The "degrowth" is a concept raised in the 1970s by the Romanian-American
economist Georgescu-Roegen. The economic system, seeking a steady increase
in its material wealth, reduces the natural capital of the World. As this
capital is limited, logically, growth leads to the bankrupt by natural
resource depletion or accumulation of pollutants at a level such that
the biosphere can no longer absorb them. The traditional answer is that
technological advances can prevent these risks by continuous improvement
of the efficiency of raw material use and by substitution of old materials
with new ones.
Except that, with "rebound effect", improvement of industrial
processes in terms of eco-efficiency, paradoxically, results by an increased
material consumption. Indeed, lower cost allowed by this improvement generates
additional income available for new consumption that are transferred to
other products or services. For example, gains on energy savings can be
used to travel more. "
According to Serge Latouche "to save the planet and ensure acceptable
future for our children, we must not only moderate the current trends,
we must straight give up development and economism."
This degrowth would have to be "sustainable", that is to say
it would not generate social crisis challenging democracy and humanism.
Indeed, a sharp reduction in consumption would create a significant reduction
in overall demand, and thus an increase in unemployment and social unrest.
The key is therefore in a different distribution of preferences, so that
consumers choose immaterial wealth based on human relations rather than
material products being harmful to the environment. The material degrowth
will be social relational and spiritual growth or it won't be.
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