George Monbiot: “The Dangers of Continued Growth Now Demand a New Economic System. ASAP.”


Richard Clark

Let us imagine that in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled just one cubic meter. Let us then propose that these possessions grew in amount by 4.5% a year. How big would that stash have been by the Battle of Actium in 30BC? This is the calculation performed by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham.

Go on, take a guess. The size of the pyramids? Ten times the size of the pyramids? All the sand in the Sahara? The Atlantic ocean? The volume of the planet? Perhaps even a little more?

The actual answer: 2.5 billion billion solar systems. Impossible you say? You doubt the abilities or the intellectual integrity of investment banker Grantham? Then do the math yourself. He’s made no mistake. (Link).

And once you’ve accepted that fact, it should not take you long, pondering this outcome, to reach the paradoxical conclusion that in that particular kind of ‘salvation’ (i.e. continued economic growth, at 4.5% a year ), lies inevitable economic and societal collapse.

Therefore, to ‘succeed’ in this way is to destroy ourselves. And yet to fail at the tasks we’ve perversely set out for ourselves, is also to destroy ourselves, if only in a different way. (If we don’t maintain a certain amount of production (of whatever), we can’t create nearly enough jobs to keep sufficient numbers of people employed — at least not the way the economy is currently arranged. Translation: Computers and automation are doing ever more of the work, so unless we reduce the length of the work day, work week, and/or work year, ever more people are going to fall into long term unemployment and poverty. The only alternative to this is steadily ramped-up consumption, and this, as we’ve shown, cannot end well!)

Read more