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Annabelle Macneal

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Is "run- away" growth ultimately bad for humanity?

In our modern world, growth is espoused as something good, as something to endeavor for a better quality of life. But how much growth can we sustain, how much growth can the planet sustain? Can we look at growth in different way, approach it from a different perspective. If so, how and what are the implications?

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    Jan 18 2013: Hi Annabelle, thanks for a good question,

    Many people equate economic growth with success, and in that sense see the human species and in particular the fraction of the species which engage in economic exchanges in a progressively increasing way as "successful"

    The opinion i have heard is that "economic value" is not tied to physical resources, and hence it can "grow endlessly".

    If we talk about population growth, for example, it is obvious that there is a point beyond which the resource constraints will stop growth.

    In terms of economic exchanges, if we endlessly increase economic value without regard of its physical counterpart, there will come the time when no amount of money will be able to buy a given physical resource. I am sure the economists will not agree with my assessment, but as of today, i have never had a convincing demonstration that will make me change my mind, although i am still open to it

    At the most basic level, a species goal is to survive for as many generations as it can. We humans can develop higher goals and values, but in the end, our success as a species is constrained by our physical realities. The most successful species have been those which find equilibrium. We could achieve it by growing without constrains and then collapsing, and repeating the cycle over and over, or we could slow down and find other kinds of equilibrium states. I prefer the second version because it fits my set of values, but i don't think we can argue that one is inherently "better" than the other.

    cheers
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    Jan 5 2013: Growth of what?
    Any growth will have its cost.
    If one group increases their income it is spend by another group.
    If a nation imports value for little it's stolen from the source that have less and less.
    If agriculture expands nature shrinks, jungles and forests disappear, land erodes, species get extinct.
    So growth can only be local at the expense of everything else.

    For example: If the Congolese peoples would get real value for their gold etc. and it was evenly distributed among them all then there was no growth but exchange of values. If governments of oil exporting countries spend on education and infra structure then there was no growth of capital but of peace and well being.

    Let’s aim for growth of happiness for all people and keep what is left of earth’s natural beauty.
  • Jan 4 2013: If growth is found to contribute to the destruction, degradation or pollution of our environments and contributes to a more rapid use and elimination of the resources we and all forms of life need, not only for survival but for some kind of inclusive and comfortable life, then yes it is bad for humanity.
    But notice, I also include all forms of life, not just the life of the most destructive animal in existence.

    So, if you can't blame growth in general, then blame it specifically.
    Blame what is causing, contributing, helping or proliferating the destruction that is no good, not wanted, needed or beneficial. Why not?


    Don't just arbitrarily say you can't blame growth. That's foolish. There are 7 billion of us on the planet.

    Rapid, continued growth will not benefit humanity. That seems very clear, unless one chooses to lie to themselves and blindly look away.

    Growth is a cause but perhaps more importantly is the management of growth and the control of growth.
    All three are currently in the wrong hands.
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    Jan 4 2013: the more we learn the more we know
    the more we know the more we forget
    the more we forget the less we know
    thus, the more we learn, the less we know

    how would growth hurt anyone? is there too much health? can we have too much opportunity?

    embedded in the question, there is an assumption that growth causes the destruction of the environment. but this is false. obviously, with no growth, we won't harm the environment. also if we don't do anything, we won't make mistakes. if we don't eat, we don't get food poisoning. but nobody would suggest these. there can be long term growth without fatal harm to the planet. we need to find the way to do it. considering the environment might limit growth to more or less degree. sometimes we might have to choose slower growth to prevent some disaster. but you can't blame growth in general.
  • Jan 5 2013: Our economic system is debt based with interest payments required on repayment of the debt. This means that growth is required to payback loans that are the events that creates money in the first place.
    Since no environment allows growth to continue forever, then the answer is probably yes, it is bad.
    All systems are cyclic with growth in the good times and die back in the bad times.
    It sucks to live in the bad times though.
    So as selfish humans we try really hard to prevent the bad times from hitting. This leads our unstable economic system to create bubbles with growth on steriods with a subsequent crash rather than a die back.
    It really sucks to live in a crash.
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    Jan 4 2013: There comes a time when less is more, so that growth is forced to evolve into a different framework where better is better.
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    Jan 4 2013: Obviously,
    Our life goal is to keep our DNA alive.
    The growth is good or bad depends on its effect on the goal.

    The .growth of INVALID happiness is bad.


    (For INVALID happiness, see the 1st article, points 1-3, at https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=D24D89AE8B1E2E0D&id=D24D89AE8B1E2E0D%21283&sc=documents)
  • Jan 4 2013: Not by everybody. Controlling it seems to have worked well for China. Indira Gandhi was assissinated for trying to implement more birth control,but India recently had over 300 million people in the dark with a recent grid failure. Easy looks are population/carrying capacity biology and your college thermodynamics courses. You can have too much of a good thing.