How do we stop the world’s ecosystems from going into a death spiral? A #SteadyState Economy

deforestation Palm oil conservation Creatives for Cool Creatures palm oil deforestation

Another great logical effort to show how the world could be organised. Perhaps Steady State will be more attractive than DeGrowth. However little attempt is made to suggest a practical way to divert the ‘Death Spiral’ to the Steady State. How to stop the runaway Capitalist/Military train. Little focus on bottom-up climate justice. Or how to subvert the GREAT RESET Campaign from converting all land, water, resilient communities and natural assets into their private property for Wall Street speculation!

Greenwashing stock image - pollution and climate change

Greenwashing pollution stock image

Steady State Economics

An Interview with Martin Tye

What is a Steady State Economy?

A Steady State Economy is a mildly fluctuating economy that does not exceed ecological and planetary limits.

A Steady State Economy is not an alternative economic ideology that is centred on endless GDP growth. It is neither capitalism nor communism.

palm oil on fire

Economic growth, with all of its downsides, is clearly unsustainable in the 21st century.  Long-term recession is no panacea either.  A steady state economy is the sustainable alternative to perpetual economic growth.

Economic growth was never a magic bullet; it is simply an increase in the production and consumption of goods and services–it can’t possibly lead to a sustainable outcome.  In contrast, the steady state economy provides the means for present and future generations to achieve a high quality of life. 

In this interview, Palm Oil Detectives speaks with Martin Tye, a representative of the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) in Regional Australia. Martin studies ecological economics and history and passionate about improving the quality of life for current and future generations and restoring wildlife.

The Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) was formed in 2003 by conservation biologist, author, speaker and media commentator Brian Czech.

How do we stop the world’s ecosystems from going into a death spiral? A #SteadyState Economy. An interview with @SteadyStateEcon’s Australasian leader @MartinRev21 Tweet

“Somehow, we have come to think the whole purpose of the economy is to grow, yet growth is not a goal or purpose. The pursuit of endless growth is suicidal.”

David Suzuki

The goal of Steady State Economics is to substitute the model of endless GDP growth with a stable and mildly fluctuating economy

The term often refers to a national economy, but ‘Steady State’ economics also be applied to a local, regional, or global economy.

An economy can reach a steady state after a period of growth or after a period of downsizing or degrowth.

#SteadyState Economics calls for everyone to demand a shift from a model of endless GDP growth towards a mildly fluctuating economy that exists in harmony with animals and ecosystems @steadystateecon @martinrev21 #Boycott4WildlifeTweet

Economic growth A.K.A. GDP growth encourages wasteful overconsumption and #ecocide. Be a part of the solution, push for a #SteadyState economy and #Boycott4Wildlife the global brands destroying the world @steadystateecon @martinrev21Tweet

In a #SteadyState economy people would choose to consume materials responsibly, conserving, economising, and recycling where appropriate. This movement is aligned to the #Boycott4Wildlife find out more @steadystateecon @martinrev21Tweet

A steady state economy may not exceed ecological limits

Photos: Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

A steady state economy entails a population growth and per capita consumption that is stabilised and balanced.

GDP is a solid indicator of economic activity and environmental impact – not well-being. All else equal, the steady state economy is indicated by stabilised, or mildly fluctuating GDP.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is not a good indicator of well-being

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography - Sumatran virgin rainforests

Economic growth, otherwise known as GDP growth, encourages wasteful overconsumption

In a steady state economy, people consume enough to meet their needs and lead meaningful, joyful lives without undermining the life-support systems of the planet

With a Steady State economy, conspicuous consumption becomes a thing of the past

People choose to consume energy and materials responsibly, conserving, economising, and recycling where appropriate.

Citizens (yes citizens, not consumers) recognise that the culture of materialism as a bankrupt ideology and a poor path to happiness.

People forget about trying to accumulate evermore stuff, instead focusing on more worthwhile pursuits.

Personal and societal decisions about how much to consume take into account sustainability principles and the needs of future generations.

An RSPO palm oil plantation where an orangutan mother and baby were found struggling to stay alive in Sumatra. By Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

If the world continues on its current trajectory, in 20 years what will happen doesn’t bear thinking about. Things will get very ugly!

Industrial scale food agriculture is a necessary support to growing economies- all part and parcel of the package, in particular their demand for growing populations (consumers- who need to be fed, so they can buy).

A growing economy consumes natural resources and produces wastes. This results in biodiversity loss, air and water pollution, climate destabilisation, and other major environmental threats.

GDP growth metrics fails to consider the ecological impacts of production, or recognise ecological limits to growth. So ecological pressures continue unabated.

A Sumatran Orangutan clings to a broken tree. Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Photos: Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

What would steady state global agriculture look like?

Just as a growth economy tends to impart industrial characteristics to its agricultural systems, a steady state economy tends to impart sustainable characteristics to its agricultural systems.

~ Agriculture in a Steady State Economy.

A fixed quantity of food

Deforestation - Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Such an economy requires a fixed quantity of food. There is no need for constantly increasing the amount of food produced, and there is a calming effect on the landscape – not as much land needs to be in crop-production mode.

Low throughput of energy and materials

In addition to stable population and consumption, a steady state economy features stable and relatively low throughput of energy and materials, a characteristic that applies to the agricultural sector.

Decentralised and local

Pollution run-off in an RSPO member palm oil plantation in Sumatra. Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

The best way to achieve sustainable throughput in agricultural systems is to decentralize. Inputs, especially fossil fuel inputs, can be reduced by shifting to local systems of production, distribution and consumption. Agriculture in a Steady State Economy

If the world adopts Steady State model now, in 20 years significant improvements will be visible in the world

Guided by a dashboard of ecological, social and economic progress indicators (GPI’s) we will have begun to re-shape the world.

Ecosystems would have started their recovery, economies would be progressing towards a restructured smaller local and sustainable scale.

As resource pressures ease, so too will international and regional tensions

People will see improved life satisfaction as “well-being” replaces “growth” as a goal.

In this version of the future, the world would be a much happier and positive place than it is today. In this state, human achievement and potential will be maximised.

The Steady State economics model offers goals like sustainability and fairness with the least amount of impingement on individual freedoms.

Greenwashing stock image - Cargill - Animal Utopia by Hartmut Kiewurt
Cargill – Animal Utopia by Hartmut Kiewurt

A steady state economy has four basic principles:

1. Maintain the health of ecosystems and the life-support services they provide.

2. Extract renewable resources like fish and timber at a rate no faster than they can be regenerated.

3. Consume non-renewable resources like fossil fuels and minerals at a rate no faster than they can be replaced by the discovery of renewable substitutes.

4. Deposit wastes in the environment at a rate no faster than they can be safely assimilated.

The Steady Stater Podcast

To explain the concepts of the Steady State Economy, CASSE created a podcast in 2021.

A steady state: The only kind of economy that’s sustainable in the long term

It is an economy that meets people’s needs without undermining the life-support services of the planet.

This will paint a more realistic picture of the state of things, better inform policy and guide the changes they need to make.

The strongest move policy-makers can make is to adopt new performance indicators to replace GDP

People need to understand that “economic growth” is propping up short sighted economic parasites

Cop26 deforestation
Cop26 deforestation

We see resistance to change in the fossil fuel lobby, the palm oil lobby, meat agriculture, property developers, retail chains etc. Before universally smoking was frowned upon, we saw resistance from the tobacco industry. Before this, slave holders also resisted change.

Martin Tye

Photos: Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

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