Managed Degrowth

Guest Post by Dr Mike Joy

Economic growth driven by fossil fuels (black growth) has resulted in massive ecological devastation. ‘Green growth’ just replaces fossil fuels with renewable energy and traps us in this spiral of environmental damage.

All growth requires more consumption, which requires mining more non-renewable materials and more energy, which is unsustainable. To decarbonise, managed degrowth is our only good option.

Only 13% of global energy consumption comes from renewables. Renewable electricity could soon overtake coal generated electricity, but electricity is only 20% of total energy use.

Replacing fossil energy with renewable energy requires much more land to produce the same amount of energy. For example, the UK would require its entire landmass and Singapore would need an area of 60 Singapores.

What’s more, global energy consumption is increasing faster than we are adding renewable generation. So, if we fixate on replacing fossil fuels with renewables and don’t reduce consumption and waste, we’ll simply swap one race to destruction with another.

Maintaining industrial civilisation is the real cause of our climate crisis and all other environmental problems. ‘Green growth’ attempting to maintain life as usual will destroy the life-supporting capacity of our planet.

Traditionally, environmentalists tried to protect water, rainforests, and endangered animals. In NZ, the ‘green’ movement had its roots in the Save Manapouri campaign, fighting to save ancient native forests from a hydro dam.

Now, environmentalism is usually taken to mean reducing carbon emissions, with the goal being to reach net zero carbon by 2050 – seemingly at any cost. The word “net” is based on a delusion and avoids the need to reduce our energy consumption and protect our environment.

We must somehow stop this obsession with growth and instead consume less and waste less, or we will destroy our life-sustaining systems. True environmentalism protects those systems — rather than just maintaining our industrial way of life, but without carbon emissions.

Degrowth is inevitable – the choice is ours: managed or a train wreck.

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