What does genuine economic progress look like? The orthodox answer is that a bigger economy is always better, but this idea is increasingly strained by the knowledge that, on a finite planet, the economy can’t grow for ever. This week’s Addicted to Growth conference in Sydney is exploring how to move beyond growth economics and towards a “steady-state” economy. But what is a steady-state economy? Why it is it desirable or necessary? And what would it be like to live in?
The global predicament
We used to live on a planet that was relatively empty of humans; today it is full to overflowing, with more people consuming more resources. We would need one and a half Earths to sustain the existing economy into the future. Every year this ecological overshoot continues, the foundations of our existence, and that of other species, are undermined.