This is an utterly profound book that I urge everyone to read.
For a long time, a thought has been brewing in my head. Why is everyone obsessed with growth? Both sides of the political spectrum are falling over themselves to tell us all how they will grow our economy and make our lives better in the process. I found myself wondering whether I was mad to question this. Surely many of the problems we face in the modern age are linked to growth. Climate, resource limitation, land loss etc.
The population of the planet reached 8 billion just last week. It seems barn door obvious that this cannot go on forever. (And don’t tell me it’s fine because population growth is slowing. That means it is still growing and I don’t know about anyone else but 8 billion is a tad too many in my books). It is blatant that there must be a limit at which we can build more and manufacture more, space and resources being two obvious limiters. The collateral effect on the climate is also something blindingly obvious but is something that many lunatics seem to still deny. Growth seems to be an infinite prospect that we all must apparently crave but the problem is we live on a planet that is very much a finite playground.
Well, a while back I stumbled across this TED talk by Kate Raworth about Doughnut economics and she verbalised pretty much everything I had been thinking about. And then some. Her book goes even further.
It is an unmissable and undeniable classic that explains her ‘doughnut’ theory of economics, one which depicts a ring that represents the sweet spot of social pillars such as climate, equality, peace, land, ocean health, wealth etc. Within the ring are represented the things that we still need to grow and improve upon. But outside the ring is where we overshoot into a realm of profound unsustainability. Not surprisingly, we are not doing very well at staying within this ring.
The book eloquently explains why this inexorable journey in growth at all costs is perhaps not a good idea and suggests ways in which this might be changed. That it has to be explained is somewhat of a mystery to me, but then this world is a strange place.
Take home message would be that if all countries in the world grew to the stage at which the US, Canada and Sweden do, we would need 4 Earths to sustain them.
Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but the fact that there are such odd, politically selfish and shortsighted perspectives out there, particularly from those in the position to do something, that the measures required to change our path are never going to come to pass.
But either way read the book. Everyone should be forced to do so imo.