💬 Friday discussion: Planetary limits
For at least the last 30 years, no country has met the basic needs of its residents at a globally sustainable level of resource use, according to the Good Life project. (It's interactive, so you can have a play.)
It’s quite helpful to review the data for your country. There is also a distinct correlation between the “transgression of biophysical boundaries” (that is, resource use and pollution) and the ability to achieve social thresholds (like healthcare and housing provision, absence of political violence, etc.).
What are the possible pathways addressing sustainability (predominantly climate crisis) that are compatible with what might be politically acceptable by voters in richer countries? This question gets to the crux of the degrowth movement. Arresting economic growth is politically untenable in most democracies because people haven’t voted to freeze their standards of living for decades. For the degrowth movement to be successful, that’s exactly what they would be asked to do.
It’s a huge question - not one we can resolve in a Friday discussion but curious to hear your thoughts.
To what extent can new technologies (like fusion power or quantum computing) enable a step-change, a punctuated equilibrium? Think back to the confluence of technological and energy factors that rendered Malthus’ warnings moot for a few centuries.
Even if those technologies might enable such a paradigm shift, given we can’t be certain about their timing, what other mechanisms might be required? What would make those mechanisms politically tenable or do they not require political accord? (For example, recent increased competition in the cost of solar power has come despite continued fossil fuel subsidies).
Have a great discussion,
P.S. The work is based extensively on Kate Raworth’s work on Doughtnut Economics. (Listen to my podcast with her here.)