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The Steady-State Economy The real – and only – ‘Alternative’ Development.

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Presentation on theme: "The Steady-State Economy The real – and only – ‘Alternative’ Development."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Steady-State Economy The real – and only – ‘Alternative’ Development


3 ‘Growth’= more ‘throughput’ More people More things

4 Conventional development




8 Ideology of conventional development The more, the bigger, the faster, the higher, the newer… the better! “You can’t freeze change!” “You’re an elitist… trying to stop ordinary people getting what they need” “You can’t stop progress” “No-growth is stagnation”

9 Former president of Botswana on the Kalahari bushmen: 'How can you have a hunter-gatherer living in the age of computers? If the bushman wants to survive he must change, otherwise, like the dodo, he will perish’.

10 "To get rich is glorious." former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping

11 The world's biggest family?: Ziona Chana with his 39 wives, 94 children & 33 grandchildren. They live in a 100-room mansion. His wives take it in turns to share his bed. It takes 30 whole chickens just to make dinner. ‘Growth’ & people pressure



14 Development delusions: ‘Trickle Down’ Sao Paolo, Brazil

15 Development delusions: ‘More jobs!’

16 Conventional “development” thinking, Monetarist to Marxist, depreciates real wealth of nations Development delusions: “It’s the economy, stupid”

17 Reality check People are economic transformers not wealth creators Real ‘wealth of nations’: Physical space Atmospheric balances UV filtering Purification of air Potable water Regulation of water cycle Water storage Photosynthesis Fertile soil Vegetative resources Pollination Mineral resources Waste decomposition Nutrient recycling Stable climate Checks & balances against extremes ‘Mother Earth’

18 Ecology Society Economy Solar ‘driver’

19 ‘techno-develpment’ often creates more problems than it solves.

20 Technology can make some difference but the potential of ‘alternatives’ is frequently exaggerated


22 ‘Alternative’ is frequently not ‘appropriate’ As of 2011

23 New rhetoric of Growthism “Weightless economy” “Information society” “Business at the speed of thought” “We-Think”

24 “Sustainable Development” “Green growth”

25 ‘ Limits to conventional development ’ Success can conceal growing risk of failure… Progress can become regress Richard Wilson

26 “Age of the Anthropocene” Overdevelopment: new course needed

27 Dream of Growth versus Limits: * Earth’s Geology: Limits to ‘sources’, ‘sinks’ & suitable sites * Entropy: Limits to energy conversions & material usage * Ecology: Unsustainable disruption of Earth’s life-support systems

28 Earth’s finitude Entropy Ecology

29 Does production for social need remove ‘limits’ barriers? ? Both, however, run up similar bills in nature’s accounts

30 Over- consumptionToo many People Technological blowback ‘Affluenza’ (+ deepening inequalities) “Things Bite Back” Excessive ‘footprint’ – Nature bites back

31 Declining quality of life… On-going physical growth at some point erodes: ‘Dignity’… Privacy… Personal Space… Tranquility… Choice… Democracy… Human rights… Job opportunities… Education & health and social care facilities… Leisure options…… Crisis of conventional development: Quantity versus Quality

32 Price of Over-development Tokyo Water Park, whose slogan reads …

33 Price of Over-development


35 Growth: ‘cure’ that will kill Peaks in various fuel & other resources Climate change Congestion Housing shortages Explosive growth of slum cities Air pollution Water pollution Overflowing landfills Growing shortages of key minerals Decreasing quality of life Unemployment ‘Affluenza’ Growing food shortages Growing water shortages Overfishing Competition for land Biodevastation Urban disorders Civil wars & terrorism Austerity & declining ‘social wage’ Toxic & radioactive contamination Crumbling education, health & other services Inequality & discrimination Acidification ‘Lonely crowd’ Democratic deficit

36 Growth, Over- shoot & danger of collapse


38 Growth > Overshoot

39 More slices of the planet taken by people the less for ‘non-people’


41 Limits-to-growth cannot be cheated!

42 The issue is about finding an optimum: it is not about rejecting all change

43 The steady-state economy

44 Real progress: better use of a sustainable level of throughput of space, energy & matter

45 The sustainable economy will be much slower & smaller than Industrialism

46 Key measures Population in balance with carrying capacity at all levels Steady stock of artefacts i.e. physical goods & services (inc. dependent animals!) in sustainable equilibrium with ‘sources’ and ‘sinks’ ‘Conserver’ technology, focussing on reduction of resource ‘inputs’ rather than outputs (‘end-of-pipe’ pollution control etc.) Tax resources, not labour Ecological land use planning: “design with nature”

47 Some other policies Renting & borrowing not owning Full cost pricing End to ‘corporate welfare’ & ‘perverse subsidies’ End to debt-based money supply Break up of over-big firms; public ownership of key utilities ‘Green licenses’ for businesses? Ceilings on land ownership?; land trusts / covenants; site value taxation? Time management (e.g. seasons / daylight hours) Limits to differentials within society, nationally and globally Basic income schemes/citizens dividends as transitional tool


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