Jason Hickel, anthropologist, author, and fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, has written perhaps the best article I’ve read on the growth imperative and its ecological impact: The Nobel Prize for Climate Catastrophe.
The article is so well-written that I’m inclined to excerpt virtually the entire thing for this post (which I won’t do).
Here are a few excerpts that really require reading the article for context.
“All of this leads us back to a more fundamental question. Economists such as Nordhaus insist that perpetual GDP growth is necessary for human welfare. Three decades of delaying climate action have been justified on this principle. But is it even true? Is GDP growth really our only option?
“Remarkably, Nordhaus—like most orthodox economists—has never bothered to consider this question. The growth-is-good mantra is so baked into our consciousness that to question it seems almost crazy. Indeed, growthism is hegemonic to the point of transcending ideology. Politicians on the left and right alike hold it up as the single most important policy objective; they may quarrel about how to make growth happen, and how to distribute its yields, but on the question of growth itself there’s no daylight between them.
“In recent years, ecological economists have been staking out an alternative vision. We will have a much better chance of accomplishing our climate goals, they say, if rich countries abandon their pursuit of GDP growth. And if we do it right, we can not only protect human well-being but even improve it. Liberating ourselves from the growth imperative may be our best shot at flourishing through the 21st century.
“We are at a crossroads. Nordhaus, and many world leaders, remain wedded to the obsolete dogmas of the last century. But scientists are clear that this is no longer good enough – and the rest of the world is ready for something better.”