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"Sea Wind" the journal of Ocean Voice International
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(Please note: You may either ask for cards to include with this article, or edit out the reference in the first paragraph and use a copy of the sustainability outline as a reference.)

Inviting Debate

to Save the Seas, the Land and Ourselves.

by Mike Nickerson

Enclosed with this issue of "Sea Wind" is a business card sized presentation of a choice we could press into the democratic process. It asks the question: Could sustainability replace growth as the goal of society?

Historically, the immense creativity of humanity has been exploited to build pyramids, great walls and countless empires. Today it builds enormous industrial complexes and expands corporate fortunes.

The struggle of populations to decide for themselves what they will create with their collective ability has gone on for centuries. At what point we first questioned the right of a few to channel the efforts of the many, is not clear. What is clear is that it will take popular intervention in the governing process to turn away from the present economic agenda.

If the citizenry exercised its right to choose the policy by which society is governed, would we choose to expand economic activity indefinitely when we are already destabilizing planetary ecosystems? Would we continue to give enormous amounts of our tax money to people who already have more money than they can possibly spend while others starve or are forced into desperate action? These are topics worthy of public debate.

We get few opportunities to influence decisions. Periodically we choose between political parties. The mainstream parties, however, differ only in management priorities. They are all committed to the same economic model of perpetual growth. This model may have served well enough in the past, but it is now the engine of our destruction.

The key institution of the growth economy, charging interest on the use of money (usury), slipped off the list of deadly sins between 1000 AD and 1400. It served society to encourage the use of capital to expand productive enterprises. Through the exponential growth that results from loaning money at interest, the financial capital available for loans has grown over the centuries to an enormous volume. There is presently enough investment capital available to fish out the oceans, turn every last forest into lumber, re-route all the fresh water that flows into James Bay down to Arizona and much, much more. Almost every nation on Earth is heavily in debt to this same pool of capital. Many nations have reached the point where they pay more money in interest to the investment pool than to preserving their environments or caring for their citizens. The imbalance will only increase as investment capital continues to expand.

It is time to review the institution of interest and the goal of economic expansion which is necessary to feed its demands. Those who rule the present system are not going to change it. It serves them very well. It is up to us, through our networks of family, friends, organizations and associations to make it known that there is a choice and to press the choice forward for democratic reckoning.

Would policies based on ecosystem health and community cohesion provide for human needs as effectively as those presently serving economic expansion?

Promoting discussion around this issue is the purpose of "Inviting Debate". We raise funds to provide sustainability cards for anyone willing to pass them around. The side of the card opposite the outline of sustainability can be adapted in any way to suit local interests and to provide local contact information. We also provide a variety of other materials to clarify the issue and encourage discussion. We will work with any individual or group interested in stimulating thought and discussion locally or through a community of interest.

Bringing the question of sustainability or growth forward for public choice could be the ultimate test for democracy as an institution. Can we assert the right, to identify policy options and bring them forward for thought, discussion and finally decision, by the people?

Help us find out. At worst we will plant the seeds for realizing that perpetual expansion is not the only option. At best we will accelerate the much broader process by which civilization could move from the rapid growth of its care free adolescence to a stable, responsible maturity.