There is an alternative to ‘endless economic growth’ (the quote is from Greta Thunberg) of the kind that drives the climate crisis

At a recent post about populism I have argued that the idea of overcoming economic stagnation may not be a great option for dealing with populism, because endless economic growth fuels the climate crisis.

At a recent post about deleterious aspects of the Enlightenment, I have revisited the same argument, this time from the perspective of the global history of land use.

To both posts, I have added a Sept. 26, 2019 article from the CBC website that addresses variants of economic growth in a way that makes good sense. The current post is dedicated to the article.

There is an alternative to ‘eternal economic growth’

A Sept. 26, 2019 CBC article is entitled: “Greta Thunberg was right: There is an alternative to ‘eternal economic growth’: Climate activist called endless economic growth a ‘fairy tale,’ but it may depend on how you define growth.”

An excerpt reads:

Canadian economist and author Peter Victor, who studied at UBC and taught at Toronto’s York University, says that conflict between words and investment is the crux of the collision between the traditional way of thinking about business — the idea of investing for endless growth — that has to be overcome to stop climate change.

And clearly, for most economic thinkers trapped in the long-held view that boosting GDP with industrial growth is the most important job for governments and business, Victor’s newly reissued book Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster may be difficult reading.

“Most economists would really take the position that there is no choice: If you don’t have growth, the system would collapse,” said Victor this week from a cabin somewhere near Algonquin Park.

Data related to investor contribution to climate crisis

A Sept. 23, 2019 Forbes article is entitled: “Wealthy Investors Wake Up To Climate Change As ‘Single Greatest Threat To The World;’ Report.

An Oct. 6, 2019 Guardian article is entitled: “Revealed: the 20 firms behind a third of all carbon emissions: New data shows how fossil fuel companies have driven climate crisis despite industry knowing dangers.”

An excerpt reads:

The Guardian today reveals the 20 fossil fuel companies whose relentless exploitation of the world’s oil, gas and coal reserves can be directly linked to more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the modern era.

New data from world-renowned researchers reveals how this cohort of state-owned and multinational firms are driving the climate emergency that threatens the future of humanity, and details how they have continued to expand their operations despite being aware of the industry’s devastating impact on the planet.

The analysis, by Richard Heede at the Climate Accountability Institute in the US, the world’s leading authority on big oil’s role in the escalating climate emergency, evaluates what the global corporations have extracted from the ground, and the subsequent emissions these fossil fuels are responsible for since 1965 – the point at which experts say the environmental impact of fossil fuels was known by both industry leaders and politicians.

The top 20 companies on the list have contributed to 35% of all energy-related carbon dioxide and methane worldwide, totalling 480bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) since 1965.

Contributions of Indigenous communities toward solutions

A Sept. 25, 2019 Yale Climate Connections article is entitled: “How indigenous communities are working to protect the climate: From the Amazon to the Arctic, indigenous people are sounding the alarm.”

An Oct. 13, 2019 Guardian article is entitled: “Scandal on all sides as Canada heads for ‘election of discontent’: Young voters sense a gulf between them and politicians who have failed to make real progress on race or the environment.”

An excerpt reads:

Melissa Mollen Dupuis watched from the sidelines as Greta Thunberg, the teenage Swedish climate activist, led hundreds of thousands of protesters in a climate strike through central Montreal last month.

At the vanguard, a group of 30 indigenous and non-indigenous young people unfurled a banner that declared: “To the frontlines, for Mother Earth.” Dupuis, a prominent indigenous rights and environmental activist from Quebec, had helped train those young men and women: part of a broader, grassroots effort to marry the two causes – climate crisis and indigenous rights – and raise a new generation of youth activists.

As she saw them lead the march, she wept. “Those plants I grew, I was picking the fruits of that work,” she said. “I see it growing bigger and bigger.”

The climate march in September drew half a million people, the largest demonstration in Montreal’s history. It was the culmination of a broader national conversation on the climate crisis and environmental policies ahead of a federal election later this month that may weaken the prime minister Justin Trudeau’s hold on power.

“This was a defining moment for a generation,” said Professor Sylvie de Blois, the director of McGill University’s school of environment, in Montreal.

But the urgency of the national debate on what Canada can do to combat the climate crisis belies a broader failure by political leaders to address this and other generation-defining issues such as identity and systemic racism that have emerged in the course of a fractious and scandal-ridden election campaign.

On the environment, racial injustice and indigenous rights, many feel Canadian political leaders have steadfastly chosen politics over policy, failing to address generational challenges that voters tell pollsters are at the top of their concerns. That gulf appears wider as the final stretch of the campaign leads into election day on 21 October.

“In the last election we had a dream of hope of seeing real, profound change,” said Dupuis. “[This] is an election of discontent.”

‘Growth must end’

A Sept. 21, 2019 Guardian article is entitled: “Vaclav Smil: ‘Growth must end. Our economist friends don’t seem to realise that’: The scientist and author on his latest book – an epic, multidisciplinary analysis of growth – and why humanity’s endless expansion must stop.”

An excerpt reads:

I have deliberately set out to write the megabook on growth. In a way, it’s unwieldy and unreasonable. People can take any number of books out of it – economists can read about the growth of GDP and population; biologists can read about the growth of organisms and human bodies. But I wanted to put it all together under one roof so people could see how these things are inevitably connected and how it all shares one crystal clarity: that growth must come to an end. Our economist friends don’t seem to realise that.

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