east, will discover that any economy without water is not sustainable. The needs and wants of an economy cannot trespass carrying capacity. Nature imposes boundaries. Without clean air, productive soils, replenished aquifers---without biodiversity services---any economy will collapse. And once the environment is trashed, try milking your “robust” economy for tax revenues to buy another one. Yet that is what corporate and government green wash implies. Former social democratic Premier of British Columbia, Mike Harcourt, crystallized this confusion with a classic line of obsolete reasoning, “To have a healthy environment we need a healthy economy.” He does not seem to understand that the environment was doing quite well before human activity arrived to “manage” it. His underlying assumption seems to be that the environment is an externality, a desirable luxury that we can only “afford” once we have achieved economic “prosperity”. This reasoning is equivalent to saying that yes, while it is desirable that I have a triple bypass operation, I must postpone the operation until I can afford it by continuing to work overtime at my strenuous job.

Environmental passengers

Imagine if the officers on board the sinking Titanic claimed that the cabins on the third deck were sustainable because each had a barrel of water, ten sacks of beans, a compost, renewable energy and a water-tight door. Trouble is, they would not be sustainable 5 miles underwater. Every cabin was rendered unsustainable when the Titanic itself was unsustainable after the collision. Similarly, the space shuttle Challenger could have been said to have a sustainable oxygen supply, a sustainable food supply, a sustainable waste disposal system, and a sustainable crew compartment. But one "O" ring was the limiting factor that made the Challenger unsustainable. All the other "sustainable" aspects on that space ship were rendered unsustainable by the explosion that blew the crew compartment away, eventually crashing it into the sea. Until it hit the water, apart from the loss of air pressure, the crew survived in a 'sustainable' compartment. Our economy and our culture are like that crew compartment. They are completely dependent on the health of the environment. Without the estimated $33 trillion in free biodiversity services, we're toast. Trash the environment if you like but the so-called 'prosperity' you achieve won't buy you a new one.

Misunderstanding the structure of the real world

We still believe that we can negotiate with nature on our own terms. We can pursue business-as-usual just by genuflecting to trendy green shibboleths. Government and corporate communiqu├ęs are now laced with green-growthist double-talk. Try this from a discussion paper from the Planning Department of a typical Canadian city. Note how it attempts to appease environmental concerns with trendyisms while remaining faithful to the political mandate to keep growing as usual: “Several growth allocation/land use scenarios developed and tested for impacts on various sustainability criteria (financial, environmental, social and cultural).” In other words, there are several criteria for sustainability, and the environment is just one of them. So Mother Nature, stand back. Get to the back of the line and wait your turn until cultural and economic needs have been satisfied.

Hair splitting

Of course, what exactly constitutes “sustainability” is a matter of some debate among ecologists. As one wildlife biologist commented in response to this critique, “Because natural systems are always changing or ‘dynamic’ there seems to be some disturbing latitude in what we consider a sustained ecosystem. What degree of impairment can a system tolerate before it loses the very characteristics that ‘define’ it? The term ‘integrity’ often emerges in these discussions with predictable results. It is much easier to define what constitutes unsustainable or an irreversible change in the system. A boreal forest without fire disturbance is no longer "sustainable"? Or, can forestry be made to replace this disturbance? At what point do we no longer have a boreal forest? This does not at all detract from your argument that clearly shows that without a sustainable natural environment, all other constructs of "sustainability" are meaningless.” A dead planet indeed can achieve an equilibrium, but it cannot sustain life. And this may come as a shock to economists and nationalists alike, but human economic activity, culture, language and customs cannot exist without living human beings.

Sustainability doesn't come in different brands

Even those organizations committed to imposing limits have succumbed to this flawed understanding. An emerging immigration reform organization declares, as one of its aims, “To promote the creation of a sustainable Canada through urgently needed reform of immigration policies that are in the national interest.” Well and good. But then one opinion has it that this proposal “has some merit because it implies sustainability across a number of areas---cultural and institutional as well as environmental.” But mass immigration is not, as Samuel Gompers characterized it, fundamentally a labour issue, nor is it a cultural one. It is not about how many people our economy requires or how many people our culture can assimilate but how many people our environment can sustain. Contemporary culture as we know it cannot survive an ecological meltdown. The nation itself would not endure. When the water you drink is polluted or inaccessible, when the farmland needed to provide food to Canadians after international trade collapses with stratospheric fuel costs, when our exhausted soils starved of fossil-fuel based fertilizers cannot yield crops, when our forests are mowed down and the air unfit to breath, the fact that a lot people in the neighbourhood are wearing strange clothing or speaking in foreign tongues will be of little importance. Cultural “sustainability” in this context will be a mirage. There is ultimately only one “sustainability”. The sustainability of the whole, not its constituent parts.

Tim Murray
February 4/2010

33 Malthusian Truisms and The Laws of Population Politics

33 Malthusian Truisms and The Laws of Population Politics

There are 23 Sustainability Laws that form the backbone of a comprehensive understanding of population issues.

Erhlich-Holdren equation
Hardin’s Commandment (Thou Shalt Not Trespass Carrying Capacity)
Hopfenberg’s thesis
Abernethy’s axiom
Jevon’s Paradox, Khazoom-Brooke Postulate
Boulding’s Three Theorems
Bartlett’s 17 laws of sustainability

Additionally, I would submit ten supplementary Laws of Population Politics:

Michels Iron Law of Oligarchy
--- when a successful grassroots movement forms an organization designed to pursue its radical aims and grows its dues-paying membership, it builds up a bureaucracy that eventually controls it. Then the goal of the organization becomes to preserve the bureaucracy even if that goal conflicts with the original aim of the organization. Exhibit A: Environmental NGOs.

Law of Organizational Ossification, or Salinsky’s Law
---since any radical organization, that is, an organization dedicated to the pursuit of root causes and their solution, succumbs to Michels Iron Law of Oligarchy, the remedy is not to waste energy and time in a fruitless attempt to work within the organization and reform it, but form a new organization to fight the corrupted one. As Saul Alinsky confessed, he would frequently have to visit a town to help set up a committee to fight the committee that he helped set up two years before. Conclusion, all organizations have a limited shelf life, and our loyalty should not be to the organization but to its original ideals. Organizations are just vehicles, and like cars, eventually must be traded in, sold or junked.

The Watermelon Law
---scratch the green coating of a soft green environmentalist, and you get a bleeding heart refugee advocate who forgets sustainability at the first sight of an incoming vessel of asylum-seekers. Watermelon environmentalism is social engineering and a human rights agenda dressed up in a green cloak, reflecting a mentality that has no fundamental understanding of Hardin’s Commandment (Thou Shalt Not Trespass Carrying Capacity).

The Follow-the-Money-Trail Law
----Funding sources reveal more about an environmental NGO’s objectives than the politically correct greenwash and growth-management policies it promotes to rationalize its population myopia.

Mother Nature’s Law of Total Indifference
---In a nutshell, nature doesn’t give a crap about our political priorities or moral imperatives. It does not give a Tinkers Damn if environmentalists feel good about themselves by following green living habits or that people have reduced their per capita consumption---it only cares about our Total consumption, a function of per capita consumption and our population level. Nor does it care about our political arrangements, only about our footprint. A Hitler or a Pol Pot is to be preferred to a Mother Theresa or a liberal democrat if he gets the job done. Nature doesn’t care if people we judge to be worthy (the poor, the persecuted, the people of colour, the handicapped, the fashionably oppressed) should be lifted on to our lifeboat, only if it is overloaded. And whether the passengers live together without class barriers or in feudal subjugation is of no concern to nature either. The laws of physics trump the laws of any Holy Text, ethical system or left-wing manifesto.

The Law of Contagious Stupidity
—based on the Christakis-Fowler hypothesis, that is, our social network influences our health, wealth and welfare, and effects our weight, whether we smoke or drink or what we believe and how we vote, for example. Murray’s Law is a subsidiary of this conclusion. It reads, “The more you hang around Sierra Club members, by a process of osmosis, the dumber and blinder you get.” Solomon Asch’s study of peer pressure harmonizes with this finding.

The Law of Irrelevant Considerations
----Motives and intentions are immaterial to the truth of a policy position. A decent man of humane intentions can promote a policy that results in a net increase of misery and ecological degradation, while a fascist bastard can effect a policy that results in greater sustainability and a net improvement in the quality of life for a more viable human and non-human population. This Law can be construed as a corollary of Mother Nature’s Law of Total Indifference and a precursor to the Law of Truth’s Moral Impartiality and Undemocratic Nature.

The Law of Truth’s Moral Impartiality and Undemocratic Nature
---The truth of an argument depends entirely on its merits and not on the moral character or political affiliation of the person who is making it. The veracity or falsehood of John Nash’s Game Theory does not depend on whether John Nash was an anti-semite or not, but whether his theory is testable and verifiable. That Nick Griffin is a racist does not in the least discredit his assertion that the government’s immigration policy is damaging Britain’s ecological sustainability. The fact that a given study was authored by the Mickey Mouse Club does not in itself discredit its methodology, its data or its conclusions. If a zillion people fervently believe something to be true, that does not make it true. And if only one person in the world believes something to be true, that does not make it false. One person in the right constitutes a majority of one. Truth is not subject to a democratic vote. The IPCC can enjoy support from 95% of the world’s scientists, but their support does not substitute for a testable hypothesis.

The Law of Inhumane Humanitarianism
---AKA the Denial of Hard Choices. This alludes to the hypocrisy of bleeding hearts who pretend that avoidance of cruel dilemnas, made possible by the luxury of surplus resources, is equivalent to compassion. In a world of scarcity, there is an opportunity cost for almost any government policy. Money spent pursuing one policy goal is money that cannot be spent on another. Affluent societies built on cheap fossil fuels can afford to be more indiscriminate in their financial allotments. Canadian governments, for example, have been able to spend $100,000 of taxpayers money annually on the incarceration of a serial child killer like Clifford Olson or a sadistic torturer like Paul Bernando, but third world countries cannot afford our profligate legal system. If Rwanda was burdened by the Western system of jurisprudence, it would take 25 years to prosecute their war criminals and money that they don't have. In a global context, by opposing capital punishment because it is barbaric and cruel, bleeding hearts subject third world villagers and those who live below the poverty line in their own country to a cruel fate by depriving our government of the opportunity to use the money spent on Olson and Bernardo for family planning education and medical care to help them. The most humane course in a world of scarce resources is the most cost-effective one, that is, getting the biggest bang for the buck. Putting Bernardo or Olson up against the wall and shooting them, in Chinese fashion, is arguably more humane to more people than our present practise of wasting precious resources on useless people. The Chinese would not waste $6 million on trying and convicting serial murderer Robert Picton. They would allocate two days to weigh the obvious evidence, and one day to execute him. Our justice system does the world a great injustice. And our compassionate foreign aid policy of unconditional food dispensation has created more misery than it has alleviated. As Garrett Hardin observed, there is nothing more dangerous than a shallow-thinking compassionate person.

The Law of Counter-Intuitive Results
----This speaks to the reflexive habit to designate a chosen policy option as a no-brainer, which is apt because the leftists and greens who favour that option have no brains. Many proposals seem, at first blush, to be obviously flawed or obviously correct. But closer, independent scrutiny and research often indicates that the recommended choice will achieve exactly the opposite of what is intended. Some examples: Food aid dispensed to today may rebound and return a generation later as a famine of far greater scope and consequences. Feed 5,000 hungry mouths now and see 25,000 hungry mouths a decade from now. Bangledesh, Ethiopia and Haiti make good case studies. Rent control designed to make housing more affordable to the poor can act to reduce the supply of affordable housing and minimum wage laws designed to improve the incomes of the working poor may result in fewer unskilled workers being hired. Lower subsidized ferry rates to make transportation for poorer people more affordable can actually reduce their disposable income. Lower transportation costs make an island more accessible and therefore bid up the price of real estate. Higher real estate prices mean higher mortgages, higher rents and higher taxes. Since housing costs soak up 40% of an average family budget, while ferry costs eat up less than 10%, higher ferry rates can put more money in commuters pockets.

More examples. An ugly clear-cut that would desecrate a national or provincial park may actually increase the sum total of unspoiled natural wonderments because it might dissuade tourists from visiting the region. As the Saiz-Carlino study on tourism found, popular tourist destinations encourage tourists to move to those areas and overload their carrying capacity, despoiling more land than if the land was protected from all development at the start. One conspicuous eyesore at the doorstep of an otherwise beautiful community can act to ward off prospective visitors and settlers in the manner of a crucifix repelling vampires---thereby preserving most of the area. A scallop farm, an open pit mine or one hundred hectares blemished by logging can be just what the doctor ordered. And as James Lovelock observed, dumping nuclear waste in the Amazon rain forest might actually save it by keeping the loggers and farmers away. Or more people eating more meat might enhance sustainability because it deprives grain producers the opportunity to use land now devoted to livestock and so feed more people with fewer resources. Feeding more people who breed more people. The negative ecological impact of those many billions of extra people, notwithstanding their vegan diet, would be greater than the much more limited number of meat-eaters would have. Similarly, failure to recycle garbage could stress the landfills to the point that governments would have to cut back on the number of land-fillers rather than inducing people to compact their waste so that more and more of them can be compacted into urban feedlots like garbage. Forcing governments up against the wall sooner rather than later is better than postponing the day of reckoning to a time when many more people will have degraded the environment irrevocably. In summary, there can be more silver in the silver linings of black clouds than the silver found in silver clouds that disguise so much black.

Tim Murray