The Taboo

Dick Smith addressing Lions International conference in 2012

Dick Smith addressing Lions International conference in 2013

 2013 Dick Smith

“Our present economic system requires perpetual growth in population and the consumption of resources and energy, otherwise it will move into recession. But surely it is obvious that perpetual growth is not sustainable in a finite world.”


Clearly this statement nails the problem to the wall for all to see.

An increase in population is the engine room of all economic growth. And the opposite applies too in that a reduction in population leads to economic recession. This is the fearful part.

If we were to imagine that Australia right at this very moment was able to miraculously hold its total population to 23 million – ie no increase at all – then just for starters we wouldn’t need any of these new housing estates that are popping up all over the place and in fact really wouldn’t need a building industry at all. No additional people – no additional houses.

  • Fewer chippies, fewer electricians, fewer plumbers,
  • All the industries servicing the building industry would struggle. Producers of windows and doors, of plaster and paint, of bricks and concrete, of carpets and dog kennels – all would feel the pinch.The list is almost endless.
  • The Banks wouldn’t be selling home loans – and half their profits come from home loans,
  • Councils wouldn’t be getting increased revenue from the increasing number of residents.
  • Both State and Federal Governments would struggle with static revenue from taxes and charges.

It goes on and on. And not just the building industry. The ramifications of population increases or decreases touches almost everything in our lives because

  • more people mean more of everything and

But the quotation from Dick Smith is as valid as the day is long.

” . . . . .it is obvious that perpetual growth is not sustainable in a finite world.”

How it is tackled, how it is accomplished will take brains bigger than mine BUT there are precedents! Three countries, Russia, Japan and Germany have all been in, or close to, declining populations over the last few years.

So it can be done. Will be done. Has to be done. Eventually.

View the next page Is The World Full Yet?  …a small book I have written on this subject