The Limits of Growth are Still There – We Just Ignore Them

As a global community, we are faced with a fundamental contradiction.

  1. Much of humanity lives in poverty.
  2. To improve the living conditions of humanity takes resources.
  3. We are already using resources at an unsustainable rate

Our entire economic system, the way we measure the health of our economy, requires a constantly increasing Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Increasing GDP requires us to use more and more “stuff”. Be it fuels that we extract, biomass, or minerals economic activity takes resources. Resources build our buildings, give us food, create our toys, and transport us. Modern life requires that we use resources to maintain and improve our standard of living. Economic growth and resource usage have moved together for almost all of history.

But our increasing use of resources are putting strains on our global ecology that many scientists think are unsustainable, and will lead to irreparable harm.

According to a new study published in Lancet, Planetary Health, the wealthiest nations use a wildly disproportionate share of resources

High-income countries, which represent only 16% of the world population, are responsible for 74% of resource use in excess of fair shares and are therefore the primary drivers of global environmental degradation, representing a process of ecological colonisation.18

The study authors say that to bring resource usage down to a sustainable use level, rich countries will have to cut their material footprint by 70%, and frankly, that aint gonna happen.

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