being a modern urban man, i saw this news article on an app on my phone the other day:
Australian economy shrinks 0.5pc in September quarter, worst fall since global financial crisis
of course i was immediately alarmed by this alarming headline — because even a slight stutter in growth could signal that our capitalist house of cards is going to come tumbling down, and we are all going to die of our investment properties being devalued substantially.
but seriously, the thing that concerns me about this article is the second line: “the annual rate of growth came in at an anaemic 1.8 per cent, according to the bureau of statistics data, also below expectations.”
so while the september quarter saw a drop of 0.5 per cent, the year still saw an overall economic growth of 1.8pc — but this growth is described as an “anaemic 1.8 per cent”??????
at that “anaemic” rate of annual growth, our economy will be double the size in 38.5 years, so by 2055 our economy will twice the size: the production of this nation (and presumably the producing and consuming population), twice the fucking size — considering the ecological limits we are already facing in terms of resources (peak oil, peak everything), and the issue of climate change, this idea of constant growth is completely and utterly insane.
if it doesn’t seem insane enough for you yet, with a doubling time of 38.5 years on our “anaemic” 1.8pc growth rate, the economy will have doubled in size again by the year 2094, meaning the australian economy will be 4 times it’s current size, and by 2133 it will be 8 times the size, by 2172 16 times the size, and by 2211 it will be 32 times the size… can’t see a problem there…
the longer we refuse to recognise this problem, the worse the consequences will be — but our public broadcaster (who you would think would do better than their deranged for-profit peers) unhelpfully presents this insanely unsustainable level of growth to us as “anaemic”… smh…
what’s the implication of these allegations of anaemia? that we should really be aiming for solid growth of 3%, so we are demanding twice as much of our already dwindling natural resources by 2040 — now that wouldn’t be no wimpy, vegetarian, economy of sooky leftist feminists — that would be a real beef-fed beef-boy of a beefy economy that we could be beefing proud of!!!
this is just one of countless rock-solid examples of how the economic ideological hegemony of neo-liberalism has completely closed down discussion on the concept of growth: it is the good, the whole good and nothing but the good — our universities, politicians, for-profit media and public media alike fall in line with this crazy bulllshit like ignorant fools.
if the horrors of the present world we have constructed aren’t enough, you can rest assured we are creating an unprecedented future of truly global horrors that even the rich will struggle to insulate themselves from — thanks for doing your job well public media system!! bringing an apocalypse upon ourselves is definitely in the public interest!! tax-payer money well spent!!
i was taught to easily calculate the doubling time with a simple formula by dr. albert a. bartlett (died age 90 in 2013, former professor emeritus of the department of physics, university of colarado, boulder), whose message reached me via this lecture:
arithmetic, population and energy: the forgotten fundamentals of the energy crisis
the formula for doubling time is simple: doubling time = 70/percentage growth per unit time
(the 70 is approximately equal to 100 times the natural logarithm of 2, if you were wondering)
dr. bartlett’s big thing was trying to make it simple for people to understand what constant rates of annual growth mean: exponential growth — he would then like people to also think about what exponential growth means — sounds immensely reasonable to me, sounds like an academic doing their job well.
over the course of his life dr. bartlett repeatedly made this rather hopeful statement: “the greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function” — i say it’s hopeful because it assumes it is our ability to comprehend that stops us comprehending, but really we actively refuse to comprehend because we don’t want to face our problems — the edifice of insane fictions everyone seems intent on maintaining and sheltering within presents a far greater problem than one of basic comprehension.
i can see how, in the current media climate, dr. barlett’s lecture would be regarded as a bit dull, but i think it’s great and also extremely funny at times — he cuts through the bullshit, and still, at such an old age, seems to be genuinely surprised and disappointed by the wilful bullshit of assorted expert idiots (which means he always retained hope and high-expectations for people and humanity) — the jokes he makes that fall flat with his audience are my favourite.
here’s dr. bartlett in 1944:
what i’m doing (taking news articles and pointing out their growth-based stupidity) is exactly what dr. bartlett did in his lectures, and while it’s been a long time since i watched his lecture, this outrageously stupid article inspired me to continue dr. bartlett’s good work.
another great film that explores the same exponential growth issues in a more visually stimulating way is this:
it’s a powerful reminder of just how deep in the shit we are, and that we are running out of time — it’s a bit of a sausage fest, overwhelmingly speaking to men about the problems we face, but at least the title comes from a quote by one of the few women in the film (perhaps the only one?).
sometimes the pointlessness of making blog posts such as this strikes me, like it did just then — but then i remember all the truly pointless, ridiculous and awful things other people post about without qualms, and i remember this is actually really fucking important.
can we please do something about this? i’m actually dying…