What is the future of growth?
by IPSP | Jul 19, 2016 | Forum | 2 comments
ControversialJohn Saint-Smith on August 5, 2017 at 12:06 am
I am commenting here for two reasons. First because it is an area which most closely corresponds to my concerns, and secondly because when I attempted to comment on the text of the report I received an error message:
HTTP Result Code 200
Status text: OK
I have no way of knowing whether anything will be done about this bug, so I have decided to express my concerns in this forum.
Chapter 1, Paragraph 12:
The environmental issue clearly indicates that progress has its costs and benefits. While the collectivization of the problem has proved so difficult, the depletion of resources goes on providing short term gains for some while penalizing others and spelling disaster for all in a no longer distant future. The Twenty-First Century is in need of a new Great Transformation to embed and regulate markets yet again in social relations which in this second round must include a better relationship with the environment.
My response was:
While I agree with the statement, I am greatly disappointed that I cannot find amongst your stated aims or subject disciplines of your authors a robust contribution from fundamental ecological theory. We need far more than ‘a better relationship with the environment’. We need to devote a great deal of effort to understanding how the world’s ecological systems actually work, and then to develop strategies to re-integrate the human species into that self-sustaining ecosystem which has survived countless challenges for nearly 4 billion years, but which is now under catastrophic threat by what we have so far called ‘ human progress’.
If this entire process is going to succeed, it will need more than social justice, it will need to be ecologically sustainable. That is the first and most critical challenge. Re-arranging the deck chairs to more properly reflect social, economic and political justice will not save the ship from sinking because of the vast hole ripped into its side by climate change, pollution, resource depletion, population, loss of biodiversity and environmental degradation.
We must first repair the vehicle which inevitably must be sea-worthy and sustainable in order to carry us towards a more just world, otherwise we will not arrive.
End of comment.
Extending that comment within the parameters of this forum, I would agree that the problem is being addressed, but I find myself unable to understand why a more serious attempt has not been made to engage with those individuals and organizations that have been developing the field of ecological economics for more than 20 years, and who have, by contrast, given considerable thought to the social, political and economic issues upon which you appear to focus.
ControversialMarc Fleurbaey on August 28, 2017 at 9:13 am
Apologies for the bug on the commenting platform, we had this issue for some users and thought it had been solved now.
On the substance of your comment, this is indeed a matter of debate, including inside the panel. We hope the debate will continue around the report to be published soon.
Many thanks for this, and keep in touch.
In Chapter 4, one reads: “For the largest part of human history, per-capita income has been largely stable and close to the subsistence level. (…) The industrial revolution led not only to increasing per-capita incomes, but fundamental transitions in the way societies are organized. (…) The metabolic intensity of industrial societies, mainly, since the second half of the XX century, has resulted in a growing transgression of planetary boundaries. (…) Decoupling growth from material and energy consumption has been identified as an environmental and climate imperative. (…) Capitalism has, without doubt, brought great advances in living standards over the last centuries. However, capitalism also has several adverse effects which threaten to destroy some of its greatest achievements.”
In this forum you are invited to share your views on how to think of the future of growth. We cannot stop innovation but we can stop destroying the planet and we can eradicate poverty and curb inequalities. The future is not “degrowth” or “no-growth”, but a decoupled growth that preserves the planet while raising well-being. Do you agree?