Economic Growth is not Compatible With Environmental Sustainability

| March 15, 2018 | Leave a Comment

Money Plant by Tax Credits | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Item Link: Access the Resource

Media Type: News / Op - Ed

Date of Publication: February 21, 2018

Year of Publication: 2018

Publisher: European Environmental Bureau

Author(s): Federico Demaria

Journal: Meta

Categories: ,

Federico Demaria challenges the dominant “growth for growth’s sake” credo pointing out that further economic growth is environmentally unsustainable and socially unnecessary. For Demaria, it is past time we started grappling with the questions of what does an economy without growth look like, and how can we move towards it.

Economic growth is presented as the panacea that can solve any of the world problems: poverty, inequality, sustainability, etc. You name it. Left wing and right wing policies only differ on how to achieve it. However, there is an uncomfortable scientific truth that has to be faced: Economic growth is environmentally unsustainable. Moreover, beyond a certain threshold already surpassed by EU countries, socially it is not necessary. The central question then becomes: How can we manage an economy without growth?

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The views and opinions expressed through the MAHB Website are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect an official position of the MAHB. The MAHB aims to share a range of perspectives and welcomes the discussions that they prompt.
  • trilemmaman

    The economy can continue to grow if we changed our value system to worship environmental sustainability of systems and structures instead of what now passes for ‘western civilization’. Room for growth in health, education, enlightenment, recreation, entertainment, environmental restoration, protection and expansion into space exploration are limitless — if that were our priority. Instead, we are getting fat, lazy, greedy, isolationist, ignorant, individualist and addicted to being comfortable.

  • stevenearlsalmony

    Declining fertility rates virtually everywhere need not blind us to the undeniable, ongoing annual increases of absolute global human population numbers. Human numbers have exploded by more than 5 billion people on earth in the past three score and ten years. This population growth ‘trajectory’ is patently unsustainable on a planet with the size, finite resources and frangible ecology of earth. Please consider how the growth of human numbers worldwide is caused by the spectacular production and distribution of food for human consumption. As things stand now, with each passing year more people are being fed and more people are going hungry.

  • Wouldn’t two centuries of our Western privileged human psychology — by being informed by an economic meme predicated on wealth being perceived to exist independent of responsibility — lead to a “foresight intelligence” challenged society … assuming the species is evolved to occupy such an ‘intelligence’, and not simply highly adapted to imagine a remembered past onto a perception of the future delimited by motivated reasoning?

    In my last (and second interaction at MAHB) about two months ago, I posited that our species had something akin to the latter. In the meantime the possibility that our failure to act politically with foresight to the systemic threats of the Anthropocene is a consequence of CapitalismFail messing with our minds seems almost equally valid. In either case, what role has academia’s siloing of knowledge with an anthropogenic social construct yielded those giving ‘life’ to academia within our globalized society the capacity (motivated reasoning) to overlook this fact: physics defines knowledge as action? Doesn’t this imaginary world of words and thoughts, with its rising dominance of knowledge regarding what constitutes such, effectively precluded the nurture and exercise of any foresight humanity might possesses?