It remains to be seen whether we will be able to effectively tackle the major challenges of nature and the environment in time. But the opportunities to do so will undoubtedly increase significantly.
However, deciding that we need to let go of GDP can only be the first step. More importantly, we are in need of answers to the question of what to measure if not GDP, and what to strive for if not economic growth.
In order to overcome social and environmental injustices, we have no choice but to abandon the naturalized and structuralized notions that equate GDP growth with social progress and sincerely aim to conceive of alternatives.
In other words, it is impossible, within the time constraints that we are now facing, to decouple GDP growth from environmental damage strongly and deeply enough to be able to adequately repair that damage.
Increases in GDP and CO2 over the past three decades have had one easily identifiable cause in common: the reluctance of governments to curb the carbon emissions of the world’s largest economies for fear of slowing the growth of their own GDP.
If nothing else, the last few months have heightened awareness of the desperately parlous predicament that now faces humanity, with an accelerating climate and ecological crisis. So attempts to design assertive policy proposals are very welcome. The Green New Deal is the one that currently is getting the most attention and perhaps traction. So I want to ask some critical questions….
So yes, let’s dramatically increase clean stuff and reduce dirty stuff (in terms of their share of total economic activity), and let’s do this with massive public investment. Here we agree. But there’s no reason to nonetheless keep increasing aggregate economic activity forever.
Thus, we should consider whether the superintelligent AI future some fear might already in action, but at perhaps a slower and more subtle pace than some pontificate might happen after “the singularity” when AI becomes more capable than humans.
I reject the fetishization of GDP as an objective in the existing economy, so it would make little sense for me to focus on GDP as the objective of a degrowth economy. Wanting to cut GDP is as senseless as wanting to grow it.
In an era in which we are already dramatically overshooting the planetary boundary on material footprint, this means that aggregate global economic growth cannot continue if we want to avoid chewing through the web of life on which our civilization depends.
It’s time to reclaim the mantle of “Progress” for progressives. By falsely tethering the concept of progress to free market economics and centrist values, Steven Pinker has tried to appropriate a great idea for which he has no rightful claim.
A global perspective – where true costs cannot be fobbed off on the poor and colonized – is necessary for gaining a meaningful and accurate picture of the relationship between wealth, growth, development and environmental integrity and sustainability.