Nine to Noon – John Whitehead – my emailed comment.

Recently, you discussed – with Denis Welch – the need to listen to ‘professional’ journalists. Your interview with John Whitehead, is a classic case of “why we shouldn’t” – a classic case of addressing deckchairs on a sloping deck, if ever there was one.
Ask yourself one question; What activity – economic included – happens without the expending of energy?
The answer is: None.

Why, then, do you take such concepts as GDP – which is just a record of transactions, without values on externalities like finite natural capital and pollution – for granted? Why do you accept, unchallenged, claims of ‘growth’? Do you not understand that – efficiencies aside – growth requires growth in energy input? Not only that, but growth per-head would require growth in energy input per head?

If you get that, why do you assume we are ‘coming out of the global financial crisis / stroke / recession? To do so would require us to increase our energy per unit of output – and our fuel prices don’t suggest, for a moment, that this is the case.

We reached peak energy-per-head back in 1980, and peak (actual energy flow) is happening about now. To accept, unchallenged, claims of exponential growth (for that is what growth is, exponential) is just the same as accepting the claim that the red deckchairs are the driest. Without relating that to the angle of the deck, the number of lifeboats, and the amount of remaining freeboard, you are essentially telling porkies.

It’s time our media began the real debate – which is ‘How to address societal cohesion, in a resource – particularly an energy-resource – constrained world’? Our media should also cease to suggest that exponential growth is possible, before taking it for granted. History is no guarantee of the future – all your listeners are currently alive, would you use that to project that they always will be? Would you accept unchallenged, the assertion of someone who said this would be the case?

Neither would I. I’d call it ‘peddling porkies’. Just a thought.

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