Entries by James Johnston

Normalizing Outbreaks in the Anthropocene: Growth Isn’t the Cure

By James Magnus-Johnston Death rates. Infection rates. Handwashing. Handwringing. May I re-frame the coronavirus conversation? Although the world is currently stunned by the rapid spread of this virus across the globe, we must understand that these kinds of outbreaks are simply going to happen more often in our climate-altered world, and they highlight the fragility […]

Existential Dread: We Need to Talk About our Feelings

By James Magnus-Johnston Just as the smoke disperses from fire-ravaged parts of the world, the specter of ecological breakdown is creeping into humanity’s collective psyche. Whether that manifests as a bit of anxiety or full-on dread of mass extinction, we need to start talking about our feelings. If we don’t, we may avoid rather than […]

Distinguishing Capitalism from Growth

by James Magnus-Johnston Capitalism and growth might have similar connotations, but they have important distinctions, too. “Capitalism” has become a clumsy catch-all for any number of value-laden projections—greed, big business, innovation, accumulation, complexity, workaholism. “Growth,” meanwhile, is a landmine of technical and cultural connotations, and I’ll explore just a couple of them here. Technically speaking, […]

What Kind of Future Does Your Degree Prepare You For?

by James Magnus-Johnston As the fall chill sets into the air and farmers begin to harvest, universities invite another wave of impressionable young minds to think about the future—of society, and of their place in it. But preparation for the future requires us to consider exactly what kind of future we think we’re in for, […]

What About Innovating Beyond the Growth Trap? A Challenge to the Ecofiscal Commission’s Growth Fixation

By James Magnus-Johnston A new voice has emerged recently in Canada called the “Ecofiscal Commission,” which could have the funding, clout, and determination to steer the country in a more promising direction. The group includes high-profile economists, former political leaders, and high-powered financiers. They define “ecofiscal policy” as something that “corrects market price signals to […]

Seismic Political Shifts Reveal Desire for Serious Change

by James Magnus-Johnston If you demonstrate to people that the NDP [New Democratic Party] can win in Alberta, suddenly anything seems possible. —Paul Fairie, University of Calgary political scientist   On the problematic political spectrum, neither the right nor the left have become wholesale champions of the steady state economy. Then again, embracing something perceived as […]