Economic Growth – our religion today: A new formula for calculating growth

Noone could possibly escape the headlines: The US is struggling with its debt limit and deficit, GDP is not growing as expected. In Europe everyone fears Spain and Italy will go the same way as Ireland and Greece. Bail outs and rescue packages have become common words. Either this will impose a declining interest for sustainability, or it will be starting point for new measures for economic growth. As the world economic looks today, everyone is desperate for increased consumption to rescue the economy and welfare. That is everyone except Mother Earth, to say.

I remember almost exactly a year ago, an insanly hot day in New York City, I talked to my friends about how measuring economic welfare in GDP is out to date and not in line with a sustain evolution. I was sure the human impact on the environment had to be calculated for when measuring economic growth. I just could’t figure out how.

It appeared I was not the only one thinking in these terms. Tim Jackson (professor Surray University and Brittish Parliament Sustainability division) wrote the book Prosperity without Growth in 2009.  He shows by figure and facts that growth after a certain point does not increase happiness, liftetime expectancy and other signs of welfare. He suggest capitalism, but let slaughter the sacred cow economic growth.

Others, such as Sandro Scocco (Wisco Analys, Global Utmaning) does not belive in Jackson’s utopia but advocate growth, but with limits. He believs in technnology, but only to a ceratin point.

The formula to increase growth without destroying nature is spelled decoupling. With decoupling is meant that the tie between income and resource is cut. The problem is no country has actually acheived this to date.

Back to technology. As Jackson puts it we probably need technologies 130 times as efficient as today to keep up. Maybe we could do it, but we have never done, so far. It is rather naivë to have a blind faith in technology development alone.

The only way I see it, is to let the economy be master over nature the other way around as well. So to say – it should cost to destroy the nature! This could be done by regulation, taxes and other economic tools. The price on carbon emissions in the European Emission Trading Scheme is an example.

But the biggest shift is to seek for a new religion to strive for better life. And a greener future.




2 Responses to “Economic Growth – our religion today: A new formula for calculating growth”
  1. Clau says:

    I guess that we need a mental decoupling too, where happiness is away from ownership and growth away from waste. The more advanced a society is (see Sweden vs Spain) the higher the value given to “free” things such as free time, sunshine or exercise.

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