Monday, September 7, 2009

Steady-State Economy and Population

A movement has been quietly gaining momentum. More and more people are recognizing that a continuously growing economy is no longer feasible in this finite world. The worldwide economy has grown so immense that we are now pushing against the very boundaries of nature. Peak oil, depleting fisheries, water shortages and food riots are wake-up calls. It’s insanity, suicide, to proceed like this.

Last week, Professor Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and one of the most distinguished and respected biologists in the world, joined an elite and respected group of thinkers in signing the position on economic growth developed by the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy. The statement points out the conflict between economic growth and environmental protection and proposes a steady state economy as an alternative. A steady-state economy aims for stability in population and consumption of energy and materials -- it is a truly green economy that meets people's needs without undermining the life-support systems of the planet.

Other distinguished scientists who share this view include David Suzuki (biology, media), Herman Daly (economics), Vandana Shiva (agriculture), Wendell Berry (agriculture), Chris Matthews (media), and Douglas Tompkins (business). These individuals believe that a steady-state economy is necessary to conserve planetary resources and ensure well being for future generations.

A vital and necessary part of a steady-state economy is a steady-state population. The former is not possible without the latter; it’s impossible. So we have some of the world’s most intelligent people advocating a steady-state population. Yet politicians, religious leaders and many others pay no heed. The topic of population, crucial as it is, is not even on the agenda. If we want to save the future, it’s time we paid heed.