Growth = Suicide

To an economist growth is the meaning of life. To an ecologist, it is the primary way that cultures commit suicide. Is there any possibility of a reconciliation? The basic problem is the earth’s ability to sustain is finite. The earth mathematically cannot sustain continuous growth of the demands put on it. This means we cannot prosper by continually increasing the population. We cannot prosper by continually increasing the total amount of resource extraction or goods shipped over the earth. However, we can prosper with efficiency — learning new ways to extract more benefit out of every kilogram of resource extracted, every litre of water, every handful of soil and every erg of energy. We can also prosper by using that which was formerly wasted, e.g. garbage or rain or sun falling on cities. We can also prosper by having fewer babies so there are more resources to go around. Even as it is, it would take several planets the size of earth to sustain our current rate of consumption, much less the growing rate we are so frantically grasping for. We know perfectly well what happens to locusts and tent caterpillars, yet we still base our economic systems on their short-term maximum exploitation growth-is-king economic principles.

~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)