Australian Growth Debate Emerges

New Internationalist Cover
Growth Debate Goes Down Under

Australian media is taking a bit of a shine to the debate around economic growth. A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald explores the emergence of the steady state economy in political debate. And the Aussie magazine New Internationalist is featuring an issue about “Life Beyond Growth.” I have to admit that my familiarity with Australian publications is, well, non-existent. Near as I can tell, New Internationalist is a Aussie version of Yes! Magazine and Mother Jones.

The one article available online from New Internationalist is titled, “Nature’s Bottom Line,” and outlines the conflict between continued economic growth on a finite planet. Here’s a bit:

“Free market cheerleaders believe that technology and human ingenuity will solve the problem. The economy can be ‘de-coupled’ from material inputs. Improved technology will allow us to produce more wealth with less energy, materials and waste. This is whistling in the dark. Between 1970 and 2000, rich countries saw impressive gains in energy efficiency of up to 40 per cent. But average improvements of two per cent a year were eclipsed by growth rates of three per cent or more.

Increased technical efficiency is swamped by increased consumption. A recent report by the New Economics Foundation found that to stabilize carbon emissions at 350 ppm by 2050 the carbon intensity (CO2 per unit of production) of the global economy would need to fall by 95 per cent. Ramping up GDP without improving technological efficiency leads to more environmental damage. Yet improving efficiency triggers more growth, which leads to the same result.”

And this is my favorite part at the end:

“The economy is a human construct. It’s not an act of god. We made it, we can change it. The rest of this issue examines the growth dilemma and highlights the alternatives.”

You can get involved in furthering the knowledge about the limits to growth by signing the CASSE position, supporting this blog and, of course, joining the discussion! Spread the word, my friends, to every continent!

p.s. If anyone has an extra copy of this issue, I would love to get my hands on a copy! Their site doesn’t seem to have a single issue purchase option.