Our physical growth will have to stop. It’s unsustainable. The earth is finite after all. That’s indisputable, isn’t it? Listen to Brian Czech talk about it in this radio interview. (You’ll need either to download it as an mp3, or to listen to it as a RealAudio file. For the latter, if you don’t have the RealOne player, just download Media Player Classic which is less problematic anyway and plays the same files.) Czech is the president of the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy and author of Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train. He has established himself as an important figure in ecological economics, taking on the neoclassical economic model and macroeconomic theorists and their propaganda advocating limitless economic growth.
Economic growth, as Czech points out in the interview, involves a physical element. Now that’s a problem. It’s that indisputably unsustainable element. There is, says Czech, a “fundamental conflict between economic growth and environmental protection.” What’s more, large numbers of scientists from an array of disciplines have said we’ve reached the limits of growth. Czech says, therefore, what few others dare to — that we need an end to economic growth as we know it. (He carefully distinguishes between economic growth and economic development which involves qualitative rather than quantitative growth and so is not subject to the same limits.) As an alternative he offers the model of the steady state economy, an idea popularized, in part, by Herman Daly.
Explains Czech, “Just as economic growth is the predominant macroeconomic policy goal identified or implied by neoclassical economics, the steady state economy is the predominant macroeconomic policy goal identified or implied by ecological economics.” Specifically, it “connotes constant populations of people (and, therefore, “stocks” of labor) and constant stocks of capital. It also has a constant rate of throughput; i.e., energy and materials used to produce goods and services.”
Clearly, the ecological economics approach to an economy is sustainable. The the conventional, neoclassical approach is not.
The interview last 37 minutes. Try to listen at least to the first half. It’s well worth it.
Image source (minus added text): markg6, posted on flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.