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The End of Growth and the Way Forward

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We can live without growth, but only when we embrace the values of sustainable living.

By Eartheasy.com Posted Sep 6, 2011

The End of GrowthA healthy economy needs to grow. In fact, economic growth is so important that we use rising GDP (Gross Domestic Product) numbers as our main measure of success.

In today’s pressing economic environment, global leaders are looking for ways to stimulate growth as the only way out of this global crisis. But are these initiatives on the right track?

Is growth what we really need?

It sounds like heresy to suggest otherwise. Yet the growth we’ve experienced since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution has depended on the availability of cheap fossil-based fuels which are a finite resource. And more recently, growth has too often required going into debt to finance new growth The economic collapse in 2008 exposed the fallacy of debt-financed growth, which many of us are still struggling with today as home values fall back to reality.

The very concept of limitless growth stands in apparent conflict with the limits of a planet which has only so much room to grow and so many resources to fuel more growth. Infinite growth within a finite system cannot work, a simple enough concept for economists and policy-makers to fathom, yet this hard logic is disregarded in our race for more growth and the prosperity we think it brings.

Does growth really bring prosperity? This is the question we will be grappling with for the next generation. In Bhutan, prosperity is measured by a “Happiness Index” which takes into account factors besides money which bring well-being to its citizens. I think we in North America will be looking for new measures of wealth in the future, with values such as “free time”, “playing with our children”, “enjoying hobbies and pastimes”, “developing personal skills” and similar ideas which are not dollar-dependent.

This video, Who Killed Economic Growth?, is written and narrated by Richard Heinberg and produced by the Post Carbon Institute. It serves as a trailer for the narrator’s new book, The End of Growth, published by New Society Publishers.

The notion of growth, even “sustainable growth” needs to be looked at in a new light. Our task now as a civilization is to learn to live together, find ways to share and build local economies, but economies that do not depend on cheap fossil fuels or require going into debt, or “borrowing from the future”.
This is the reality we are finally awakening to. The end of growth. The cultural shift we need to make is huge, but it is attainable because there is no other option.

We can live without growth, but only if we learn and embrace the values of sustainable living.

 

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  • http://www.sacredlove.com Karinna

    In Bhutan, prosperity is measured by a “Happiness Index” which takes into account factors besides money which bring well-being to its citizens. I think we in North America will be looking for new measures of wealth in the future, with values such as “free time”, “playing with our children”, “enjoying hobbies and pastimes”, “developing personal skills” and similar ideas which are not dollar-dependent.

    This needs discipline in order to change the culture in a society. I like the idea of focusing on the happiness of every family without involving money. This is a must checked area in the society by the government – how to give support to these simple happiness to the smallest unit of the society.

  • Lourdes

    I am overwhelmed that there are people who still think and believe that the society must go back to the times when families are closer because there are no televisions, cars, shopping malls and other technological innovations. Kids are kinder too and grew up to become responsible and committed law abiding citizens. Today, there are lesser people who will value family activities over financial ventures. WE must do something to build relationships more.

  • Susan

    Nice title, as we are quite suffocated with the word “growth” and we are really dying to move forward for a better sustained and stable future. The has some of the best information regarding growth and economics that we don’t go through on every day life. Thanks for making such a nice post.

  • Part_TimeTed

    I think we can achieve growth hand in hand with sustainable living. It could happen if there were more incentives to further develop more efficient energy sources. That is the key to getting things back on track while also cleaning up our planet at the same time.

  • Jean Francois

    I love the idea of happiness without money for sure, but lately everyone is stressing about money, and that's all the country is focusing on.

    • Greg Seaman

      I get the feeling that we may never see the levels of available cash that we were used to in the past decade, and over time we'll shift our values.

  • Ducloan

    I am overwhelmed that there are people who still think and believe that the society must go back to the times when families are closer because there are no televisions, cars, shopping malls and other technological innovations. Kids are kinder too and grew up to become responsible and committed law abiding citizens. Today, there are lesser people who will value family activities over financial ventures. WE must do something to build relationships more.

    Good Luck

    • bemorphy

      I agree. It seems our technology of cell phones, instant communication have degraded our sense of belonging and connectedness, just the opposite of what it should be.

  • guncelblogtr

    The has some of the best information regarding growth and economics that we don't go through on every day life. Thanks for making such a nice post.

  • Nex GEN

    Excellent title, I also greatly appreciate this site.

  • allen

    just want to say its really a nice post thanks for sharing it : )

  • Synercorp

    It seems that there are enough resources and even “things” that have already been produced to sustain the population if we could only convince people to change the way they consume–and maybe more importantly–desire to continually increase their consumption.This is where, in many respects, the Buddhists have the right idea.

  • Cali Plus

    This is not the end. It's time to go to the new stage.

    • Greg Seaman

      Well said!

  • iws24x7

    Change is always necessary, and its the time we change ourselves otherwise we all would suffer a lot, and technology can really help us go forward in the right direction.

  • Zain

    Simply Awesome title. I appreciate this from my heart.

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