Degrowth/Green Deal
October 2, 2018 7:56 AM   Subscribe

"Since the chimera of sustainable development is an alibi for permanent growth, degrowth is meant to grab hold of the dominant discourse of growth, envelop it and its apologists, and in fact take on fundamentalism where one must: at the roots. The idea of degrowth, this book included, is meant as invitation to debate. Degrowth is not meant to replace communism, anarchism, or democratic socialism as horizons for human hope, and it is certainly not a recipe for disregarding class struggle." Degrowth Considered "Clearly then, even under a degrowth scenario, the overwhelming factor pushing emissions down will not be a contraction of overall gdp but massive growth in energy efficiency and clean renewable-energy investments—which, for accounting purposes, will contribute towards increasing gdp—along with similarly dramatic cuts in fossil-fuel production and consumption, which will register as reducing gdp. Moreover, the immediate effect of any global gdp contraction would be huge job losses and declining living standards for working people and the poor." Degrowth Vs. A New Green Deal - All Of A Sudden Putting 'Green" Next To a Policy Idea Makes it More Popular - The New Green Deal Report
posted by The Whelk (11 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
(Previously, Green Jobs For All)
posted by The Whelk at 8:07 AM on October 2, 2018

All Of A Sudden Putting 'Green" Next To a Policy Idea Makes it More Popular -

This title reminds me of Utilities have a problem: the public wants 100% renewable energy, and quick. The problem of "Stranded assets," that is, we're going to have to leave trillions of dollars in the ground, may not be one we can solve under current economic and political paradigms. We're going to miss 2-deg-C, so lets' focus on Net Zero, except net zero won't solve already-released greenhouse gases, so what about decarbonizing? Decarbonizing the World Economy is Achievable.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:57 AM on October 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Oh, dude, thank you. I've just finished my first rereading of Illich's Tools for Conviviality since late adolescence (when it made no sense to me), and was struck by how much of the agenda he lays out in that book would now be considered degrowthist or degrowth-adjacent.

Although I have a strong affinity for this line of argument, it's time for me to sharpen my own construction of it, and this is just the material that'll help, at exactly the right moment.
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:52 AM on October 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

(And FWIW, I also recently finished my every-five-years-or-so rereading of The Dispossessed, and thought of Anarres on just about every single page of the Illich. It's been interesting to note how a body of writing that glanced off the surface of my youthful ignorance and privilege has since gelled and fused into something gleaming and potent and beautiful, annealed by nothing more than the passing of time.)
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:57 AM on October 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Reading "Degrowth Considered"'s argument about agriculture (a really good point, too) hit home, as we wind down our homestead.
posted by doctornemo at 11:38 AM on October 2, 2018

Some definitions:

Growth - year over year increase in a nation's GDP.

GDP - a statistical index originally cooked up as a measure of a nation's capacity to wage war.

Yeah, I'd say it's time our political systems stopped gauging their performance based on a criterion that requires ever growing capacity to wage war.
posted by ocschwar at 11:44 AM on October 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

In fact, between 2000 and 2014, twenty-one countries, including the us, Germany, the uk, Spain and Sweden, all managed to absolutely decouple gdp growth from co2 emissions—that is, gdp in these countries expanded over this fourteen-year period, while co2 emissions fell.
Statements like this always strike me as disingenuous, since this was accomplished almost entirely by moving high-emissions industries to developing nations and then buying the products from them.
posted by clawsoon at 12:50 PM on October 2, 2018 [6 favorites]

That argument only really makes sense for the "making stuff" part of emissions growth, and maybe some of the agriculture. Transportation, heating, and building emissions are not things we can have outsourced most of.
posted by feckless at 1:54 PM on October 2, 2018

Thanks for this Whelk. So much gets externalised in our economies. In NZ we have an ever-burgeoning Dairy industry with foreign earnings in excess of NZ$20 billion (it's hard to define exactly); while requiring $20B or more to fix the resulting environmental damage, although these can only ever be repairs; when a river has been drained and it's life extinguished you never get the original river back.

Farm sector debt is well in excess of $40Billion and despite the milk price stabilising dairy farms are still being established - I see new ones every week. AFAIK this is bank driven; as a farm's debt climbs, banks change terms of repayment 'encouraging' farmers to convert their farm to dairy (which has a higher return, but with massive CAPEX).

NZ has sought to reduce effectiveness of the Brundtland Report by shifting the terms from "sustainable development" to "sustainable management" pdf go to p32

Sustainability needs a hard definition such as: limited to the physically contiguous area< of a given business/farm/home etc. Then no operation would be fully sustainable and everyone would have a target. As it stands business-as-usual farming is a mining operation with a similar level of diluted and hard-to-fix pollution.
posted by unearthed at 2:43 PM on October 2, 2018

Benjamin Friedman has some interesting things to say about the value of economic growth:

[C]onventional thinking about economic growth fails to reflect the breadth of what growth, or its absence, means for a society. We recognize, of course, the advantages of a higher material standard of living, and we appreciate them. But moral thinking, in practically every known culture, enjoins us not to place undue emphasis on our material concerns. We are also increasingly aware that economic development—industrialization in particular, and more recently globalization—often brings undesirable side effects, like damage to the environment or the homogenization of what used to be distinctive cultures, and we have come to regard these matters, too, in moral terms. On both counts, we therefore think of economic growth in terms of material considerations versus moral ones: Do we have the right to burden future generations, or even other species, for our own material advantage? Will the emphasis we place on growth, or the actions we take to achieve it, compromise our moral integrity? We weigh material positives against moral negatives. I believe this thinking is seriously, in some circumstances dangerously, incomplete. The value of a rising standard of living lies not just in the concrete improvements it brings to how individuals live but in how it shapes the social, political and, ultimately, the moral character of a people. Economic growth—meaning a rising standard of living for the clear majority of citizens—more often than not fosters greater opportunity, tolerance of diversity, social mobility, commitment to fairness, and dedication to democracy.

I rather hope that he is wrong about all of this ...
posted by HoraceH at 5:52 PM on October 2, 2018

Fascinating review, thanks for posting this. Thank you also to adamgreenfield, I had somehow never knowingly come across Illich's work and am now looking at Tools for Conviviality.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 3:26 AM on October 3, 2018

« Older Booksellers, this one weird trick could increase...   |   In The Language Is Life, In The Language is Death Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments