Club of Rome meet the Locust Economy

 

 In 1976, world leaders met in Rome for an extraordinary meeting.  Canada’s Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau was part of that meeting.  It came to be known as the Club of Rome.  It’s remembered for the unexpected announcement the leaders made at the end when they jointly declared that national economies could not continue to behave as if the planet’s resources were infinite when they weren’t.

Unfortunately, none of those leaders lived long enough to see the outcome of decades of what has become a world wide locust economy.  We can now.  It’s all around us as world governance, financial and supply systems melt down.

There’s a school of thought, especially among journalists, that it can all be resolved if folks can just focus and sort out the Euro, finish the war on terror and get serious about political reform and so on –  that’s a comforting thought.  But the developed world now is utterly dependent on the locust economy and no one has the slightest idea what to do about it.  Canadian fishermen who once stayed home and fished, now commute to Fort McMurray’s tar sands.  No one seriously suggests they shouldn’t; they need the jobs.  The Canadian economy now depends on oil being pumped from tar in northern Alberta.  The Americans depend on deep water ocean drilling and both governments are prepared to go to war over Gulf oil.  This is what a locust economy does.  Locusts propagate, proliferate and eat.  Locust economies function the same way.

The locust economy has spawned its own political companion – grievance politics of which Canada’s present government is a star.  It runs from Kyoto complaining about third world countries carbon emissions, (the bottom 60 nations emit collectively less than Canada), fires Canadian environmental scientists and blames folks protesting more pipelines for ‘damaging the economy’.  Our foreign minister visits Haiti and complains about that poor nation’s capacity to prosecute an old villain (Baby Doc Duvalier).  The locust economy is comfortable with governments of panic and complaint, not reason and solution.

The countries doing the best are Germany and and the northern European countries which have moved the furthest to diversify their economies and get off the oil hypodermic, but the rest of the crumpling economies are slowly pulling them into the morass. Canada has become a world leader in the locust economy pact.  With each passing year our nation is fastened ever more securely to resource extraction and grievance politics and our cities are no different.  Toronto is suffocating in traffic and congestion with a Mayor who cries it’s all the fault of the pedestrians, cyclists and of course the trams.

In Ottawa, we have done Toronto one better, reduced funding for public transit by $20 million but are spending $57 million on a 1.5 kilometer road  – that’s what the locust economy does.

From coast to coast, Canadians are standing around while civilian public services are crumple because governments are obliged to spend more each year to keep the locust economy going – that’s what the locust economy does.

Worldwide people are moving across the landscape and populating any city or landscape that functions well, until it does not.  International money is invested wherever it can turn a profit and when it cannot, it does not – that’s what a locust economy does.

Pensions that were pre-paid are attacked and collapse – that’s what the locust economy does.  Society’s capacity to support itself becomes just another place to dine.  This is what the Club of Rome predicted in 1976 and forty years later we’re watching it unfold.

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