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George Monbiot: The Impossibility of Growth

POI Editors Note: This piece by environmental writer and The Guardian columnist George Monbiot eloquently sums up our present predicament the converging catastrophes of climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil. Monbiot also looks at why we are unable to deal with, or even discuss its possibility. We thought it worth reproducing in full on the POI website, considering how in India too, now Economic Growth is considered not only desirable and inevitable, but has transcended ideology to almost take on the status of national religion. Do visit the original Guardian web page where its edited version was published, to view readers comments and a discussion provoked by the article.

Its simple. If we cant change our economic system, our numbers up
Its the great taboo of our age – and the inability to discuss the pursuit of perpetual growth will prove humanitys undoing

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 28th May 2014

Let us imagine that in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled one cubic metre. Let us propose that these possessions grew by 4.5% a year. How big would that stash have been by the Battle of Actium in 30BC? This is the calculation performed by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham(1).

Go on, take a guess. Ten times the size of the pyramids? All the sand in the Sahara? The Atlantic ocean? The volume of the planet? A little more? It’s 2.5 billion billion solar systems(2). It does not take you long, pondering this outcome, to reach the paradoxical position that salvation lies in collapse. Read more…

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