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:
- We have reached the end of economic growth as we have known it.
- The basic factors that will inevitably shape whatever replaces the growth economy are knowable.
- It is possible for economies to persist for centuries or millennia with no or minimal growth.
- 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.