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Open Letter to the PiPP* - for example
Barak Obama, Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin, Li Keqiang,
the media, and their economic advisors.
[ * PiPP = People in Power Positions]
ecology discovery foundation ecoglobe
Helmut E. Lubbers
BE MsocSc DipEcol
14 Boulevard Carl-Vogt
CH-1205 Genève / Genf
Phone +41 22 3212320
SMS +41 76 79 224 87

Genève, 25 January 2015

ecoglobe, 14 bd. Carl-Vogt, CH-1205 Genève
Opene Letter to
Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin,
Barak Obama, Li-Keqiang
and other people in power positions,
including their advisors and the media.

Business As Usual: Growth, Globalisation, Sustainability, the Economy, and Our children
Dear Ladies, dear Sirs,

After the Davos meeting, my message can be summarised in a one-liner: BAU accelerates resource depletion and our speed to the end of mankind. You may have a knee-jerk reaction: "nonsense!", and want to trash this letter without reading.
But then you might consider that this letter could have been written after careful examination of socio-economic and environmental trends. So you may be curious about the arguments.
  1. What is "BAU"? Business as usual is continued economic growth, unfettered population growth. The rationale for growth is "jobs" and "eradicating poverty". Population is a taboo.
  2. What is "Sustainability"? A society is sustainable if its lifestyles, i.e. its modes of production and consumption, can be carried on unchanged for a very long time, for many generations. Since the earth is not flat, resources are not endless, and almost all our resources are non-renewable, we are depleting the natural capital we depend on. We're not living sustainably. At present depletion rates scientists fear that humanity will be on the Post-Peak-Oil Downslope around 2030. So-called "renewable energy" cannot replace oil and natural gas, neither in quality nor in quantity.
    Kindly consider that resources is not only fossil energy, and that technology cannot revive extinct species, recreate depleted resources (minerals, fossil water, arable land), or undo pollution (greenhouse gases, ocean acidification, etc.). The climate change discussions are grossly inadequate, counting on illusionary technologies but not addressing the core problem of growth.
  3. What are globalisation and "free trade"? It's a trajectory to the lowest common denominator of social and environmental conditions. After World War 2 the industrialised countries gradually expatriated their manufacturing industries to cheaper countries. As long as they still produce products that development countries wanted and could afford, the resulting unemployment at home was compensated one way or another.
    "Free trade" and lacking regulation allowed to increase the porfit margins and evade taxation, which led to huge wealth gaps between people and countries - part of the discussion at this year's Davos meeting. Today we are facing resource scarcities. This means the end of growth, and increasingly wars for the remaining "stuff".
  4. What is our Economy? It's transforming and depleting resources into products in order to earn money for a living. Money buys food, clothes, shelter, and (some) goodies of modern life. That's why "growth" is being promoted. But growth is not the same as jobs, and it's not required for jobs. Actually, jobs will eventuate automatically to supply goods for a growing population, provided their are sufficient resources. With diminishing resources our economy will start to fail. Lacking fossil fuels will bring globalisation to a halt. Localised economies cannot be sustained for lack of imported food and resources.
  5. Can technology and innovation generate sustainable bio-fuel solutions? No. Bio-fuels are by its very nature not sustainable, nor will hoped-for next-generation bio-fuels be sustainable. Technology increases the efficiency of resource use and increases the speed of resource depletion. Gains by efficiency increases are lost by the rebound effect and continued economic expansion and population growth. Technology cannot recreate depleted resources, destroyed forests or undo climate change. Nor can it revive extinct species. The biomass that is available in the form of planted forests in our northern countries will be needed for heating rather than for transportation bio-fuels. Innovation is the hope for new technology. Hope for future solutions cannot replace concrete action in the present.
  6. Can certification of bio-fuels help to make bio-fuels sustainable? No. Certification is a feel-good activity that tries to make the impossible possible. No label or certificate will be able to dissolve the food-or-fuel dilemma. Bio-fuels belong to the trio of hope, optimism and technology that prevent us to work with the means we have whilst hoping for future solutions and continuing growth.
Scientific and realistic assessments of the state of the world and the options for humankind do exclude growth. Scenarios for the survival of humankind include stopping growth, followed by contraction.

The reason is extremely simple: the earth is a globe, with limited space and decling resources. Dematerialized growth is impossible. Nothing can grow without resource inputs, whatever certain economists may claim. Higher resource efficiency leads to a reduction of GDP. Efficiency increase has technical limits and is in itself no reply to the limits to growth reality.

May I, because of the above arguments, take the liberty to suggest that you rethink your position with regard to bio-fuels in particular and growth in general?

Your reaction will be of interest and importance.

With thanks in advance and kind regards,

Compare: Interview at
  Helmut E Lubbers
[Our qualification: "Sustainable Development", Business As Usual, without a real understanding of Sustainability and the State of the World.]

ecology discovery foundation ecoglobe

Wellington, 25 January 2015 - Ref.: Lu/rs/oloplmm


Media information
Embargo 20 January 2015

ecology discovery foundation
new zealand (charitable trust)
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