Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Elusive Steady State

The other day I stumbled upon the web site of a neat organization, one that has put its finger on what is going wrong with this crazy world. The Centre for the Advancement of a Steady-State Economy (CASSE;, a non-profit organization of natural scientists and ecological economists, makes compelling arguments that the current financial crisis has been caused by excessive growth in the economy, and that the current meltdown is a method of "correcting" the situation. CASSE states that continued economic growth not only harms the environment but also threatens national security and international stability. We need, they urge, to move toward a better non-growing (i.e., steady-state) economy. In a world of fast-depleting resources and increasing pollution, these words are rapidly becoming more meaningful.
A quiet corollary that is frequently overlooked, however, is that it is impossible to bring the economy into equilibrium if the population is constantly growing. A necessary requirement for a steady-state economy is a steady-state population.
I strongly feel that both a steady-state economy and a population in equilibrium are necessary of we want a sustainable planet.

1 comment:

Chip Barnes said...

Exactly! You are correct, and until we pressure our leaders to address this critical issue our numbers will continue to grow, as will the adverse impact such growth inevitably has on the biosphere.

If we don't change our man-made laws, the broader laws of nature will bring our population under control. While the former will be awkward and difficult, the latter will involve war, pestilence, disease and starvation. I'll take order over chaos any day!