Debate: Should GNP growth no longer be a goal in advanced economies? – Phase 2
from Edward Fullbrook
Climate scientists are divided over whether “the tipping point”, the point at which positive feedbacks make climate change accelerate and irreversible, thereby endangering the survival of the human species, has been reached. But the pessimists do not claim to know for sure and so agree that humankind should act to diminish the possibility of civilization’s point of no return ever being passed. True, some elements of the general public do not regard the possibility of future generations beyond the next one or two as a matter of much importance. But people idealistically inclined do.
The first phase of this debate [here] became centred on avoiding or coping with a falling rate of profit. To me this seems analogous to tending to a leaky tap when the house is on fire. Given that the planet is finite, success or failure at avoiding the tipping point depends on the scale of the global economy, and that mainly on the scale of advanced economies. Few climate scientists dispute that the present scale with present technology is unsustainable. Meanwhile the World Bank forecasts that by the end of the century global economic output will have risen almost tenfold. There is a problem here. For idealists it is an immeasurably bigger problem than the rate of profit. Shouldn’t economists, and not just specialists, be thinking about it? As Geoff Davies points out, it will require a change of world view. Like Davies, I believe that such a change is possible. But time is short and it will take much work, much agonizing, much debate.