Check out this short film:
Jeremy over at Make Wealth History just posted a video by Conspiracy of Freedom, a Christian response to consumerism from the Breathe Network. The recent video, Home, questions our fragmentation of community and the importance of local. This let me to their previous video, Enough Is Here that questions growth and the mysteriously forgotten concept of “enough.”
It is incredibly refreshing to me to see a Christian group that campaigns for issues that are (dare I say it), actually values of Christ. Too often I am overwhelmed by the media-frenzied far-right Christians who are poster-boys for big business and Tea Parties. Thank you Jeremy for post this video and helping this group.
I’ve been biking to work more and it got me thinking of bike touring – long distance traveling on a bike. I decided that I would make it a goal to do an extended bike tour next summer (the Seattle to Portland Classic plus three more days down the coast and back) to prepare me for the ultimate goal of a cross country bike trip.
No sooner did I start thinking of the practicality of this journey and deciding I should use it as an opportunity to promote the steady state economy, as well as hopefully pick up some sponsors (maybe a brewery or two?), than I get an email about Jordan’s cross-Canada journey promoting the steady state economy!
You can hear more about his trip at his blog, but I’ll be sure to talk about it along the way as well. What an truly exciting trip! This is taken directly from the press release: (links and emphasis added)
Riding a bike is all about balance. The same is true of a world economy that can endure, one that is more than a series of bubbles-and-pops. Jordan Poppenk will bring those two concepts together in a cross-Canada cycling tour to raise awareness about the concept of the steady state economy.
The world’s financial authorities are preparing to meet in Toronto to discuss how to get the global economy growing again. But Jordan Poppenk wants them to talk about how to stop the world economy from growing again, and he’s cycling across Canada to get their attention.
Poppenk is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto and an environmental journalist. He wants Canadians to know about new ideas emerging from the world’s economics departments, how they mesh with modern ecological challenges, and why it’s essential we rethink the current program of boosting GDP every year. He’s cycling 6,500 km to help get the idea out there.
A steady state economy aims for stable population and stable consumption of energy and materials at sustainable levels. Such an economy favors development (getting better) rather than growth (getting bigger).
“The steady state concept is about reaching some balance with what nature can provide, and within those limits, we can have a very vibrant, exciting and worthwhile economy,” says Peter Victor, an ecological economist at York University. Dr. Victor’s model of the Canadian economy demonstrates how the nation can prosper with a steady state economy, as documented in his book, Managing Without Growth.
Poppenk adds, “Whether or not you believe in human-induced climate change, other signs of the severe strain on ecosystems from our already overwhelming economic activity are everywhere. Growth is not helping most people anyway; Canada’s economic output has doubled since 1982, but 80% of Canadians have seen no improvement in their inflation-adjusted incomes.”
Poppenk is teaming up with the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) to communicate how a steady state economy could be desirable and to spark discussion about transitioning from growth to sustainability. He departs from Vancouver today and he hopes to reach Halifax on September 1.
Information, updates and photographic materials are available on Poppenk’s blog: Steady State Cyclist.
New Scientist‘s next three issues will follow up on what this week’s issue started: defining world problems and finding solutions. I have been continually impressed with New Scientist, from their articles on economic growth, endorsing the steady state economy, and their article about the nature of greed. I am one of the few Americans I have met that actually subscribes to this great weekly UK periodical, though I hope more will follow my lead.
Their ambitious premise on this four-part serious entitled “Blueprint For A Better World” is to “explore diverse ideas for making the world a better place, and the evidence backing them.” [emphasis added] It is one thing to talk the talk, but now it’s time for decisive action. We can no longer wait around for the change to self-manifest, we have to deliver it ourselves.
Leisure is the thing we so often aspire to gain more of in the US. The irony is apparent in that we have the smallest amount of leisure time in the world. Workers in the European Union have anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks of vacation a year and work about 6-8 hours less per week. Their standard of living is often considered greater than ours. Why? The Growth Economy wants more and more production and consumption.
We work in the US to fuel more and more growth. It is prevalent in other countries as well, but we are definitely the pioneers of the industry. I could rant on and on about this, but in the spirit of working less (and more efficiently) I will not re-invent the wheel. I invite you to watch this video from Workers of the World Relax. Also check out the Work Less Party, this blog post, this article, and this article.
Sustainability is quite the buzzword nowadays. What is sustainability anyway? It would appear at face value to have a simple, easily understood meaning. On the contrary, almost everything labeled “sustainable” is not, creating ambiguity in the meaning of the concept. It has become more of a marketing tool than an actual process. Being sustainable is quite different from what is typically called sustainable in our culture currently.
Something is sustainable if it can maintain balance with the system supporting it, and can do so indefinitely. A sustainable process takes only the amount of resources that can be regenerated by its supporting system between each processing cycle. Waste generated by a sustainable process can be absorbed by the surrounding system at the same rate it is created. Sound familiar? On a large scale, that’s the steady state economy.
The Gross Domestic Product is a tally of all the goods and services made in the country. It does not take into account the well-being of citizens, the success or failure of our government, or the quality of anything really – it is purely a tally of numbers. Somehow this number has been accepted as measure of the quality of our society.
The economy is a tool which we use to facilitate our happiness, well being, and develop our society. However, our metric for determining our success in this arena takes none of these things into account. GDP is a poor measurement of our well-being, our happiness, or our development – it’s just a number.
That is why there are other scales in existence now. The New Economics Foundation puts together the Happy Planet Index and just recently they released a updated report: the Happy Planet Index 2.0. In this comprehensive report 143 countries (99% of the world’s population) were examined for three separate indicators: ecological footprint, life-satisfaction and life expectancy.
We all want to have long, peaceful, and prosperous lives – to do this we need fresh water, healthy cropland for food, and materials for shelter and security. However, being that we live in a finite world, there are limits on everything needed for a long, healthy human life.
There is a limit to size of the pie. If more people eat from this proverbial pie, each piece must shrink to accommodate the growing number of people at the table. Historically the Earth’s resources have provided amply for the population. We always had more then enough pie to feed new people at the table, and more people were a welcomed sign of continued prosperity (generally).