Degrowth - improved quality of life and climate action

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Keskiviikko 22.1.2020 klo 14:20

Going back to the golden past is the major goal of populism everywhere. This is the case even though it is clear that most things are better now than they were 50 years ago. In the face of improved gender equality, it is superficially quite surprising that many women in Europe and North America are attracted to the backward-looking populism. However, maybe it is not surprising at all: the goal of the present economy is to grow. This can be achieved only by increasing the efficiency, which usually means that less people are doing more work. The present society can in short be described as “the society in a hurry”. People are required to be busy ants. No wonder people would want to return to the golden, less busy past.

That should actually also be the goal of climate actions. So, in a way the major populistic goal and the climate action goal are the same. The way to achieve this is degrowth. We do not need the possibility of consuming more, when the extra consumption requires busier working hours. Notably, if being busy would help making new innovations, thIMG_20170808_0063.jpgey would all have been done by the busy Chinese. But no, virtually all the major inventions have been done by the lazy Westerners because they have had some leisure. Thus, in addition to needing degrowth for combatting climate change, it is helping to make new inventions.

The economic theories should change from those of growth economy to those of degrowth economy. Instead of measuring the gross national product (GNP), one should measure indicators of human well-being. Among these indicators, the feeling of being in too much of hurry would be a strong negative one. In virtually all working place surveys being in less hurry is even more important positive feature in the work than getting higher salary. With degrowth, the energy consumption would decrease, whereby the use of fossil fuels would decrease faster than presently estimated.

Thus, the populists wanting to get back to the golden past should join the people combatting climate change, because the degrowth needed for combatting climate change is required for being able to be less busy at work wanted by populists – and other people.   

Avainsanat: climate change, economic growth, populism

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