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Never-ending Growth?

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/07/29/never-ending-growth

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Degrowth? The investor class don’t need no stinkin’ degrowth.

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It’s increasingly out of our hands and in Mama’s, now that the icecap has broken loose. Degrowth is coming, one way or another. That’s one interpretation of the astonishing Arctic thaw of 2019.

The scientific community is tragically embarrassed by the suddenness of Arctic sea ice failure. This is the failure that all those high-falutin’ IPCC meetings since 1988 were supposed to prevent. But they failed because they unconscionably allowed predators access to writing committees. It’s getting more difficult all the time figuring out whom to believe.

I believe Worldview. When the clouds clear, you can get a good idea of what’s going on up there just by looking around.

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For most problems to even begin to get solved, something must be done about the one thing that must stop growing…the human population. It’s expected to be over 11 billion people by the end of this century.

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No matter how they try to spin the concept of never ending sustainable economic growth- the fact is that the planet doesn’t get any bigger. The resources we have on this planet won’t increase. The economy must plateau. screw wall street.

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Neither this nor the overshoot article mention the basic problem of population growth that has overshot our planet’s carrying capacity.

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“Never-ending Growth.” It describes cancer.

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The natural remedy is constantly within our gaze. An overpopulated entity that has few mortal enemies grow until they can no longer survive on the available food and water.
It’s a cruel way to die especially when it can be prevented.
When there are too many ants, the anteaters come etc.

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Magical thinking

Tragical ending

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Actually, AESOP , has an answer to this problem:

Once there was a frog who thought he could impress all by becoming bigger and bigger, and then the biggest in the pond------then —one day —he did become the biggest of the biggest----and popped he popped dead!
That pretty much is the answer to, " never ending growth! " A BIG messy and deadly pop!

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Our global economy is predicated upon capital accumulation based upon relentless expansion to make profit. Only a socialist society can be based upon a steady-state economy ie zero-growth.

First, there would have to be emergency action to relieve the worst problems of food shortages, health care and housing which affect billions of people throughout the world. Secondly, longer term action to construct means of production and infrastructures such as transport systems for the supply of permanent housing and durable consumption goods. These could be designed in line with conservation principles, which means they would be made to last for a long time, using materials that where possible could be re-cycled and would require minimum maintenance.
Thirdly, with these objectives achieved there could be an eventual fall in production, and society could move into a stable mode. This would achieve a rhythm of daily production in line with daily needs with no significant growth. On this basis, the world community could reconcile two great needs, the need to live in material well being whilst looking after the planet

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And yet this story doesn’t even mention this issue. Why this topic is so taboo, I’ll never really understand. We (progressives) should be discussing goals (what is conceivable even with future technology for carrying capacity of the US and other countries) and methods (what convinces people most effectively to drop their average TFR down to around 1.5 or so). Then we can manage sustainable decline of both population and the economy (some sectors would grow, many would shrink) till we get near the goals and then bring the TFR back up to 2.05.

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I’ll tell you why and what happens when someone calls out the lie of unlimited growth and overpopulation. You (I) get called things like a Fascist-Nazi-Eugenicist, because you (I) told the truth that we have passed the point where things like zero population growth or one child policies will solve our overpopulation problem. That it will be necessary to forcefully limit population by fertility lotteries, forced sterilization and abortion, and there can be no exceptions for countries with a lower “carbon footprint”. Telling those truths will get you absolutely savaged on-line, and made to feel like it’s a good thing they can’t track you down, or your life might be in danger. That is why the subject is treated like a taboo. Those with a vested interest in increasing population (or personally wanting an unlimited number of children or grandchildren) will not allow the discussion, and engage in extreme ad hominem attacks to shut down the discussion.

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I’ve never considered anything that strict. I don’t even think what I would suggest (non-coercive incentives/disincentives to get a lower TFR but no outright ban on too many kids however annoying it is to see people still doing this stupidly selfish act) is politically feasible at the moment so I don’t spend much time thinking of things even stricter even though I think there is a possibility of human collapse if we don’t turn things around. And I understand the dynamics of a TFR of 1.5 being rather slow to turn things around. China has been at 1.5-1.6 for 25 years (I wonder how many realize it was never at 1.0 as the one child policy never resulted in every woman having only one child) and yet their population has not leveled off yet because of the higher TFR earlier. Japan which had a TFR lower than China for every year since 1960 and during those early years when China was up to 6.4 kids per woman, Japan was only 2 and so it is finally starting its (very much needed) decline. Japan has dropped less than 1% off its peak and many people are freaking out - some people have no concept of math it seems.

I had my one kid kind of late (46) and I tell my son that he is free to wait that long too or not have kids at all, but I encourage him to have only one and if I don’t live to see the birth or if he doesn’t have any, I’m OK with that. Anybody who puts fertility pressure on their kids has a real mental problem (or lives on a farm I suppose - not my case or most people’s case in the US).

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" International commitments to prevent the climate chaos we are already in were made in the 1990s and ever since there has been only one year in which global emissions declined: 2019. That was also the only year in decades in which GDP declined."

I think the year you meant was 2009, not 2019. First, 2009 was the peak of the Great Recession, which affected the world, during which I understand greenhouse gases did decrease, & secondly, 2019 is only a little over halfway through, & even if either decreased emissions or decreased GDP had occurred by this point, it doesn’t mean that they won’t increase further by the end of the year. And as I understand, emission rates have continued to increase so far this year.

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The scenario seems optimistic: a stable society on a planet with unstable coastlines. How could that work? I’m not trying to be a smart-ass, either. Aspects of spreading famine and uninhabitable regions of Earth will render the concept of nations (i.e. of national borders) untenable. Any serious foray into dealing with our problems has to first face the biggest ones.

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Two words: Garret Hardin.

Of course it’s unfair to tar conscientious thinkers about overpopulation with the White-nationalist stain Hardin bequeathed. But the stain remains, and shouldn’t be casually skipped-over.

Certainly the instability of our economic system may well lead to the collapse of nation-states, however, so far, though, even with the rise of transnational corporations and development of trading blocs such as the EU, they remain the basis of world capitalism and its national rivalries.

The understanding of global solutions for global problems can be more fully explored here

I’m not talking about the instability of the economic system, friend. It’s not all about the economic system.

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The topic of population is treated as taboo by socialists because it is used as a diversion from the real causes of poverty. I’ll give a 1902 quote from your name-sake

There is no reason under the sun, aside from the profit considerations of the capitalist system, why two million humans should be stacked up in layers and heaps until they jar the clouds, while millions of acres of virgin soil are totally uninhabited. The very contemplation of the spectacle gives rise to serious doubt as to the sanity of the race. Such a vast population in such a limited area cannot feed itself, has not room to move and cannot keep clean…“What’s the matter with Chicago?” Capitalism! What’s the cure? Socialism! Regeneration will only come with depopulation — when socialism has relieved the congestion and released the people and they spread out over the country and live close to the grass

Debs directs us to the root of the issue when it comes to population, and it is not overall numbers but social organization that requires to be first addressed.

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