Growth and Prosperity

If the human race had begun with just one couple at the start of the agricultural revolution, about 10,000 B.C., and multiplied at the rate of 1% per annum since then, the total population would form today a sphere of living flesh thousands of light years in diameter, and expanding with a radial velocity many times faster than light.

This could not happen of course, for many reasons (even without Einstein’s theory), but it begs the question ‘what is a sustainable rate of growth?’ and the answer is Zero. In a finite space, growth cannot continue forever. Some economists argue that economic growth can continue by ‘decoupling’ it from ‘material throughput’, but normal people do not know what this means, possibly because it meaningless. Give us an example, Mr Economist, of a significant business which has grown in such a way.

Our present government has recently expressed pleasure in observing a GDP growth rate of more than 2.5%, and certainly it must be a relief to have evidence that we are coming out of recession. However, if such a growth rate continued until the end of the century, our economy would have grown to eight times its present level, and it is difficult to understand what that means: will we have 8 times as many people, or 8 times as much stuff, or 8 times as many holidays, or a mixture of these and other things?

Prosperity is about things going well for us: in accordance with our hopes and expectations. It requires a good balance between short-term pleasure and long-term security. It is the capability to flourish that is important. The vision of prosperity as a continually expanding economic paradise may have appeared sustainable when economies were smaller and the world less populated; it is now ‘not fit for purpose’.

The Sustainable Population Party believes that endless pursuit of growth as a means to achieving prosperity is costly, destructive and futile. Instead, we should have a vigorous economy which accepts our geographical and ecological limits, pay off our debt, and concentrate on improving the beauty and security of our country.