Friday, January 20, 2017

Regional overload, planetary health and population displacement

Just published in the BMJ blog as "Regional overload and the consequences it has for health"

This is a very bland should have been "Regional overload, planetary health and population displacement".

It's very short - a 600 word limit. I'll add links later.

Almost 1% of the world population, mostly children, is forcibly displaced (including 11.7 million Syrians), an increase of over 50% from 2011. [1] Here I propose that the public health catastrophe in Syria be conceptualized as a canary case of “regional overload,” relevant to the emerging public health sub-specialty of planetary health. [2,3,4]

In 1990, King warned, in a prominent article in the health literature, of “demographic entrapment.” [5] Soon after, leading epidemiologist McMichael wrote of “planetary overload.” [6] Both concepts are related to Malthusian thought, and thus to the theory of evolution, which accepts, as fundamental, competition for finite resources, often between co-operating groups. [3,7]

Demographic entrapment is argued to occur in extreme cases when population growth outpaces that of development, triggering population “checks” including from conflict, famine, epidemics, and out-migration. [5] Examples include in Ireland (mid-19th century), Rwanda (1994), and, arguably South Sudan and Syria today. [6]

Planetary overload posits that the human impact on Earth is non-sustainable. [3,7] Planetary overload is unlikely to be homogenous; some regions will be overloaded before others. Plausible contemporary examples of regional overload include Yemen, the Sahel and Bangladesh; here I focus on Syria, given the magnitude of its current situation.

Two key papers have reviewed substantial evidence to conclude that climate change has aggravated the recent Syrian drought, unprecedented in severity, and, in turn, this contributed to food price shocks, rapid internal migration, and ultimately its civil war and population displacement crisis. [8,9] Analysts in support of the link between environmental stressors and conflict stress violence emerges in a “milieu” whose elements in Syria include rivalry, grievance, inequality and outside interference. Importantly, this is not “environmental determinism,” as some critics have asserted. Instead, climate change acts as a “threat multiplier” of conflict. [3,10]

The total fertility rate in Syria before the war was falling, but far above replacement. [2] High Syrian population growth reduced the “demographic dividend,” which helps to promote economic and human development in low-income settings with high population growth. A consequence of Syria’s high fertility rate was growing youth unemployment, reported as 48% in 2011, a five-fold increase from 2000. [2] Large numbers of young, underemployed, under-fulfilled men (“youth bulges”) often accompany high population growth, and have long been linked to violence. The need for economic growth to reduce Syrian poverty, accelerated depletion of groundwater, another key resource. [8,9]

The Planetary Health Commission argued that many health gains are achieved by eroding Earth’s natural systems that provide essential services “on which human civilisation depends”. It suggested that if populations attain health by exploiting the environment unsustainably then this is likely to be at the expense of other populations, now or in the future. [4]

Although humans have always modified nature, today, too many humans are feasting on the ecological underpinnings of global and planetary health. Those with ample “feed” thrive, but at an increased cost to others, including many of the Syrian population, whether killed, living in fear, or displaced.

I have argued that the population displacement from Syria can be conceptualised as a form of regional overload, in turn related to planetary health. But not all causes of regional overload are from overconsumption by the rich. Conditions in Syria, much of the Sahel, Burundi and elsewhere will be greatly improved by education, human rights, slower population growth, and greater scientific acknowledgement of these imperatives.

The problems besetting planetary health are formidable. Scientists and medical practitioners cannot, themselves, alter human destiny, yet have a duty of care to be as accurate and dispassionate as possible. A proper diagnosis may yet enable the remedies which can alleviate much future human suffering.

Colin Butler is an adjunct professor of Public Health at the University of Canberra, Australia, and co-founder of the NGOs BODHI and BODHI Australia. He is founding co-chair of Health Earth and lead author for the section on health in the forthcoming flagship Global Environmental Outlook report of the United Nations Environment Programme, called Healthy Planet, Healthy People.

Competing interestsI own stocks whose value should increase with greater action to counter climate change. I have received and anticipate future reimbursement for travel expenses, both as a speaker and co-author at writing workshops. I receive occasional book royalties (as an editor) and other author’s fees. I am a past recipient of an Australian Research Council grant. Most of my writing, speaking and the grants I have received or am applying for is relevant to the subject of this blog/opinion piece.
Not commissioned, Peer reviewed.

  1. UNHCR. Global Trends Report. Forced Displacement in 2015: UNHCR 2016.
  2. Taleb ZB, Bahelah R, Fouad FM, et al. Syria: health in a country undergoing tragic transition. International Journal of Public Health 2015;60(1):63-72. doi: 10.1007/s00038-014-0586-2
  3. Butler CD. Planetary overload, limits to growth and health. Current Environmental Health Reports 2016;3(4):360-69.
  4. Whitmee S, Haines A, Beyrer C, et al. Safeguarding human health in the Anthropocene epoch: report of The Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on planetary health. The Lancet 2015;386:1973–2028. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60901-1
  5. King M. Health is a sustainable state. The Lancet 1990;336:664-67.
  6. McMichael AJ. Planetary Overload. Global Environmental Change and the Health of the Human Species. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1993.
  7. Butler CD. Human carrying capacity and human health. Public Library of Science Medicine 2004;1(3):192-94.
  8. Gleick P. Water, drought, climate change, and conflict in Syria. Weather, Climate, and Society 2014;6:331–40. doi: 10.1175/wcas-d-13-00059.1
  9. Kelley CP, Mohtadi S, Cane MA, et al. Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 2015;112(11):3241-46. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1421533112
  10. Schleussner C-F, Donges JF, Donner RV, et al. Armed-conflict risks enhanced by climate-related disasters in ethnically fractionalized countries. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2016;113(33):9216-21. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1601611113

Friday, January 13, 2017

Earth poison diary 2017: the South China Sea

Who will blink first? Certainly Australia is fearful of being drawn into any coming conflict in the South China Sea; from former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating to former Labor Foreign Minister Bob Carr. My view of China is that they would rather be involved in a nuclear war than lose face; I predict the Americans will back down. There are claims that Secretary of State elect Rex Tillerson's stance (and the frank belligerence of incoming US trade and industrial policy leader Peter Navarro) is in part due to big oil not wanting to cede billions or trillions of dollars worth of fossil fuel to China (reserves in the South China Sea). Actually, however, that oil should never be extracted - to avoid runaway climate change - the climate bubble, apparently something Tillerson at least in part understands.

If (as is the case with Saudi Arabia) the West (and China) could reduce its fossil fuel addiction then not only would the Wahhabis have a lot less money to sow extremism, but China would be left with a lot of white elephant airstrips in the South China Sea, which will eventually be drowned by rising water. 

Clearly Australia's recent, though grudging, concession to Timor Leste over fosil fuels unfairly grabbed a decade ago is in part because our officials have realised we can't lecture China on international laws when we brazenly flout them. It's good we are now being fairer to Timor Leste (again, mostly over earth poisons - fossil fuels) - but it won't make a shred of difference to Chinese arrogance.

However, the Chinese do need a signal that their behaviour in the South China Sea is unacceptable. Even if the energy transition continues at the breakneck speed now foreseen by outgoing US President Obama, it is hard to see the tension going away in just 4 years, until (let us hope) someone like Sen Elizabeth Warren is elected. Maybe diplomats on both sides can quietly draw back a bit until then.

China's recent decision  to ban ivory is very highly welcomed, and shows they are receptive to international opinion, on some issues. The Chinese also seem determined to reduce their domestic air pollution. If fossil fuels, especially those that are offshore, lose much of their monetary value then a pragmatic strategy for each side will be to slowly forget about the issue. Maybe the fish stocks in the South China Sea would still go unfairly to China, but that would be better than WWIII.

Recollections of Abdus Salam: the first Muslim Nobel Laureate

In about 1992 my late wife Susan and I wrote to Professor Abdus Salam, Pakistan’s first Nobel Laureate (1979, for physics) about BODHI, the NGOs Susan and I had co-founded in 1989, and which today still work with minorities facing discrimination and poverty in South Asia. To our great delight he replied, encouraging us to continue, and inviting us to visit the Third World Academy of Sciences, (now the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics) which he had founded and was then directing, in Trieste, Italy, after his attempts to establish this in Pakistan were thwarted.

He also sent us a manuscript, not a formally published book, which I remember as insightful, with virtually nothing to do with physics. We never did get to meet him (he unfortunately died in 1996, aged 70, still in exile) but I was delighted to read, in December 2016, that the country of his birth is to rename a university centre in his honour. For many years Salam had been overlooked in Pakistan, despite his Nobel prize, because he was a member of a persecuted minority sect, the Ahmadis. Although the Ahmadis see themselves as Muslims,
the Pakistani constitution was amended in 1974 to declare them as non-Muslim. One result of this is that if Ahmadis refer to their places of worship as mosques or publicly quote from the Koran they can be sent to prison in Pakistan for up to three years.

Prof Salam endured many indignities Pakistani Prime Minister Ziaul Haq refused to endorse Salam's candidature as a Director General of UNESCO. In 1988, Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto reportedly made him wait for two days in a hotel before meeting him.

Return to the Punjab 

Exiled in life, Prof Salam’s remains were returned to Pakistan after his death, where he was buried in the town of Rabwah, on the Chenab, one of the five major Punjabi rivers, and a major Ahmadi centre. But, some time after, his gravestone was defaced to removed the word “Muslim” from an inscription that had called him “the first Muslim Nobel Laureate for his work in physics”.

Pain of Pakistan's outcast Ahmadis (BBC)

I regret not visiting Trieste, but it was a long way from Australia and money and time were scarce.

I do remember that Prof Salam gently chided BODHI for a name he thought sounded too Indian. But, while the acronym BODHI is a Sanskrit word (related to the wish to help all), our proper name is English, a bit long winded: "Benevolent Organisation
for Development, Health and Insight".

I have no doubt that Prof Salam was sympathetic to BODHI's work due to his personal experience of discrimination and poverty. He went to a simple school, said to have little furniture. Discrimination against the Ahmadis not only occurs in Pakistan, but in the UK, and according to Human Rights Watch, also in Saudi Arabia
  and Indonesia (at least).

There are many divisions within all the great faiths, including Islam. As ecological and energy constraints tighten, tolerance also appears in apparent decline. I take heart from Pakistan's belated acknowledgement of one of their greatest scientists. Even if Prof Salam's greatest hopes were unfulfilled, he was still tremendously successful. I am grateful for his act of kindness in replying to us a quarter of a century ago, and wish I could let him know that he has again given me hope.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Science and freedom: challenging the "Professor watchlist".

The stated mission of Professor Watchlist is to "expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom." The website helpfully includes a tab where you are invited to "submit a tip".

One person listed is Prof Nancy Scheper-Hughes, whose work I have long admired, eg her article, from 1991 called "Social indifference to child health" (Lancet 337: 1144-7) which I cited in a paper I published in 2000 called "Inequality, global change and the sustainability of civilisation".

It is already over 2 years since my own entry to the US was blocked, due to my protest over coal exports (my entry to the US still is blocked as far as I know), and I don't suppose I will ever go to the US again. Even if Senator Elizabeth Warren is elected as President, the US is ruled by its military industrial complex (the deep state), and I don't see that changing.

Were I younger, I would be intimidated by the existence of this professor's list, and might want to keep off it, though it has not yet reached Australia,  as far as I know. I think anyone with a mortgage etc, and who hopes to get a grant should be careful

Two motivations to work in science, despite the risk of conservative backlash

On the other hand, my interest in science and scholarship has had two main motivations. The first is to try to protect and improve the well-being of people and planet; not just (say) the business interests of Rex Tillerson or Exxon, nor of people of any particular religion, caste or ethnicity.

The second is to search for the truth. Admittedly truth can be hard to pin down, but let's say, if I didn't think there was good evidence for climate change or limits to growth then I certainly wouldn't write about those issues. I write about them because there is good evidence, and because greater awareness of them may help protect people and planet, including in the future.

Probably this professor watch list will not become a Joe McCarthy like witch hunt. It will probably fall far short of that. But nor should we be complacent. Incoming President Trump's disdain for free speech is evident; less appreciated is how quickly and easily people can be manipulated, motivated by self-interest to join the herd even if that means endangering the safety and freedom of whoever is out of favour, including fellow journalists.

Though freedoms continue to decline in our ecologically-constrained planet, whether in Rwanda, Turkey, China, the US and many other settings, it is important to keep going - including by publishing in the peer-reviewed literature, preferably in high impact journals and without completely selling out to conservative reviewers and editors! There are powerful institutional antidotes to these emerging constraints, and, if we keep our nerve, we may yet survive as a civilisation worthy of the name.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

"Effective altruism" and oppression in the dark heart of Africa

There is an interesting debate about the effectiveness of aid in a 2015 issue of the Boston Review, called the "Effective Altruism Forum". There are many contributors but here I focus on the debate between Nobel Laureate (economics, 2015) Professor Angus Deaton and his Princeton colleague, Prof Peter Singer, then between former Rwandan minister for health, Dr (now Prof) Agnes Binagwaho's and Prof Deaton. 

Two professors from Princeton: Singer vs Deaton

The founder of so-called effective altruism is the utilitarian philosopher, Professor Peter Singer, who now lives in the academic paradise of Princeton (which I once had the pleasure of visiting to attend a conference on emergent risk).

To me Singer's principles are absurdly simple, a fairy tale for children. Singer says "a minimally acceptable ethical life involves using a substantial part of one’s spare resources to make the world a better place." With that, I agree - if one has spare resources. But Singer writes that this includes: "choosing a career in which they can earn most, not in order to be able to live affluently but so that they can do more good".

The structural violence of Wall St

What about an ethical career? Singer does say "effective altruism" involves obeying the usual rules of not stealing, cheating, hurting, and killing, but then lauds as a model the practice of a former student of his who "took a job on Wall Street" and who, within a year of graduation was donating "a six-figure sum—roughly half his annual earnings—to highly effective charities." Singer seems blind, or perhaps indifferent as to whether the livelihood of his former student involves immense indirect harm, including to the poor. 

I might return to this debate in a future post, including how the effectiveness of charities can be objectively measured, although in extreme cases ineffectiveness is obvious, such as the foundation recently closed down by the Australian cricketer Shane Warne. One of Australia's highest profile celebrity charities, it has, since 2011, been known to donate between 11-32% of the funds it raises on behalf of sick and underprivileged children. Unlike the charities I co-founded, which consistently have spent less than 15% on running costs (and in 2016 less than 3% which is probably too low).

Right livelihood

Prof Singer seems unaware of, or perhaps dismissive, of the Buddhist concept of "right livelihood". No doubt, from a Hindu or Buddhist perspective the generosity of Singer's student creates good karma, and will help offset his likely involvement in structural violence (Wall St), even if unwitting.

A truly intelligent way to reduce inequality - though also difficult

In response to Singer, Deaton concludes: "I too see students who want to relieve suffering in the world. Should they go to Dhaka or Dakar? Focus on bed nets or worms? I tell them to go to Washington or London and to work to stop the harm that rich countries do; to oppose the arms trade, the trade deals that benefit only the pharmaceutical companies, the protectionist tariffs that undermine the livelihoods of African farmers; and to support more funding to study tropical disease and health care. Or they could go to Africa, become citizens, and cast their lot with those they want to help. That is how they can save the lives of African kids."

That, for me, is a far more ethical, practical and intelligent expression of effective altruism - even though trying to reform the practices of the rich world, operating through the "claste system" is extremely difficult.

Deaton, Paul Kagame, and oppression in Rwanda

In his response to Singer, Deaton criticises Paul Kagame, Rwanda's dictator (I have long been aware of Kagame's authoritarianism and phony elections; see several links, including to Anjan Sundaram's excellent 10 minute talk "Detecting a dictatorship", in which he calls Rwanda a "surveillance state" and talks of how many of his former journalism students have been murdered). See also the rivetting BBC documentary "Rwanda’s Untold Story".

Deaton gives no explanation in his essay for his unhappy assessment of Rwanda, but states bluntly
(I would say, a little too bluntly):

"In today’s Rwanda, President Paul Kagame has discovered how to use Singer’s utilitarian calculus against his own people. By providing health care for Rwandan mothers and children, he has become one of the darlings of the industry and a favorite recipient of aid. Essentially, he is “farming” Rwandan children, allowing more of them to live in exchange for support for his undemocratic and oppressive rule. Large aid flows to Africa sometimes help the intended beneficiaries, but they also help create dictators and provide them with the means to insulate themselves from the needs and wishes of their people."

Presidents Clinton and Kagame: an increasingly uncomfortable embrace?

Kagame is indeed a favourite of the US and UK, with invitations to Harvard University, admired by former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US President Bill Clinton, who has met him many times. Writing about the relationship between Clinton and Kagame, Professor Filip Reyntjens, a Belgian scholar who has devoted most of his academic life to the study of the politics of the Great Lakes Region, commented "either he (ie Clinton) is completely uninformed about what we know about Kagame or he’s in total denial”. (Reyntjens is prominent and highly articulate in Rwanda’s Untold Story").

However, in an interview with a BBC reporter in 2013, Mr. Clinton admitted “I suppose I do make more allowances for a government that has produced as much progress as that one has,” and “there are very few situations that are perfect.” Clinton, who was US president during the genocide, denies any residual sense of guilt, saying: “whatever guilt I had went away when I took responsibility for not helping them. I remember in 2001 when I went back to Rwanda for the second time, a reporter was riding in the streets of Kigali with a taxi driver and he said aren't you mad that Bill Clinton's here working on aid and all this stuff? He said no I'm not. And the reporter said, why? And he said, first he didn't make us kill each other, we were all adults and we did it. And we've got to stop blaming outsiders for what we did to ourselves. That's Kagame's contribution. And then he said, secondly at least he said I'm sorry - nobody else has apologised."

“So no I don't think it is guilt. But I suppose I do make more allowances for a government that has produced as much progress as that one has - and has been well organised and otherwise had the rule of law, and so that's the way it is. There are very few situations that are perfect.”

This points to a problem with Singer's quite superficial analysis. It is indeed good that Rwandans today have improved physical health (I'm not sure about their mental health) - but, as we pointed out in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, well-being needs more than being fed. It also needs security and freedom, and both of these are clearly lacking in Rwanda today.

Clinton also stated: "the economic and social gains in Rwanda have been nothing short of astonishing, under Kagame, and he says he's gonna leave when his time's up." That looks unlikely; the constitution has been changed allowing him to stay in power until 2034, although there is still a chance he will stand down this year (2017).

The former Rwandan health minister (a Tutsi, even though the vast majority of Rwandans are Hutu) is Dr (now Prof) Agnes Binagwaho. She took offense to Deaton's language. I went to a conference on Rwanda in 1996, in London, attended by the then Rwandan ambassador. There was almost a fight. It was very unpleasant, the ambassador was very aggressive. I was reminded of that, when I read Dr Binagwaho's letter;I thought Deaton's response to her was far stronger: you can read it here.

The essence of this debate is that the health improvements in Rwanda, since the genocide (now officially called the "genocide against the Tutsis", even though many Hutus were killed in 1994 and following that in the Congo, even though the violence started when a plane carrying two Hutu presidents was shot down, allegedly by forces then loyal to the current president) matter far more than the lack of freedom of speech and the numerous ongoing human rights abuses, including exile and murder of dissidents. Binagwaho's argument is utilitarian, and it seems plausible over a short period. But over the longer term it's a disaster.

Another genocide in Rwanda appears inevitable, unless the society can become fairer. On the positive side, the birth rate is falling and should fall even more. Paul Kagame should retire, and the leading opposition figure, Victoire Ingabire, now in prison because she called for a memorial for some of the 100,000 (or maybe even 500,00) Hutus killed in Rwanda (and maybe more than a million in the Congo) should be released. If so, another genocide might be avoided.


My main interest is the intersection of ecology, politics and human rights. This piece is rather long, and it's simplistic for genuine Great Lakes scholars; yet complicated for most people. I first wrote about the likelihood of genocide in Africa in 1994, in an article published in the Lancet in April that year, just as the conflict was about to explode. The conflict has ecological as well as political roots; the two are inextricable. 

Rwanda has long illustrated the lack of freedom in a world that is ecologically constrained. It suits the great powers to pretend that resources are endless, when they all know they are not. I think Bill (and Chelsea) Clinton, in their hearts, do not wish to see another genocide. All commentators applaud Bill Clinton's intelligence. He must know of the excesses of Kagame's rule, and I think experiences a sense of helplessness .. having supported him so long, he cannot pull the plug. Yet, I think he should. 

Former Presidents Carter, Eisenhower and Truman all recognised the limits of Pax Americana, Clinton surely must too. One thing Clinton could do, in his remaining time, is steer the aid world a little away from neoliberalism. I know that Clinton and the Clinton Foundation have a myriad of critics, but perhaps Hillary Clinton's humiliating defeat will trigger some reflection, paving the way for Elizabeth Warren's inauguration in 2021. If civilization can last that long!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Limits to co-operation and two neoliberal fallacies

I have a forthcoming opinion piece in the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) blog (and perhaps it will make it to the BMJ print version).. it is relevant to peace, Syria and global refugees. (It is restricted to 600 words, hence pretty compressed). It is called "Regional overload, planetary health and population displacement". It discusses the underlying ecological/demographic and environmental determinants of conflict, displacement and refugess

War criminals should be prosecuted - but complacent academics should be censured

My work on conflict and resource scarcity is controversial. Some of my critics argue that to raise any dimension of environmental resources as a contributing cause to conflict somehow excuses or justifies war and other crimes, including genocide. It doesn't - not least as such criminals have themselves often profited excessively from inequality, before the genocide/war crime. But genociders rarely bear exclusive responsibility.  Academics, herded by neoliberal forces, have far too often shared the groupthink that all will be well, if we just have freer markets; eg see: The 2015 refugee crisis and the complicity of far too many academics.

Limits to co-operation

A second point is even more controversial; I argue that there are limits to human co-operation; ie the Limits to Growth implicitly includes limits to co-operation (eg see Butler, C. D. (2016). Sounding the alarm: health in the Anthropocene. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 13: 665; doi:610.3390/ijerph13070665). (open access). This is controversial, because it implies that human groups cannot and in some cases should not get along with each other. Some may think it a justification for a fortress world. But, while some people are so altruistic that they may give away all their food, even if they are starving, this is not a wide-spread trait. It is not only na├»ve, but dangerous to deny this. However, the world can be a lot fairer than it is.

I believe it is important to think about these issues because the current dominant paradigm implicitly argues that:

(a) humans can continue to consume resources indefinitely (think Trump!) (or for that matter, think Clinton or Putin);  and

(b) any existing or future conflict can be solved or prevented without substantial resource availability and redistribution.

I believe this paradigm is still dominant because of the mentality of high income populations which refuse to recognize their own contribution to the evolving global crisis. There is also insufficient co-operation among high income populations and also between high and low income populations.

Let us imagine Americans agree to reduce their resource use by 10%, hoping that Saudi Arabians will, too. But as there is not enough trust between the two parties, neither does.

While it is hard for me to be optimistic for humanity I believe it is possible to have a fairly high living standard (though not many international flights) with a lower resource use than at present, and that will reduce the chance of conflict. This can be done by accelerating the energy transition (ie to non-fossil fuelled energy), by reducing meat ingestion, by having fewer children, and by being more thoughtful and conscious in one's purchasing behaviour, such as by avoiding palm oil produced in Kalimantan. I also think it is valuable to lobby for better development in low income settings. But it is also vital that academics stop pretending that issues of resource availability are not important contributions to conflict in low-income settings, such as Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Yemen and Syria. 

Challenging the power of dominant schools of political science

There is an influential political science literature which analyses conflict but with minimal recognition of the physical resource dimension, but according to O'Sullivan, T. M. (2015) Environmental Security is Homeland Security: Climate Disruption as the Ultimate Disaster Risk Multiplier (Risk, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy 6(2): 183-222) this has been challenged by the so-called social constructivist “Copenhagen school” that emerged in Europe advocated a broadening of traditional, realist theoretical security concepts. 

I need to study this school more, because, the traditional view, which even argues that considering natural resource distribution is a form of environmental determinism, is far too strong.

Social dynamics matter, but so too do resources.

Two key neoliberal fallacies

What are the two key neoliberal fallacies I wish to highlight? 

One: that we can go on consuming Earth's treasure with more or less impunity.

Two: that resource maldistribution (social and natural) is not an important source of conflict.


In a few lines I cannot describe solutions. Even if I could, people would not act. However, if enough academics, billionaires (including the Gates Foundation) and high officials in government could rethink fundamental assumptions about the issues I raise here then our future as a species and an advanced civilization would be brighter.