Is it true that economies must grow or die? Or rather, as writer Edward Abbey put it, is growth for its own sake “the ideology of the cancer cell”? Can we “grow” our way through the perils of climate change and other environmental destruction? Or must we instead “de-grow”?
These questions are complex, and most of us could use some help understanding the factors and arguments in play. These sources will introduce you to what experts are saying.
- Two very good complementary pieces will give you a decent grounding. In “Can We Have Prosperity Without Growth?” (The New Yorker), John Cassidy surveys the controversies surrounding the idea of de-growth. And Richard Partington’s “Is It Time to End our Fixation with GDP and Growth?” (The Guardian) adds very useful background information.
- What might de-growth mean on the ground? These two pieces offer hints: “Why ‘De-growth’ Shouldn’t Scare Businesses” (by Thomas Roulet and Joel Bothello, Harvard Business Review); and “How France’s Youngest Green Mayor Wants to Transform her City” (Louise Guillot, Politico).
- For a taste of how specialists argue about this subject, see “Can a ‘Green Growth’ Strategy Solve Climate Change?” (Open Democracy, Ian Sinclair interview of Samuel Alexander) and “Why De-growth Is the Worst Idea on the Planet” by Andrew McAfee (Wired).
This series is curated and written by retired Colorado State University English professor and close climate change watcher SueEllen Campbell of Colorado. To flag works you think warrant attention, send an e-mail to her any time. Let us hear from you.