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Is GDP growth a ticking time bomb?

World GDP grows every year, that is - we are making more products out of nature than the previous year. Shouldn't this mean that GDP essentially increases by reducing nature? Whether we cause exorbitant pollution i.e. in our face visible kind or not, the scale of human activity on account of its population is bound to disturb the nature. For nature nothing is pollution - it's just physical elements in circulation. Humans just change the form of resources as they exist in nature to their utlilty, and call them products, trade in them as per some rules, exclude many through tools of price and control of ownership, create symbolic notion of wealth by ability to own these modified parts of nature.

But right now I would want to understand whether GDP increase is a euphemism for reduction in nature? May be the latter phrase would have been used by plants and animals if only they could express themselves on this count? Is their any point in conserving animal and plant species if they are on a one-way path to extinction? Or do we conserve them from extinction to survive in their company till the day humans learn to survive on their own in isolation - the time when we won't need nature? Is growth a zerosome game of humans vs naure? Was shifting to agriculture a mistake? or moving to cities would be counted as the start of deterioration on doom's day? Is GDP growth a ticking tim bomb for nature?

Comments

  • Nice thought
  • The answer to your question vats,

    It depends.
    If GDP growth is contributing to "Development" and if development is "green", then the answer to your question would be NO, otherwise YES.
  • GDP growth achieved by "improving productivity" and using env friendly methods is sustainable.

    Else,GDP growth merely by more "exploitation of resources" is a ticking bomb , for sure
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  • edited March 30
    pizzza said:

    The answer to your question vats,

    It depends.
    If GDP growth is contributing to "Development" and if development is "green", then the answer to your question would be NO, otherwise YES.

    federer said:

    GDP growth achieved by "improving productivity" and using env friendly methods is sustainable.

    Else,GDP growth merely by more "exploitation of resources" is a ticking bomb , for sure

    when you have higher productivity, you will be the biggest producer among other producers. GDP would increase even with same productivity, because of increase in population. Productivity will only decide the hierarchy among producers. Yes an overall increase in productivity would mean production at an increasingly rapid pace, or reduction of nature a an increasingly rapid pace.

    About exploitation of resources - exploitation is a value-loaded term. A neutral term would be 'use'. And regarding sustainability also I think we need to see that we use this term regarding sustainability of human life. With rise of agriculture, bio-diversity started reducing. Many species have gone extinct, without commensurate number of species replacing them. More recently you can look at Europe or America - partcularly north america. How many wild species are there? They have altered the nature completely in those geographical regions. Tropics are still able to reatain some level of bio-diversity, but it's again on continuous decline. So when we say sustainable growth, I feel it's an oxymoron. What do you want to sustain? If it's bio-diversity, then reducing nature at a pace on which it can't reproduce itself in the originl forms is patently attached to production. So their will be reduced space for an equal level of diversity. Some species will have to exit.

    Who is working on finding 'green' alternatives for all production processes? Every production process has a pace many times higher than the pace at which nature works. Nature is effectively becoming smaller day by day for species survival.

  • pizzza said:

    The answer to your question vats,

    It depends.
    If GDP growth is contributing to "Development" and if development is "green", then the answer to your question would be NO, otherwise YES.

    federer said:

    GDP growth achieved by "improving productivity" and using env friendly methods is sustainable.

    Else,GDP growth merely by more "exploitation of resources" is a ticking bomb , for sure

    when you have higher productivity, you will be the biggest producer among other producers. GDP would increase even with same productivity, because of increase in population. Productivity will only decide the hierarchy among producers. Yes an overall increase in productivity would mean production at an increasingly rapid pace, or reduction of nature a an increasingly rapid pace.

    About exploitation of resources - exploitation is a value-loaded term. A neutral term would be 'use'. And regarding sustainability also I think we need to see that we use this term regarding sustainability of human life. With rise of agriculture, bio-diversity started reducing. Many species have gone extinct, without commensurate number of species replacing them. More recently you can look at Europe or America - partcularly north america. How many wild species are there? They have altered the nature completely in those geographical regions. Tropics are still able to reatain some level of bio-diversity, but it's again on continuous decline. So when we say sustainable growth, I feel it's an oxymoron. What do you want to sustain? If it's bio-diversity, then reducing nature at a pace on which it can't reproduce itself in the originl forms is patently attached to production. So their will be reduced space for an equal level of diversity. Some species will have to exit.

    Who is working on finding 'green' alternatives for all production processes? Every production process has a pace many times higher than the pace at which nature works. Nature is effectively becoming smaller day by day for species survival.

    Exactly, and that is what the Earth Overshoot Day measures. It has been reducing ever since we have measured it. Now we use about 1.5 times the resources that can be replenished by the nature in an year.
    I think for the same reason people like Elon Musk are looking towards Mars, because it's big time we used up Earth's resources to the point of no return.
    We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the game.
  • edited March 30
    lolz_2 said:

    pizzza said:

    The answer to your question vats,

    It depends.
    If GDP growth is contributing to "Development" and if development is "green", then the answer to your question would be NO, otherwise YES.

    federer said:

    GDP growth achieved by "improving productivity" and using env friendly methods is sustainable.

    Else,GDP growth merely by more "exploitation of resources" is a ticking bomb , for sure

    when you have higher productivity, you will be the biggest producer among other producers. GDP would increase even with same productivity, because of increase in population. Productivity will only decide the hierarchy among producers. Yes an overall increase in productivity would mean production at an increasingly rapid pace, or reduction of nature a an increasingly rapid pace.

    About exploitation of resources - exploitation is a value-loaded term. A neutral term would be 'use'. And regarding sustainability also I think we need to see that we use this term regarding sustainability of human life. With rise of agriculture, bio-diversity started reducing. Many species have gone extinct, without commensurate number of species replacing them. More recently you can look at Europe or America - partcularly north america. How many wild species are there? They have altered the nature completely in those geographical regions. Tropics are still able to reatain some level of bio-diversity, but it's again on continuous decline. So when we say sustainable growth, I feel it's an oxymoron. What do you want to sustain? If it's bio-diversity, then reducing nature at a pace on which it can't reproduce itself in the originl forms is patently attached to production. So their will be reduced space for an equal level of diversity. Some species will have to exit.

    Who is working on finding 'green' alternatives for all production processes? Every production process has a pace many times higher than the pace at which nature works. Nature is effectively becoming smaller day by day for species survival.

    Exactly, and that is what the Earth Overshoot Day measures. It has been reducing ever since we have measured it. Now we use about 1.5 times the resources that can be replenished by the nature in an year.
    I think for the same reason people like Elon Musk are looking towards Mars, because it's big time we used up Earth's resources to the point of no return.
    yeah. thanks for that reference on Earth Overshoot Day.

    If we look for reasons, then we see that we create products for a more comfirtable living, and that has helped us have longer lifespans. But it is critical to understand that the search for safety and comfirt has led us on a path where we want to consume natural resources in non-natural forms. And from here the decline started. If we cover the spatial distance and think of present times, then writing on leaves - the natural form - was sustainable because its rate of replenishment can be similar to consumption. But paper takes us to a form which is quite removed from the natural form of wood and calcium and other ores that go into making it. It's the fear of nature - seeing it as antagonist and self-centeredness - prioritising comfort of use to bend nature in complex forms that has led humans astray. And with this thought about paper, I am inclined to think did overconsumption start very late? And may be development of materialism and the western worldview in medieval times extending into dawn of modernity could be the culprit.

    Search for comfirt set us onto the path of consumerism, but particularly for consuming more products made in more and more coomplex ways - with slower rate of recycle. With consumerism, came the need for higher and higher productivity, more and more overshooting of resources against incommensurate replenishment of consumed resources in nature each year. Should we start writing on bel-patra again or prepare to move on to mars and for interstellar travel? I think we have too big a population to be served by bel-patra - would need lots of trees. Interstellar travel is better. But population control would be best. But may be we would also need to overcome the obsession with GDP growth.

    p.s. and the 3 Rs - Reduce , reuse, recycle and circular economy convey the choice of slower GDP growth.
  • Limits to Growth
    Limits to growth’ has roots in Malthusian theory. As per Malthus, population growth (size) is a function of food production.
    Population size = f (land, agriculture resources)

    But as per Neo-Malthusian approach, not just the size but the all aspects of human life are controlled by all type of natural environmental resources.

    In 1972, ‘Club of Rome’, which was set up by environmentalists, bureaucrats, scientist etc, published a report in book ‘Limit to Growth’ in which they said that development cannot go infinitely. Whatever activity man does require natural resources directly or indirectly and every activity produce waste. But there is a limit how much environment can absorb without permanently impairing one or more of its resources and processes.

    Limit to growth was an idea that used rigorous data collection, statistical methods and computer programming based models to predict that the planet was not capable of supporting and sustaining growth activities infinitely. In this model dynamic interaction of five major variables are studied such as: world population, pollution, resources, industrial output per capita, food per capita.

    The model based on computer simulation predicted the world would collapse by 2100. They also predicted that by 1992 world’s fossil fuel resources will be over.

    LTG concept is based on following 5 assumptions:
    1) Non-renewable resources are ultimately finite, particularly energy resources.

    2) Land is finite and there is limit to how much land can be used for agriculture. This must be seen in the context of rapid urbanization, high population growth rate and also diversion of good agriculture land to non-agricultural land use such as urbanization and industralisation.

    3) The finite capacity of the environment to absorb and internalize waste without destroying the natural support systems because of increased pollution

    4) There is limit to how much agriculture productivity can be improved. Input intensive agri. practices are unstable and are always susceptible to collapse eventually.

    5) Human population however has the potential of exponential growth and so the associated pollution.

    Criticisms of Limits to Growth Model
    - It is often considered pessimistic interpretation of future consequences because it generalizes resource constraint & consumption pattern without accounting variability across the world. (it considers the world as a single unit with uniform distribution of resources and problems.)

    - It does not accommodate the rate at which innovations can appear and the argument for finite capacity of human creativity is also a mechanistic view of man.

    - The predictions about the world collapse and energy resources will be exhausted by 1992 has been proved wrong. The data that was fed is questionable considering the equipments of data collection and methods used in 20th century.

    Merits of Limit to Growth Model
    The concept is not an exact prediction but is suggestive of the future possibilities in terms of consequences. To criticize the model because the energy resources did not exhaust by 1992 would be a very narrow evaluation because the idea was more to suggest the criticality of situation and not to predict the exact date.

    On objective re-evaluation, we find that the model is not a pessimistic view because it doesn't take into account the dangers of 21st century such as nuclear wars or accidents, terrorism, natural disasters, ethnic strife, pandemics etc. This makes the model highly optimistic because without the above mentioned variables, the model represents the uppermost possibility or the best possibilities for the 21st century's world
    The day we decided that the worth of an individual was determined by their performance in an examination, that was the day Education failed us.
  • edited March 31
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