" />
Building a world of
resilient communities.

MAIN LIST

 

Memo to the #Occupied movement (a post-growth economy)

Here’s a fact that's hard for most Americans to swallow: economic growth is over. Given the finite nature of our planet and its resources, the recent trend of global economic expansion was destined to end. No stimulus package or slashing of social programs is going to flip the economy back to an expansionary trajectory. We’ve hit the proverbial wall, and this will be the defining reality of our lives from now on.

The growth-seeking political-economic system has failed us. Today that system is dominated by Wall Street. “Goldman Sachs rules the world,” trader Alessio Rastani told us in a now-viral BBC interview. I met people like Rastani in researching my book, The End of Growth.

At one lavish conference, 800 global investors packed a hotel ballroom to consider climate change. There was no talk of how to avert or mitigate floods and droughts. Instead, the discussion focused on profiting from warming with — no joke — weather derivatives. These folks were just doing their job, despite any private feelings of concern, remorse, or dread. And each was getting paid enough to single-handedly fund a midsize school district.

Both Wall Street and Washington are trying to do something impossible: grow human consumption forever in a world of limited energy, minerals, water, topsoil, and biodiversity, all while protecting and expanding the riches of the top one percent. If economic growth is over, that means we can no longer count on a rising tide to lift all boats. Under these conditions, extreme income inequality is not just unfair, it is socially unsustainable.

It’s strategic to bring protest to Wall Street rather than Washington. We must go directly to the crime scene — not with a request for reforms, but with an arrest warrant from the people.

You courageous people in the #occupy movement are absolutely right in saying the system is broken, greedy, and unfair. But when our discussion turns to replacing the current system, we’ve got to embrace a bigger view of reality than the one held by stock traders and politicians. It's not just our wealth they want to control, it's our vision for what is both possible and necessary. We need a post-growth economy that works both for people (all of them) and for the rest of nature: a localized economy based on renewable resources harvested at nature’s rates of replenishment, not a fossil-fueled global economy driven by the imperative of ever-higher returns on investment.

There will be life after growth — and it can be a better life if our nation’s priority is the quality of life of our people and the integrity of the biosphere, rather than stock prices and corporate profits.

Richard Heinberg
Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute
www.postcarbon.org


Get The End of Growth http://www.postcarbon.org/eog | Watch the animation Who Killed Economic Growth? http://bit.ly/whokilledgrowth

Like this post?

Keep the information flowing: Donate to Post Carbon Institute
Stay connected: Receive our monthly e-newsletter

Reposting: See our reposting policy

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Sign up for regular Resilience bulletins direct to your email.

Take action!  

Find out more about Community Resilience. See our COMMUNITIES page
Start your own projects. See our RESOURCES page.
Help build resilience. DONATE NOW.

 

This is a community site and the discussion is moderated. The rules in brief: no personal abuse and no climate denial. Complete Guidelines.

Tags:  

Degrowth by Designed Disaster?

The degrowth movement has been developed in response to neoliberal reality, …

Requiem for the Imperial City

Might it be time for policymakers to start thinking about ways of trimming …

The Music of Narcissus

Beautiful Narcissus leans over the musical pool. His marvellous ingenuity …

Connecting the Dots the P2P Way

The emerging answer for a new mode of value creation is the re-emergence of …

The Forest Economy: Woodland as New Economy metaphor

As we walked down through this ancient woodland, with its stream, its …

Our Fossil-Fuel Economy Destroys the Earth and Exploits Humanity - Here's the Shift We Need to Be Sustainable

A just transition to a regenerative economy restores our relationship to …

Why the P2P and Commons Movement Must Act Trans-Locally and Trans-Nationally

The only way to achieve systemic change at the planetary level is to build …