Does Economic Growth Lead to Ecological Ruin?

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The “degrowth” movement argues that the endless appetite for economic growth is destroying the planet. But are its proposals realistic?

  • The idea that economic growth is good is taken as obviously true, and it’s the basis for how we organize our politics and societies across most of the world.
  • But a growing ecological movement is calling the capitalist dogma of unending economic growth into question.
  • Activists in the “degrowth” movement argue that the only way to halt climate catastrophe is to stop the rising consumption that is at the center of our economic model.
  • The notion that we can employ “green growth” technologies to grow while lessening our environmental impact is deluded, they argue; if we want to save the planet, we will have to make do with less.
  • The degrowth idea extends way beyond ecology. The push for endless growth, its advocates say, is making human beings unhappy. A new economic model, they say, would be good for us and the planet.
  • Of course, this idea has sharp critics. Advanced economies, these critics say, have already shown it’s possible to use technology to continue to grow while reducing environmental harm.
Foreign Policy
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5 articles on this topic


Arguing over degrowth

1 min read

A guide to degrowth: The movement prioritizing wellbeing in a bid to avoid climate cataclysm

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The Conversation

Five reasons 'green growth' won’t save the planet

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The “degrowth” movement to fight climate change, explained

17 min read