Brand new succinct but powerful Nature Energy article that simply asks that climate modellers also include scenarios where the economy doesn't grow. That can not be too much to ask.

"Existing climate scenarios maintain a significant disparity in per capita energy use between the Global North and Global South ... why should Global South negotiators accept such scenarios?"


It's wild that in 2021 it's still taboo to point out that "stable" economic growth of 2.5% – meaning doubling the economy every 30 years – seems like a bad idea in a and devastating loss.

@ttiurani I can't claim anywhere near the scholarship this paper's authors can, but I get the feeling they're not promoting the fact that not all growth is equal. I can spend €100 on a plastic gadget, or €100 on theatre tickets. In terms of economic growth, they might be equivalent. In terms of environmental impact, there's a vast difference. 1/

@ttiurani Where I live, there's been an explosion of 'life coach' 'spiritual councilling' businesses. While I find them hard to take seriously, there seems to be a pattern that once our material needs are exhaustively satisfied, our consumption pattern and economic activity moves higher up the Maslow pyramid. 2/

@michiel It has indeed been claimed that moving to service based industry will lessen the environment stress. But when you look at empirical data, this simply has not been true (see the article in my earlier comment).

So although yes, it is theoretically possible to think of many services that don't have an environmental impact, in my opinion it is wildly irresponsible to bet that an economic theory becomes a reality, rather than basing our policy changes on evidence.

@michiel Thanks for the comment!

The economic growth this article is talking about is GDP growth, which is also the one dictating policy. The (empirically very justified) concern is that we can't move to renewable energy nearly fast enough, let alone stop erosion, pollution, biodiversity loss caused by increasing material extraction, with a growing GDP.

Green growth advocates claim otherwise, but based on empirical evidence, this claim is extremely optimistic, see:

@ttiurani Green Growth is especially harmful when it's used as a justification to front-load environmental costs, e.g. when building high-speed train lines.

We need to talk about degrowing mobility, not about replacing planes with trains. Degrowing concrete, degrowing steel, degrowing meat. But if you want to build an empire with chakra therapy, be my guest.

@ttiurani Also, it's easy enough to tell, say, Americans that they need to build bike-friendly cities, like we have in some selected privileged parts of Europe, but again, this presupposes a massive change in urban planning that also requires front-loaded infrastructural environment costs.

@michiel The challenges in implementing degrowth are indeed massive, and I personally spent years trying to work out the likelyhoods in my head.

In the end the options are: a) system change (very hard), b) praying for a technological miracle (hyper risky), or c) billions of lives lost and a nearly uninhabitable planet for my grandchildren.

So I decided to just fuck it, and join the fight for a post-capitalist world even if the odds are bad. I feel it is my moral obligation.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

Fosstodon is an English speaking Mastodon instance that is open to anyone who is interested in technology; particularly free & open source software.