Planned Personal De-Growth
Our economic model is based on growth and that has been serving us very well. Well … apart from a few big problems, call them undesirable side effects – undesirable yet lethal. These few, yet lethal, side effects are busy working to destroy the metaphorical branch of spaceship earth we are sitting on. And what’s more, these side effects are continuously being produced and they cause lasting damage and suffering, and will continue to do so unless we take drastic action to stop the cause, and fix the damage.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the economy, I am an Economist, so I naturally want it to last a long time, forever in fact! So, let’s look at the few big problems I mentioned earlier:
Firstly, some resources are not infinite and we have pretty much used them up already and we’re coming to the end of their availability (energy resources, peak oil, dwindling fish stock). Secondly, the environment has taken a hit and is very badly damaged (global warming, pollution, threats to biodiversity, monoculture, desertification, bleaching of oceans, plastic waste and nuclear waste) and we are also seeing the decline in the health of flora and fauna upon which humans depend (water availability, nutrient content of food, cancer rates rising to 2:1 and other lifestyle epidemics). And thirdly, there is the rise of negative societal side-effects (unsustainable development, poorer human health, poverty, mental health epidemics).
Who is to blame? Well, of course, it is our fault … In the first world, we use ever-expanding amounts of resources to satisfy our lifestyles, we are consuming more food and energy, producing greater waste, all at the expense of the third world. But, is it really our fault and if so, is it also our pleasure?
The question we need to ask ourselves, as our lifestyles are unsustainable, causing lasting damage to others and the next generation – do we get sufficient amount of pleasure from it, i.e. is it worth it?
Many of us are stuck in a rat race to sustain our unsustainable lifestyles. Are you infinitely happier being part of the first world consumer rat race, unwittingly destroying the planet by your lifestyle ‘choices’?
And are your choices really choices, given you don’t have infinite resources of time, health, knowledge, and money, or do you just struggle to keep it all together in spite of stress, lack of time and fear of losing your job?
So are your ‘planet destroying choices’ actually still choices at all? Are you just living on autopilot in a reality of somebody else’s creation, like the movie cube where we all do our bit to keep it going but nobody takes individual responsibility?