Economic growth stands as the most important fixation of modern society. It is the goal of all policy at the state level, and the level of the corporation, the enterprise, the small business, all the way down to the individual who is raised and taught to be goal-oriented and that success is both material and quantifiable.
The whole machinery of modern society is built on growth, which was only possible due to the pillaging of other peoples, other territories, and other ways of knowing and of being. Economic growth came to be defined as 'progress' and imposed on the rest of the world as the best, most advanced societal model all nations, all peoples, all lands, must pursue at any cost.
For a historic overview of how the notion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth came about please see Giorgos Kallis et al., "Origins of the Growth Paradigm", Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 2018, Matthias Schmelzer's The Hegemony of Growth: The OECD and the Making of the Economic Growth Paradigm, 2016, and Gail Tverberg's "Economic growth: How it works; how it fails; why wealth disparity occurs".
GROWTH AND COLONIALISM
by Jason Hickel, The Guardian, 2015
What are reparations and why are they important? This article answers those questions unambiguously while sketching out the economic impacts of colonisation on the Global South.
by Sven Beckert, The Atlantic, 2014
A historical view of capitalism's rise viewed through the lens of cottton production, exposing the realities of slavery, expropriation, and colonialism inherent to the history of capitalism. A book by the same author and title is also recommended for further reading.
by Shashi Tharoor MP, 2015
A hugely successful talk (with over 6million views) given at the Oxford Student Union arguing that England benefited from colonising India while India did not, and why reparations for this are due.
by Jason Hickel, American Affairs Journal, 2017
This article looks at how the notion of 'development' arose in 1949 and whom it really benefits.
by Malcom Ferdinand, Green European Journal, 2020
For Malcom Ferdinand, environmental destruction is inseparable from relationships of racial and colonial domination. It stems from the way we inhabit Earth, from our sense of entitlement in appropriating the planet. All of which means we must recast the past.
GROWTH OR LIFE?
Every day, we are told that global economic growth will save us. But think about it: How is it possible to have infinite growth on a finite planet? This short no-nonsense video by The Rules lays it out.
GROWTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
by Gaya Herrington, 2021
A remarkable new study by a director at one of the largest accounting firms in the world finds that the famous, decades-old warning from MIT about the risk of industrial civilization collapsing (see The Limits to Growth below) appears to be accurate based on new empirical data.
by William F Lamb et al., 2021
A synthesis explaining recent trends in global and regional emissions in five economic sectors: energy, industry, buildings, transport and AFOLU (agriculture, forestry and other land uses). Overall, the literature and data emphasise that progress towards reducing GHG emissions has been limited. The prominent global pattern is a continuation of underlying drivers with few signs of emerging limits to demand, nor of a deep shift towards the delivery of low and zero carbon services across sectors.
IPCC-IPBES sponsored report, 2021
In-depth look at the emerging state of knowledge involving climate change and biodiversity. Conclusion: "to put society on the pathway to transformative change will depend on appropriate attention to and planning of climate and biodiversity resilient pathways that allow for different ways of measuring societal progress; on better tools for multi-sectoral scenario planning and modelling that acknowledge different visions of a good life and possible futures for nature and climate; and on a remade science– practice relationship."
Report by the European Environment Agency, 2021
Economic growth is closely linked to increases in production, consumption and resource use and has detrimental effects on the natural environment and human health. It is unlikely that a long-lasting, absolute decoupling of economic growth from environmental pressures and impacts can be achieved at the global scale; therefore, societies need to rethink what is meant by growth and progress and their meaning for global sustainability.Economic growth is closely linked to increases in production, consumption and resource use and has detrimental effects on the natural environment and human health. It is unlikely that a long-lasting, absolute decoupling of economic growth from environmental pressures and impacts can be achieved at the global scale; therefore, societies need to rethink what is meant by growth and progress and their meaning for global sustainability.
Report by the Institute for Ecological Economy Research, 2021
The report discusses the possibility that economic systems can be shaped by various reform proposals in such a way that they would be less dependent on economic growth. The authors outline the core elements of their proposal for such a precautionary post-growth approach.
The Limits to Growth was a groundbreaking study that modeled the dynamics of our human presence on the planet. The team behind it, led by Donella and Dennis Meadows, found that continuing with a “business as usual” growth model would likely lead to environmental and economic collapse within a century. At the time, their discoveries sparked huge controversy among scientists, scholars, and the general public. In the decades since, those discoveries have been supported by patterns of growth, environmental health, and resource use.
Although there is scarcely any doubt as to the validity of the ‘Limits to Growth’ study and its 1992 successor, "Beyond the Limits," governments worldwide have done very little to solve the major problems. Topics such as overpopulation, environmental pollution, depletion of resources, and consumption are now familiar to everyone, but few people are aware of the impact they can have in the context of exponential growth on Earth, and therefore on all of humanity. This documentary sheds light on the effect the work has had on public perceptions in the past four decades.
by Iago Otero et al., Conservation Letters, 2020
This article gives an in-depth look at the increasing evidence showing that economic growth contributes to biodiversity loss via greater resource consumption and higher emissions. Nonetheless, a review of international biodiversity and sustainability policies shows that the majority advocate economic growth. Since improvements in resource use efficiency have so far not allowed for absolute global reductions in resource use and pollution, we question the support for economic growth in these policies, where inadequate attention is paid to the question of how growth can be decoupled from biodiversity loss.
with Gareth Dale, Political Ecology for the End Times, podcast, 2019
A new podcast interviewing Gareth Dale, senior lecturer at Brunel, University of London. The topics discussed are capitalist time vs. ecological time, catastrophism and civilisation collapse, ideologies of economic growth, green growth, socialist techno-utopianism, degrowth, and the Green New Deal.
FROM METABOLIC RIFT TO “METABOLIC VALUE”: REFLECTIONS ON ENVIRONMENTAL SOCIOLOGY AND THE ALTERNATIVE GLOBALIZATION MOVEMENT
by Ariel Salleh, Organisation and Environment, 2010
This academic essay explores civil society responses to the environmental crisis with an outline of how capitalist production undermines its own social metabolism, a “metabolic rift,” that is maintained by the ideological separation of ecology and economics, and the outline of an emerging “other” sphere of labor and value centering on reproduction of the humanity–nature metabolism by those whose labor is marginalized by capital—unpaid caregivers, peasants, and indigenous gatherers.
by Jason Hickel, The Lancet, 2020
This analysis proposes a novel method for quantifying national responsibility for damages related to climate change by looking at national contributions to cumulative CO2 emissions in excess of the planetary boundary of 350 ppm atmospheric CO2 concentration. This approach is rooted in the principle of equal per capita access to atmospheric commons. It finds that the Global North was responsible for 92% of excess global CO2 emissions. By contrast, most countries in the Global South were within their boundary fair shares, including India and China (although China will overshoot soon).
WHO KILLED ECONOMIC GROWTH?
A short animated video by the Post Carbon Institute giving a history of economic growth and where it is headed.
GROWTH AND PATRIARCHY
by Nancy Frazer, Dissent, 2016
An interview with leading feminist scholar Nancy Fraser defining certain key terms crucial to understanding how economic growth relies on a gendered division of labour which counts social reproductive work as unpaid care work.
by Ana Isla, Capitalism Nature Socialism, 2018
An academic article that outlines the historical process of enclosure and housewifization as the backdrop to Green Growth theory and how this operates in practise using the case of Canada and Costa Rica.
by Silvia Federici, 2004
Caliban and the Witch is a landmark book providing a history of the body in the transition to capitalism. Moving from the peasant revolts of the late Middle Ages to the witch-hunts and the rise of mechanical philosophy, Federici investigates the capitalist rationalization of social reproduction. She shows how the battle against the rebel body and the conflict between body and mind are essential conditions for the development of labor power and self-ownership, two central principles of modern social organization.
by Christa Wichterich, 2015
A chapter from Practising Feminist Political Ecologies, this is an in-depth look at how green growth and development discourses post-2007 serve to commodify gender equality (as well as the environment) and how degrowth and post-growth debates influence (though are not core to) the search for good living, secured livelihoods and the ‘sustainability of life’ with a double focus on interdependencies between people and between people and ecosystems.
by Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva, 1993
Should women see a relationship between patriarchal oppression and the destruction of Nature in the name of profit and progress? How can they counter the violence inherent in these processes? Should they look to a link between the women's movement and other social movements? The authors offer an analysis of such issues from a unique North-South perspective. They critique prevailing economic theories, conventional concepts of women's emancipation, the myth of 'catching up' development, the philosophical foundations of modern science and technology, and the omission of ethics when discussing so many questions including advances in reproductive technology. In constructing their own ecofeminist epistemology and methodology, they look at movements advocating consumer liberation, subsistence production and sustainability, and argue for an acceptance of limits and reciprocity and the endless commoditification of needs. A book as relevant today as when it was first published.