De-growth: Let’s take a new direction
By Suha Chari
“Enough,” wrote Bill McKibben 19 years ago, admonishing the collective “us” to think about where we’re going with all the robotics and technology; of how all of it is not just changing our world, but redefining who we are; to look into this deeply, and say enough: enough growth, enough so called economic progress, etc.
Though this has not been in the forefront of any public discussion, even with reference to climate change, it has taken on a different face recently, in the form of advocacy for de-growth. A group of scientists have suggested, in an article in Nature, that de-growth is exactly what is needed now, and that science can perhaps help shape this new world.
The thesis is that “Wealthy countries can create prosperity while using less materials and energy if they abandon economic growth as an objective.”
It is clear that policies based on increasing production, using more energy and materials, are unsustainable. Hence, de-growth.
The authors call for wealthy economies to give up the goal of GDP growth, reduce wasteful production, and focus economic activity around human wellbeing.
They enumerate the ways to do this:
Scale down destructive sectors – fossil fuels, industrial meat and dairy, fast fashion, cars and aviation, and end planned obsolescence of products.
Improve public services – access to good health care, education, housing, transportation, nutrition, internet and renewable energy.
Introduce a green jobs guarantee – transition workers from fossil fuel sectors to renewable energy jobs.
Reduce working time – reducing carbon emissions, and allowing for more social care and support.
Enable sustainable development – cancelling unfair and unpayable debts of low and middle income countries.
Some of these policies are in effect around the globe: many European countries have free healthcare and education; Vienna and Singapore are renowned for good public housing, and 100 cities worldwide offer free public transport. Some are trying basic incomes and shorter work hours.
However, implementing a comprehensive de-growth strategy safely and justly, has economic and political challenges, as with ideologies and special interests. To overcome these, much cooperation in research is needed, with government commitment to managing cross border transactions, procuring funding from redundant sectors and ensuring a better life for all citizens in the age of de-growth.
To read the full article, go to www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-04412-x.
These events will be held at the Scripps Miramar Ranch Library:
• Climate lecture on New Policies for 2023, IRA incentives and more; Friday, March 17, 10 a.m.
• All About Composting, March 18. 10 a.m.; followed by Garden Share, 11 a.m.-1pm.
Join us to share, learn and meet your fellow gardeners.
Sustainable Scripps Ranch is a standing committee of the Scripps Ranch Civic Association. To learn more about Sustainable Scripps Ranch, visit scrippsranch.org/ssr or email SustainableSR@scrippsranch.org.