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I think the political problem is that you can't jettison the word "growth" even though what people want from it is not what economists (and others) define it to be.

Largely, what we all want is life to get better.
In human terms, in individuals terms, the word "growth" is part of that.

The question is: can we have better lives, less pointless suffering, less inequality distress, etc. and "save the planet"?

I'd say that's more possible than "save the planet and keep GDP growing."

But in ordinary discussion, better lives is what people mean around the word growth...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Apr 22nd, 2014 at 10:25:27 AM EST
I think the political problem is that you can't jettison the word "growth" even though what people want from it is not what economists (and others) define it to be.

Largely, what we all want is life to get better.
In human terms, in individuals terms, the word "growth" is part of that.

So, what people mean when they say "growth" is "welfare", but "welfare" (which was part of the well-respected "welfare economics" decades ago) is now a term of abuse...

Farewell...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 22nd, 2014 at 10:28:19 AM EST
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The problem is that one needs quite a lot of sophisticated cultural baggage to get past the basic idea that "more stuff = better life". Even in our wealthy societies where that is manifestly not the case for a majority of people. The young will save us : those who have grown up with scarcity of work and money but have the cultural baggage to put it into perspective, are often philosophically attuned to the idea of having a rich life which is poor in material stuff.

But with respect to places where people are doing subsistence agriculture without access to labour-saving devices, "more stuff = better life" is manifestly true. And where periurban dwellers don't have access to safe water and basic sanitation, same again.

So I have a lot of sympathy for the idea that to achieve an ecological transition, a society has to be mature and ready. As with the demographic transition, Sweden is at the forefront. That means there's hope for the rest of us.

As with the demographic transition, China will probably short-circuit the process by the application of brute force. That will give an alternative model, philosophically less attractive.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Apr 23rd, 2014 at 03:42:33 AM EST
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