degrowth

Degrowth is a political, economic, and social movement based on ecological economics, anti-consumerist and anti-capitalist ideas. Degrowth thinkers and activists advocate for the downscaling of production and consumption—the contraction of economies—as overconsumption lies at the root of long term environmental issues and social inequalities. Key to the concept of degrowth is that reducing consumption does not require individual martyring and a decrease in well-being. Rather, ‘degrowthists’ aim to maximize happiness and well-being through non-consumptive means—sharing work, consuming less, while devoting more time to art, music, family, culture and community.

Not only will there be a wider gap between the places with the highest and lowest technology, there will also be a wider gap between the highest and lowest technology used by an average person. Already there are African villagers with cell phones. In 20 years you may be living with a group of friends in an abandoned suburb, burning scrap wood for heat, growing open-source genetically modified sweet potatoes, and selling brain time to the dataswarm to gain credits for surgery to install a neuro-optical interface so you can swap out custom eyeballs.
—  The Future Will Not Be Like The Past - Ran Prieur
Degrowth

Degrowth thinkers and activists advocate for the downscaling of production and consumption—the contraction of economies—as overconsumption lies at the root of long term environmental issues and social inequalities.

‘degrowthists’ aim to maximize happiness and well-being through non-consumptive means—sharing work, consuming less, while devoting more time to art, music, family, culture and community.

Degrowth opposes sustainable development because, while sustainable development aims to address environmental concerns, it does so with the goal of promoting economic growth which has failed to improve the lives of people and inevitably leads to environmental degradation.

Resource depletion

As economies grow, the need for resources grows accordingly.

There is a fixed supply of non-renewable resources, such as petroleum (oil), and these resources will inevitably be depleted.

Renewable resources can also be depleted if extracted at unsustainable rates over extended periods.

Many people look to technology to develop replacements for depleted resources. [and to increase resource efficiency]

Proponents of degrowth argue that decreasing demand is the only way of permanently closing the demand gap.

Ecological footprint

It compares human demand with planet Earth’s ecological capacity to regenerate.

It represents the amount of biologically productive land and sea area needed to regenerate the resources a human population consumes and to absorb and render harmless the corresponding waste.

According to a 2005 Global Footprint Network report:, inhabitants of high-income countries live off of 6.4 global hectares (gHa), while those from low-income countries live off of a single gHa.

In order for world economic equality to be achieved with the current available resources, rich countries would have to reduce their standard of living through degrowth.

The eventual reduction of all available resources would lead to a forced reduction in consumption. Controlled reduction of consumption would reduce the trauma of this change.

“The Rebound Effect”

Technologies designed to reduce resource use and improve efficiency are often touted as sustainable or green solutions. However, degrowth opposes these technological advances on the ground of what is referred to as the “rebound effect” This concept is based on observations that when less resource-exhaustive technology are introduced, behaviour surrounding the use of that technology will change and consumption of that technology will increase and offset any potential resource savings. In light of the rebound effect, proponents of degrowth hold that the only effective 'sustainable’ solutions must involve a complete rejection of the growth paradigm and a move toward a degrowth paradigm.

Origins of the movement

The contemporary degrowth movement can trace its roots back to the anti-industrialist trends of the 19th century, developed in Great Britain by John Ruskin, William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement (1819–1900), in the United States by Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), and in Russia by Leo Tolstoy (1828–1911).

Criticisms

Supporters of economic liberalism believe that economic growth brings about the creation of wealth, by increasing employment, improving quality of life, and providing better education and healthcare, in other words, there should be more resources in order to make and improve on more things. From this point of view, degrowth constitutes economic recession and is a destroyer of wealth.

Supporters of the self-regulation of the market believe that if a particular non-renewable resource becomes scarce, the market will limit its extraction via two mechanisms:

  • an increase in price (supply and demand) …. [this occurs after things have run out]
  • an increase in funding for the development of alternatives (i.e. renewable energy, recycling, etc.)

The concept of degrowth is viewed as contradictory when applied to lesser-developed countries, which require the growth of their economies in order to attain prosperity. In this sense the majority of supporters of degrowth advocate the attainment of a certain, acceptable level of well-being independent of growth. The question of where the balance lies (i.e. how much the developed nations should degrow by, and how much the developing nations should be allowed to grow), remains open.

Supporters of scientific progress argue that it will solve the problems of energy supply, waste and the reduction of raw materials. This ideology draws inspiration from the Enlightenment to develop an optimistic technologist vision

Reliable Prosperity

Reliable Prosperity demands a new approach to the economy. By placing equal emphasis on environmental stewardship, social equity and financial returns we will build a more resilient system that pays dividends far into the future.

Working along with natural principles of development, expansion, sustainability, and correction, people can create economies that are more reliably prosperous than those we have now, and that are also more harmonious with the rest of nature.

– Jane Jacobs, The Nature of Economies

vimeo

Onni / Happiness by mkk
This video is a part of ’Happiness and degrowth’ that is an interdisciplinary art & science project searching for means of degrowth in everyday life.
The thoughts of happiness were collected from Salo market place (happiness testing on rocking chairs). Salo is a town in economical turmoil due to Nokia’s layoffs. We try to find out if degrowth could solve some of the problems. The thoughts are from local people and imagery presents existing economically sustainable actions or places of degrowth in Salo like for example bio-organic farms, shops, recycling centre, market place, local travel locations etc.

What fundamentally changes the game, and what people don’t want to hear, and I encounter this all the time, and people say, you know, don’t talk to us like that, because this is a no-starter, but for me this is the only starter: we have to use less.

The poor people need more, there is no doubt about this, there is no discussion there. If you are average village somewhere in Rajastan or Punjab or Nigeria, you need more, period. Just like basic human decency compress you to say these people need more, more clean water, more basic food, more education for their children. The discussion closed right before it begins, right. But as far as us is concerned, we certainly could and should do with much, much, much less.

People have been conditioned that things have to always get, go better, and immediately, if you say, limit something, people think this is not getting better, but it would be. This is a non-starter. People saying you should eat less, you should eat less meat, right. That’s even – that’s a non-starter, right. You should use less electricity, right. You should burn smaller cars, the other day I saw the Vice-President of GM talking about a new GM, right, and the model he’s *, and a journalist was asking him, you know, ‘But your cars are still so heavy’, and he says, 'Yes, we are working on it’. What is there to work on it, right? There’s so many things which we could do, you know, not to surrender our standard of living, not to kind of live in a gutter, right, but we don’t need one and a half tank car to go from red light to red light in a city.

People are not willing to go back on these things, most of them simply are not, because they’ve been totally hijacked by this material culture. Let’s not underestimate the, you know, the, the, the persuasion, the power of this material culture is immense, it’s just immense.

I’ve seen so many people being so genuinely unhappy that they cannot afford a 50,000 square foot, oh, sorry, $50,000 bathroom remodeling, really, right, I mean, there’s something wrong with that value set, really, right, you know, because bathroom is a place where you usually spend like, whatever 10 minutes to take your shower, brush your teeth, really, so it doesn’t have to be worth… But you know how much, how much money people are, again, on my mind, because we are thinking about redoing our bathroom, really, right, so it’s on my mind, and so it’s very interesting. So, for me it’s a chore, because it has to be done, really, but for many people it’s kind of a life affirming thing, you know.

People are renting storage spaces, right, which they will never access in X amount of years, to store the junk which they cannot store in their 5,000 square foot homes, really, right? So, do we need it really? So, it’s, it’s just amazing, really. So, it’s, it’s, it’s, this is very difficult to put the genie in the bottle, so everything is defined in this material thing, really.

I could make it a lot more coherent, but, you see, this is difficult, because when you make it a lot more coherent, you make it prescriptive, and prescriptions never work, really, because I don’t have the solution, I can’t sit here and say to you, we should follow this, and by 2030 everything click, and we all living happily ever after, really, right, you know? So, I’m making it deliberately incoherent, I could be, you know, I could be very doctrinaire, I could, but, you see, I live for 26 years in a communist society, I’m inoculated against any doctrinaire, grand solutions, saying, you know: this is the pattern, this is the master, this is the paradigm which we have to follow, you know, I’m just totally set against it. So, I’m making things deliberately kind of, you know, messy, incoherent, uncoordinated, because that’s how life is, we don’t know what pattern will emerge.

As long as we are living amidst of this sea of affluence and opportunities and material riches, it’s just very difficult to make these individual voluntary resolute step and saying: enough. back. limit. Very difficult.

—  Vaclav Smil - Surviving Progress
Degrowth

Degrowth (in French: décroissance, in Spanish: decrecimiento, in Italian: decrescita) is a political, economic, and social movement based on ecological economics, anti-consumerist and anti-capitalist ideas. Degrowth thinkers and activists advocate for the downscaling of production and consumption—the contraction of economies—as overconsumption lies at the root of long term environmental issues and social inequalities. Key to the concept of degrowth is that reducing consumption does not require individual martyring and a decrease in well-being. Rather, ‘degrowthists’ aim to maximize happiness and well-being through non-consumptive means—sharing work, consuming less, while devoting more time to art, music, family, culture and community

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degrowth
vimeo

Life After Growth: Economics for Everyone

This new documentary film by my friend Claudia Medina explores the frailty and vulnerability of our economic system and the rise of “the degrowth movement" by seeking to document how people are beginning to envision, live, and work toward a post-capitalist future…