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“I Know You’re Malthusian, But What Am I?”

by John Mirisch

Times are evidently rough for our natalist, growthmaniac friends.

More people than ever are questioning their agenda of increasing the planet’s population beyond the current 8 billion people (double the level of less than fifty years ago) in the name of “progress” and profit. Yet the growthmaniacs’ only response to anyone who links human population and ecological overshoot is to scream “Malthus!” at the top of their lungs (although some Marvel fanboy growthmaniacs have been known to respond “Thanos!” instead).

A Steady State Sustains All Boats

by Gregory M. Mikkelson

An important recent article on resource use and its environmental impacts starts from the premise that “the planet’s resources and ecosystems are a commons, and… all people are entitled to an equal, sustainable share.” Alas, the world today deviates wildly from this norm. Indeed, inequality—of resource use, but also of income and wealth—is extremely high today and is actually worsened by economic growth. What’s more, it is bad for our politics,

Even AI Understands Limits to Growth

by Cole Thompson

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is attracting great attention as working AI systems become accessible to the public. The AI claim is that it can digest the mass of knowledge that humanity has made public, then perform cognitive tasks with that knowledge or answer questions with speed and accuracy. This has many implications, some potentially worrisome. But when AI works well, it can serve up some interesting “truths.”

While AI does not generate authoritative or definitive information—you wouldn’t bet your savings on its output—my sense is that its findings often deserve a hearing.

A “Final Warning” on Climate

by Gary Gardner

Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued what Greenpeace International called the “final warning” in the global effort to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. After three decades of increasingly insistent wake-up calls, the Panel laid out the sobering reality: Meeting the temperature goal set by the global community in 2015 is impossible without an immediate response, “a quantum leap in climate action,” in the words of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Lesson from a Failed Bank: Only One Real Start-Up

by Brian Czech

Banks are macroeconomic mirrors. They reflect the activity of the real economy. If the economy is growing, so are the banks, starting with the Federal Reserve and its regional banks, all the way out to tiny First Michigan Bank, Oakwood Bank (the smallest bank in bank-laden Texas), and the patriotically named Citizens Bank of Americus (Georgia).

Not only do the banks,

Bulldozing the Planet

by Gregory M. Mikkelson

Just as it does for a certain “old man on a green bike,” my commitment to car-free travel often drives me to greater levels of exercise, and more vivid experiences of nature, than one would get behind the wheel of a car. Unfortunately, economic growth has progressively degraded one such experience. Trips to my partner’s lake cottage begin with a commuter train in Montréal and end with an hour-long walk on a dirt road through the countryside.

Degrowth in a Green-Growth World

by Rosalie Bull

I’m having an ongoing conversation with a friend about the merits and drawbacks of degrowth as a climate action strategy. She is easily the most astute climate thinker I know, with insights available only to those deeply immersed in the nuances of climate finance and decarbonization. She’s wary of the degrowth movement, as are many prominent players in the climate transition. She views it as an unhelpful distraction from humanity’s efforts to grapple with the climate crisis.

Happiness Matters, Even in a Steady State Economy! Part 2: Flourishing Life

by Orsolya Lelkes

Happiness matters. The quest for happiness is an elementary life force and an inherent part of steady state economies. Many fear that reducing material consumption will bring a decline in happiness. We do not like to lose what we already have. Recession and income loss tend to hurt.

On the other hand, voluntary adjustment of priorities in life may boost well-being, as a simpler life might deliver more of what many are missing: health,

Happiness Matters, Even in a Steady State Economy! Part 1: Sustainable Hedonism

by Orsolya Lelkes

From a historical perspective, we should be living in the happiest of all worlds. Ours is a culture ostensibly centered around happiness: The mainstream neoclassical economic system aims to maximize pleasure (utility) for all, and is based on the assumption that we humans seek the greatest pleasure and the least pain, and that this quest is the main driver of our actions.

Happiness has also been a philosophical,

Economic Growth is Bad for Your Breath(s)

by Gregory M. Mikkelson

Several years ago, some university students invited me to debate a hard-core mainstream economics professor on the topic of divestment from fossil fuel. Sadly but predictably, the economist lauded the fossil fuel industry for its role in boosting economic growth. At one point, he cited India as an example of how wonderful such growth is for people.

The moderator, from India himself, felt compelled to step in,