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Does ending climate change mean the end of capitalism? Show more Show less
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Scientific consensus suggests we are experiencing a climate catastrophe. Many see Capitalism's drive for growth and accumulation as being incompatible with a finite planet. Do we need a new system to sustain human life?

Yes - Capitalism is intrinsically unsustainable Show more Show less

Capitalism's central tenets of growth and accumulation are incompatible with a finite world
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No Growth Economy

To create a sustainable future, economies must decouple themselves from the notion of economic growth and continuous development
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Ideas around degrowth in an ecological setting began in the 1970s with the European "écologie politique". A famous work, "‘Demain la décroissance’" ('tomorrow, degrowth') by Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen was published in 1979 [1] Degrowth has re-entered political consciousness following the 2008 Economic Crash. Since 2008 there have been a series of international gatherings and conferences centred around degrowth and climate change. It is connected to a host of policies, including Universal Basic Income, a reduction in working hours and progressive taxation [2][3].

The Argument

Perpetual growth and accumulation is impossible on a planet with finite space and resources. Governments should introduce policies which are often seen as "bad" for classic growth economies - shorter working weeks, Universal Basic Income, controls on advertising; alongside progressive taxation to stall growth while redistributing the wealth we have already amassed. [2] The end result will be a society that cuts out unnecessary production while maintaining standards of living.

Counter arguments

Debt becomes a major problem in no-growth economies. In normal economies, the rate of interest on debt is offset by increases in the size of the economy. In no-growth economies, debt as percentage of GDP would increase, making further borrowing more expensive. Governments would find themselves unable to borrow and unable to get out of debt, and the finance sector would collapse. Equally, one could point to the reducing costs of renewable energy sources, and the possibility of human expansion into the solar system, as signs that the space and resources of the planet are not as finite as suggested. Ending growth would have far-reaching repercussions on many social structures, including the sale-investment-growth cycle of market forces. This would be incredibly disruptive and require an enormous cultural shift.[4]



Rejecting the premises

[P1] Perpetual growth is impossible on a finite planet. Degrowth is inevitable. [P2] Governments should intentionally induce economic stagnation while pursuing a policy of redistribution.


This page was last edited on Tuesday, 22 Sep 2020 at 07:26 UTC