This article is really entitled the End of Growth, but it really should be labeled “The End”, because this is what it means, the end of everything we know in the modern world.
(Energy Bulletin) — Several of us who have been watching the world oil production and depletion picture closely for the last few years are now concluding that the world has now seen the highest rate of production ever. Matt Simmons agrees: It’s all downhill from here.
The worldwide financial crisis, and the decline in available energy, mean that we may also have seen the final year of aggregate world economic growth.
This is a breathtaking statement. I found myself uttering it yesterday at a strategy meeting of some environmental and economic justice organizations organized by the International Forum on Globalization; I surprised even myself, and immediately began wondering whether what I had said could possibly by true.
What this really means is that it is all downhill from here, any achievements from here are going to be temporary (a good thing in reality) and contraction is going to occur on a global scale (another good thing). Unending expansion is definitely not in anyone’s best interest.
If so, there will be an ocean of consequences. For those in the tiny universe of environmental NGOs, one of the consequences is this: The time for arguing against economic growth may be over. Yes, everyone who understands our human impact on the environment, and the disastrous implications of our economic growth imperative, knows that it is absolutely essential that the world find an alternative to growth; that instead, the human economy must contract to a point that it no longer threatens the viability of ecosystems. This is the essence of sustainability.
I already know what this is and so do many of you. Abandon this economic model entirely. Abandon capitalism. Abandon cities, industry and modern agriculture. There were people who lived on this planet for tens of thousands of years in far more sustainable lifestyles that anybody is considering today.
Not to worry though. It will happen anyway, but only after we dredge the last barrel of oil shale fueling our stupid wars and hatred.