The Growth Myth Perpetual Motion Machine

Like it or not – you will buy a perpetual motion machine from the government of Ontario!

In accordance with The Ontario Growth Plan the Ontario government has directed Councils and local authorities to develop plans to accommodate specific population increases by 2051.  In the case of Orillia, the 2051 target population is 49,000 (up from 31,200 in 2021) an increase of 17,800 (57%); and for Barrie, 298,000 (currently 159,000), an increase of 139,000 (87%); and Hamilton, 916,000, up from 580,000, an increase of 236,000 (57%). The total planned increase for the Greater Golden Horseshoe is 50%, up 5 million from 10 to 15 million.

It should be noted that the Province did not consult local communities with respect to these dramatic changes, nor has the Province made any claim that, with these increases, populations of Ontario communities will be “optimum” in 2051, or that imposed growth will cease after 2051.

Many individuals in affected communities have reacted negatively to these Provincial directives and a number of Stop Sprawl organizations have gained public support, e.g., Stop Sprawl Hamilton and Stop Sprawl Orillia. Before there were Stop Sprawl groups, there were already many others that address particular environmental issues, such as the protection of wetlands, lakes and forests, and climate change had come to be widely seen as the most serious environmental threat facing the planet.

No political party, and very few environmental groups, even mention population and economic growth as the primary causes of the issues with which they are concerned. It is as if each is passionate to alleviate a single disease symptom without appreciating that all their efforts would be more likely to succeed if they combine their efforts to cure the cancer that is killing patient Earth.

For more than 50 years numerous warnings have been published concerning the folly of chasing endless population and economic growth. Numerous international agreements have been signed to constrain growth, and while the dire nature of the warnings has increased, population growth, greenhouse gas emissions, resource depletion and species extinctions have continued unabated.

Professor William Rees of UBC has led studies to identify and describe the causes of the global malaise and, with his graduate student Mathis Wackernagel, developed the concept of “ecological footprint.” This makes it possible to readily determine the maximum number of people that can be sustained in a particular region at a particular level of consumption. The endless growth being promoted is not just irrational, it is a threat. Hear one of the Rees YouTube presentations and I am confident you will better appreciate the danger to life on Earth presented by the growth myth.

Alec Adams


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