population

Coronavirus Cures Big Lies

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/04/2020 - 4:28pm in

For decades we have been told that we should not have a socialized or national healthcare plan in the United States because this country has the best healthcare system in the world. Obviously the coronavirus pandemic and the total absence of medical coverage or testing ability or adequate space in hospitals proves that that was always a lie.

Which parts of Australia are experiencing population decline?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/04/2020 - 9:18am in

Telling a demographic story

In an era of almost unprecedented population change in Australia, there was one local government area in Australia that managed to maintain a stable population of exactly 92,888 people in the year to June 2019. This is just one remarkable insight from Glenn’s latest blog, which looks at the highlights from the recent Regional Population Growth figures from the ABS. In this piece, Glenn looks at the parts of the country that are experiencing population decline, and those that maintained a steady population over the last year.

These latest population figures are now in your local community profile. Instructions on how to find them here

The annual release by the ABS of Regional Population Growth always provides a lot of interesting information. Every year we get an update on population change and exactly where that is occurring. On Monday, I wrote about the high level of growth in our capital cities, and showed the fastest and largest growth by Local Government Area in the year ended 2019. But not all areas are increasing. Let’s look at some of the areas with population decline.

Which parts of Australia are experiencing population decline?

Notably, in 2019, we had an entire territory -the Northern Territory – with a declining population, falling by 1,129 people, or 0.5% to 245,929 people.

Here are the Local Government Areas Australia-wide which had the largest declines in population from 2018 to 2019.

Local Government Area
2018 pop
2019 pop
Change
% change

    Darwin (NT)
          84,500
          82,886
–       1,614
-1.9%

    Kalgoorlie/Boulder (WA)
          29,989
          29,469
–         520
-1.7%

    Greater Geraldton (WA)
          38,730
          38,288
–         442
-1.1%

    Mount Isa (Qld)
          18,870
          18,595
–         275
-1.5%

    Port Augusta (SA)
          14,102
          13,862
–         240
-1.7%

    Broken Hill (NSW)
          17,715
          17,479
–         236
-1.3%

    Carnarvon (WA)
            5,361
            5,182
–         179
-3.3%

    Joondalup (WA)
        159,977
        159,806
–         171
-0.1%

    Southern Downs (Qld)
          35,593
          35,452
–         141
-0.4%

    Northam (WA)
          11,188
          11,049
–         139
-1.2%

Source: ABS, Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2018-19 (3218.0)

Darwin tops the list, in fact accounting for more than 100% of the NT’s decline (meaning the rest of NT actually increased). The other areas are primarily rural and remote areas, affected by the movement of Australia’s population into cities.

Population declines in mining towns

The biggest losses are seen in larger regional centres based around mining, such as Broken Hill, Kalgoorlie and Mount Isa, or Agriculture (Southern Downs, Northam, Geraldton). Both these industries are actually becoming more productive, but employing fewer people over time. Young people, in particular, tend to leave remote towns for the cities, and this leaves an older and declining population.

Apart from Darwin, which is affected by the end of a major construction project, the only metropolitan LGA in the list is Joondalup, part of Perth. This has a different cause, with many suburbs settled in the 1980s and 1990s, having declining household sizes due to children leaving home and finding new housing elsewhere. This is a regular part of the suburb life cycle.

In percentage terms, the largest declines are some rural LGAs with very small populations. 9 of the top 10 percentage declines are in rural WA, predominantly the wheatbelt. Population sizes are small, and so relatively small changes are substantial in percentage terms. The total population decline across these 10 areas is only 561 people. The one area not in WA is Brewarrina, in north-western NSW.

Local Government Area
2018 pop
2019 pop
Change
% change

    Northampton (WA)
            3,077
            2,944
–         133
-4.3%

    Morawa (WA)
               698
               674
–           24
-3.4%

    Cue (WA)
               148
               143
–             5
-3.4%

    Carnarvon (WA)
            5,361
            5,182
–         179
-3.3%

    Wiluna (WA)
               706
               684
–           22
-3.1%

    Three Springs (WA)
               591
               573
–           18
-3.0%

    Coolgardie (WA)
            3,505
            3,404
–         101
-2.9%

    Dundas (WA)
               735
               714
–           21
-2.9%

    Perenjori (WA)
               596
               580
–           16
-2.7%

    Brewarrina (NSW)
            1,653
            1,611
–           42
-2.5%

Source: ABS, Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2018-19 (3218.0)

Which places have stable populations?

Finally, what about those areas that have stayed very stable over the past year? Here is a list of all the LGAs which have had no change in population, or added or lost exactly 1 person, according to the ABS estimates.

Local Government Area
2018 pop
2019 pop
Change

    Bruce Rock (WA)
               939
               940
1

    Mount Marshall (WA)
               518
               519
1

    Belyuen (NT)
               174
               175
1

    Balranald (NSW)
            2,338
            2,338
0

    Carrathool (NSW)
            2,799
            2,799
0

    Maralinga Tjarutja (SA)
                64
                64
0

    Canning (WA)
          92,888
          92,888
0

    Murchison (WA)
               162
               162
0

    Barcoo (Qld)
               267
               266
-1

    Diamantina (Qld)
               292
               291
-1

    Yalgoo (WA)
               357
               356
-1

    Menzies (WA)
               521
               520
-1

    Flinders Ranges (SA)
            1,693
            1,692
-1

    Mount Remarkable (SA)
            2,910
            2,909
-1

Most of these are also small rural areas, however there is one standout. The City of Canning, in south-eastern Perth managed to stay exactly stable, with a population of 92,888 people in 2018 and no change at all in 2019. This is quite remarkable (and Mount Remarkable is almost as remarkable..) in a population that size, given the number of people who would’ve moved in and out in that time. Of course these are subject to review after the next Census and this will probably change, but for now I’m confident in naming Canning as the most stable area in Australia for the year!

Where can I find this up-to-date population data?

New Estimated Resident Population data has just been loaded into your Local Government Area’s community profile, and is available for the LGA and each suburb or district on your site. Find it in the menus under the “Population” heading.

Australia’s fastest growing areas are mostly in our capital cities

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/03/2020 - 3:42pm in

Tags 

population

Glenn shares the highlights from the recent release of new population figures for local areas, reviewing how the population of our Capital Cities and fastest-growing Local Government Areas changed in the year to 30 June 2019.

Last week the ABS released their annual update on local populations (Regional Population Growth), which comes out in March every year, relating to the previous June 30th. So these figures are for June 30th, 2019, and represent the third annual update since the 2016 Census. They are of course subject to revision after the next Census data are released in 2022.

So what do the figures show?

We already knew that Victoria remains the fastest-growing state, but these figures provide some insight into how this plays out in Melbourne. Basically, Melbourne is the fastest-growing of our state capitals (using the Greater Capital City boundaries), with a growth rate of 2.3%, and adding over 113,000 people in the last financial year. Overall, capital cities accounted for almost 80% of Australia’s annual population growth in 2018-19.

ERP at 30 June 2019
1-year increase
1 year % increase

Sydney
5,312,163
87,065
1.7%

Melbourne
5,078,193
113,480
2.3%

Brisbane
2,514,184
52,587
2.1%

Adelaide
1,359,760
13,900
1.0%

Perth
2,085,973
27,405
1.3%

Hobart
236,136
3,445
1.5%

Darwin
147,255
-1,141
-0.8%

Canberra
426,704
6,325
1.5%

Total capital cities
17,160,368
303,066
1.8%

Source: ABS, Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2018-19

Brisbane also grew strongly, at 2.1%, now exceeding 2.5 million (note that this is Greater Brisbane, not the City of Brisbane, and includes Logan, Ispwich, Redland and Moreton Bay areas). Darwin’s population, along with the NT’s generally, continues to decline slightly. Perth’s population growth has picked up to 1.3% but now accounts for almost 100% of Western Australia’s growth. Tasmania’s boom continues to be driven by Hobart, with 1.5% growth now equaling the national average after years of static or declining population.

If this trend continues, we can expect to see Melbourne overtake Sydney as Australia’s largest city around 2027-2028, when both would have a population close to 6 million.

This release also updates the population for all of Australia’s Local Government Areas, and we are working to get the new dataset into the community and economic profile sites for our clients.

What are the fastest-growing Local Government Areas in Australia?

Here are Australia’s fastest-growing LGAs (by percentage growth, for the 2018-19 period)

Local Government Area
2018 pop
2019 pop
Change
% change

    Camden (NSW)
       94,029
      101,437
       7,408
7.9%

    Wyndham (Vic)
      255,367
      270,487
      15,120
5.9%

    Serpentine-Jarrahdale (WA)
       30,927
       32,562
       1,635
5.3%

    Melton (Vic)
      156,718
      164,895
       8,177
5.2%

    Melbourne (Vic)
      170,317
      178,955
       8,638
5.1%

    Cardinia (Vic)
      107,117
      112,159
       5,042
4.7%

    Ipswich (Qld)
      213,568
      222,307
       8,739
4.1%

    Hume (Vic)
      224,423
      233,471
       9,048
4.0%

    Mitchell (Vic)
       44,298
       46,082
       1,784
4.0%

    Strathfield (NSW)
       45,110
       46,926
       1,816
4.0%

    Perth (WA)
       27,720
       28,832
       1,112
4.0%

Source: ABS, Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2018-19

A few interesting points about these areas:

  • All but one of these 10 areas are in capital cities. Mitchell Shire is the exception, and it straddles the border between Melbourne and Regional Vic (with most growth being in the metro area).
  • Camden in south-west Sydney has topped the list for the second year as the fastest growing LGA in Australia.
  • Two inner-city areas (Perth and Melbourne) are represented. The others are all on the urban fringe.
  • 6 of the top 10 are in Victoria, continuing the dominance of Vic in the population growth statistics over the past few years generally.
  • 9 of the 10 fastest growing areas in Australia have .id’s Community Profile!

But “fast” growth isn’t everything. The smaller the population of the area, the easier it is to have a high percentage growth, simply by virtue of having a smaller population to begin with. You can see on this list, Serpentine-Jarrahdale makes it into #3 by virtue of the smaller population. It added only 1,635 people, but that’s a high percentage of existing population.

Looking at the largest numerical growth…

Local Government Area
2018 pop
2019 pop
Change
% change

    Brisbane (Qld)
      1,230,938
      1,253,982
      23,044
1.9%

    Wyndham (Vic)
        255,367
        270,487
      15,120
5.9%

    Gold Coast (Qld)
        606,528
        620,518
      13,990
2.3%

    Casey (Vic)
        340,443
        353,872
      13,429
3.9%

    Moreton Bay (Qld)
        459,456
        469,465
      10,009
2.2%

    Hume (Vic)
        224,423
        233,471
        9,048
4.0%

    Ipswich (Qld)
        213,568
        222,307
        8,739
4.1%

    Melbourne (Vic)
        170,317
        178,955
        8,638
5.1%

    Sunshine Coast (Qld)
        319,837
        328,428
        8,591
2.7%

    Blacktown (NSW)
        366,078
        374,451
        8,373
2.3%

    Melton (Vic)
        156,718
        164,895
        8,177
5.2%

Brisbane, as the largest LGA in Australia ALWAYS tops the list of the largest growth, though its growth rate is only a little more than the national average. But 4 of the top 10 largest growth areas actually appear on both lists.

We are working to get the new population data onto .id’s community and economic profiles as soon as possible. If you subscribe to our Product Updates, you’ll be notified when this occurs.

Next in this series of blogs, we’ll look at areas of population decline and stability in Australia.

Interactive chart: is your community demographically vulnerable?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/03/2020 - 3:59pm in

Tags 

population

visualise census data spatially

Nenad has developed an interactive chart and a series of maps to help you see if your community has a demographic vulnerability. This builds on the work described in Glenn’s earlier blog, where we’ve used Census data to identify a series of demographic groups that would be vulnerable in the case of an emergency.

(Jump ahead to the interactive chart)

Councils plan for and want to know where their vulnerable communities are. These plans are not always related to imminent threats or large scale disruptions but when big events do happen and disrupt the community, councils can use knowledge about their vulnerable communities during natural disasters, heat waves or winter blasts, public health emergencies, mass violence, emerging infections diseases and terrorist attacks. Fortunately, we don’t have to deal with many of those here in Australia. One thing is for sure – any one of these events or phenomena will disproportionately affect certain groups in our society.

Identifying vulnerable communities is, unfortunately, not the pre-emptive, hypothetical exercise it was when we first conducted a vulnerable communities analysis with a number of Queensland councils late last year. At that time, this piece of work was completed to form an evidence base for these councils’ emergency response strategies in the event of a natural disaster.

The outbreak of Covid-19 has bought this work into the present. This blog selects seven measures from those we used to define ‘vulnerable people’ in our work and shows the percentage of the population in your Local Government Area that would meet each of the seven criteria.

This basic-level of analysis will help anyone understand which demographic characteristics most contribute to the overall vulnerability of your community. For those councils who have atlas.id, our social atlas tool, you can use that tool to see this data spatially, and identify pockets, or clusters of your community that meet these criteria for ‘vulnerability’.

Stay tuned to our blog for more updates – Glenn will be publishing another tomorrow that looks at the distribution of the more elderly people in our communities, as we know they are among the most at-risk with the spread of Covid-19.

If you work in local government and need assistance identifying vulnerable groups in your community, contact our demographic consulting team here. We will be publishing a number of blogs in the coming days to help you conduct a basic analysis yourself – speak with our team if you need to identify particular groups or a detailed analysis for your local area.

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In the following series of maps, you can see the spatial distribution of people who are among the most vulnerable – namely, those aged 65+ and the homeless population, by Local Government Area, or Territorial Authority in New Zealand.

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!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",function(a){if(void 0!==a.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var e in a.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.getElementById("datawrapper-chart-"+e)||document.querySelector("iframe[src*='"+e+"']");t&&(t.style.height=a.data["datawrapper-height"][e]+"px")}})}();

Pinpointing vulnerable communities for emergency management

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/03/2020 - 1:49pm in

visualise census data spatially

We’ve brought forward the publication of this blog in light of the recent developments with Covid-19 in Australia, as we know many councils and community groups are planning ways they can respond and support vulnerable communities in their area.

This work was originally developed to support preparation for natural disasters such as Cyclones, however many of the principles apply to the Covid-19 pandemic (for example, identifying elderly communities), and provides useful guidance on how to use your social atlas tool to identify these groups in your area.

If this blog and your social atlas don’t provide the level of detail you need, contact our demographic consultants here to discuss a more in-depth or customised analysis of your area.

 

I recently had the privilege of speaking in Far North Queensland on using the .id toolkit for emergency management. Cairns turned on one of its hottest days of the year (38 degrees, 80% humidity) for a packed room of staff involved in emergency management and disaster recovery across the region.

We have recently done some work for a few Queensland councils on pinpointing the locations of people who would be vulnerable in the event of an emergency situation. In Queensland, this is most commonly a cyclone, but the idea could be used for bushfires, floods, earthquakes, and even virus outbreaks like the Covid-19 pandemic.

There are certain communities which are generally likely to be more vulnerable and difficult to access in emergency events. We have worked with councils to refine a list of these groups, many of which you can pinpoint using .id’s social atlas tool – others are available along with analysis of their distribution via a consultancy with .id.

What makes communities vulnerable?

The things which make communities vulnerable fall mainly into two categories

  • People who may be difficult to reach to communicate with and therefore unaware of the situation.
  • People with poor mobility or community connectedness, who may not be easily able to escape a situation and need help doing so.

We workshopped a few of these groups in consultation with our council partners. This is not an exhaustive list but highlights the sort of detailed information you can map from the Census to get a handle on the groups you need to involve in disaster management.

  • Homeless population (absolute and relative)
  • People aged 65+ (seniors)
  • Lone person households (people living alone)
  • Lone person households aged 65+
  • People with a disability
  • Disengaged youth (15-24 year olds neither in education nor employment)
  • People in low-income households (bottom 25% of Australian incomes)
  • People with poor English proficiency
  • People with no internet access at home
  • People with no motor vehicles at the household

Most of these can be easily pinpointed using .id’s atlas tool, where councils subscribe to this. Here are a few examples from Cairns.

The homeless population

This is probably one of the most vulnerable groups of all. Homeless counts from 2016 Census are included as part of profile.id, in the population highlights page

In Cairns, the greatest number of homeless were counted in the central areas of the city, including Cairns City (469 people), Manunda (200) and Westcourt (99).

People with a disability

People in need of assistance due to a severe or profound disability may have both communication issues and mobility issues in an emergency management situation, and are likely to need assistance to evacuate.

The Census collects this information, though it is a known undercount. Mapping via atlas.id can help, along with some disability modelling we do to estimate current and future numbers of different disability types using the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers. Here are the details for the Cairns region.

Lone person households aged 65+

This is a larger group and may need further refinement. Older people living alone may be vulnerable from both a communication and a mobility perspective. In Cairns, as in many places, these are strongly associated with areas that have a lot of smaller housing stock, and retirement villages.

Poor English proficiency

This group is likely to have communication difficulties in that they may not be aware of or able to read warning preparation messages. It’s also possible that the support networks in the community for those with poor English proficiency may be patchy. Not a huge group in Cairns, they make up about 2% of the total population. However, it’s easy to narrow this down to specific language groups as well.

In Cairns, over 60% of those with poor English proficiency speak just 5 languages – Japanese, Nepali, Korean, Mandarin and Hmong (all Asian languages and representing a recent wave of migration to the area).

The council have recently done some work in this area, and published cyclone preparedness brochures in Nepali, which I was able to look at (not to read, however, as I am not fluent in Nepali!).

Visitors to the area

This is a really key group in Cairns, which may or may not be so important in other areas.

Visitors may not be familiar with the area, not know the channels to get warning messages and may or may not have access to transport.

Cairns is a huge tourist destination. Almost 29,000 people in Cairns Regional Council on Census night were not at home. This is about 17% of all the people counted in Cairns on Census night. 10,000 of these were overseas visitors.

Further analysis can be done on this community to see where they come from and where they are staying. But it should be noted that Census is a snapshot for a Tuesday night in August which is peak tourist season for this area (and not for others, eg. in Southern Australia), but not peak Cyclone season for the area.

More detailed communities

Further analysis can pinpoint extremely vulnerable communities. These are not currently in atlas.id but can be accessed via a consultancy with .id – Other combinations of cross-tabulated variables can really help look at very localised concentrations of disadvantaged groups.

  • People with poor English proficiency and no internet at home
  • People with poor English proficiency, no internet at home and no motor vehicles
  • Lone person households aged 65+ with no internet and no motor vehicles
  • People with a disability in low income households.
  • Visitors to the area not at their usual address on Census night.

You can access a lot of this information at a very fine detailed level if your council subscribes to our social atlases (atlas.id). The .id toolkit is a fantastic resource for looking at those communities which are likely to be vulnerable in an emergency situation, and Cairns are making good use of this right now. If you don’t have atlas at your council, or are interested in any further analysis of these populations as a report or presentation, contact our demographic consulting team here to discuss your project.

 

Normalizing Outbreaks in the Anthropocene: Growth Isn’t the Cure

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 11/03/2020 - 2:30am in

By James Magnus-Johnston
Streets in China

Quiet streets in coronavirus epicenters. (Image Source, Credit: Alex Kim)

Death rates. Infection rates. Handwashing. Handwringing.

May I re-frame the coronavirus conversation? Although the world is currently stunned by the rapid spread of this virus across the globe, we must understand that these kinds of outbreaks are simply going to happen more often in our climate-altered world, and they highlight the fragility of our growth-or-bust industrial system. But there is a silver lining: This moment requires industrial societies to emphasize wellbeing over GDP and to witness the vulnerability of global, energy-intensive supply chains. The norm of GDP and economic growth obsessions has been put on hold. Without diminishing human suffering, a few months of reduced industrial output can also demonstrate that a different mode of living is possible; even desirable.

While this outbreak could have a negative impact on people’s sources of income, it has also already cut emissions more quickly than years of climate negotiations. I’ve heard more than one colleague joke that they can’t wait for their employer to close the office so they can work from home.

Some people believe the coronavirus outbreak is but one in a cascade of events that will break industrial society. Whether or not that’s true, the conversations that are catalyzed should be similar: Industrial societies ought to reconsider their cultural and economic goals, especially if routine crashes are baked into the system.

The late economist Richard Douthwaite observed that in our present set of economic institutions, the choice is between growth and collapse, not growth and stability. In reconsidering the current economic system, industrial societies must contemplate the following: If the growth-or-bust imperative is so clearly maladapted to deal with these kinds of consecutive crashes—and crashes are bound to hit more often—why not embrace a more stable economic system that facilitates life-affirming modes of working and being?

Why Outbreaks Will Be More Routine 

Environmental breakdown—such as rising temperatures, melting glaciers, and changing precipitation patterns—are contributing to a rise in infectious diseases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) cautions that “worldwide, there is an apparent increase in many infectious diseases… This reflects the combined impacts of rapid demographic, environmental, social, technological, and other changes in our ways-of-living [sic]. Climate change will also affect infectious disease occurrences.”

Glaciers

Scientists recently discovered 28 new virus groups trapped in 15,000-year-old melting ice. (Image Source, Credit: Huzefa Bagwala)

New disease carriers and evolving incubation patterns contribute to the rise in rates of infection. So, too, do changes in land use. For instance, Himalayan glaciers are melting twice as fast as they were half a century ago. One team of scientists recently found 28 novel viral groups in 15,000-year-old melting ice, all of which were entirely new to science. And that amount only accounts for a small fraction of those that will be new to 21st-century humans.

Turning Toward Simplicity and Care

It’s hard to contextualize the present pace of social and environmental change over the long run of history. But it is short-sighted to think merely about death rates or the short-term impact of coronavirus on GDP and the stock market.

Many of the media narratives are, as required by their commercial format, recycling short-term questions. A lot of people are undertaking meaningful, precautious efforts to reduce the spread of the infection; however, headlines and advertisements reveal the illusion that in a growth economy many believe they can buy their way out of this mess by purchasing control mechanisms, such as masks and hand sanitizer. Canceled flights and shortened holidays are framed as inconveniences. Travelers even question the validity of risks of infection in order to maintain their reservations. The underlying assumption is that we’ll all get back to business-as-usual soon enough.

Alternatively, Richard Heinberg writes that this moment is one of the many black swan events that will accumulate and eventually take down industrial civilization. He argues this event “could trigger a major unraveling that would leave the world substantially less networked, less wealthy, and less secure” as a global financial crisis is triggered, leaving people jobless. Others notice similar themes emerging today to those that plagued (pun intended) the early 20th century: demagoguery, a global pandemic, high-debt rates in the rich world, and rising political tensions. People can instead turn toward one another and demonstrate kindness, resilience, and cooperation.

As flights are canceled, offices are closed, our favorite novelty items go out of stock, or the internet doesn’t quite work properly (God forbid), it’s possible that some of us will find this compulsory slower pace both humbling and life-affirming.

Social and Ecological Benefits—Can We Sustain Them?

Amy Jaffe, Director of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Energy Security and Climate Change program, notes that the outbreak is shifting our work habits in ways that can have a longer-term positive effect on the society and the planet, including “working from home, video conferencing, working shorter weeks, or staggering office hours to reduce traffic.”

Person wearing mask because of the coronavirus.

Misguided commercial solutions to the coronavirus outbreak. (Image source, Credit: Juraj Varga)

It is heretical to point out that the broader global community of life benefits from a human slowdown. But China has reduced its carbon emissions by a quarter nearly overnight. Oil consumption will fall by, reportedly, its largest volume on record. How can we sustain the positives and also prepare for inevitable crashes and industrial slowdowns going forward?

In addition to all of the wise, immediate actions encouraged by experts, we can have even more consequential conversations about transforming our pro-growth economy into a sustainable one. This moment in history calls for us to have a global discussion about buying fewer consumer goods, the instability of our fragile debt-fueled and crash-prone economy, localizing supply chains, and producing our own goods. As the number of those infected by the virus rises, our society should consider spending more time caring for people’s wellbeing instead of monetary gain.

Growth isn’t always the cure for what ails us.

James Magnus-Johnston headshotJames Magnus-Johnston is a PhD researcher at McGill University in the Leadership for the Ecozoic program. He’s the Co-director of the Centre for Resilience at Canadian Mennonite University, where he teaches in the fields of business, political studies, and economics, and he serves as a board director with the Assiniboine Credit Union. James previously worked in finance, public policy, and as a social entrepreneur—helping to establish services in food, housing, and experiential learning. He completed his MPhil in Economics at the University of Cambridge, where he studied the growth requirement of the debt-based money system.

The post Normalizing Outbreaks in the Anthropocene: Growth Isn’t the Cure appeared first on Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy.


Population and the Outbreak of Peace

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 27/02/2020 - 3:02am in

By Max Kummerow

Adelyne More’s 1917 feminist pamphlet Fecundity and Civilization stated flatly that population stabilization “is the most effective way of ensuring the cessation of war.”[1] All species’ potential rates of reproduction enable exponential population growth. Population numbers are kept within environmental capacity by rising mortality as populations increase. Ecologists call this process “density-dependent mortality.” Many “group-selected” social species fight territorial wars as populations grow, such as chimpanzees, lions, wolves, hyenas, baboons, ants and humans.

Chimpanzee fight

Population density is a huge factor for fights among chimpanzees. The threat of losing territory and resources creates tension and physical confrontation until there is a standing winner. Sound familiar? (Image CC BY-SA 2.0, Credit: Chris Allen)

Writer Michael Balter concluded from a study of 100 incidents (in which chimpanzees inflicted deaths on rival bands) that population growth leads to violent conflict. Studies of hunter-gatherer cultures, as well as historical records of modern societies, show that wars, famine, and disease reduce life expectancy as populations push environmental limits.

Humans and many other species also “regulate” population, not necessarily intentionally, within environmental capacity through behaviors that reduce birth rates (“density-dependent natality”).

Scholars present multifaceted causes of violence and war. In Causes of War, Levy and Thompson describe how “Scholars disagree not only on the specific causes of war, but also on how to approach the study of war…psychologists generally emphasize psychological factors, economists emphasize economic factors, anthropologists emphasize cultural factors, and so on.”[2] Philosopher A.C. Grayling quotes I.A. Novikov on the purpose of war: “men fought…in order to obtain food, women, wealth, the profits derived from possession of the government, or in order to impose a religion or a type of culture…war is a means to an end.”[3]

In Better Angels of Our Nature, Steven Pinker cites The Civilizing Process (1939) in which Norbert Elias argued that progress in norms and institutions encourages settlement of disputes by law and negotiation.[4] The “do unto others” ethic and the development of altruism and empathy was slowly leading to the rejection of war, slavery, and subjugation of races, cultures, and social classes. In the place of dictatorial and genocidal behavior, more inclusive and pacifist patterns were starting to prevail.

Syrian War

Noted for being one of the deadliest wars of the 21st century, the Syrian civil war has killed thousands of people and spawned military conflicts outside of its borders. (Image source, Credit: Voice of America News)

Tragically, shortly after Elias’s civilizing book was published, barbarism re-emerged with the horrors of the Holocaust. Elias fled to the USA, but his parents fell victim to the genocide in Eastern Europe. Regarding this tragedy as well as the increase in threats of nuclear war and the ongoing bloodshed in Syria, Ukraine, and elsewhere, it is clear, as Pinker admits, that reduction in violence may not be enduring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Population Regulation and Peace

Nothing in sociobiology, genetics, or cultural studies provides compelling evidence that war is absolutely inevitable or, on the other hand, can be thoroughly eliminated. That said, there is strong evidence that ending population growth facilitates enduring peace. I classified 150 countries into three violence categories.[5] The table compares fertility rates and population change. Total fertility rate (TFR) is a statistic summarizing numbers of births per woman.

Table 1: Violence and Fertility Rates

Violence Category

 
Number of Countries
Average 2013 TFR
2013 Population (billions)
% Population Change 1960-2013

 

Peaceful
39
1.6
2.09
56%

Medium
54
2.6
3.44
206%

Violent
57
4.2
1.55
269%

Total
150
2.9[6]
7.08
191%

Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators. Countries missing fertility data and countries with <1,000,000 population in 2013 and four oil sheikdoms with major in-migration were omitted.

TFRs averaged 1.6 in recently peaceful, formerly violent countries and 4.2 in recently violent countries. Using ANOVA or CHI2 statistics to test the null hypothesis of “no difference between group fertility rates” gave a p-value of 10-12, confirming what is obvious from casual inspection of the data: High fertility rates are strongly correlated with mass violence and low fertility rates with peace.

Life expectancy at birth was 23.4 years longer in the peaceful countries. Average 2008 infant mortality rates were 8.5 per 1000 people in peaceful, low-fertility countries versus 83/1000 in violent, high-fertility countries. Per capita incomes in high-fertility violent countries averaged 13.8% of the average per capita income in the low-fertility/peaceful countries—$4,155 versus $30,020.[7]

Low fertility rates are strongly associated with peaceful outcomes, even in formerly violent cultures whose neighbors are so-called “hereditary enemies.”[8] Declines in fertility rates nurture and enable peace.

Solutions to the Many Influences of Violence

United Nations generally assembly

United Nations representatives meet in yearly general assembly meetings hoping to find solutions for lasting peace. (Image CC BY 2.0, Credit: Basil D Soufi.)

Many other factors aside from population growth influence outbreaks of mass violence. Propaganda can increase hatred and foment violence. Incompetent or power-hungry leaders blunder into wars. But there are solutions our society can pursue: Institutions such as the United Nations can help maintain peace; peace treaties can resolve disputes; and cultural and institutional changes can reduce tendencies to violence.

The rejection (or adoption) of violence entails in-depth analysis and, often, the climbing of learning curves. Yet underlying all other factors is the fact that population growth creates rising competition for scarce territory and resources. Conversely, population decline reduces motivation and necessity for violent conflicts and fosters higher education levels, rule of law, and trust.

Peace and justice advocates should devote more attention to supporting family planning and the demographic transitions that have helped women and children enjoy longer lives. These demographic transitions also enable countries to remain above poverty levels and peacefully coexist with former enemies.

Why are so few peace and justice advocates talking about population stabilization?

[1] More, A. 1917. Fecundity and Civilization: a contribution to the study of over-population as the cause of war and the chief obstacle to the emancipation of women; with special reference to Germany. Allen and Unwin, London.

[2] Levy, J. and William R. Thompson. 2010. Causes of War. Blackwell Publishing, Chichester, UK.

[3] Grayline, A.C. 2017. War: An Enquiry. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA. This echoes Thucydides who summed up causes of war as fear, glory, and interest (desires for gold, territory, slaves, etc.).

[4] Pinker, S. 2011. The Better Angels of Our Nature. Penguin, New York.

[5]“Violent” were roughly defined as “thousands killed in the past 40 years in war, civil strife, or genocide.” “Peaceful” were “peaceful since WWII.” Admittedly, this was a “quick and dirty” classification effort based on news accounts, historical reading, and general knowledge. I looked at deaths in war statistics and found them to be surprisingly hard to pin down. Estimates of deaths vary greatly depending on source. The “medium” category is really “not sure” in some cases.  Results are so clear that no change in the overall conclusion could result from a few misclassifications.

[6] Figures in Table 4 are averages of country statistics, not weighted by country population. Global average fertility weighed by population was around 2.5 in 2013.

[7] Statistics all from World Bank, World Development Indicators data.

[8] My relatives fought and died in the World Wars between France and Germany that killed millions. Now those countries share a common currency, lasting peace and low fertility rates.

Max Kummerow, Ph.D., is a retired business school professor and population activist who researches demography, ecology, and economic development. He has presented papers at ESA, PJSA, NCSE, PAA, and EAERE meetings showing the benefits of accelerating the world’s stalled demographic transition toward lower fertility rates.

 

The post Population and the Outbreak of Peace appeared first on Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy.


Meaning and Ethics in Ecological Economics

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 20/02/2020 - 3:00am in

By Haydn Washington

The True Meaning of Ecological Economics

Cartoon about school of economics.

(Credit: Polyp)

Ecological economics has a problem: Pluralism is out of control, to the extent that “ecological economics” is starting to mean different methods, approaches, and values to different people. We need to know precisely what we mean by “ecological economics,” and to settle upon an ethical framework thereof.

The original thinkers in ecological economics, such as Herman Daly, were clear that ecological economics was an economics that operated within ecological limits. However, recent models associated with ecological economics do not make this clear, as seen in the following table:

 

Table 1: Models Associated with Ecological Economics

Model associated with ecological economics
Focus on population?
Focus on reducing resource use?
Focus reducing consumerism and advertising?
Focus on equity?
Refuses to be an “engine of growth?”

Steady state economy
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

Degrowth
Mixed—depends on author
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

Social ecological economics
No
Yes
Unclear, but Spash (2012) argues yes
Yes
Yes, though controlling growthism not key focus

Circular economy
No
Yes
No
Yes
No

Green economy
No
Yes
No
Yes
No

Sharing economy
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Unsure

Doughnut economics
No
Yes
Mentioned then ignored
Yes (key focus)
Growth “agnostic”

Population and Consumerism: Missing Factors in Today’s Models of Ecological Economics

The key problem indicated by the table above regards population and consumerism. Many so-called ecological economics models do not emphasize either factor. Discussion of population, especially, seems to be taboo! Proponents of all models want to reduce resource use, yet many fail to discuss or seek to change consumerism. All models address the need for greater equity (at least for humans). However, only two models are clear that they are not complicit with further economic growth (the steady state economy and degrowth).

Polyp cartoon about growth.

(Credit: Polyp)

Environmental scientists use the IPAT formula—Impact = Population x Affluence x Technology—to assess environmental impact. Accordingly, society cannot live within ecological limits if it ignores population as a driver of impact. Similarly, seeking to reduce resource use without tackling the worldview of consumerism is bound for failure. Yet, many models that are loosely described as part of or congruent with ecological economics fail to describe an economy that would actually operate within ecological limits. We must establish, clearly and unambiguously, that operating within ecological limits is the meaning of ecological economics. That means we must stop the denial regarding population and consumerism.

 

 

 

A Call to Create a “New” Ecological Economics

The other major problem ecological economics must face pertains to its worldview and ethics. Clive Spash notes that an all-encompassing pluralism has led to incoherence and a brushing over of fundamental conflicts among various worldviews. I believe it is time for a “new” ecological economics which foregrounds ecocentrism, ecological ethics, and ecojustice. An emphasis on these themes can assist society in reaching a sustainable future where it accepts nature’s intrinsic value and extends respect to, and an obligation to protect, the nonhuman world.

Anthropocentric era cartoon.

(Credi: Polyp)

The model from Table 1 that comes closest to foregrounding ecological ethics is the steady state economy. Most of the other models explicitly (or implicitly) represent a strong anthropocentric bias. With regard to any model, however, ecological economics should break free from neoliberalism, including the commodification of nature. The idea of “People’s Contributions to Nature” needs to replace the anthropocentric “Nature’s Contributions to People” (also known as “ecosystem services”).

Given the themes of ecocentrism, ecological ethics, and ecojustice, a research agenda for ecological economics will adhere to the following:

  1. Adopt ecocentrism and ecological ethics to give ecological economics the coherent vision that it has lacked since its inception.
  2. Investigate to what extent ecological economics has been influenced by anthropocentrism and subsumed by neoliberal ideology.
  3. Emphasize ecological limits while tending to ecological ethics and ecojustice. This includes a focus on the key drivers of population and consumption.
  4. Explore connections with Earth jurisprudence, particularly the broader call for systemic government reform.
  5. Embrace ecojustice and integrate it with social justice.
  6. Study what the economics of an ecologically sustainable (or regenerative) agriculture might be (e.g., organic farming, agroecology, permaculture, etc.).
  7. Apply ecojustice to nature conservation through the support of the “Nature Needs Half” vision where half of terrestrial lands are protected in conservation reserves.
  8. Examine to what extent the commodification of nature is driven by anthropocentric and neoliberal ideology and ethics.
  9. Investigate the deep denial in society and orthodox economics (and also perhaps lurking in some corners of ecological economics) of limits to economic growth.
  10. Determine why society and governments—if they speak at all of “justice”—speak only of social justice and ignore the need for ecojustice for nonhuman nature.
  11. Examine the concept of ecodemocracy, where nature is given representation in governance systems.

Completing this agenda will bring us closer to adopting the only model that emphasizes ecological limits, provides an ethical framework, and strives for ecojustice: the steady state economy. Only when we have a steady state economy, virtuous to nature, will the earth thrive again for its human and nonhuman occupants.

For more information on ethics in ecological economics, check out these works below:

Burkey, T.V. 2017. Ethics for a full world: or, can animal-lovers save the world? Clairview Books, West Sussex, UK.

Washington, H. and M. Maloney. 2019. The need for ecologic ethics in a new ecological economics. Ecological Economics 169.

Washington, H., I. Lowe, and H. Kopnina. 2019. Why do society and academia ignore the Scientists Warning to Humanity on population? Journal of Futures Studies.

Haydn WashingtonDr. Haydn Washington is an environmental scientist and writer with a 40-year history in environmental science. He also writes extensively on ecological economics and ecological ethics. He is an Adjunct Lecturer in the PANGEA Research Centre, University of New South Wales. His books include Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand (2011 with John Cook), Human Dependence on Nature (2013), Demystifying Sustainability (2015), A Sense of Wonder Towards Nature, (2018) and What Can I Do to Help Heal the Environmental Crisis? (2020). He is the co-editor of the 2019 Springer book Conservation: Integrating Social and Ecological Justice. Haydn is Co-Director of the NSW CASSE Chapter, board member of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, and on the advisory boards of the journals Ecological Citizen and Sustainability. He is also on the Steering Committee of the new group “GENIE” (www.ecodemocracy.net).

The post Meaning and Ethics in Ecological Economics appeared first on Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy.


Australia’s population growth steady at 1.5% p.a.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/12/2019 - 9:01am in

New population growth data from the ABS reveal that while the national story of population growth remains steady at 1.5%, there are some trends worth noting within our states and territories.

In the year ended June 2019, Australia added 381,619 people, almost identical to the 380,800 people the year before. As a percentage, this is therefore marginally down, but fairly steady at 1.53% population growth.

The number of people added to the population has been remarkably consistent for the past 4 years and has been quite high now for 13 years straight, as the chart below shows. This is despite a substantial drop in new building approvals for the year ended June 2019, down by about 40,000 units on the previous year. In fact, there has long been a disconnect between population growth and building – they seem to move in quite different cycles.

The highlights

  • NSW is back to losing large numbers of people interstate – mainly to Queensland, which has increasing interstate migration again after a few quiet years.
  • Queensland’s growth is getting stronger again, up to 1.7%.
  • WA is returning to population growth, albeit slowly. The Sandgropers are stemming the tide of interstate migrants back to the Eastern States which is about half what it was 2 years ago. Add a tick back up in overseas migration, and population growth is back over 1%.
  • The Northern Territory’s population loss is accelerating, from 0.1% last year, to 0.5% decline in 2019, losing almost 1,200 people. This is entirely due to interstate migration loss.
  • Tasmania continues to grow at a rate not seen for decades, adding almost 6,000, and with a faster growth rate than SA and WA.
  • The lion’s share of overseas migrants still come into NSW and Victoria, with slightly more into NSW – but Victoria adds more people due to having positive interstate migration, while NSW is negative.

Australian annual population growth – 1997-2019

Australia’s population at June 2019 stood at 25,364,307.

The states/territories are showing large differences in the growth rates for the year. Victoria remains the fastest-growing state, at 2.05%. Historically this is unusual, but Victoria has held this spot now for the past 6 years straight and shows no sign of letting go!

Here are the current populations of each state/territory, with growth and components of change in the past year.

State/Territory
June 2019 population
Annual change
Annual change %
Natural increase
Overseas Migration
Interstate migration

NSW
            8,089,526
           109,358
1.37%
45,557
85,864
– 22,063

Vic
            6,594,804
           132,785
2.05%
37,343
83,244
12,198

Qld
            5,095,100
             85,676
1.71%
29,882
32,963
22,831

SA
            1,751,693
             15,166
0.87%
5,335
13,789
– 3,958

WA
            2,621,680
             27,499
1.06%
18,064
15,886
– 6,451

Tas
                534,281
                5,983
1.13%
1,159
2,816
2,008

NT
                245,869
– 1,189
-0.48%
2,524
658
– 4,371

ACT
                426,709
                6,330
1.51%
3,409
3,115
– 194

Australia
         25,364,307
           381,619
1.53%
143,273
238,335
0

(If you need a refresher on these ‘drivers of population change’, read our previous blogs about natural increase, overseas migration and interstate migration).

No sign of overseas migration slowing down

One remarkable thing at the national level – Overseas migration. For all the talk of cutting migration rates, the number of net migrants in Australia was almost identical to the previous year. In 2018/19, 238,335 more people came to live in Australia than departed. In 2017/18 it was 238,224. So only 100 or so different between the years, and still very high in historic terms.

When will these figures be in the local area profiles?

Just before Christmas the ABS always release these June quarter populations for the nation, states and territories. This is the most important of these quarterly releases as the June 30th figures are the time period for which local data are available too. So we can compare the same time periods, we need to wait for the small area (LGA and lower) data to be released in March, and we can then put the state and smaller area data on the sites at the same time. Therefore, these numbers won’t be reflected on our community and economic profiles just yet. If you’d like to be notified when these new data are made available, subscribe to our updates here and you’ll be emailed whenever we add new data and features to our public tools.

My CASSE Internship: A Unique Experience in Unsustainable Times

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 11/12/2019 - 3:47am in

By Ben Valdez

I don’t think it’s ever easy to consider being an unpaid intern right out of college. It’s something you don’t usually think about while you’re in school, at least from my experience, and it’s certainly not something you’re trained to aim for as a prospective graduate.

CASSE's 2019 Editorial Intern, Ben Valdez

CASSE’s 2019 Editorial Intern, Ben Valdez

Before I came to the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy in September of 2019, I had spent the summer at home in the Los Angeles sun, mulling over what I wanted to do with my life. I had graduated with a degree in English and found myself lacking in the ideal amount of experience to begin a full-time job, so I widened my search to include internships. I was really just eager to get my foot in the door somewhere.

When I took the position of Editorial Intern at CASSE, I didn’t know too much about what to expect beyond the basics of the role. The Steady State Press (CASSE’s new publishing arm) had not yet been fully formed, and my first assignment was to read Supply Shock, Brian Czech’s book on limits to growth and the steady state economy. Prior to that, I didn’t really have a firm grasp on CASSE’s definition of a steady state economy or the part it played in their mission.

Essentially, I spent my first week absorbing information about the history of economic growth, the evolution of classical into neoclassical economics, and the alternative, ecologically enlightened vision of steady-state economics. All of this served as the backdrop to begin understanding what exactly a steady state economy is and how it could be achieved.

I didn’t take a single economics course in college, mind you, so naturally I found myself diving straight into unfamiliar waters. Thankfully, Supply Shock’s accessibility and an informative presentation at the CASSE offices gave me a jumpstart into seeing the steady state as an economy that functions within the confines of our planet and that doesn’t grow or shrink too disruptively. Implementing a steady state economy would require a number of essential elements, including a stabilized population, restructured economic institutions, and diligent conservation of our natural resources. The small but determined CASSE staff often spoke of the increasing need for degrowth before a steady state economy (especially in American or global terms) could be sustained.

Beyond this burst of information in my early days as an intern, a lot of my conceptions about the steady state economy would come just by being present at CASSE. You could call it learning by doing or even learning by osmosis. I was soon assisting with the production of the Best of The Daly News, a compilation of the best articles from CASSE’s earlier blog. The first step in this project was to read through a large swath of the authors’ contributions and evaluate them. These authors had their own voices, backgrounds, and ways of talking about the steady state economy.

I gained a lot of knowledge on the breadth of the topic and how it could be applied to numerous different scenarios. I spent most of my time at CASSE working on Best of The Daly News, and it gave me a true understanding of how big this community of “steady staters” is, on a national and a global scale, and how passionate they are about the issue of endless growth.

Best of The Daly News, Steady State Press

CASSE Editorial Intern Ben Valdez helped produce Best of The Daly News.

What appeals to me most about steady-state economics ultimately came from reading over these articles again and again. It was the genuine concern for the state of the earth that I could hear in the voices of The Daly News writers. They weren’t writing for themselves but to advance an idea that was crucial for the survival for the planet. The CASSE blog was a platform for them to gather their thoughts carefully and display them for anyone serious about sustainability, and to me that’s one of the most important ways of advancing the steady state economy.

Getting people to listen is a crucial step, as is getting them to realize it’s not all as complicated as it may seem. I can attest to that; standing behind the movement came easily once I understood its integral tie to our planet’s health. And once I saw the lengths that contemporary economists will go to deny that economic growth is directly connected to the decline of this planet, I realized that we had a real problem on our hands. It’s not a problem that can be overcome in a week, or even a few months, but it’s certainly one worth tackling every day by raising awareness, refining the tenets of steady-state economics, and finding practical policy solutions for its gradual implementation.

The post My CASSE Internship: A Unique Experience in Unsustainable Times appeared first on Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy.


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