economics sustainability

Will economic growth be the defining debate of the century?

“It is neither economically necessary nor ethically responsible to stop or drastically slow economic growth to manage climate change. Not only would it be analytically unsound, it would also pose severe ethical difficulties and be so politically destructive as to fail as policy.”
Lord Nicholas Stern

“I start from the bedrock principle that we as a global society need more and more growth, because without growth there is no human development and those in poverty will never escape it”
Thomas L Friedman

‘Stability – Growth – Jobs’

“The myth of growth has failed us. It has failed the two billion people who still live on less than $2 a day. It has failed the fragile ecological systems on which we depend for survival. It has failed, spectacularly, in its own terms, to provide economic stability and secure people’s livelihoods.”
Tim Jackson

“For the poor to get slightly less poor, the rich have to get very much richer. It would take around $166 worth of total global growth to generate $1 extra for people living on below $1 a day.”
Andrew Simms

“The natural world is no longer able to provide the sources and sinks for the metabolic throughput necessary to sustain the existing oversized economy – much less a growing one.”
Herman Daly

“In 1972, our projections suggested growth would end in this 21st century, and that still seems inevitable to me… Growth will not end gradually and peacefully in the distant future. It will end soon and suddenly through overshoot and collapse… The most common policy for solving current economic problems is a desperate effort to get the growth of the physical economy back onto its historical, exponential track. I know this policy will not work.”
David Meadows, author ‘Limits to Growth’

The economy cannot grow indefinitely. It is an ecological impossibility. It will at some point stop growing, and it will either do so as a managed contraction, or as a violent crash as we hit massive resource depletion and ecological collapse. However painful it may be, I vote for the first.


  1. I am totally bemused by all the so called expert advice we are been given. I may be only a humble “housewife” but I have lived on a fixed low income most of my life and have in the “old way”, ie. as my parents and grandparents did and it has worked for me.

    No more growth I say – live within your means.


  2. You are a great example Margaret – we often don’t believe it can be done, living within your means. I’m inspired by your comment.

    I’m with you and Jeremy – I’d rather deal with a planned slowdown than a crash which would make the current “crunch” look like a walk in the park.

    How can 6 billion people keep “growing” before we run out of planet-space?

  3. There is so much given to so little and so little given to so many. That is a problem that is only perpetuated by growth. A sustainable philosophy is needed for us to have a future. We are one people on one planet in need of a lifestyle that is conducive to living on that planet.

    Because we live in world that is always in a steady state, we need to adopt a steady state lifestyle. The first step is to stop the economic growth.

    Jeremy, of course I agree with you, but I can’t tell you enough how much I admire the work you’re doing! Keep it up! We need more people asking this question – is growth really the answer?

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