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Making sustainability laws work while treating our addiction to growth: an application of scarcity multiplier theory

journal contribution
posted on 2023-12-01, 01:29 authored by Paul E Smith, Vishnu PrahaladVishnu Prahalad
Planning laws promoting sustainable development have not stopped the depletion of natural capital and global life-support systems, fuelling arguments for degrowth and transitions to steady-state economies. To address this weakness, we employ scarcity multiplier theory (SMT) in a case study of Tasmania, Australia, where planning laws have the statutory objective of promoting sustainable development. By drawing on two seminal contributions of John Kenneth Galbraith, his squirrel wheel and problem of social balance, SMT explains how we fail to limit growth to match natural capital capacity. This application of SMT shows that new industrial developments in regions with circumstances similar to those of Tasmania produce two forms of unsustainability: ‘unsustainability of satisfactions of wants’ and ‘unsustainability of per capita abundance of natural capital’, the former producing an addiction to economic growth. We thereby argue that applications for approval of new industrial developments under Tasmania’s planning laws should be rejected unless these expansions are countered by a commensurate contraction elsewhere in that economy. In addition, we employ SMT to identify deficiencies in those planning laws that stop them producing sustainable development, demonstrating a need to reform government (and planning) to prevent such failure.

History

Sub-type

  • Article

Publication title

AUSTRALIAN PLANNER

Volume

ahead-of-print

Issue

ahead-of-print

Pagination

15

eISSN

2150-6841

ISSN

0729-3682

Department/School

Geography, Planning, and Spatial Sciences

Publisher

ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD

Publication status

  • Published online

Rights statement

© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, orbuilt upon in any way. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.