Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Prosperity without Growth

I have been gone awhile, mostly doing optimistic things; like setting in gardens and starting up a new business venture. During that time lots of awful things have been happening to make one a little less optimistic for the future. (Oil spill, tornados, earthquakes, foreclosures) However there is one thing I am certain of: The future is always better than the past.

Human beings are pretty resilient; the future will bring the answer to our most complex questions.

To build consensus and begin to solve some of our non sustainability issues, an essentail questions is: “How can we have prosperity without growth”.

One of the sides in the U.S. political debate is focused on growth of consumption as the only way to create wealth. Those folks are well know for their mantra “Drill baby drill” and selected ignorance of the causes for global climate change.

For individuals, who use science as a rational guide to making decisions, it is clear: we are over accelerating the consumption of scarce resources in an accelerating way. The world wide economic slow down may be a good interlude to think about what we are doing to our grandchildren. The oil spill (certainly human caused) in the Gulf of Mexico just might be the unifying call to stop and think and maybe reset.

We can have prosperity without growth, but several things must happen, among them:

  1. Have an honest and generous discussion about economic social justice issues.
  2. Reset to a fully “green” economy, without fossil fuels.
  3. Accept some reallocation of wealth from the very very rich to jump start a “green economy” (This cannot be done on the back of the least among us)

Being a loaves and fishes sort of person (see my post January 18, 2010, “Giving your home away……”), I don’t see any downside for the haves vs the have not’s. When wealth is created it always favors the wealthy.

My advice for everyone in the United States, focus on our future and make the personal and political changes that favor our grandchildren. If we continue to bicker, we will bicker away any possibility that the 21st Century will be good for Americans.