Will Markets Survive the End of Growth?

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Whenever anyone questions the way things are, from the Occupy protestors through to people like me arguing that economic growth will end in tears and crisis, the response is very often, but “markets are wonderful and efficient way of organising our society”. I say what? That’s like saying to someone who says “I don’t like oranges” that “you’re wrong, you haven’t tasted this great cheese”. It’s an irrelevant and illogical response.

The term “markets” does not mean “infinite growth based capitalism that is destroying the ecosystem and preferentially serving the interests of the rich”! Markets don’t have to do that, and don’t always do that, including today. Indeed, markets as an idea have proven themselves as a resilient mechanism for many objectives. From the food markets of ancient Rome to the emerging boom in renewable energy, markets touch something very powerful in the human psyche and can deliver great good for society.

They allow freedom for people to back themselves and their ideas, they allow people a greater degree of control over their lives and they can help sort the good from the bad. That’s why China has adopted “socialism with Chinese characteristics” i.e. capitalism without democracy. That’s why pretty much every country where people are given freedom to choose, elects for some kind of market-based system.

However, markets when out of control due to poor or lack of regulation or corrupted by selfish and/or irresponsible behaviour, result in terrible outcomes and great damage to society, as I argued in this column celebrating the debate sparked by the Occupy protests.

So like people, markets can be good or bad. Like people they need rules and like people they respond well to structured freedom i.e. operating within limits. If you come across someone who’s what I call a “free market fundamentalist”, that really believes markets should be set free and that government intervention is invariably bad, try them on contract law. After all, isn’t that just “regulation of trust”? If you believe in free markets, then lets get rid of contract law – after all the market will soon sort out those who can and can’t be trusted won’t they? Of course we couldn’t and shouldn’t do that, because we know we need limits, or structured freedom.

One of the most important limits we now need to face up to is the planet’s. That means economic growth is finished at some point, as I argued here. We can debate the timing, but I’m yet to hear a convincing argument against the concept.

Is the end of growth the end of markets? The end of capitalism? Most definitely not. We will still need competition, we will still want ideas and innovation to flourish and we will want capital allocated as efficiently as possible. Markets are good at all those things.

So like contract law, we will one day accept the earths limits as absolute boundaries of the market system. And markets will then compete within those limits, accepting that it is obviously necessary for an effective market that it doesn’t destroy the foundation of its existence, the planet’s soil, water, climate and food supply. Today we look back at slavery and think how primitive and ignorant that behaviour was. In future we look back at today and say “they thought they could operate without regard to resource limits – how primitive and ignorant was that behaviour! And they’ll be right.

29 thoughts on “Will Markets Survive the End of Growth?

  1. David Killeen

    Paul
    Another excellent article.

    My question is when will our political “leaders?” actually get across this?

    On my worst days I think of democracy, as we know it, as a failed attempt at Government: a method of Government created in the 12th century which has always been controlled by and for the interests of the very rich. Sure, we’ve come some way in having better lives for many, than was once the case, in a material sense but there are many new problems nonetheless.

    When are Governments actually going to take a lead on this stuff? Who’s going to be first? Why isn’t it obvious to our politicians (Greens aside) what needs to happen? Why are we all addicted to spending on irrelevant stuff and how can it be roped in and stuff China, Gina Reinhart and Clive Palmer! The latter seem to get regaled as some sort of saviours of our economy in the face of international economic melt down.

    Is it a matter of whittling away slowly…getting more and more people to walk away from the major parties? I’m not sure I have the patience for that but it might be the right way!

    By the way I do like your analogy about contract law. I have a neighbour who thinks my wife and I are raving greenies and that the market should and will take care of everything. Next time he gets on his soapbox I will use the analogy of unfettered control of legal transactions as a scenario and see if that shuts him up or, better still, makes him think!

    Anyway good luck in the US and all power to your mission!
    David

  2. Richard Payne

    Superb commentary with a truly logical underpinning. That, of course, means that the “powers that be” will attempt to shout it down in favor of doing more of what we’ve been doing rather poorly. What we haven’t been doing well is sufficient innovation for the next generation. T

  3. Gerry Hamburger

    Look at the “limits” that were…50 yrs. ago, great scientists announced that the world would run out of food before 2000. Free enterprise, within limits, enables all of us to do better with less, extending out the day of ‘reckoning’ of the earth’s economic growth.

    The grain of sand in the Vaseline is the concept of control by govt. in their continuing desire to grow larger and more powerful. The USSR failed, not because Communism was bad, but because their largeness prevented quick changes to adapt to a moving reality. Most govt. (U.S. included) get larger over time and spend more of their country’s resources holding on the power (i.e. SSI, Medicare, welfare etc.). Greece is an example of misusing resources to maintain a govt. “statusquo” (who is in power, stays in power). May be the EU will bail them out or may be the EU, itself, will fail.

    As long as people can be free (think U.S. Bill of rights) and allowed liberty the world will survive; when “people” start demanding more govt. control we start down an icy slope. World govt. means lack of individual rights and liberties and guarantees the failure of mankind.

    GHamburger

  4. “markets’ make sense for the trade of consumables which can go on daily at many scales. The sustainability issue can be quite separate and about what is produced and how. Share and financial markets make it possible to organise enterprise on a very large scale. That can be beneficial, for example to supply solar panels or build a bridge. Real competition could get ferocious in a planetay limited scenario as more efficient providors of goods and services replace the inefficient. And that efficiency push can go on for ever. Share and financial markets provide the liquidity for investors to participate and the pricing mechanism to recognise improvement or failure. All of the financial mechanisms and disciplines developed to date remain essential in an efficient world. End of growth is simply the end of over exploitation of limited resources as a source of wealth.

  5. Jack Davis

    A number of supporters of the Center for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy (CASSE) have been struggling to come up with a roadmap to get us from where we are to where we need to be in terms of a sustainable economic system. I sense that many of us fail to grasp the importance of the role capitalism will have to play in that roadmap. This article provides some very useful guidance and I suspect your book does as well. I look forward to reading it. Jack Davis

  6. Michel Jungo

    Dear Paul, wish you all the best for your tour. I am still trying to get in contact with you to organise a presentation on the SMART 2013 conference. Would you mind letting me know how to contact you.
    Kind regards, Michel Jungo
    Organising Committee Member of the SMART 2013

  7. Alexis Scholtz

    I loved the Regulation of trust rebuttal. Will definitely be using that next time someone argues that capitalism is a self regulating system.

    I’m still not sure that regulated capitalism is the political economic model we are looking for. Since China embraced capitalism, the Iron Rice bowel social protection is failing with growing food insecurity issues. Capitalism ignores the needs and realities of the poor. Not everyone is an entrepreneur, yet many development policies focus on increasing economic autonomy in poor communities, not understanding that the poor cannot take on the risk of entrepreneurship. There is also the issue of externalising the effects of capitalism. At present the Chinese are colonising much of Africa, are unregulated because of different political economies and operate in much the same way as classical free market capitalism. Enter the challenges of globalisation and how we regulate a world economy and multinationals. The boundaries of regulation of a political economy are blurred by globalisation.

    The concept of operating within limits could also pose significant challenges…what happens when you make the pie smaller….assuming that we are rational actors has corrupted almost every system humans have invented. A system which allows one to profit because of a drive of ambition will never work. If the rewards of these profits are not ‘taxed’ or redistributed to those who do not possess the character of entrepreneurship…capitalism and growth are reborn. Will removing the incentive of personal gain through regulation instilled the same drive to create the techno fixes necessary for a just transition to a low carbon economy? We need a value change of note. An altruistic middle class. We should also be careful of concepts like decoupling resources from profit here. Unless the value change is instilled, the likelihood of finding something else to pervert is big.

    There are huge challenges ahead, and I often wonder if we don’t cling to making
    capitalism work so that we don’t have to face other political economic models which involve facing the end of values associated with it.

  8. Andrew Paterson

    Paul,

    I have read “Great Disruption” cover to cover… one of the most relevant books of our time.

    In an essay by another writer recently – can’t recall who – the author promoted the concept of a “Steady State” economy as distinct from a “Growth” economy (which apparently has established and successful precedent in a number of much older civilizations), and he further drew the distinction between ‘progress’ and ‘growth’… the former being entirely feasible under a “Steady State”economy.

    Of course ‘progress’ is what Mankind should be striving for (and which will soon become a non-negotiable imperative in any case). I found this simple premise particularly helpful. Maybe it’s an argument you could use in your dialogue with those who resist the inevitable shift to a steady state World.

    I look forward to hearing about your impact on the TED Conference.

    Andrew Paterson

  9. Most people who call for zero regulation of markets would be horrified at the idea of suspending all rules in sport and simply allowing the strongest and meanest side to destroy the opposition.

    Yet sport is only about entertainment while economics is about life and death, cf the billion people who are hungry most of the time and the 16,000 children who die each day of malnutrition-related diseases.

  10. Gary Barber

    The end of growth raises many questions. What will the shift in employment away from producing “things” mean? Will mental and physically oriented endeavors provide enough employment, or will their be increasing unemployment and crime? Will production become less automated and hence require more laborers to produce at the lower sustainable level? Will we reduce population growth to the level of sustainability? How will this happen in light of forces such as the Catholic Church and the welfare systems that do not discourage large families?

    I agree with the necessary changes related to over consumption and population growth, but I do not see the force that will put us on a path to where we need to be. My friends look at me like I am from some planet outside our solar system when I express my views.

  11. Gita Posselt

    Paul, after reading your article and all the comments I come to the conclusion that a viable future for the planet and it’s population lies in a shift of human consciousness by a critical mass of the global population. That shift is in gear but still under the radar of the mass media. Having just experienced a gathering of 150 “shifted” people from all over the planet I know it is happening.
    The hub for future connections for what works in a sustainable life enhancing way is now being created by the Shiftnetwork on the internet. All books written by Barbara Marx Hubbard point the way to Conscious Evolution as the next step for humanity, and judging from my life’s experiences in healing and growing (with a 72 year old body now) I feel she is right on.

  12. Bill Royce

    Paul,
    Insightful as always. You could add a further reason markets sometimes deliver bad outcomes: information asymmetry (or in common language, decision-makers don’t all have equal access to salient information). If we look at where we are today, knowledge of (and/or acceptance of) planetary boundaries and genuine resource constraints is generally restricted to scientific and some environmental organisations – they’re not widely acknowledged in government/politics, let alone in the media or the mainstream business culture. Despite years of urging by CERES and the INCR, for example, major corporations are still not transparently disclosing the risks they face from climate change, let alone other environmental factors or resource scarcity – and the SEC and other regulators appear in no hurry to mandate this. In my view it’s only when the financial markets require the right information be put into the market to drive the right outcome – a shift to low carbon and sustainable production and consumption – will we get the ‘war footing’ mobilisation through investment that will truly change course.
    Good luck with TED – I hope you’ll post the video of your address/

  13. Great post. Thanks.

    You only have to look at the 2008 financial crisis to see what happens when markets are not regulated. I think it was Alan Greenspan who said his faith in market players to act in their own self interest was shaken to the core (paraphrased).

    For more on the financial collapse, I highly recommend “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis. It’s more story telling than academic dissection. But the story is unforgettable, especially as the question “I can’t believe they can do that – how can that be legal?” keeps on coming up again and again.

    So yes, markets can be a great tool, as long as they are focused on the right goals; which can really only be done via regulation.

  14. Hi Paul.
    You are right, the market is many things, but the free market does not force the population to grow or cause an ever expanding economy. The population is only part of the vicious circle. The two main drivers of this vicious circle are the fact that the free market does not include the full cost of most transactions. The external costs of resource reduction and polution, being the main external costs. The fact that most money is created as debt, causing interest to increase the money supply without creating a corresponding supply of goods, is the other. This increase speeds up economic activity making more food available to drive population growth.
    With a sensible monetary system where the money is spent into existence by the community or state, and the same authority has a taxation system that charges for all external costs and distributes its takings equally among its people, we might achieve a steady state economy. If we did this without stopping population growth I am afraid that it would result in a very low standard of living. If the population were kept steady, the community could be allowed to develop without using more resources.

  15. Personne

    The only question as far as I am concerned is: Where will I sit when the music stops ? In a world where nuclear weapons are the last-resort-cure-all solution to fend off billions of hungry people, I would be surprised to witness a civilized outcome differring fundamentally from all the previous conflicts in recorded history of mankind.

  16. Lynn Kerman

    As you said in your TED talk, what do we want our civilization to be like? I don’t think that market-based is the foundation. We must create guiding principles of sustainability, respect and mutual support that guide all of the areas of life.

  17. Another thought provoking and engaging article. Thanks.

    At their most fundamental level, markets are simply transactions between individual entities and they therefore have an important role to play in society. Historically of course markets were much smaller and the interactions that took place were generally on a personal level – you physically met a person in the market place. I believe this encouraged most people to abide by unspoken rules of fairness, respect, restraint and honesty. When markets become as large as they are today the transactions that are made lose all sense of personal interaction and subsequently those unspoken rules are lost in the process too. It makes perfect sense, therefore, that rules based on behaving in a decent, fair and just manner within the earth’s physical limits need to be enshrined in today’s market place.

  18. Thomas

    I agree with the point that we must consider resource limits. We must also consider pollution and other externalities, which lead to market failures. However, this article displays a fundamental misunderstanding of what ‘infinite’ economic growth is. In economics, there is a sharp distinction between the short/medium run and the long run.

    In the short/medium run, growth can result from adding more inputs: labour, capital and resources/energy. However, adding more labour does not increase per capita output, so it is not growth in the proper sense. Adding capital and resources/energy does increase per capita output, so it is proper growth, but in both cases there is an optimum. The optimum is the level that maximises net output, and once it is reached, growth from additional inputs stops. It is not infinite, and economic theory absolutely does not claims that it is.

    Long-run growth is something else entirely. In the long run, economic growth does not come from adding inputs, but rather from technological progress. Technological progress means generating more value from the same inputs. It was essentially nil until the European Renaissance, at which point tiny but steady improvements began accumulating, starting with the Italian city-states. In the 18th century, with the industrial revolution in the UK, technological progress took off and never stopped.

    The misunderstanding discussed above is clearly evident in the following quotation:

    ‘Is the end of growth the end of markets? The end of capitalism? Most definitely not. We will still need competition, we will still want ideas and innovation to flourish and we will want capital allocated as efficiently as possible. Markets are good at all those things.’

    If ‘ideas and innovation […] flourish’, that implies there are still things worth discovering and inventions worth inventing. For these new discoveries and inventions to be worth discovering/inventing, they must produce more value from the same inputs than existing discoveries/inventions. This is precisely technological progress, which is precisely (long-run) economic growth. You cannot have a flourishing of ideas and innovation without (long-run) economic growth, because they are one and the same.

    Will human civilisation ever reach the point where we have discovered everything worth discovering and invented everything worth inventing? Perhaps. Assuming a finite universe, however, this is far from certain. Unless and until it does, economic growth will continue. It may slow down – or speed up – but it will not stop.

    Short- and long-run growth are blurred in the data, because they happen concurrently, so the confusion is understandable.

    For a developing country like China, a very large proportion of total growth comes from increased inputs: more capital, more energy and more workers. Such growth will not continue indefinitely, but when high growth from increased inputs and technological catch-up stops, moderate growth from technological progress will continue. For mature developed countries, which are at the technological frontier, have high labour force participation and low population growth, and have developed capital stocks, the major source of growth is already technological progress.

    The German economy is a good example. Compared with 1990, the German economy in 2009 used 10.5 per cent less energy (and a much larger share of this came from renewable sources), extracted/imported 11.1 per cent less raw materials, emitted 22.4 per cent less CO2 (2008), emitted less of other airborne pollutants and had a nitrogen surplus 30 per cent lower (2008). At the same time, the economy was more than 25 per cent larger, despite very little change in population and lower gross capital formation. The German economy is using less but producing more. This is sustainable growth cause by technological progress, and there is no reason to believe it will stop.

  19. Mikhail Rotakhin

    At the next environmental meeting leaders should commit a portion of army resources to support military enforcement of environmental protection. Non compliance must-be punished by forced closure of non-compliant facilities and operations. Environmental damage is punished by seizure of assets, arrests and imprisonment. Destruction of waterways and habitats should be punished with military level force governed by a multi-national majority vote committee.

  20. Matt Angiono

    Thanks for the great article Paul!
    I think this topic goes much deeper than can be explained concisely, and some of the comments touch on certain important points, but I feel there is still something missing. The sheer abundance that we already have the ability to create is completely neglected in the free market system. There is technology available that could completely replace some if not all of the jobs in the service industry, in manufacturing, etc., and we have the ability to feed all of those starving children if we reconfigure. Creativity is often stifled by free markets, not just by promoting competition, as markets suggest. Anyone that has worked on collaborative projects can understand this, where in markets sharing of ideas and efficiency is discouraged, as leaking beneficial information will hurt your chance at coming out on top.

    Just think if there were no patents or copyrights holding over information that could help us grow as a society. If instead it were available to all of humanity through our global network via the internet. The progression of technology by motivated individuals would be ten fold if education and knowledge were truly being shared. Without a monetary incentive, there is no need to hide technologies that are productive, and scarcity could be dealt with intelligently, instead of with greed. True growth would be inevitable, as there would no longer be a false notion of ‘us’ vs ‘them.’ I have seen the magic of collaboration in many instances, and no longer believe any idea of ‘mine’ isn’t just a new collection or combination of many other great minds that came before. Sustainable innovation could be championed instead of shut down, by competing industries.

    As more jobs become replaced by technological advances and the purchasing power of the middle class disappears, will we do nothing to fix this? Will only the super rich have ‘jobs’ and actually produce things?
    I don’t think so, but I also don’t think we can avoid the coming break down. However, it doesn’t have to mean a depression or war. We can come together to solve these problems, but it cannot be under the motivation of money. That is the true root of the problem and the false sense of value has blinded us into supporting the free market for far too long. It had its place in the past and did its job to create certain motivations in times of scarcity, but we are beyond those limitations, and on to new ones. The planet definitely has finite resources which are the right of all humans to share, and this can only be done by utilizing technology to create a fair and level playing field. The rise of the internet has provided the communication platform to make this possible.

    The younger generation, which I still consider myself part of, has a new awareness of the world, and it is changing much faster than ever in the past (just check out Ray Kurzweil’s work on the implications of this).
    Moore’s Law describes how technology is increasing it efficiency and development at an EXPONENTIAL rate, which means the coming decades with prove most of our current understandings to be inadequate and our concept of scarcity to be largely false.
    The question is how we will chose to deal with all of these things as they develop, and how many people can wake up to the global shift that is occurring. A new paradigm can develop that promotes ingenuity and respects contribution to the betterment of mankind, without a need for false rewards such as money. The collaboration of all minds that are now coming online can create an abundance, and love and happiness will flourish.
    Please look into much more extensive discussions that people have been having about a resource-based economy, or the people joining up through the Zeistgeist Movement (check out free films by Peter Joseph online), and you can quickly become enlightened to some of these new ideas that are being discussed. There is no immediate specific answer, but an open discussion and scientific reasoning can lead to a much happier place for us all! Let’s end the unnecessary divisions of race, religion, gender, and most importantly today, class, and we will soon realize how much more is possible. It will only come from the ground up, starting with all of us and our awareness of a greater connection! It’s time to finish what the civil rights movement started in the 60’s!

  21. Paul this comment is a bit broader than a response to this particular article although I hope it bears on that also. I agree with your overall analysis of the situation we find ourselves in with a couple of substantial exceptions. These lead me to be very much less optimistic about the future than you seem to be.

    Firstly I would love to (but can’t) share your optimism in respect of the message of climate science. My understanding of your position based on your writings is that it is not internally consistent. While you repeatedly acknowledge the significance of the time lag between increased heat retention and temperature rise you seem to give credence to the theorizing of a small number of scientists that when we stop adding greenhouse gases (GHG) to the atmosphere warming will stop! Can both be true? Hansen and others assert that for some decades after we stop pouring these gases into the atmosphere the warming effect will be exacerbated by the removal of the global dimming agents that accompany fossil fuel combustion. My money is unfortunately on Hansen being proved right again.

    Secondly I would love to (but can’t) share your optimism in respect of the role of the market in saving our future. The market is a competitive, profit driven mechanism. Individual or corporate self-interest will always trump the collective good in the workings of the market. This might be OK if the self-interest of entrepreneurs always coincided with collective well-being. It doesn’t. It might be OK if the market was invented from scratch every day and only had to deal with present and future realities.

    Unfortunately the market is always embedded in the past (pre-existing economic, social and political frameworks) and is resistant to change. Market success is accompanied by political power, which is inevitably wielded to preserve the status quo until the impetus to change becomes irresistible. I acknowledge the positive experiences you have had with your engagements with market leaders and captains of industry around the world.

    Nevertheless the global reality is that the power of the market over politicians is very effectively undermining and slowing the action needed to save our skins. You are right when you say that governments are needed to kick start this transformation but the political power of the market means that this is being disastrously delayed.

    Of course the dam will break, and sooner rather than later, and the fears of the population will overwhelm the political power of corporations and drive governments to act. Then, as you say, we will see the rush to change. However it would be (I think) unreasonably optimistic to expect this to happen by 2020 and remember the scientists by and large seem agreed that global greenhouse emissions must have ceased by then. The time lags that characterize this climate conundrum simply mean that action will come too late especially if Hansen’s prediction of enhanced global warming for decades after we stop emitting greenhouse gas, proves correct.

    Finally as the climate crisis comes to a head all manner of other crises (peak oil, food scarcity, water scarcity, financial meltdown) are also intersecting and will work to frustrate action on climate change. Now I know that you understand all of this better than I do but when I work through the reasoning I can find room for hope (we don’t know everything and we are, as you say a remarkably creative species) but unfortunately not room for optimism.

  22. Great post, and great TED talk! Everything kind of clicked for me the other day when I was reading “The Happiness Manifesto” by Nic Marks. While the growth of markets in GDP terms should be curtailed, it doesn’t mean that we can’t continue to grow markets in terms of happiness and meeting people’s needs, and still be in check with our planet’s resources.

  23. arzoo parveen

    scientists around the globe have been crying “wolf” for so many years,while our jungle’s were disappearing,our whales were devastated, our water supplies were being contaminated and our ocean are being use as dump grounds.
    now it’s time to do somethinhg about it .but what can i do?i’m only arzoo or arzoo parveen with no real power.that is no exactly true.if you add one plus one,you get two if you add one to that twon you get three ,if you add one to that three you get four,you see what i mean?if we join together we are a very big number and can make a difference.
    i’ve selected six-10 things we can do to help save our planet before it’s too late.
    1. inflate your tires.
    2. plant a tree.
    3. talk your family about theenviroment.
    4. plant shade their trees near your homes.
    5. water grass early in the morning.
    6. recycle.
    7. walk insteadof drive.
    8 turn down your water heater.
    9. skip the foil and plastic wrap.
    10.use cfc light bulbs.

    you don’t have to do this all the time ,but walking the short trip to a store , or some other short trip like that,can reduce the amount of full you use over long term,and you shed some fat at the same time.
    there r more sugesstios where these came from. i encorage you to start adopting some pof these measures to start saving your planet today. it’s the only planet we have gfot. colonies in mars are a long way off, perhaps we will never get there.
    remember,one plus one makes 2.
    thanku…………….

  24. Another rebuttal to pure free marketers is: limited liability. Limited liability is a case of society saying to investors: we’ll underwrite your losses (protect you from creditors) and in return you invest for the good of society.

    Societal underwriting of losses is socialist in character. A true believer in free markets would not accept limitation of liability – it is wholly inconsistent with his beliefs. But find a free marketeer who would renounce the benefits of limited liability!

    When people complain about “big government”, I think big government is in part a response to “big corporate”. If companies could tone down their ambition and become smaller, then government could be smaller, too. As long as corporations wield immense power, citizens feel they need protection of similar power from government.

    There is a connection: it is partly the mechanism of limited liability which allows corporations to grow so big. Without that protection I think we would see more, smaller companies .. more in tune with their communities.

  25. Chuck Huddleston

    Thank you for continuing to sound the alarm. Technical optimism has it’s place but I suspect, or perhaps hope, that more useful answers will arise through the accelerating collapse of the middle class.

    As necessity demands simplified material arrangements and reduced consumption new, and some historical, solutions will be invented or reintroduced.

    With that major shift, which is happening now, other enthusiasms will emerge, some of which are worth a great deal more than current ideas of what a good life is. Less IS moral and potentially a lot more fun. New forms of housing, new kinds of relationships (more agape?), and kinder expectations of one another can emerge.

    Let’s hope they do because thinking we are going to accommodate nine billion people is just weird.

  26. Len Puglisi

    Dear Paul -a great admirer of ‘The Great Disruption’, including your support for Steady State Economics. I’m frustrated by the absence of any SSE discussion in public mainstream debate in Australia. We have the occasional lone voice like your own, a succinct statement by Dr,.Geoff Mosley in his book of that title, and then, from time to time, various writers will mention de-growth, or like Ted Trainer, ‘The Simpler Way,etc. But these voices are dispersed, and as I say, occasional. Is there any way all these presentations can be pulled together – an Institute/a high profile university faculty/a lead from an environmental group ? Obviously, we need to be thinking about how to make the transition – but when we admit to ourselves that we are in the great disruption, we’ll need to know about how to approach change, and unless we talk about it now, we’ll be economic babes in working through our problems. Do you have any thoughts on my question?

  27. Mike Bolan

    One severe problem appears to be that growth is assumed to mean quantity.

    Why not grow ‘quality’ instead? In that way we could focus on re-use, no requirement for replacement, and delivering lifetime value for the item(s) involved.

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