If things were going well, there’d be no reason to question our current system that puts so much faith in economic growth. But things aren’t going well. Common sense, system dynamics models, and scientific reports tell us we cannot grow economic throughput forever. It’s making our world more and more unlivable.
Yet, yesterday, when the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis announced its initial 4th quarter GDP growth estimate (a robust annualized 3.3%), you would think it was Christmas. President Biden bragged.
We’ve come to believe we’ll always have MORE, year after year. That this is just the way the world works. But it only worked this way for a few hundred years. We think it’s normal; it’ll always work this way. But it has stopped working.
This irrational exuberance needs to end. An array of evidence suggests continued pursuit of growth will leave our kids a Mad Max future, at best, and very likely a dead planet. Here’s a brief report card on what we’re currently doing:
- Fertile soil depletion
- Fresh water scarcity
- Toxification of air, land and water
- Large ocean dead zones
- Oceans acidifying
- Deserts expanding
- Rainforests shrinking
- Species vanishing at an alarming rate
- Food scarcity
Alarming Scientific Reports:
- Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
- Earth Overshoot Day, Ecological Footprint Accounting
- IPCC Climate Reports
- WWF Living Planet Report
- World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice
- Earth Beyond Six of Nine Planetary Boundaries
- The Limits to Growth
This is an overwhelming catalog of problems we need to solve. Believe me, we need to be working on them. But the odds are against us getting all the solutions right. At the current, massive scale of the human enterprise, we must get them all PERFECTLY right. There is no margin for error. Frankly, it just won’t happen. That’s why we MUST stop chasing growth and embrace contraction for a time. Our population, material consumption and energy appetite have got to be scaled back, so we have a decent chance at aligning our way of living with the natural world.
Global Footprint Network conservatively estimates that, globally, we’re demanding nearly twice what the Earth can sustainably provide, year after year. Americans, on average, are engaged in 5-planet living. We need to scale back in order to avoid leaving our children a dead planet. Contracting our economy and population back to sustainable levels is a major part of my agenda as a presidential candidate. I want to allow our children to have a bright future.
In the new episode of my Dave the Planet podcast, finance professional Matt Orsagh explains why we need to change our economic paradigm, put human outcomes above economic, and embrace “degrowth.” He also explains the degrowth concept. Matt writes the Substack column, Degrowth is the Answer.
MENTIONED IN THE PODCAST:
Degrowth Resources – recommended by Matt Orsagh
The Speech We Need to Hear from Our Leaders – by Matt Orsagh
Thanks to Michael Kerbow for permission to use his painting, The Oil Age.
Also posted on Substack.
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Posted on 07 Feb 2024, 18:32 - Category: News