"The Enemies of Progress: The Dangers of Sustainability"

"The Enemies of Progress: The Dangers of Sustainability"
Book published by Societas. Orders: http://www.imprint.co.uk/books/williams_enemies.html

David Attenborough & the Optimum Population Trust

David Attenborough has become the patron of the Optimum Population Trust (OPT). He says: “I’ve never seen a problem that wouldn’t be easier to solve with fewer people, or harder, and ultimately impossible, with more."


Finding that "the nation's favourite broadcaster" is a miserable Malthusian is a bit like hearing that your favourite uncle is a eugenicist, or something. But we shouldn't be shocked to see that some people genuinely follow the logic of sustainability. After all, for environmentalists and carbonistas: more people = more breathing = more energy consumption = more carbon use... and we all know that "more carbon is a BAD thing".

Ironically, the OPT still thinks that "the greens" refuse to acknowledge the issue and that the OPT are thinking the unthinkable. With Jonathon Porritt (patron, OPT) pushing his "Stop at Two" (two-child policy) and Sir Crispin Tickell (patron, OPT) Sir Crispin Tickell, suggesting that the desirable UK population should be around 20 million (currently 60 million). And Paul Erhlich arguing that the global population would only be sustainable at 1.5 billion (as opposed to the current 6+billion).

All of these reactionaries - and yes, I include the loveable Attenborough under that rubric - are peddling the survivalist line that we should minimise our footprint - our impact - upon the world to suit what the earth needs.

But ACTUALLY… it is ‘growth’ and ‘development’ (without ‘sustainable’ prefixes) that are the very things that are needed - by people - in order to lift populations out of penury and to make affluent countries even more labour-efficient. Human's needs and "the earth's" needs (if there be such a thing) are often diametrically opposed. It is NOT subsistence that determines the number of people that can adequately be supported BUT progress and technology - without artificial limits - that can raise people’s capacity to thrive.

Unfortunately, it is the complete lack of human-centredness exemplified by Attenborough and his new-found allies, that is going to destroy the very project of human emancipation.

A few gigs...

18th April 2009
Cities in Literature
22: 30pm – 4:00pm
British Library, Conference Centre, Main Auditorium, 96 Euston Road, London
With over half the world’s population now living in cities, and Mumbai set to become the world’s largest by 2015, questions about what makes the experience of living in cities distinctive take on a new urgency.
Speakers: Mani Sankar Mukherji (Sankar), novelist & biographer of Swami Vivekananda; Suketu Mehta, author of "Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found"; Namdeo Dhasal, 'maverick' Marathi poet; Austin Williams, author "Enemies of Progress"
Chair: James Boyle, founder of Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature

30th April 2009
Broken Britain: Can we fix it?
Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 4QH
Today, there is a widespread conviction that we live in a "broken society" with endless stories of feckless parents or feral children, and a collapse of "respect" and "trust".
Speakers: Yvonne Roberts, senior associate, The Young Foundation; Eamonn Butler, director, Adam Smith Institute; author, "The Rotten State of Britain"; Alastair Donald, urban designer, researcher and co-editor, "The Future of Community";Steve Wyler, director, Development Trusts Association;
Chair: Austin Williams, author, "Enemies of Progress" & Battle of Ideas' committee member.

19 May 2009
Population: Movements and limitations
Royal Insitute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, London
9.00 - 11.30am
Economic collapse has brought into question once thought sound notions of growth. What will be new European trends? What areas of the UK will suffer from depopulation as a result of the current economic climate? What impact will this have on growth strategies and sectors of the economy - in particularly the housing market? Can we champion non growth, but maintain stability?
Prof. David Fisk, Imperial College London, Roger Martin, Optimum Population Trust, Austin Williams, author "Enemies of Progress", Alasdair Murray, Centre Forum.