Friday, June 24, 2011

Economic Development is the Only Way Forward

Some of the most passionate supporters of the environment argue that we cannot make the necessary changes within the current consumer oriented capitalist system. They point to the fact that growth in the 20th century was all about resource depletion.

Economic growth is not an end, but rather a means to an end. Because economic growth is premised on the concept of increasing quantity, it may be more productive to frame the issue in terms of economic development. Economic development looks at growth as a means of achieving a higher level of individual and societal well-being. While economic growth is about quantity, economic development is about quality. A well developed economy is one that meets people's needs and provides well-being for everyone.

Economic development is based on the collective good which is ultimately about creating more value per person.

UNEP's Executive Director Achim Steiner said in the statement: "With 2.5 billion people living on less than two dollars a day and with more than two billion people being added to the global population by 2050, it is clear that we must continue to develop and grow our economies. But this development cannot come at the expense of the very life support systems on land, in the oceans or in our atmosphere."

Growth and resource depletion are not inexorably linked and given the urgency, the green economy is the only solution we have of capable of addressing the environmental and social threats we face.

We simply do not have time to rebuild society anew, nor is it reasonable to wipe the slate clean. In the form of economic development, growth can serve the earth and its inhabitants. However future growth will not be based on wanton resource depletion, it will be about increased efficiency and productivity.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

Related Posts
The False Choice Between the Economy and the Environment
Investing in Green Economic Growth
Sustainable Growth Excludes Fossil Fuels
Belief in Global Warming is Tied to the Economy
Global Trends 2025: A Greener World

2 comments:

Vineca Gray said...

A superb re-focusing on what we are facing. Absent of cliche or reflex, you speak to bottom line realities.

In this same context, factory farming impacts societies around the world at a pace that few have had the courage to even consider.

I am reading 'The CAFO Reader', a very current collection of essays that address the singularily most critical issue of our day - the obscenely toxic food system that currently sustains the world - endorsed by government subsidies and corporate bullies.

In The CAFO Reader, Anna Lappe's piece is fabulous, "Diet for a Hot Planet: Livestock and Climate Change". She notes that 20 billion livestock are alive and producing massive quantities of methane directly and indirectly right now - that is expected to double by 2050.

This subject would benefit from your perspective.

Richard Matthews said...

Thank you Vineca, The consumption of meat, particularly cattle, is not sustainable. Now the developing world is adopting the developed world's penchant for meat eating.

When it comess to environmental degradation meat is one of the world's biggest culprits, 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock.
70 percent of previously forested land in the Amazon was cleared to pasture cattle. The world’s largest source of water pollution is the livestock sector. Livestock are responsible for a third of the nitrogen and phosphorus in US freshwater resources. Livestock accounts for about 20 percent of land animals, and the 30 percent of Earth’s land they occupy was once inhabited by wildlife.

Unfortunately the list of commonly consumed unsustainable foods extends well beyong meat, it includes things like
rice, genetically modified foods, sugar, fast food, foods that contain palm oil, packaged and processed food, nonorganic foods, many seafoods, white bread and high-fructose corn syrup.

You may be interested in an article I wrote a while back in which I reviewed the impact of our food choices on the earth and its inhabitants. The article is titled "Earth Day Special: Green Blueprint"

http://thegreenmarket.blogspot.com/2008/04/earth-day-special.html

Even the effort to replace fossil fuels with biofuels has a significant cost. As I state in the article "600 million people will go hungry because of biofuels."

Thanks again for your keen interest, it is due to the awareness of people like you that we will make the necessary changes.