You see, the real downside of the green-profit narrative has been that it created the assumption in many people’s minds that the solution to climate change and other environmental dilemmas is technical, and that policy makers and industrialists will implement it for us, so that the way we live doesn’t need to change in any fundamental way. That’s never been true. The sooner we get that through our heads, the more time we will have to get used to living happily within limits—without nature imposing those limits in ways that aren’t so pleasant.
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Limits to Growth
In 1968, a small group of elite academics, industrialists, and government officials gathered at a Roman villa to discuss “the predicament of mankind.” “We proceed from the belief that problems have ‘solutions,’” they wrote. Their goal was to find them. The result, a 200-page book called The Limits to Growth published in 1972, forever changed the contours of the burgeoning environmental movement. The thesis was simple: The planet simply could not sustain current rates of economic and population growth. “The most probable result,” the group predicted, “will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity.” In other words, humanity would have to hit the brakes — or suffer the collapse of society as we know it. The book was met with scorn and a pile-on in the mainstream media.
The newest book by Giorgos Kallis, one of the most prolific degrowth advocates is entitled Limits: Why Malthus Was Wrong and Why Environmentalists Should Care. It is a short and accessible read which contains some important and unconventional arguments. In what follows, I will first briefly summarize the core arguments of the book, which promises to provoke important discussions on the matter of limits and subjects. Then I will reflect on the fuzziness of the primarily cultural conceptualization of capitalism, and argue that neither self-limitation nor degrowth qualifies as a mode of production, such that they could constitute an alternative to capitalism.
En permettant l'homme, la nature a commis beaucoup plus qu'une erreur de calcul: un attentat contre elle-même.
The Limits to Growth was published in 1972 by a group of world class scientists using the best mathematical computer modelling available at the time. It projected the future collapse of global industrial civilisation in the 21st century if humanity did not curb its population, consumption and pollution. It was pilloried by many “infinite growth on a finite planet” economists over the decades.
However, updated data inputs and modern computer modelling in recent years (particularly by Dr Graham Turner of the CSIRO in 2008 and 2014) showed that we are in reality closely tracking the standard model of the LtG, with industrial collapse and mass die-off due sooner rather than later. The future is now.