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Economic Growth Can't Go Back to Normal If We Are to Solve the Ecological Crisis

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/06/08/economic-growth-cant-go-back-normal-if-we-are-solve-ecological-crisis

Peer into the local pier to discover the problem. Yachts. Lots, and lots of them. Mostly idle. Or should I say idol. Wealth concentrated to obscene measures leads to 1789. We are there again. How it plays out remains to be seen. Times have changed, bread is more plentiful and varied, as are circuses. “Economics”, which I prefer to call decision-making-apparatuses, need to completely overhauled to reflect the symbiotic needs of People and the Planet. “Money” needs to be redefined in such a context. Such a revolution will squeeze the grapes of the obscenely wealthy, but so what. They will still have “enough”, the poor souls. What is given to the Earth on a sustainable basis must be the bottom line. To dig something up and burn it only to have it ultimately slap Life in the face is beyond all folly. Only Collective action can solve this. Greed has had is chance and failed at every corner. The Market is Constipated!


This is indeed the main thesis of “Planet of the Humans”.

But what I am seeing in the United States looks very much like Chris Hedge’s narrative:



The truth, rationality. Unfortunately, you (we) are not the captains of our Titanic–who care nothing for truth and are profoundly irrational. “Full speed ahead! We must not miss the Iceberg, we must not…”

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Yes my thoughts exactly.

Now imagine if this article was forced to be pulled from Common Dreams due to these lines that many people (including “environmentalists”) are trying to get suppressed:

“Green growth” has been touted as a solution to these problems. But recent research suggests that growth cannot be decoupled from environmental pressures at a scale or speed sufficient to halt ecological breakdown.

“Put simply, attempts at “greening” growth often shift, rather than eliminate, environmental impact.”

Side story:

I found the “lockdown” enjoyable on many, many levels.

People in my little community were actually home! They were on their front porches, they were not running frantically about or leaving for warmer climates in March and April. I got to know neighbors (from a distance on their porches or in their yards).

I stopped going to the gas station which was wonderful, walked/jogged more, got in really good shape, got a rescue dog-----many people adopted pets during the lockdown. Learned to be creative with cooking, leftovers and using what I have in the pantry.

For a brief period of time, it felt like a small, sustainable (but not quite) community, operative word “felt”.
The streets were quiet and peaceful without the horrid traffic/truck noise. People shopped locally and only for basics.

Now it’s back to frenzy, noise, traffic, lines at gas stations and fewer people on front porches and what feels like now a compensation for time lost shopping, partying, eating out etc.


Which corrupt sold-out corporate media outlets will actually do any honest reporting on ecology and the economy? Answer: None. Who will do the honest reporting, and ongoing follow-up analysis, and interview people who can speak about pathways forward away from the delusional “endless growth” ideology? Who will put difficult news up front, and challenge all viewers to consider the real options? Answer: None.


Degrowth is not the thesis of Planet of the Humans.

POTH did share a critique of growth and the recognition that renewable energy is not free of ecological impacts.

However, by portraying humanity as a whole as the problem it overlooks the fundamentally unequal responsibilities for ecological breakdown, which is driven by the world’s wealthiest and is rooted in colonial relations between the global North and South. POTH plays into racist overpopulation arguments.

Degrowth stands in stark contrast, acknowledging the structural roots of ecological breakdown, and calling for a transformation centred around redistribution and climate justice


the (political) attitude against „growth“ obviously came out of the historic struggle against liberal capitalism.

i think economic growth could be described in a slightly humorous fashion as: turbo industrialization globalist style complete with sweatshops, child labor and environmental destruction on scale, yes the world doesn’t need more of that but China and India want economic growth, the question for me is what kind of growth do they want. instead of cars and highways and dead end keynesian spending to prop up dead end industries, instead of production for the sake of production one might say it’s about time to built things people need. water piplines, canalizations, new cities that can host agriculture etc this is the sort of industrialization (i.e growth) the world needs.

the fast way to a better world is to kill the institution that „governs“ today’s economic (growth) model, witch happens to be economics after the king of all social sciences is overthrown new ideas can once again flourish…

…economics emerged on top of the so called social sciences the influence of economics is obviously all pervasive, it’s therefore more than a little bit difficult to popularize new ideas — Bill Gates once said: i read it i.e the economist magazine front to back — as long as economics continues to lead humanity from behind there will be more economic growth coming.

america will be pumping out electric cars while the last tree of the Amazon is chopped down by Bolsanero… economic growth isn’t merely destructive it’s also terrible stupid.


if i had to say something hopeful for a change i’d say: the future isn’t deterministic and therefore changeable, but how???

instead of „greening“ the economy — with the programs that eventually mutated into half baked policies to protect the climate — i’d prefer an organized attempt at paradigm shifting, by deconstructing and reconstructing „the system“ into a new model (as in new paradigm new) with entirely new economics — or rather a replacement for economics — then the environment could recover and humanity return to a path of mmm healing.


it’s sort of a joke that happens to be true: these so called economist don’t know what money is… it took me a whole evening to figure it out — actually only a few minutes — money resembles the current commonly known as electricity so well that it’s nearly impossible that money somehow isn’t a current… i am only trying to say: these economist really don’t know what they’re doing if a nobody like me could outsmart them i.e the incompetence of economics is self evident!!!

You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Bucky Fuller .

Move from a Power and Possessions economy to a Use and Access economy .
For further reading the book Tomorrows God chapter ; Throwing out the Money Changers Again…

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Mother Nature will answer that for us, and we won’t like the answer

Collapse is happening with nothing to stop it now. But thanks to the MSM most folks simply believe everything is returning to normal. Collapse only pertains to shithole countries far away from the USA in their ignorant minds. Hell, the stock market is heading to new highs when it should have kept collapsing a few months back. Stores and restaurants are open again. That is all that matters to so many. Fewer and fewer folks are wearing masks when I go out these days. If the fools can’t even be bothered to wear a simple mask to protect each other from the virus, then they certainly will have no care about an ecological crisis that will ensure their very own extinction. The so-called pursuit of happiness with all its inevitable destruction seems to be unstoppable now.


You cannot go back to normal if you have never been there.

Mostly, “go back to normal” means “do the same dumb thing that caused the problem.”



Published 18 January 2012 (New Scientist)

From Dennis Meadows, University of New Hampshire

**Your article “Doomsday book” is one of the very, very few critiques of our work, The Limits to Growth , which clearly states our goal was to understand the dynamics of growth in a finite world rather than simply to predict collapse or provide a litany of various limits to physical growth.

Humanity’s use of energy and materials is now so far above the globe’s long-term, sustainable capacity that collapse of some sort is inevitable. Thus I do not pay much attention these days to discussions about how one or another technology will “save” us. It is nevertheless very gratifying to see our message succinctly and accurately conveyed.

Durham, New Hampshire, US

From the New Scientist article “Doomsday book” - 40 years after “The Limits to Growth” first publication (all curves on track close enough)


We three here in Calgary prefer the pandemic over business as usual.

Skies clear, few commercial planes, drastically reduced traffic and clamor, and since we home schooled our son from grade ones thru nine, the return to internet in grade ten was not only easy, but our son prefers it so much he is hoping to go thru grade 11 without a return to the institution.

Personally, I would be perfectly happy to dispense with all professional sports and most of Hollywood.

The stock market and publicly traded corporations would likewise be welcome to disappear.

I found this interview by Jim Dore of Chris Hedges very powerful. All of Chris Hedges articles on the current Truthdig are superb, the one on Sheldon Wolin is so good words escape me.




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I’ve read that excellent Truthdig piece------ have it bookmarked! It should be republished regularly------- far and wide.

I’ve not seen the video, will watch it tomorrow over morning coffee. Nice way to start the day with a reality check via Chris Hedges! I miss his regular columns.
Thanks for linking article and video.

Thank you too for your thoughts about life with this pandemic from Canada. I feel the same way (including dispensing with Hollywood, sports, stock market, corporations)

Beautiful fireflies out tonight flying among the native grasses/shrubs. So very grateful they are still here on this earth. It seems the heat has brought them out-----the heat before the storm.

We are getting a reinvigorated version of Cristobal. Yikes. I thought being in the upper midwest would keep us safe from hurricanes and tropical storms!

Sandbagging tomorrow . . . . (after coffee and Chris Hedges)


yes america might consume itself to death but that’s a self inflicted injury… anyway all bugs, plants (and animals) have entered the anthropocene… the dinosaurs once ruled the world now they’re mostly known as predecessor of the most exploited species ever — namely chickens — in short humanity rules the world (i.e the animal kingdom is no more) but its a unnecessarily brutal rule… so humanity needs to learn to use its powers wisely and express love and appreciation for the environment without accepting its limitations… mother nature nature, DNA, genes etc are not destiny they’re merely something that is under mmm construction… with the emergence of cyborg-ization even darwinian evolution has become irrelevant!!! today you’ll think the anthropocene is crazy tomorrow you’ll take the upgrade and become a pro motorball player just kidding, just kidding, no i am not, cyborg-ization is seriously cool.

welcome to the anthropocene Phred.

Zero growth or a steady state economy is what Marx called “simple reproduction” - a situation where human needs are in balance with the resources needed to satisfy them.

Socialism is a society which would already have decided, according to its own criteria and through its own decision-making processes, on the most appropriate way to allocate resources to meet the needs of its members. This having been done, it would only need to go on repeating this continuously from production period to production period. Production would not be ever-increasing but would be stabilized at the level required to satisfy needs. All that would be produced would be products for consumption and the products needed to replace and repair the raw materials and instruments of production used up in producing these consumer goods. The point about such a situation is that there will no longer be any imperative need to develop productivity, i.e. to cut costs in the sense of using less resources; nor will there be the blind pressure to do so that is exerted under capitalism through the market. It will also create an ecologically benign relationship with nature. In socialism we would not be bound to use the most labour efficient methods of production. We would be free to select our methods in accordance with a wide range of socially desirable criteria, in particular the vital need to protect the environment. What it means is that we should construct permanent, durable means of production.

Terminology is important to discussion and bandying words around without fully comprehending their meanings won’t be fruitful. Capitalism is the social system under which we live. Capitalism is primarily an economic system of competitive capital accumulation out of the surplus value produced by wage labour. As a system it must continually accumulate or go into crisis. Consequently, human needs and the needs of our natural environment take second place to this imperative. Capitalist investors want to end up with more money than they started out with, but why? Is it just to live in luxury? That would suggest that they aim of capitalist production was simply to produce luxuries for the rich.

Capitalism is an ever-expanding economy of capital accumulation. In other words, most of the profits are capitalised, i.e. reinvested in production, so that production, the stock of means of production, and the amount of capital, all tend to increase over time ( in fits and starts). The economic circuit is thus money - commodities - more money - more commodities, even more money. This is not the conscious choice of the owners of the means of production. It is something that is imposed on them as a condition for not losing their original investment. Competition with other capitalists forces them to re-nvest as much of their profits as they can afford to in keeping their means and methods of production up to date.

World Socialist Party of the United States

Its not going to go back to the old normal it will be the new normal, which is a lot less economic activity. Which will mean that the amount of pollution from some sources will fall. So I think we should NOT spend huge amounts of money on anything besides helping people avoid financial disasters. people not corporations.