It’s probably fitting that Michael Liebreich’s The Secret of Eternal Growth was published so close to Halloween. It’s so full of outlandish bogeymen, it sits perfectly alongside the ghouls and the ghosts of the trick-or-treat season.
The thrust of his article is very simple. Anyone who questions the wisdom of eternal growth on a finite planet is a mindless, anti-capitalistic, left-leaning fraud who has abandoned ‘hard measurement’ and practises ‘fake science’. (I think I captured all the accusations but it’s hard to be sure.) Trash them, one and all, these unruly critics of late capitalism.
In 2018, the idea that we need a special holiday to be scared feels a little strange. Zombies, vampires, and werewolves don’t seem so frightening when the real world provides us with Vladimir Putin, white supremacists, and greenhouse gas emissions. And trust me, as a climate scientist, I’m frightened every day. Watching our best projections of future climate is like watching a horror movie you can’t walk out of. And the worst part is the willful ignorance of the characters. I mean, who could be so stupid as to walk straight into a house they know is haunted?
The European Union is seemingly fixated by economic growth. ‘Jobs, growth and investment’ is the European Commission’s headline priority and Eurozone budgets are carefully checked in the name of stability and growth. Yet is the pursuit of economic growth fueling climate change and environmental destruction? On the sidelines of the Post-Growth 2018 conference at the European Parliament, we asked Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, if the time has come to leave growth behind.
The Post-Growth 2018 conference at the European Parliament marked a milestone in the history of the post-growth debate, which has predominately been contained within academic circles. In the first part of a two-part interview, Riccardo Mastini discusses the possibilities and challenges for imagining a world beyond growth with two key post-growth thinkers at the conference.
When orthodox economists first encounter the idea of degrowth, they often jump to the conclusion that the objective is to reduce GDP. And because they see GDP as equivalent to social wealth, this makes them very upset.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
From: “Nora Räthzel”
It seems surprising that only in 2013 when we published our book ‘Trade Unions in the Green Economy’ Working for the Environment. (Nora Räthzel and David Uzzell, Routledge, 2013), we could write –
“The fact that labour studies and environmental studies are separate spheres of research serves to reinforce the failure of researchers to appreciate the importance of their reciprocal significance and contribution. This shortcoming has been carried through to the lecture theatre. It is extremely rare for academic courses on the environment and climate change to discuss issues of labour. Likewise, there are few courses on labour that explore the implications of climate change for working conditions and labour rights.”
Since then there has been a significant growth in research as well as courses on Environmental Labour Studies. As a result of this growing interest, we – Nora Räthzel, Dimitris Stevis and David Uzzell – are planning a Handbook on Environmental Labour Studies. This will explore the way in which nature and labour are intrinsically linked and equally threatened by globalising Capital as well as the role of trade unions and workers’ movements worldwide in resisting globalising environmental degradation and climate change. We want it to be a valuable resource for students and teachers in this area.
We know from talking to colleagues that this subject is now becoming an important topic on many courses throughout the world in politics, sociology, environmental studies, labour studies, and others. We are trying to collect a list of these courses in order to demonstrate to the publisher that a handbook is useful and necessary. Do you know of any courses which include the teaching of some aspects of environmental labour studies? If you can write and give us any information (if possible, a link to the syllabus), we would be very grateful.
Should you be interested in writing a chapter in such a handbook please inform us and let us know what your particular interest and contribution would be.
Kind regards, nora
The recent awarding of the Nobel Prize in Economics to William Nordhaus was hailed by most mainstream outlets as a pro-climate action decision, but this shows how limited people’s appreciation of the threats arising from current models of growth truly are. The economic mainstream does not see perpetual growth as having any negatives in itself; the world economy can continue growing indefinitely, with tweaks on the margins to account for market failures and external costs. But climate scientists know the world does not work like that.