Growth Economy - Enemy of Habitable Earth

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Keskiviikko 22.5.2019 klo 20:29 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Throughout the world politics is centered around maximal economic growth. When the economic growth of a nation is smaller than the average, the politicians and the media are depressed and almost think that the end of the world has come. However, that is not the cause of the end of the world, but growth itself is.

Analogy to maximizing economic growth is a car with no visibility - one does not know what happens if you increase the speed. The earth is the car with no visibility. In the case of driving a car, with decreasing visibility, you decrease the speed to enable you to respond to any problem. You certainly would not increase speed, but that is what is done with economic growth. One does not know what happens to the Earth, but growth must be speeded up. The concepts of growth economy were formulated when the human population was one fifth of what it is now and there seemed to be unlimited space and resources.

This is not the case any more. The human population is so large that it inevitable leads to the use of land, energy and resources in such a way that the future use is affected. As two negaive results of this we have climate change and biodiversity loss. Despite the clear negative effects of growth, both population and economic growth are the primary goals of politics. It seems almost impossible for politicians and other decision makers to realize that they are behind all the problems that the right-wing populists are utilizing. If the resources and space were unlimited, there would be no refugees, no climate change etc. So continuing with the concept of growth is plain silly.

The growth has been possible by taking a loan from nature, i.e. a loan from future generations. This is not sustainable. So the concept of natural capital must be introduced into main focus of political and economic thinking. The outset of any political and economic decision should be that anything done is neutral to the environment (if a decision causes a deterioration of one aspect in environment steps should be made to compensate for it in other environmental features).

If we decide to accept that growth is changed to zero effect on environment, the problem is that many negative effects of growth will continue for a long period of time. If, for example, we are able to decrease the number of children to a level that in the long run will stop population growth, the population increase will continue for the period of time that the present children grow up to fertile age. Similar examples can be found in virtually all aspects of life. However, we must not resort to thinking that the lack of effects in the short term shows that the measure is not effective. What we need to do is putting all our efforts to change from growth economy to sustainable solutions.

Avainsanat: natural capital, cliamte change, environmental pollution

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