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Is Economic Growth Inevitable?

Is Economic Growth Inevitable?
Capitalism come home! Degrowth movement has just begun...Photo by Gerd Altmann

Economics – literally the home management, the knowledge on housekeeping, the taking care of it. The more developed and organized it is the better is the life of “the house” inhabitants. Thus the growth of economic, its development shall be considered a useful tool for better future of countries where it is observed. Economic growth improves living standards, technologies, infrastructure, population education level and its health, while reducing poverty.

The character and dynamics of any country economic development appear to be the subject of close attention of economists and politics. Countries’ perspectives depend on the processes and structural changes taking place in its economic. There are multiple factors determining any countries economic development level, including but not limited to supply of natural resources, Gross Domestic Product Indicator, population growth, and technological progress.

You are wrong to think I have mentioned natural resources supply first in the list of economic development factors. They include climate and environment of a country, its land, fossil fuel availability, water, land, each of which plays essential, if not vital role in country’s development. The quantity of natural resources is very important, but first and foremost is their quality and ability of country’s population to use properly it. A country with large amount of various natural resources can stay poor and underdeveloped, while the one with just a handful of them, but with knowledge of their correct and careful use can blossom beyond imagination.

Unfortunately, many countries’, especially developing ones, reforms directed to push economic growth do not take into account the careful treatment of their natural resources. The cornerstone principle of sustainable development that is “conducted without depletion of natural resources”, is totally ignored when it comes to making money now and here. The higher the economic growth, the higher is the energy, produce, infrastructure demand. Deterioration of environment heavily depends on economic development and this is one huge downside of economic growth, which undoubtedly will reverberate through future generations.

Degrowth does not mean deprivation and hardship, nor it is about regress and returning to the caves and collection of timber for cooking and heating. That is as simple as it really is: do not produce more than you need to consume, do not overconsume.

Word population, forgetting about the fact, that we only have what we have on our only home, the Earth, tends to consume more and more without anything to return. The behaviour of our consumption oriented society leads to irreversible damages to environment, to climate destabilisation, rise of sea level, water acidification, air pollution. Yet we keep heavily rely on environment as the provider of everything required for human being survival.

We environmentalists sometimes joke, that the best humanity can do for the Earth is to extinct themselves. From the humanity perspective, it is, of course, not the answer to the break of environmental resources depletion. There should be a balance between economic growth and natural resources consumption. In other words, economic growth should be ecological, balanced with the limits of the planets’ natural resources.

It is not a secret that nowadays production and consumption can be much more efficient than they are. However, efficiency needs to exist hand in hand with sufficiency. This is with bearing in mind, that while poor nations still need to be developed, the richest nations are required to substantially downscale their demands. The idea gave an incentive to the development of “Degrowth Movement”, with potential to lead rich countries to steady state being within the biophysical limits of the planet.

Our primitive ancestors understood it very well. They would not kill more mammoth than was needed to feed the tribe. They would not fall more trees, than was needed to get their families warm. We, their highly civilized offspring, keep over-utilizing the natural resources.

Degrowth does not mean deprivation and hardship, nor it is about regress and returning to the caves and collection of timber for cooking and heating. That is as simple as it really is: do not produce more than you need to consume, do not overconsume.

This hardly resembles the ecological development, which is illustrated by creators of expensive green homes, which cost fortune. However strange and impossible it looks from today’s perspectives, however difficult it is to accept for the modern demanding society, degrowth movement suggests economies to be localised to a maximum possible extent; organize them in such a way which would allow everyone’s basic needs to be met; promote energy efficiency with the aim to reduce energy consumption rather than reinvest it in more growth, production and consumption; re-cycle; do-it-yourself and share.

The alternative is inevitable – loss of our only home, the Earth.

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