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Forty Years with Birds and Dogs 

Stabilizing Population

Today we consider #2 in Rob Dietz's engaging scenarios for the steady state in "Enough Is Enough," the no-growth economics text that should be required reading. In #1 we mentioned efficiency, the need to conserve, economize, recycle, consume responsibly. Rob said "We can consume enough to meet [our] needs...without undermining the life-support system of the planet."

The planet doesn't go on forever, but our population growth seems to be doing just that, at a faster and faster rate. Education and consensus and women's rights have stabilized the population in Europe and some other places. It's clear we can do this without being told we have to.

Marq deVilliers in "Our Way Out" puts it this way "Growth has to stop, and this does not imply economic stagnation and distress. Like it or not, population has to be stabilized. Unrestrainable resource depletion has to be terminated." I know this all too well. I love raising chicks so much, when I go into the feed store I will find any excuse to get a few more. Well, no more. Now that I'm preaching steady state ethics, I'd better realize that the Hen House in winter and the pen, even the yard, in summer is only so big. Enough geese, turkey, ducks, chicken, and two dogs is enough.

It's only been fifty years, the pundits say, since we have come to believe that growth is an "unquestionable dogma." The problem is that growth now costs the planet--and us--more than it is worth. Touting growth to supply more jobs so people can buy more stuff so there will be more jobs is a nasty trap, and we need to recognize that, sooner than later. Herman Daly points out that there are only two ways to get to a stable, no-growth economy. 1) Either growth fails and leads to unemployment and suffering or 2) steady state policies succeed, which they can because they are based on the realities of resource limits, not fictitious human behavior and fairy tale technology. We can do the limits to growth.

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