Questioning the obsession with economic growth

Growing up immersed in the environmental movement of the 1970s, my thinking on economics was definitely shaped by concepts such as resource sustainability and limits to growth.

Then came the 1980s and 1990s, when western societies seemed to reject such ideas as hopelessly naive, assuming instead that limitless growth was not only possible but essential to preserve our standard of living.

But the idea of living within the resources provided by Earth hasn’t disappeared altogether, as environmental writer Peter Gorrie explains at

Gorrie interviewed Peter Victor, a senior economist at York University and author of Managing Without Growth.

…Victor and others say the focus on growth diminishes us, largely because two-thirds of our economy is based on consumer spending: If we don’t work and earn so we can keep stuff flying off store shelves and into ever-larger homes, our industrial machine sputters and wheezes. Other important aspects of life – family, friends, relaxation, contemplation, health, hobbies and interests – are trampled in the mad frenzy to ensure the wheel stays spinning.

It’s a good read, and a timely alternative view when we are being urged to consume more to restore our ailing economic system.