Creating global prosperity without economic growth

Starting Positions

This list represents Post Growth Institute’s “Starting Positions,” the facts and opinions that are the basis for our organization.

 

1: All people can live one-planet lifestyles in ways that bring increased peace and prosperity from the personal to the global scale

There are a myriad of inspiring and empowering initiatives occurring worldwide that serve as examples of what our world can look like if we move beyond current trends that focus on personal gain, private profit, materialism and economic growth. By highlighting, connecting and supporting these initiatives we can help accelerate our global transition towards sustainable and resilient prosperity.

2. One-planet lifestyles acknowledge physical limits to economic growth on a planet with finite resources

Economies exist within the physical environment. Their existence relies upon the continued use of natural resources like water, forests and agricultural land. These natural resources are either non-renewable (limited in total amount) or are produced at a rate that is limited by the environment’s ability to regenerate them. The other side of this is nature’s ability to absorb the wastes that we produce.  If economies produce waste faster than nature can absorb that waste, we undermine the planet’s ability to sustain human existence.

We are already using natural resources at a rate higher than that at which they are naturally renewed and creating wastes faster than nature can absorb them (known as ecological overshoot).  Continued economic growth will only worsen this predicament. One-planet living acknowledges that we can, and must, mould our economies to fit within the limits imposed by our physical environment.

3. One-planet lifestyles acknowledge the pressures a growing human population, with highly inequitable patterns of production and consumption, place on a planet with finite physical resources.

Every human on Earth must consume natural resources to live.  If we are to survive and thrive into the future, we must together consume within natural boundaries and produce less waste than nature can absorb. Some of us are consuming far more than our fair share of resources and producing excessive waste, while the total population is growing. We need to address inequalities and find ways to maintain a better balance.

4. One-planet lifestyles also acknowledge that advances in technology do not mean we can keep growing indefinitely

Technology cannot create something from nothing. For example, technology can’t change the fact that there is a limited amount of oil; it can only squeeze a little more use from existing reserves. In a world with more people and higher rates of consumption, increases in technological efficiency can, at best, buy us more time before such gains are cancelled out by further growth.

Globally, improvements in the efficiency of technologies, or even leaps to other substitutes, have not been able to offset overall increases in resource consumption and waste.  In fact, these improvements in efficiency have, in many cases, driven more wasteful attitudes and increased overall consumption (see “Jevons Paradox”).  Rather than relying on technology alone, we must challenge the obsession with infinite growth on a finite planet.

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