Home | About | Donate

Addressing Climate Change Through Degrowth: It May Be Less Contentious Than You Think.


Addressing Climate Change Through Degrowth: It May Be Less Contentious Than You Think.

Abigail Sullivan, Matthew Houser

To address climate change, our society must come to grips with reality. Capitalism’s growth dependency is an insurmountable barrier to environmental sustainability. Economic production is a key source of greenhouse gases and studies continue to find a positive relationship between economic growth and emissions. It is also increasingly clear that there is no magic bullet that can “decouple” the relationship between growth and environmental destruction.


“Work ethic is a core value of many Americans. How could we reconceptualize work so that work ethic is not undermined or devalued? What do we want “work” to mean? How many days should a working week have?”

Wouldn’t it be great if alongside of “productive” work in order to earn a salary work toward personal improvement/enlightenment counted also? Whether it be reading, learning a musical instrument, yoga, or any other life-enriching enterprise. That would blow capitalism’s mind, which would not offend me in the least. What if neighbors shared rarely used items, such as 24-foot extension ladders, rather than each buying their own. Think tool library rather than Home Depot orgy. The cooperative spirit could do so much, but alas we have been conditioned to more, more, more. What do larger homes get one? The opportunity (mandate) to buy more furniture, pay more property taxes, and have greater distance between loved ones in rooms that are seldom used. Pianos were sold in the early 20th century by selling the public on the concept of the piano room. What a bunch of rubes we have become. Slaves to the market. We must free our thinking if we are to take the stinger of capitalism out of our arses. We shall be forced to reduce our consumption at some point in time. Will it be by calamity or by our control? I shall shoot for the latter.


Did you know that 13 children eat less food than two children do? Did you know that 10 children wear fewer clothes than 3 children do? Did you know that 5 children need fewer beds than 2 children do? Yes, it’s true, I have been told.

I believe that every adult in America should live in one room and eat two meals a day.

Do you have a problem with that? I don’t.

1 Like

Most of our activities could be done without greenhouse gas emissions although for some there is still no good technical answer. I would include among these flying, shipping, steel making, and cement making. Also, for agriculture there is a lack of technical solutions. It is not known to prevent ruminants from emitting methane and nitrogen fertilizer seems to be required which I believe involves emissions of nitrous oxide. I can’t see developing countries including richer ones like China and India accepting degrowth. I would be limited to developed countries which account for less than half of the emissions. In our society degrowth is equivalent to a recession or depression and to change that would probably take decades and action is required now. There is clearly no time for fundamental change to address global warming. It is going to have to be done with the present economic systems or it will not happen.

1 Like

I do not either. I also am a many decades long vegan, and believe that influences life choices and politics as well.


Think of how “we” allowed the Wal Marting and holiday shopping model along with remote control this and that. “We” collectively did this just like we are using this high tech now.


I have also been calling on congress about the following for almost 20 years: How about required government service for all? It would unite us as a people and strive to accomplish what is needed. Imagine this: Let’s say someone owns a landscaping company- well that person’s service could be possibly doing some road work let’s say monthly. Compound this to all or most people and you get work done while meeting people.

1 Like

DeGrowth of material production and consumption on many fronts, yes. But how about growing where we can - in the social realm?


I think that’s right mealouts. We got worked up about Walmart selling cheap imports and we wanted to boycott and buy American. We held our own for a while and then one by one other retailers decide to compete or everything started being made overseas and we couldn’t boycott everyone. They won. They sent the jobs overseas.

1 Like

No mention of that touchy, but most important cause of climate change, population growth.

Religious conservatives won’t give up control of our bodies so no planned parenting is allowed and the global population explodes, starves, migrates, suffers pandemics, strife and commits ecocide.

Oligarchy top predators are killing off the competition so there is some dynamic stability in populations. But WWIII could degrow us faster than climate change.


Degrowth is going to happen.

Unfortunately, it will be a byproduct of resource depletion, climate chaos, and mass human death.


Civics and the power of democracy are ripe for resurgence. The appetite for civic process is sharpened as these instruments of societal life are flipped for monopolistic invasion of the public sphere.

One thing that predatory capitalism in cancer mode has done is to USE distortion of the social contract by injecting its cancer into structures of governance. Our charter for addressing societal problems, such as an economy being forced down our diverse throats as some form of deity, is the Constitution.

Everyone is aghast at any notion of there being a Constitutional Convention - perhaps because what DO experience collectively are the consequences of the cancer being division, violence and manipulation - which just the way monopolies like it. No small portion of monopolistic prize is dedicated to fomenting the continued irascibility and ginning up scorn against oneś potential neighbor.

What might be worth considering arelocalized versions, in high schools and colleges and open to the public, of Constituent Assemblies. These are exercises in constitutional realities. Variations of these were once part of civics education, something that predatory capitalism has quietly removed from public education. By the by, I would submit that few exercises could so ably challenge the privatization of education.


I’ve seen better. Having “workers homes”, with long corridors rooms left and right. 2 beds each and a sink. Showers and toilets at the end of the corridor on each level. Wanna try that?

Food would be served in a canteen three times per day. A person would have a certain time assigned when they can go eat. How about that?

Gonna need a pretty strong security apparatus to enforce all that but it’s been done before. didn’t end up too well, but hey, with a compliant populace and application of the proper amount of force it might just work.

1 Like

Guess you misunderstood the bait; at least I was staying on topic.

1 Like

Here here! I am continually astounded at how financially incompetent Americans have become in general as evidenced by the high personal debt levels, willingness of working class people to buy $30, $40 or $50k+ gas guzzling SUVs and overpriced McMansions, spending enormous sums on “higher education”, and by having more than one or two children (I include myself in this criticism). Until the average American wakes up from the delusion that they too can act like they are rich or will someday be rich, degrowth is a far, far, far-off pipe dream. The only way that capitalist America will embrace degrowth is after “mother nature” takes all American’s toys away through catastrophic environmental destruction which is well on its way to fruition.

Household Debt Now Well in Excess of Pre-2008 Debt Crisis Levels


Yes- we never wanted to send jobs overseas! That was a ruse!


People are so concerned about opioids. In the mean time- a even bigger crisis is that the senior citizens in the USA are committing suicide in record amounts.


I agree, and also include myself- far from perfect- although we have no kids! The banksters are the ones who caused the collapse- but consider this also we Americans decided to use something called a credit card- not all of us do- but certainly enough. The problem is that credit cards are now being used to buy necessities for some not luxuries. I do not understand why anyone would want to go into debt for higher ed. It would be nice if higher ed at least included free tuition but it does not. When I hear young and even mid aged people having debts of 40, 50 or even 100 thousand I cringe. Why not go to a community college, work for awhile then decide if it’s worth it to move along. Housing is being outpriced now so that even people who are not in debt are lucky to have a roof over their heads. I do not understand the McMansion mentality either or the multiple car household.

1 Like

The simple truth is that the people in positions of power, politicians and big money donors, don’t have the same priorities as “We, The People”. The wealthy want more wealth and the powerful want it all! We can’t trust any person, or group of people, or party to do right by us or the planet.

We cannot hope to survive as a species on the current path. The scientific evidence coming out nearly everyday underscores how serious our situation is. I estimate that 70% of Americans are just barely aware of the overall shape of things because there is simply too much stuff happening in their family, friends, jobs, school, community, etc.

We need a broad scale social awakening, the kind that has been systematically discouraged. It is the myth of the self made man. This from Margaret Thatcher: “There is no such thing as society. There are only individual men and women and their families.” Without society, there is never the opportunity for the individual. The individual is a product of society. As evidence, take language and culture away, and you have chaos!

Degrowth is coming in one form or another. And most likely, in the worse possibly way!


Population is central to this entire issue.

Thomas Piketti’s _Capital _includes a great graph showing that world population Rate has been gently declining for decades. Time to encourage 2 or fewer babies per woman, world wide.