The interest on “The Limit to Growth” is returning. 50 years after that a vicious denigration campaign had consigned the report to the trash can of wrong science, we see the study resurfacing, reappraised, reviewed, being discussed again.
And we are realizing that the study had been correct and that today is still relevant for us. It was never intended as a prophecy of doom, but its true message was drowned in a sea of irrelevant criticism, political slander, and plain insults that prefigured the current way of dealing with “science” in the media.
The latest evidence of this new interest in the “Limits to Growth” is the interview with the vice-president of the Club of Rome, Carlos Alvarez Pereira, that recently appeared on “Wired”.
Fundamentally, it is about equity, managing the resources in an equitable way, knowing in advance that they’re limited. Realizing that it’s not higher and higher consumption which makes us live in a good way, have a healthy life and well-being. It’s the quality of our relationships with other humans, with nature, that makes possible the scenarios in which you can decouple well-being and the growth of consumption.
We have to be in a good balance with the planet where we live. And that part of the message was completely lost, very rapidly. Jimmy Carter, when he was president, was listening to this kind of approach. And then of course, the political mood changed a lot with the rise of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Reagan himself has a discourse in which he says, literally, there are no limits to growth. So from a political point of view, there was a complete denial of what the book was saying.
What the system has done, as a mechanism to continue with growth at all costs, is actually to burn the future. And the future is the least renewable resource. There is no way that we can reuse the time we had when we started this conversation. And by building up a system which is more debt-driven—where we keep consumption going, but by creating more and more debt—what we’re actually doing is burning or stealing the time of people in the future. Because their time will be devoted to repaying the debt.
The paradox is that capitalism is also based on the notion of scarcity. Our system is organized around the idea that resources are scarce, then we have to pay for them, and people in the value chain will profit from this idea of scarcity. Conventional capitalism is saying that while these resources might be finite, we will find others: Don’t worry, technology will save us. So that we continue in the same way.
Originally appeared on The Seneca Effect Read More