The solution isn’t degrowth – it’s more growth for more people
The degrowth movement that believes the only way to save the planet from a climate catastrophe is through a smaller economic footprint is getting more notice since the U.N’s latest climate report.
But is a movement that advocates for shrinking economies, lower consumption, and a meaner human existence really the way to save the world? Matthew Klein says no way. Instead, what’s needed is more growth for more people – that’s the only way to ensure we avoid a possible climate catastrophe:
The climate transition will require massive amounts of spending and production. Some areas of economic activity may have to shrink, but many will have to grow, and at least in the short term, the need for more production of desired goods and services will vastly outweigh the need to reduce undesirable forms of economic activity. Growth, not de-growth, is going to be the answer.
Suppose humanity pulls it off and we get to a world of zero (or negative) net greenhouse gas emissions in the next few decades. At that point, energy would predominantly come from resources that are both clean and, for all practical purposes, inexhaustible. Our diets and building materials might have changed a bit, but once we figure out how to make it work, the one-time adjustments should last for generations. At that point, why would there be any environmental limits to growth?
If we can get past the enormous challenge in front of us without pushing the species back to preindustrial living standards—and preindustrial population levels—then we surely have the capability to overcome any other challenges.
Growth is inherently optimistic – both in the future, and in humanity’s ability to overcome challenges. Degrowth is a pessimist’s nightmare vision of both…with a dollop of population control tossed in for good measure.