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Economic Growth vs Environmental Protection

  • 1.  Economic Growth vs Environmental Protection

    Posted 06-04-2019 05:10
    Would be interested in others opinions about how sustainable development can be achieved within the context of the current paradigm that demands continuous growth of gross domestic product in order to have a viable economy.  Does sustainable development demand economic growth?  Is a steady state economy achievable?

  • 2.  RE: Economic Growth vs Environmental Protection

    Posted 06-11-2019 02:15
      |   view attached
    The problem with the current economy is that it is not viable in the long run; given that we have been overshooting the planetary boundaries (on which the economy ultimately depends) since many years, this 'long' run is getting shorter and shorter, leading us to the verge of collapse. But let's not get into the doom scenarios.

    - Economists and entrepreneurs agree that the (societal) FUNCTION (or goal) of 'the economy' is to ensure the (wise, rational, responsible...) access and allocation of (really available, renewable...) resources to the (real, just...) needs of people and of other living beings that humans depend upon.

    - There is evidence now that the current economic INFRASTRUCTURE (or means) does not serve that function. Instead of offering the means for the just allocation of resources to the needs of the web of living beings, "the economy" has become like a kind of cancer that uses people and planet for its own growth. This means-ends reversal - resulting in a dysfunctional economy - in turn is driven by various other subsystems, such as
    • monetary design (with a scarce design, so 'to make money' becomes the aim of all economic transactions),
    • legislation (based on the primacy of private property, so justifying 'extraction' for personal gain),
    • cultural values and consumption patterns, but also economic theories and paradigms, spread by academia, politics, the media, etc. 

    - So the only way economic 'growth' can contribute to a viable, functional economy, is if it is framed as 'growth in economic functionality'. SDG8 has been debated and criticized by many people, but in the context of the Global Agenda 2030, its only meaning can be this: "how can economic infrastructure contribute increasingly to the wellbeing of people (i.e. as expressed in terms of education, equality, health...) and of the planet (i.e. life on land, stable climate, etc)?"

    This 'growing functionality' requires us to get rid of the dysfunctional (extractive) economic infrastructure, and replace it with the 'regenerative' approaches that today are emergent everywhere (albeit at small scale). Elements of this regenerative economics are:
    • cooperative ownership models preventing speculation, e.g. Community Land Trust, energy coops, etc.
    • community-oriented currencies, facilitating the responsible and inclusive valorization and circulation of talents and resources in a community
    • circular technologies - as low-tech as possible, in combination with open source sharing of knowledge and distributed production (only when needed)
    • sharing economy for the common good (not the hypercapitalist ones like Uber),
    • P2P practices, commons initiatives, open source co-creation and sharing of ideas, insights, knowledge, science, ...
    • redefining work so as to include everything that contributes to the wellbeing of the community, redefining 'income' so as to include everything that gives access to a quality life, replacing 'purchasing power' by 'living power'
    • etc. 
    These innovative economic practices and models have a proven higher functionality than the prevailing ones that aim at the accumulation of capital.  The question is what leverages are needed to foster the mainstreaming of these regenerative economics so as to phase out the extractive one in time (i.e. before the collapse of the Earth System). These leverages have to be found at all levels, including:
    • the personal (more justified consumption patterns)
    • organizational (nudging people to adapt their values and behavior; valuing their efforts to do so, organizing regenerative practices in an ascendant way)
    • political level (change economic paradigms in universities, foster cooperative and benefit-oriented businesses, etc.) 

    Read more about this in this article.

    Anne Snick
    SAPIRR - Systems Approach to Public Innovation and Responsible Research


    EuropeDD16_Snick.pdf   504K 1 version

  • 3.  RE: Economic Growth vs Environmental Protection

    Posted 06-18-2019 19:17
    Yes, at the academic level there is serious discussion of the flaws in the current economic growth paradigm.  How long will it take for official government policy to change.  In the United States it seems that all levels of government are falling all over themselves to attract growth.  Our President(?) boasts of 4% annual growth, but he has no clue what that would mean in the way of consumption.

    Russell Englabnd

  • 4.  RE: Economic Growth vs Environmental Protection

    Posted 06-24-2019 08:55
    For those who have always considered economics a science, this perspective may be of interest:

    Russell England