When Stan Cox was writing his book, The Green New Deal and Beyond: Ending the Climate Emergency While We Stil
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If nothing else, the last few months have heightened awareness of the desperately parlous predicament that now faces humanity, with an accelerating climate and ecological crisis. So attempts to design assertive policy proposals are very welcome. The Green New Deal is the one that currently is getting the most attention and perhaps traction. So I want to ask some critical questions that generally seem to be ignored in the infectious enthusiasm for the idea. In doing that I’ll also be rehearsing some insights from the degrowth perspective.
I recently wrote a post criticizing ecomodernism as “magical thinking”. I argued that it ignores key scientific studies on the unviability of absolute decoupling in order to advance an ecologically reckless insistence on growth. Not surprisingly, ecomodernists were not particularly happy about this. Linus Blomqvist of the Breakthrough Institute posted a rebuttal. It’s worth reading, because it gives a useful indication of the arguments that ecomodernists fall back on when challenged, and presents an opportunity to stress-test them. This is an important process.
Right now we are consuming about 85 billion tons of material stuff per year, exceeding the sustainable threshold by 70%. According to the UN, our resource use will rise to at least 132 billion tons per year by 2050, and possibly as high as 180 billion tons.
It is on this basis that scientists have concluded that absolute decoupling of GDP from aggregate resource use is not possible. But the ecomodernists at the Breakthrough Institute aren’t convinced.