(p. B9) . . . , Peter Victor of York University in Canada published a study titled “Growth, degrowth and climate change: A scenario analysis,” in which he compared Canadian carbon emissions under three economic paths to the year 2035.
Limiting growth to zero, he found, had a modest impact on carbon spewed into the air. Only the “de-growth” situation — in which Canadians’ income per person shrank to its level in 1976 and the average working hours of employed Canadians declined by 75 percent — managed to slash emissions in a big way.
. . .
Let’s examine what our fossil-fueled growth has provided us. It has delivered gains in living standards in even the poorest regions of the world.
But that’s only the beginning. Economic development was indispensable to end slavery. It was a critical precondition for the empowerment of women.
Indeed, democracy would not have survived without it. As Martin Wolf, the Financial Times commentator has noted, the option for everybody to become better off — where one person’s gain needn’t require another’s loss — was critical for the development and spread of the consensual politics that underpin democratic rule.
Zero growth gave us Genghis Khan and the Middle Ages, conquest and subjugation. It fostered an order in which the only mechanism to get ahead was to plunder one’s neighbor. Economic growth opened up a much better alternative: trade.
The Oxford economist Max Roser has some revealing charts that show the deadliness of war across the ages. It was a real killer in the era of no growth. Up to half of all deaths among hunter-gatherers, horticulturalists and other ancient cultures were caused by conflict.
. . .
Naomi Klein, a champion of the leftward fringe newly converted to the environmental cause, gleefully proposes climate change as an opportunity to put an end to capitalism. Were she right, I doubt it would bring about the workers’ utopia she appears to yearn for. In a world economy that does not grow, the powerless and vulnerable are the most likely to lose. Imagine “Blade Runner,” “Mad Max” and “The Hunger Games” brought to real life.
For the full commentary, see:
Porter, Eduardo. “Economic Scene; No Growth, No World? Think About It.” The New York Times (Weds., DEC. 2, 2015): B1 & B9.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date DEC. 1, 2015, and has the title “Economic Scene; Imagining a World Without Growth.”)
The Victor paper mentioned above, is:
Victor, Peter A. “Growth, Degrowth and Climate Change: A Scenario Analysis.” Ecological Economics 84, no. 1 (Dec. 2012): 206-12.
The Roser charts, mentioned above, can be found at:
Roser, Max. Ethnographic and Archaeological Evidence on Violent Deaths 2015 [accessed Fri., Jan. 22, 2016]. Available from http://ourworldindata.org/data/violence-rights/ethnographic-and-archaeological-evidence-on-violent-deaths/.
The Klein book seeking to end capitalism, is:
Klein, Naomi. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The (sic) Climate. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014.