Beyond Growth: Getting Beyond The Growth Paradox

I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to check this resource out yet, but Jeremy Williams, blogger of Make Wealth History, put together a wonderful guide to understanding the problems with continued economic growth in the developed nations called Beyond Growth. It opens up to a walk through of the problems with growth, solutions to the issues and the first steps towards a sustainable economy.

In addition to the well laid out explanation of the issues Jeremy has a News section – a blog build up off of Make Wealth History’s re-occurring “Growth Report.” This recent article caught my eye especially:

Just how strong is the link between economic growth and human development?

Not very strong, according to a new report from the UNDP which suggests that investment in education, health, and role of women in society are far more important.

Economists George Gray Molina and Mark Purser sifted through 35 years of data from 111 countries in reaching their conclusions, and concluded that human development and economic growth are not necessarily correlated. “The most rapid improvements in life expectancy and literacy are not occurring in the fastest growing economies of the world” says the Times of India, reporting on the forthcoming report. “They are occurring in a subset of lower and middle-income countries in Asia, the Middle East and northern Africa. China and the Republic of Korea are in fact the only two countries which appear both among the top ten income and HDI performers.”

Thanks for the tip, through Treehugger, and I’ll be looking out for the paper, entitled Human Development Trends Since 1970: A Social Convergence Story, when it comes out.

Be sure to check out more of Jeremy’s work at Make Wealth History and Beyond Growth, one of the many thinkers out there campaigning for a sustainable world and a sustainable economy.

The End of Growth

Richard Heinberg Says, "Growth Won't Continue."

Richard Heinberg, writer of Peak Everything and most recently Blackout, just wrote an article entitled, “Life Without Growth.” While this is a long article, Richard provides a a potent analysis of our current economic standing, as well as where we are going in the future. Essentially, we’re all out of options that include continued economic growth – time to think about the next phase, a post growth society (hopefully a socially just steady state economy).

He does not mince words and says clearly that we’re “in for some hard times.” But he finds hope that we will use this challenge to eventually find an equilibrium. He goes on to say,

“The transitional period on our way toward a post-growth, equilibrium economy will prove to be the most challenging time any of us has ever lived through. Nevertheless, I am convinced that we can survive this collective journey, and that if we make sound choices as families and communities, life can actually be better for us in the decades ahead than it was during the heady days of seemingly endless economic expansion.”

Four Propositions to Life Without Growth

Heinberg gives us four propositions to not only understand our current situation, but also navigate our way to a desirable future:

  1. We have reached the end of economic growth as we have known it.
  2. The basic factors that will inevitably shape whatever replaces the growth economy are knowable.
  3. It is possible for economies to persist for centuries or millennia with no or minimal growth.
  4. Life in a non-growing economy can be fulfilling, interesting, and secure.

With these opening statements Heinberg goes on to advocate local economies, building stronger communities, and going forward with a mindset of action. “We must assume that a satisfactory, sustainable way of life is achievable in the absence of fossil fuels and conventional economic growth, and go about building it,” he says. I agree.

Read the full article here.

Growing the Growth Debate

In an certain ironic sense the “growth” of the growth debate is a bit of an oxymoron, but then again so is “jumbo shrimp.” I am a believer in humanity’s common sense and ability to make progress, even in the face of our own evils and stupidity. It sure seems to me that one could become down-trodden by news of all the degradation of our planet, social bonds, communities, humanity, and equality that result from endless pursuit of material wealth. Yet, it is to our own credit that we realize the err of our ways and make attempts to fix these problems.

There has been an increase in the number of post-growth-ers, de-growth-ers, steady-staters, and general questioning of economic growth in the last year. This might be partially fueled by the global economic recession and the increasing alarm of climate change. I also think it is beginning to fuel itself: our activities to raise awareness are spreading the seeds and we’re starting to see those seeds blossom. This is the early Spring of the Big Growth Debate. I hope to see 2010 as the year we changed the economic discussion on a mainstream level.

I am heading to DC next Tuesday to attend the New Green Economy Conference, where I will be volunteering and helping out, as well as joining in on some great seminars, breakout sessions, and symposia. I will, of course, be blogging while there, keeping you all in the loop of the fun and games.

While I partake in the furthering the growth debate, I hope you’ll take some time to further your knowledge as well! Here are a few resources for you to check out:

  • Economists start to consider that money can’t buy happiness – a recent article by the Guardian about our metrics of prosperity, alternatives to GDP are becoming a bigger topic nowadays
  • Beyond Growth – a new project put together by Jeremy Williams of the blog Make Wealth History
  • Post Growth – a new project I am working on with some fellow steady staters, still in-process, but getting closer to an official launch.
  • Make Wealth History – Jeremy, as mentioned above, is the blogger behind this work – great stuff on sustainability, related news, book reviews, and sustainable economies.
  • cruxcatalyst – Sharon is the other blogger I am working with on the Post Growth project, her blog is her place to show off and stash great articles and the occasional piece of her own work.

New CASSE Site

Also, just a note – if you haven’t seen it yet, the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy has a brand new website design – check it out! They’re still triple checking the site for bugs, but it looks amazing!