Congratulations to Sweden’s most famous 16 year old, Greta Thunberg, for telling it like it is at the UN this week. No sugar coating there. “How dare you?” she said, to those selling the “fairytale of endless economic growth”.
It should be a wake-up call to our policy makers and economic commentators who constantly display both their ecological and their economic illiteracy by waxing lyrical about economic growth and hanging breathlessly on our GDP number. Take Craig James from Commsec, for example. In a recent “Economic Update” titled “Record expansion continues”, he cheerfully observed that “The good news is that the (Australian) economy has completed 28 consecutive years of growth”.
If he wants to understand why this view is ecologically illiterate, he should listen to Greta’s speech. But his statement is also economically illiterate. It makes no mention of Australia’s population growth over that 28 year period. Without that information “economic growth” is totally useless as a performance indicator, and certainly no guide as to whether or not our living standards have improved.
It’s high time the ‘endless growth’ cheer squad were held to account for the environmental and social damage their policies have caused. This task won’t be made any easier by commentary on Greta’s speech conveniently deleting her calling out endless economic growth as a fairytale. Neither The Age report of her speech, nor Environment Victoria’s positive commentary on it, mentioned it. What would Greta make of that?