Home | About | Donate

Time to Stop Worshipping Economic Growth

Time to Stop Worshipping Economic Growth

Brent Blackwelder

There are physical limits to growth on a finite planet. In 1972, the Club of Rome issued their groundbreaking report—Limits to Growth (twelve million copies in thirty-seven languages). The authors predicted that by about 2030, our planet would feel a serious squeeze on natural resources, and they were right on target.

1 Like

Thank you Dr. Blackwelder for stressing the economic/environment connection. The naive economic paradigm of continual expansion (allowing for all sorts of externalities such as pollution, poverty, etc.) simply has to be taken down. Among the curtain finally being pulled back from the climate change deniers’ backsides enough to show their callous disregard for all life on the planet (i.e. the multi-decadal big lie of Exxon Mobil and coconspirators), the death watch of major parts of the Pacific due to Fukushima’s meltdowns, and witness to numerous other greed-induced crimes on nature, needs to arise the renewable energy and agricultural sectors for a start. Intra- and international inequalities of wealth distribution can only be addressed by the ultimate reduction in population and/or reduction in the standard of living of the few toward that of the many. Tough choices are posed to humanity. Greed-infused politics is impeding progress at numerous forums.


Solid, comprehensive analysis.

To C.D. commentators whose tunnel-vision propels them to speak of only one issue (or causation factor), much can be learned from Mr. Blackwelder’s analysis in that he covers LOTS of bases from the economic model of use and abuse to population numbers. He also adds in women’s rights to sovereignty over their own reproductive destinies… and that is a HUGE problem to the millions, if not billions of males who subscribe to religious fundamentalist values. These “values” allot to males and/or patriarchal institutions, the “right” to tell women what they can and cannot do while treating women’s bodies as reproductive assembly lines.


The world is sick with too much growth, it has become cancerous. Yet many countries are still talking about more and more growth.

Even natural disasters are used by the capital system as being good for growth. "
We will rebuild bigger and better" is often the motto after storms which have destroyed things.


It isn’t ‘growth’ that is the issue really but the way ‘growth’ is occurring that is the problem. The author needs to come up with a term that differentiates between destructive growth and sustainable growth.

All growth isn’t negative or at least, all growth cannot be stopped as population continues to grow in any case.

Once primitive tribes practiced slash and burn agriculture when human populations were small. Now mega corporations do much the same thing over immense areas where virgin old growth forest and jungle is clear cut and turned into palm oil plantations and soybean farms or cattle pasture.

We have massive open pit mines and toxic runoff, fracking that poisons ground water and huge dams that flood vast stretches of a river’s watersheds, oil spills that aren’t adequately cleaned up and so forth.

Capitalism will have to devise a version of sustain and trade where an exploitive destructive process can be traded in for a sustainable version or at least a less destructive version perhaps somewhere else that isn’t so environmentally sensitive or so hazardous to people.

People are doomed to failure if they think growth can or even should be stopped. That would only be possible if large numbers of people died or were prevented from having children.

Instead we need to devote our efforts to creating more viable growth for an ever increasing population. More efficient use of the land and resources we already use is step one. Americans finally accepted that aluminum cans need to be recycled and now we like it because it works. Our laws made it easy for people to recycle and so they do so enthusiastically. It was just common sense.

I would much rather see a GMO palm oil plantation growing out in the ‘empty’ desert than see them consume the orangutan habitat jungles of Indonesia. To simply say no palm oil plantations isn’t going to work.

Maybe science and governments could get together and corporate palm oil could trade land for jungle restoration for empty desert land (watered by solar powered desalination) in impoverished countries and create jobs and profits for the host country and the original country etc in a trade?

All I know is that simply saying “you shouldn’t behave so badly” may work with children but not with corporations. Nevertheless they are only concerned with profits and nothing else. Show a palm oil corporate farm that it can make two dollars profit for every one dollar of profit if it relocated to the west coast of the Sahara and it will go there.

We need to create better types of growth - more efficient and less destructive - because our population continues to grow and that must be accounted for.

1 Like

“Time to stop worshipping capitalism.”

There, I fixed that. Capitalism is the real religion of America.

Just saw that the Republicans are cancelling their scheduled future “debates” on NBC. Their complaint is that the questions from the “liberal” media are just too tough. They want to make the “debates” extended speeches by each candidate with a few “questions” (read softballs) afterward.

As if the Dem and Rep “debates” so far were anything actually resembling an actual debate. I have to wonder how many Americans even know how real debates are conducted…


Unfortunately, none of this will be allowed to happen by the One Percent, nor by their servants - governments. If any of these changes are to be made, it will happen by the people destroying these institutions rooted in domination (government, banks, armies, police, schools, corporations) and learning to live and think with a completely different mindset. The real challenge is for us to cure ourselves of the disease of Western Civilization, and we can begin that process by learning from the many indigenous people who have lived for thousands of years without destroying the land around them. We can begin by learning to see the land and our children as sacred.


You might throw a comment or two about the billions of women who are happily compliant with this patriarchal paradigm and even fight to preserve it. I have a hard time pointing fingers at one group when it’s obviously a societal failure.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

1 Like

I am not a lawyer but I would think the standing of a group or person to bring suit would be rejected by the court. The government would have the standing as would a community (say downstream from a poisoned river? ) directly affected etc. but even then their standing to bring suit would be challenged. It happens but we’d be far better off having an EPA or some such watchdog agency enforce its mandates properly. Once the EPA tackled clean air and did a pretty good job until republicans started instituting cut backs to hamstring the agency and further dismantled its ability to function.

We certainly need some global enforcement and watchdog capacity for the various countries’ EPAs to work together.

How about we need a trade agreement a TTIP/TPP for the environment instead of against the environment? An agreement where other countries as well as our EPAs can bring suit against international corporations.

That is why I am hoping that the anti-oligarchy candidate Bernie Sanders gets in because these issues are exactly what being anti-oligarchy is all about.

Go Bernie… we need someone with some power of office to be on our side against the oligarchy.


Time to stop worshipping Mammon - money, as an end in itself rather than an economic tool that is and has been abused and is killing a sustainable future for humans and numerous other species - the sixth great extinction is now…

As thylacine accurately writes

The being of Gaia, Mother Earth, must finally be granted and guaranteed respect and care and legal protections of the highest order, not greed, not self interest, and not criminal exploitation of our Mother to extinction.

“We travel together, passengers on a little space ship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft. We cannot maintain it half fortunate, half miserable, half confident, half despairing, half slave—to the ancient enemies of man—half free in a liberation of resources undreamed of until this day. No craft, no crew can travel safely with such vast contradictions. On their resolution depends the survival of us all” - Adlai Stevenson 1965

Stevenson’s wise and prescient words have only increased in meaning and consequence.


i think the article is correct. Perhaps you mean something different by “growth” than the author does. Take a look at this video from Albert Bartlett about growth:

1 Like

I was agreeing with the article/author. What exactly is your point? I was responding to other posters actually. Obviously you didn’t read what I wrote or sought to find something to argue about even when there isn’t one.

I find ambiguous comments like yours snide. I said what I meant at least in my own words. I do that a lot. Sorry if it bothers you or if you yourself have trouble saying your points in your own words. Dr. Bartlett makes valid points too but you didn’t. Hence the ambiguous snide comment. Should I discuss Bartlett? The article wasn’t about the exponential factor nor about population really.

It was about unchecked capitalistic growth. The author called it ruthless growth - I called it destructive growth (like over fishing is ). Did you have a point?

Perhaps you do?

You are picking a fight for some unknown reason. My reply was in no way snide.

The idea of unlimited growth is a dangerous fallacy that will spell the end of Homo Sapiens and hundreds of thousands of other species from the planet unless human overpopulation is addressed - drastically - and soon. China’s decision to drop it’s one child policy is extremely disappointing and discouraging. Because humans have failed to heed the warnings of the past 50 years, limiting families to one child is not enough to solve the problem. Some families being allowed to have one child, and the rest remaining childless, is now the only solution. Fail to heed the warnings, and we deserve the extinction we are headed for. However, the other species we will take with us do not.


I haven’t any idea exactly what was your reply since you left it ambiguous. You say you think the article is correct and in the next sentence you imply that I disagree with it or what?

At that point you took the easy way out and didn’t explain what you meant but posted a lecture. I understood the exponential factor (function) long ago and commented on it in CD, if you remember?

Well, please look at this, and imagine me reading it:

“Time to stop worshiping economic growth”

“It isn’t ‘growth’ that is the issue really but the way ‘growth’ is occurring that is the problem.”

That looks to me like you are taking issue with what the author wrote. It does not look like a sentence that means “I agree with the author.” That is my honest reading, so i suggest that perhaps you mean something different by “growth” than the author does, and i post a link that explains why “growth” itself is a serious problem. This is not meant to be ambiguous or snide in any way, but to invite you to consider what is meant by “growth” and whether your apparent disagreement with the author is simply based in meaning something different by the term “growth.”

You react as if i’m looking to be an ass.

At this point i’m like, whatever. So i simply say “My reply was in no way snide.”

You insist that somehow what i’m writing is problematic, unclear, and that i am still “taking the easy way out.”

Again, it looks to me like you are just picking a fight for no reason. i’m sorry if you did not get anything from my reply, but i hope you can understand that i’m just trying to contribute. If you can’t, i’m not going to keep this going any further.

I see, so the other statements in my post you didn’t read? The whole rest of my post apparently you skipped over because you read the first sentence out of context of the complete post?

Yeah okay fine. Whatever .

Thanks for your generosity.


What a sound, sensible solution it would be “to enable legal recognition of the rights of ecological wholes.” Imagine: the legal system would be recognizing native Americans’ wisdom in how to relate to the environment.