Story of the big growth piggies

The Price of Growth

Here is version one. In the real world game, only one try is allowed.

Once upon a time their was born a little piggy whose name was Growth. Growth was always hungry, and thought that the only way to stop being so hungry was to grow bigger , so he could eat more quickly.

In order to grow bigger, he started eating more food more quickly. Eating more food more often worked, because he got hugely bigger. Each time he got hugely bigger than before, he discovered that because there was more of him, and that he had become even more hungry, and the more of him that was hungry was also bigger than before, even though he could eat so much more food even more quickly.

So he grew and grew faster, until he ate up the entire world, took up all the space available in the world, and then discovered that there was nothing left to eat other than himself.

This is what happens to Big Growth piggies. It is better to not get too big, in order to stay only a little bit hungry. System growth cannot happen without growth in system hunger. The end point of big growth is in fact "nothing left" and "maximum hunger", and it is not too much to presume an end-point, and also the expectation that as size increases, so does that numbers and size of things that contribute to hunger, without detailing how these states come about.

This year I have read quite a few books and academic publications that describe our civilisation's one-time only try at playing the big growth piggy until its all gone game. One of the results of Big Growth Piggie's temporary success is that the complex skills of "Reading", that requires early training, perseverance and time for lots of practice, is failing for many in our next (growth) generations.

Australia is a particular example of Big Growth Piggy. Here we are well past most rapid growth stage - (post mining-boom), and we are in fact going fastest in the other direction. An article in The Conversation states that

The last time Australian children’s reading achievement was benchmarked against that of other countries in 2011, it was the lowest in the English-speaking world. Given the vital importance of literacy it is important we ask ourselves why.

Australia's political leadership has been described by some in fairly perjorative terms. Too bad there isn't a global political benchmark rating system for this. In our democratic system, the quality of political leadership is supposedly a true reflection of the values and intelligence of the electorate.This does have a broad range, from the highs to the lows, but the average is well below standard.

This is way I have started with fairy tale like introduction above, to best cater for a minimum Australian achieved reading standard, especially our for average political representatives.

Political representatives do well understand how the growth piggy and the four planets paradigm actually works, without any kind of conscious thought. For the growth piggy to eat more and faster, it needs to have more ingredients in bulk at the cheapest of prices. Zero ('free') or negative prices are the best. For example the Queensland branch of the Australian Labor Big Piggy Party, has cooperated as best it can with mining corporations, not much differently to the Liberal National Big Piggy Party. It is hard not to be a big piggy party, when all of the institutions, constitutions, laws and regulations of the state and nation, have been set up to facilitate big piggy growth in wealth from mining. We were already that sort of growth mad, competitive, wealth seeking society from day one of setting foot on the continent, for king and country of the homeland empire, in full blooded competition, when not at actual war, with other colonial european empires.

This Article in New Matilda, on 24th December 2017, should be plain boring truth, and not in the least bit surprising or controversial.

The Numbers Don’t Stack Up: W&J’s Rights on the Chopping Block for Adani’s ‘Non Viable’ Project

The numbers being referred to, are the "cheapness" of inputs for the Galilee Basin Coal exploitation, starting with the Adani Project - Nature, lives, money, which are all inter-connected as part of the "Seven Cheap Things" for Capitalism, in the above cartoon I have drawn. Galilee Basin coal, has marginal location and coal quality, and we are far down on the downside of global coal price roller coasters. There seems to be a global system drop in affordability of all global commodity resources that require extremely cheap oil prices for extraction. Such energy is a fundamental resource for extracting all other global resources. Energy is no longer cheap, and extracting poorer quality coal is no longer cheap. Easy money from government taxpayer backed funds and more respectable banking institutions has dried up. Coal must die. More attractive renewable energy and sustainable investments exist.

The native title rights of Traditional owners of Wangan and Jagalingou country were far too easily wiped away by our growth-piggy political parties in favour of land-grab by signatures on legislation and regulation. The far too cheap compensation and trade-offs offered to the traditional owners have been rightly been rejected.

The hunger felt by our big piggy economy is made worse by its size. We only have one planet, but we are treating it like we have four planets. Four planets is something like the average Australian's so called ecological footprint. We might as well have four different planets. Only one can be seen or imagined at a time by the average person, if we think of any of them at all.

Planet Cheap, is where Planet Economy takes things for free - nature, people, care, lives, food, energy, money, that big growth piggy can eat for free. We act as if Planet Cheap can produce resources forever at no cost. Corporations and governments strive to make it so. With our resource depletion there is a rising investment cost of using already extracted resources, to get more 'cheap' resources. This makes production costs more expensive, and also increases the resource depletion rate, if the net supply rate is to be maintained. Planet Cheap is running out.

We think we are going to live and grow forever on planet Growth Piggy. This the world of human cities and machines, technology and financial systems in which we enjoy privileged lives inside the big growth piggy, as all humans like to do, and get larger and wealthier forever. It has its problems, as average happiness and well being does not scale upwards with increased numbers of people and consumption habits. Average happiness scales downwards with growing wealth inequality.

Our third planet is the "Forgotten Planet", the down-trodden, disappearing real planet of other species and ecosystems that used to live here in most of the space we now occupy. There isn't very much of the original forgotten planet around to see, so it gets easier to forget every day. The forgotten planet used to maintain our long term atmosphere composition and climate stability, and its abused and declining soils now feed our civilisation.

Over the twentieth century, physical production increased twenty-fold and human population quadrupled. The consequences continue to cascade through the natural and human world, literally liquidating life on earth. - Kerryn Higgs

The fourth planet is Away-Denial, which is the repository of all our waste products, including greenhouse gases, where CO2 emissions are real, are cumulative, are measured repeatedly by science, as they build up in our atmosphere and oceans. Global ocean and atmosphere temperature rises as expected from Earth's radiation imbalance. Long lived Plastic wastes, chemical toxins, and radio-actives build up everywhere, but cannot be managed because of Planet Cheap.

There are in fact various other kinds of imaginary planets.  There is "Planet India, and Planet China" a subset of Planet Growth-Piggy where economic growth and pollution emissions and resource depletion enables other developed nations like Australia to keep their lifestyle consumption higher and greenhouse gas emissions numbers lower. There is a ponzi scheme of infinite growth on Planet crypto-currency, a growth which if taken seriously,  means infinite devaluation of national currencies, in which these hard to calculate digital numbers are valued.

So many different unrealities, only one real planet.

In the “full world” (and getting fuller) we need redistributive justice within and between countries and a plan for the rich world to reduce its material demands to allow space for the rest of the world to reach material security. - Kerryn Higgs


[1] "History of the World in SEVEN CHEAP THINGS" : A guide to Capitalism, Nature and the future of the planet. - Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore.

[2] "Limits to Growth" : Human Economy and Planetary Boundaries. - Kerryn Higgs ( Popuation and Sustainability Journal Vol.2 No.1 - online )

author: Michael Rynn
description: Politicians still pretend we live on Planet Big-Growth Piggy. Story of the big growth piggies
keywords: Planet Growth-Piggy, Planet Away-Denial, Forgotten Planet, Planet Cheap.