I ENJOYED reading the articles by Piet Naude ("Time to re-think free market”) and Kazeka Mashologu Kuse ("Mandela legacy of reconciliation slowly fading”) in The Herald on Tuesday.
In fact in some respects they both reflected the need for a better quality of life.
For several hundred years our world has been driven by the pursuit of economic growth and there is presently no sign of any end to this.
Many believe we have already exceeded the earth’s environmental capacity, but powerful interests who benefit from growth say the limit point is too far off into the future to bother about, and in any case we need more growth to fix the damage to the physical and social environment.
As for politicians, if they have anything to say on the matter it is mainly about what they call "sustainable growth” or "green growth”, and managing the effects.
The missing element in the discussion is the absence of an alternative to endless economic growth – a way of life that would be in harmony with natural systems and which would deliver real fairness rather than being based on the endless increase in the use of the earth’s material resources and social discrimination. This revolutionary alternative – the steady state economy – is the subject of Geoff Mosley’s book which was released in October 2010.
Drawing on his experience of 60 years as a conservationist, Mosley believes serious public consideration of the steady state alternative is long overdue. In his words, "We have a lot of catching up, a lot of damage to repair, which would be nowhere near as difficult if we had acted sooner on dealing with the cause rather than the effects”. In his book, Mosley not only outlines the main features of a steady state economy which will need to be applied across the world to succeed but also examines the transitional measures – how to move from where we are today to that new way of living. Sooner or later we have to stop treating our earth as a magic pudding and the sooner the better.
Much is written about sustainable development without taking into consideration that the ultimate goal of sustainable development is securing a better quality of life for all, both now and for future generations, by pursuing responsible economic growth, equitable social progress and effective environmental protection. These three dimensions refer to a sustainable society.
A number of countries have now adopted gross wellbeing rather than gross domestic product as the true measurement of a contented society.
Unless our new democracy delivers a better quality of life for all, I wonder if it will be sustainable.
Peter Myles, Port Elizabeth