The only way to arrive at a safe, sustainable, steady state economy is with substantial behavioral and political reform.
To promote both human health and environmental quality, countries would focus not on growing the GDP, but rather on different goals including education.
If the conspicuous consumption of the one percent helped lead us to the brink, perhaps their conscribed consumption can help edge us back.
Transitioning to a steady state economy requires powering down our economy to a size that fits within the ecological boundaries set by nature. This means establishing an ecological debt ceiling, a level of resource use that does not deplete the ecological base that supports all human life and activity.
At this point in history, war is inevitable as long as nations are determined to grow their economies. Economic growth starts at the trophic base; that is, with agricultural surplus. In other words, a bigger economy requires more lebensraum.
Students and scholars of steady-state economics must have noticed, by now, that the Degrowth movement in Europe has attained far more traction than the steady-state movement has in the USA (or anywhere).
COVID-19 has done in a deadly way what steady-state economists would prescribe in a healthy way: putting the brakes on a runaway economy. In fact, the pandemic has slammed on the brakes and jammed the GDP gearstick into reverse.
As environmental crises and the urgency to create ecological sustainability escalate, so does the importance of ecological economics. This applied, solutions-based field of studies is concerned with sustainability and development, rather than efficiency and growth.
We believe that growth is the costless, win-win solution to all problems, or at least the necessary precondition for any solution. This is growthism.
Ecosocialism aspires to be egalitarian and ecologically sustainable. But nothing is said in this essay about proper limits to the range of inequality in the distribution of income and wealth.
Right now, due to the bipartisan obsession with economic growth, Democrats look like losers at the GDP racetrack, racist sentiments are fair game again, and the rapacious pursuit of growth is liquidating the environment. Democrats, racial minorities, and environmentalists can pine independently, “Woe is me.”
As our energy sources change, our economy will likely evolve and adapt—perhaps in surprising ways.