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sidd

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Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« on: October 23, 2017, 05:07:24 AM »
I'll kick this off with two observations:

1) How do we define growth ? If we use GDP or PPP or some such, then the question resolves to a tautology: that carbon intensity per marginal dollar(or yuan or ruble or rupee) must drop faster than GDP increase.

2) Using GDP a problem arises since externals such as fossil carbon emission and ecosystem service degradation are hardly priced at all in today's economy, an argument can be made that if we did price these fairly, we would realize that we are already in "degrowth," since we are degrading our eco-capital faster than we are increasing our dollar capital.

sidd




oren

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2017, 08:10:58 AM »
I should point out that GDP measures economic activity (usually a proxy for tax base) and not accymulated economic capital.
To the point, if you grow green technologies fast enough then theoretically you can continue growth in the near term and still begin to decarbonise. But as we lack the time and are way over our carbon budget, degrowth is necessary.
On the other hand, as each individual aspires to a better life, and as most individuals live in poor or developing countries,  while many individuals in developed countries are in a consumption frenzy, degrowth is sadly a pipe dream.

gerontocrat

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2017, 03:12:34 PM »
Yes, GDP does measure economic activity, but an increase in economic activity does not necessarily mean economic growth or accumulation of wealth. There may well be a spurt in economic activity as  as a result of Irma and Maria, but that is not growth. The UN has a set of measures that are meant to reflect changes in the condition of the people - the Human Development Index

http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/human-development-index-hdi

"The HDI was created to emphasize that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth alone. The HDI can also be used to question national policy choices, asking how two countries with the same level of GNI per capita can end up with different human development outcomes."

There is also the Gender Empowerment Measure (this was never popular with the like of Trump)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_Empowerment_Measure

I used them a lot when I was working in overseas development. They have lost popularity with politicians as they often highlight that man does not live by GDP alone.
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TerryM

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2017, 07:48:45 PM »
sidd


Every advance made in energy efficiency belies the proposition that degrowth is a necessary component of decarbonization. Whether this solution could ever be enough to assure a future without run away climate change is a wholly different question.


Terry

Neven

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2017, 10:47:12 PM »
I'll kick this off with two observations:

1) How do we define growth ? If we use GDP or PPP or some such, then the question resolves to a tautology: that carbon intensity per marginal dollar(or yuan or ruble or rupee) must drop faster than GDP increase.

2) Using GDP a problem arises since externals such as fossil carbon emission and ecosystem service degradation are hardly priced at all in today's economy, an argument can be made that if we did price these fairly, we would realize that we are already in "degrowth," since we are degrading our eco-capital faster than we are increasing our dollar capital.

I have a third question: What is, in essence, the aim of GDP growth?
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2017, 11:34:29 PM »
It seems to me that:

1.  Our modern global economic system is as addicted to material growth as a heroin addict is to smack. 

2.  Capable people (like the 1%) can make the worse addicts as they can cope with their dysfunction long enough for it to make a big mess when their house of cards collapses.

3.  Addiction (in any form) is a mental illness that requires an intervention in order to correct, & in our current situation, the most likely intervention is going to be a socio-economic collapse.
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2017, 12:07:24 AM »
For those who survive the likely coming socio-economic collapse I offer the following points:

1.  Addiction includes both cravings and aversions that lead to deceptive behavior when reality doesn't give one what one wants (or does give one what on fears).

2.  As an intervention to such deceptive behavior one should realize that there is no "I" in team as in the Three Musketeer's "All for one and one for all."

3.  Further intervention to such deceptive behavior requires application of the scientific method on a systemic level by the recursive application of: deductive logic, inductive logic, the reduction of entropy (by the application of work/concentration/effort) and letting go of preconditioning.
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2017, 12:44:22 AM »
Since I am on a roll, I note that Hegel concluded that all historical institutions/systems only partially represent the 'truth', which sets in motion a dialectic of thesis/antithesis/synthesis of socio-economic struggle.  In this regards, I reference Churchman (1971), The Design of Inquiring Systems: Basic Concepts of Systems and Organizations, Basic Books, Inc.

http://www8.informatik.umu.se/~kivanov/ChurchmanDIS.pdf

Churchman (1971) indicates that a Hegelian inquiring system is dialectical in the sense that knowledge is created through a conflictual thesis-antithesis-synthesis cycle, which "… is soaring to greater heights, to self-awareness, more completeness, betterment, progress."

Here the 'guarantor' (see the extract from the link below) of the Hegelian inquiring system is synthesis that opposes the conflict between the thesis and its antithesis.

See also:

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4419-9707-4_19#page-1

Extract: "The guarantor serves to ensure that the knowledge created by the system is consistent with the philosophy on which the system is based and "true" to the extent that it is not believed to be false"

The first attached image shows a metaphoric image of a dialectic double helical spiral leading to synthesis as a guarantor that the conflict between thesis and antithesis can be resolved.  The second attached image show a metaphoric image of a hero's journey from the known through the unknown on one loop of a dialectic double helix.

Finally, I note that Churchman was the first to formally use the term "wicked problem" (see the third image), with regards to systems management (which may require heroic solutions).

See also:
Charles Smith (2007), "Deception Meets Enlightenment: From a Viable Theory of Deception to a Quirk About Humanity's Potential", World Futures 63(1):42-54, DOI: 10.1080/02604020600948974

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02604020600948974

Abstract: "This article seeks to further suggestions made by C. West Churchman (1979). Churchman , C. W. 1979 . The systems approach and its enemies , New York : Basic Books . View all references that a full inquiry into human systems requires a viable theory of deception. It argues that such a theory of deception requires an understanding of deception, a recognition of errors in perception, and an ability to see simultaneously from competing points of view. The intent here is to provide some insights that are useful in our understanding of deception, and thereby contributing to a viable theory of deception. Insights are used from what Huxley (1944). Huxley , A. 1944 . The perennial philosophy , New York : Harper and Row . View all references calls the “perennial tradition,” found particularly within the esoteric traditions of the Buddhist, Sufi, and Taoist esoteric teachings, as well as many other spiritual traditions of the world. The perennial tradition emphasizes the role and continual presence of deception, alongside enlightenment, within human experience. In accord with C. West Churchman's view, this tradition suggests that, by a simultaneous recognition of both our enlightenment and our deception in any given situation, we have the proper perspective to meet the problems we face. A thought experiment, using insights from the perennial tradition, is offered as a challenge to all involved in human systems inquiry."

Extract: "We are not merely in a state of deception.  We are rather, at one and the same time, both confused and enlightened.  This may sound at first trivial, but when we reflect on the fact that we are not merely operating with a consciousness that has a bit of enlightenment and a bit of confusion, but is rather both completely confused and completely enlightened, we find ourselves with a paradox.  The paradox is not merely a puzzle to be solved – it is rather something that we must carry.  Again we can remember Churchman's insight that we can not have a "guarantor," at any moment.  Translated into this context, we cannot know, at any moment, what perception is accurate – is "enlightenment" and what is "distorted" – is our "deception."  Contemplating this deeply will call us to explore every possible ramification of our decisions and actions.

But can we understand further the idea of complete confusion and complete enlightenment, coexisting in us at any moment?  It is this question that calls us to look toward the perennial wisdom tradition, which, we will find, is based on this exact condition, reflected well in the words of Dogen, a great Zen master: Those who greatly realize delusion are buddhas (Nishiijima and Cross, 1994, p. 33).

We recognize, then, given that the word buddha means "to be awake" and therefore not deluded, that the Dogen's words are a self-referential paradox, the very kind on which Godel based his "incompleteness theorem."  The theorem, in essence, warns us never to assume any system of thought/interpretation could be without deception, that is, could possibly have complete perception of "Reality."

From the viewpoint of the perennial tradition, things are better than they appear because our life is meant to be, quite literally, a mirror of our essence, the expression of beauty and potentiality.  In the language of the Abrahamic traditions, and also the language of Buddhism, the human being's perfection or buddha nature waits to come forth, and it is the tests and trials of life that bring it forth.  This perfection is not a predetermined structure based on a static "Reality" or archetype.  It is, rather, an emergence from a non-equilibrium condition, a fresh expression of being in a new configuration, only possible in a universe that allows for free will and indeterminancy.

The work on dissipative self-organization and on the embrace of uncertainty (Prigogine and Stengers, 1997) offers us a great deal of insight into the way that nature self-evolves, via non-equilibrium conditions – towards greater beauty and elegance, ever going beyond the constraints and limitations of stale or sclerosed perspective.

By way of summary, we echo Churchman's basic insight: We are ever deceived, and we are greatly deceived.  We do, indeed, "see through a glass darkly."  Our deception will be with us as long as we live as human beings, chained to the wall of Plato's cave.

The answer is to face of our deception, to look through the eyes of another, to recognize that no singular worldview will suffice; we need to see that there really are no "experts" in the inquiry into human systems dynamics.  We must, again in Churchman's language, become an enemy of our deception, and realize that each of us has "a quirk about the destiny and improvement of the human condition, just as all the rest of humanity has its quirks" Churchman (1979, pp. 213-214).

This "quirk" of which (Churchman speaks) is the key to our particular contribution in this life, our "quirk about the destiny and improvement of the human condition."  As such it is never trivial, but the vision that must live and evolve in spite of the paradox of our deception and enlightenment.  This is the "thought of the heart" that give passion and purpose to our lives, encouraging us, again in Churchman's words, to the "radiant" aspect of our beings, an aspect that is deeply enhanced by our realization of both our deception and our enlightenment."
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sidd

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2017, 06:07:52 AM »
"I have a third question: What is, in essence, the aim of GDP growth?"

These days GDP measures how much richer the top 1% became. So aim of GDP growth is to make the top 1% richer yet.

But as I mentioned in another thread, degrowth is a hard sell in developing countries, where even the tiny improvement granted to the bottom quintile means the difference between starvation and survival. Cf. China, and to a smaller extent, India.

sidd


Neven

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2017, 09:55:10 AM »
"I have a third question: What is, in essence, the aim of GDP growth?"

These days GDP measures how much richer the top 1% became. So aim of GDP growth is to make the top 1% richer yet.

I believe so too. And like ASLR says, they're addicted. So how do we intervene and save these people (and in the process ourselves)?

I don't have a solution, which is why I think the first step is to make as many people as possible aware that this is the crux of our global predicament.
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2017, 03:49:56 PM »
Steve Bannon thinks that we can promote degrowth by degrading globalist agendas and promoting the concept that the world is an arena for the survival of the fittest and nationalistic tribalism (including promoting limited warfare).  It is sad when 'survival of the fittest' is mistaken for 'natural selection', as natural selection has led to the evolution of some of mankind's finest attributes including compassion.  In this regard, the 1% should be made to feel like part of (or at least to have compassion for) the remaining 99%.
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magnamentis

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2017, 08:33:04 PM »
"I have a third question: What is, in essence, the aim of GDP growth?"

These days GDP measures how much richer the top 1% became. So aim of GDP growth is to make the top 1% richer yet.

But as I mentioned in another thread, degrowth is a hard sell in developing countries, where even the tiny improvement granted to the bottom quintile means the difference between starvation and survival. Cf. China, and to a smaller extent, India.

sidd

growth is mostly forced by inflation that itself is mainly caused by the system of interest and interest on interest. it's the monetary system itself that is causing it's own collaps.

another minor force is success that makes business raise their prices once demand for their goods is high, while a general price drop to original levels is longer and rarely reached.

rarely does not mean never  but for example, not even on top of the latest real-estate crisis the price of homes generally dropped on or below their initial price of 10-15 years earier when they were built.

there is much more to it, the topic fills entire libraries but those are two main forces for inflation that is forcing growth. who does not grow with inflation falls behind and sooner or later falls victim to above mentioned monetary system and more factors into a downward vortex.

interest i money, generated wthout procuctive value or any value other than lending money. in fact i believe that money should loose value if it's "parked" and not used for production or consumption.

there were times in the past when such systems existed.

further there are many overheads like government expenses that force higher taxes while when taxes were generally around 10% ( it's even biblical LOL ) the system worked quite well but at least was more stable over much longer periods of time.

sidd

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2017, 09:04:18 PM »
The second point I made in the first post on this thread regarded the mispricing, or more correctly, complete disregard for ecological services. If these were actually priced in our economy, that economy would be shown to be already shrinking. And the reduction will certainly continue at least until decarbonization took hold, but more likely, would continue unti humans cease destroying habitat and the flora and fauna therein.

In that light, the argument is turned on it's head. We are already in degrowth and decarbonization is a necessary but insufficient condition for regrowth of natural capital.

sidd

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2017, 02:23:17 PM »
As Trump (who is pro-fossil fuel & material growth) is inspiring a new class of kleptocratic/nationalistic leaders around the world (from Andrej Babis in the Czech Republic to Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines), I think that U.S. Senator Jeff Flakes speech represents one initial form of intervention against the 'corrupt elite'.
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2017, 04:19:52 PM »
Reich describes how big money is now (with Trump as the most recent manifestation of a decades long trend in America) in complete control of the government, and can now introduce more corrupt legislation to pour more money into their pockets.  He asks can the left and right anti-establishment wings get together to control crony capitalism:

Title: "Robert Reich: The Resistance Report 10/23/2017"



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TerryM

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2017, 09:18:44 PM »
Reich describes how big money is now (with Trump as the most recent manifestation of a decades long trend in America) in complete control of the government, and can now introduce more corrupt legislation to pour more money into their pockets.  He asks can the left and right anti-establishment wings get together to control crony capitalism:

The answer of course is NO!

"Crony Capitalism" controls all the portals through which information is disseminated, or more properly, enough of the portals to divert, alter, or spin on it's axis, whatever meme is required to assure it's own survival and growth.
Some of us that left the United States rather recently have been gob smacked by the mind control - there really is no other term that accurately describes what is taking place - that crony capitalism is exerting, and the outstanding success they're having.


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GeoffBeacon

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2017, 12:46:43 PM »
I attempted to do some sums on the necessity for degrowth a couple of years ago

Quote
Can the world’s economy be decarbonised fast enough to allow growth that is also green?

Or must the world’s economy shrink?

The carbon intensity of production

The total production of the world economy is the combined production of all the countries in the world. It is called the gross world product (GWP). In dollar terms, this has been estimated as $87 trillion for 2013.

The amount of greenhouse gasses humans emit is determined partly by GWP. It is also also determined by how much greenhouse gas is emitted for each unit of GWP. Roughly 400 grammes of CO2 are emitted for each dollar’s worth of production. This the Carbon Intensity. It gives

Global_emissions_of_CO2 = Gross_World_Product*Carbon_Intensity

Global_emissions_of_CO2 in numbers is:

$87 trillion * 400 grammes CO2/$ = 35 billion tonnes

The goods and services the “average” person produces is the Personal_Product so

Gross_World_Product= World_Population*Personal_Product

Gross_World_Product in numbers is:

6.8 billion people * $1300= $87 trillion

This means Global_emissions_of_CO2 is (1)

World_Population*Personal_Product*Carbon_Intensity

This helps us see that there are three ways of reducing carbon emissions:

Quote
1. Reduce World Population
2. Reduce Personal Product
3. Reduce Carbon Intensity

Policies to reduce population will not be analysed here. Reducing Carbon_Intensity is what most policy makers emphasise. The big question is “What if it can’t be done fast enough?”

Supplimentary material will show some calculation for the decade ending 2013. During this time

Quote
1. World Population increased by 12%
2. Personal Product increased 60%
3. Carbon Intensity reduced by 28%
4. but … Carbon emissions increased by 30%
And during the three years up to 2013

Quote
1. World Population increased by 3.5%
2. Personal Product increased 17%
3. Carbon Intensity reduced by 12%
4. but … Carbon emissions increased by 7%
Carbon emissions are still increasing – boosted somewhat by an increased population; reduced substantially by a lower Carbon Intensity but swamped by increased Personal Product, the GWP per person.

Some, if not most, policy makers say that “Green Growth” is possible – and an increase in production can be counter balanced by a much lower carbon intensity so that carbon emissions fall fast enough to avoid dangerous climate change. The questions are
Quote
1. Can the world decarbonise fast enough?

2. Is Green Growth a fantasy?

After showing "green growth" for the UK was dubious

Quote
Green growth for the world?

Worldwide, the numbers don’t seem quite as bad because the yearly emissions of green house gasses are just over 5 tonnes CO2e per person, much lower than in the UK. This breaks the 33 tonne, 1.5˚C budget in six years (See Carbon Brief’s Six years worth of current emissions would blow the carbon budget for 1.5 degrees). To eke out the 115 tonne, 2˚C budget until 2050 requires personal carbon emissions to fall at a rate of 4% a year.

For green growth to be possible for the whole world, the carbon intensity of production must fall by over 4% a year and large scale carbon extraction from the atmosphere must be possible after 2050.

“Green growth for the World”  may be a fantasy too.

There are several reasons for thinking this stuff is optimistic: missing feedbacks, a 2˚C temperature rise may not be safe...

The above is based on internet searches and a bit of spreadsheet work - by an amateur. Is there any professional/academic work along these lines - or is this blocked by scientific reticence? I know there are degrowth conferences but these don't seem to have a high profile.
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josh-j

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2017, 09:25:43 PM »
Quote
The above is based on internet searches and a bit of spreadsheet work - by an amateur. Is there any professional/academic work along these lines - or is this blocked by scientific reticence? I know there are degrowth conferences but these don't seem to have a high profile.

I don't know about published papers, but Kevin Anderson has been pretty clear in his many presentations on climate change over the years that climate targets built around "green growth" and so on are not compatible with scientific reality. I get the feeling that he is one of the rarer voices in the scientific community saying so, but he would probably respond saying that other scientists would agree privately but not publicly. He is, I think, blazing an important trail.

His website is here, and several of his talks are on YouTube.

Incidentally it was Anderson, among others, who really kickstarted my journey into climate awareness. He doesn't seem to pull many punches.

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2017, 06:27:19 AM »
josh-j

Thanks. Very interesting. Excerpt from your link
Quote
The UK’s research councils all now have economic growth deeply embedded in their strategies, mission statements, etc. – putting increasing pressure on the academic community to ensure their research proposals fit with the government’s agenda. This is a notable shortening of the historically precious “arms length” separation between the near-term aspirations of government and the longer-term objectives set by the research councils (the funders).

So whilst scientists may be operating objectively, they do so within potentially very subjective boundaries: boundaries that increasingly are prescribed by short-term political objectives.

Below is a brief review of the three UK research councils that fund most of the UK’s academic (non-medical) research, with a quick mention of the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. All demonstrate an economic framing that risks constraining the boundaries of the analyses they support.


I did lobby for Kevin Anderson to be on the UK CCC

Quote
Dear Secretary of State  [Ed Davey]

Please excuse the sarcasm in my last email. I know you have a very difficult job.

I have heard Kevin Anderson's name several times recently.

Given the urgency of the state of the climate, can I urge you to appoint him to the Committee on Climate Change. 

Best wishes

Geoff Beacon
Feb 19, 2014

Worth another go?
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sidd

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2017, 10:57:26 PM »

sidd

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2017, 11:02:51 PM »
In another thread gerontocrat pointed to an article by Monbiot

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/22/black-friday-consumption-killing-planet-growth

which led me to a pair of articles by Hickel on degrowth and decarbonization.

https://www.jasonhickel.org/blog/2017/11/19/why-branko-milanovic-is-wrong-about-de-growth

https://www.jasonhickel.org/blog/2017/11/22/why-branko-milanovic-is-wrong-about-degrowth-ii

Dr. Hickel makes several cogent arguments, and quotes a paper by Woodward (open access)

http://wer.worldeconomicsassociation.org/files/WEA-WER-4-Woodward.pdf

which makes the point that the share of the poor in growth is small and that lifting them out of poverty without drastically increasing their share is incompatible with fossil carbon loading targets:

"On the basis of optimistic assumptions, and implicitly assuming an indefinite continuation of potentially important pro-poor shifts in development policies during the baseline period, it finds that eradication will take at least 100 years at $1.25-a-day, and 200 years at $5-a-day. While this could in principle be brought forward by accelerating global growth, global carbon constraints raise serious doubts about the viability of this course, particularly as global GDP would need to exceed $100,000 per capita at $1.25-a-day, and $1m per capita at $5-a-day. The clear implication is that poverty eradication, even at $1.25-a-day, and especially at a poverty line which better reflects the satisfaction of basic needs, can be reconciled with global carbon constraints only by a major increase in the share of the poorest in global economic growth ..."

Hickel therefore calls for decommodification of social goods and restructuring of economy and government.

sidd



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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #21 on: November 24, 2017, 11:13:57 PM »
These movie quote seems apropos for this thread:

Harry Lime (Orson Welles), "The Third Man" (1949): "In Switzerland they had brotherly love – and 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."
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gerontocrat

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Re: Is Degrowth necessary for Decarbonization ?
« Reply #22 on: November 25, 2017, 11:18:23 AM »
These movie quote seems apropos for this thread:

Harry Lime (Orson Welles), "The Third Man" (1949): "In Switzerland they had brotherly love – and 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."
Harry Lime was a drug dealer in Vienna - a very naughty boy indeed.
Perhaps the cuckoo clock gave the Swiss 500 years of democracy and peace?
"Para a Causa do Povo a Luta Continua!"
"And that's all I'm going to say about that". Forrest Gump
"Damn, I wanted to see what happened next" (Epitaph)