ArticlesCRISIS IN DEGROWTH (2012-02-26)
CRISIS IN DEGROWTH
Another world beyond the crisisDate: 2012-02-26
Author: Massimo Pieri
The idea that quality life improvement is tied to an increase in the gross domestic product – i.e. the value of goods and services for final uses – and considers it almost as the only goal in every modern society, both alters and makes reality uniform. In this way, everyone’s life is reduced to the miserable function of producer and consumer, both excited and obtuse, thinking to be free to choose among different and useless products, pointing out the authoritative and inadequate nature of the advanced financial and industrial society, with no possibility of withstanding it or alternative solutions.
The functioning of today’s economic system essentially depends on non-renewable resources, and cannot be therefore sustained forever, it cannot be eternal. As a matter of fact, the development of this neo-classic economic system, i.e. the desired economic growth and its financial crises, must be considered always, indissolubly linked to the consequences of its social and environmental impact, revealing how limited its saving skills are. In other words, the model of unlimited growth cannot be sustainable as it doesn’t consider that energy and natural resources of biosphere are limited and their intense exploiting and use will only lead to an alteration of the biological balances, up to ecologic and economic rejection.
It is evident that such model cannot solve the economic and environmental crises it produces, but on the contrary, it makes them increasingly irreversible so that the corresponding social crises search for another life and another world as the only way out (68s, ows, oa).
This gives rise to the need of rethinking the economic science in bio-economical terms, making it capable of including the principle of entropy and the limits of the ecological conditions making it dependent on them. Thanks to bio-economy, it is possible to clearly distinguish between development and growth: development means introducing an innovation which isn‘t only the creation of new goods but also of new processes and goals; growth is given by the increase of existing goods and the consumption of already available resources. It is therefore necessary to pay attention in distinguishing between development and growth.
Moreover, by applying bio-economic principles – such as homeostasis and degrowth - during the crisis, it is possible to achieve wellbeing without increasing the consumption of already existing goods and resources, using the production and conservation modes of nature and its diversity, the only certainly sustainable entities. It is possible to reach a certain wellbeing level independently from the economic growth through other development models (not growth models): for instance, through the regeneration of local economies. In this way, the bio-economic model, which combines social, economic, environmental topics as well as those related to common goods, allows to redesign, in agriculture, industry and architecture, the suffering human and environmental settlements, by using the territory and its resources, trying to imitate the natural relationships and links in the light of traditional knowledge. This is how it is possible to dispose of plenty of resources, food, and sustainable food chains at a lower cost in order to meet local needs. This also allows facing the problem of poverty as well as its solution as an economic and ecologic variable of the system itself.
The crisis is a sort of endemic illness of the economic system: we have to interpret and heal it in order to enjoy good health and increase knowledge.