In the early years of its publication, The Ecologist came with the subtitle “Journal of the Post Industrial Age”. Its message—that society needed to begin voluntarily de-industrialising if it was to avoid global catastrophe in the century ahead, a disaster that would mean de-industrialisation by default—with all the suffering that would entail.
The seminal Blueprint for Survival published in January 1972 was the manifesto that outlined this vision of a voluntary transition to a largely de-industrialised world, based on localised economies adapted to their environments, and providing the basis for truly stable and fulfilling convivial societies.
The Blueprint effectively launched the political Green movement across the globe. Since then, however, the world has gone full steam ahead in precisely the opposite direction to that advocated in the early issues of The Ecologist.
Regardless of this, many of its far-sighted predictions are now becoming clear to even the most determined die-hard – climate disruption, peak energy and resources, resulting commodity inflation, resource wars, economic collapse, population strain, increasing poverty, social breakdown, ecological destruction, disease, and crop failures, along with increasing authoritarianism, state and corporate corruption, and so on, ad infinitum. All direct consequences of unbridled economic growth and industrialisation.
Now a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Policy shows that global economic output is a direct proxy for global CO2 emissions. The graph below reveals the correlation between the two.
The resulting choice is stark. Business as usual, leading to a perfect storm of accumulating global crises and ultimate collapse—and thus de-industrialisation by default—or a post industrial vision for a voluntary and stable transition to a truly sustainable Post Industrial Age.
In another, exhaustive, report published by the OECD, the conclusion is equally dire if we do nothing to avert the trajectory we are currently settled on. The report entitled OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050 – The Consequences of Inaction concludes “Progress on an incremental, piecemeal, business-as-usual basis in the coming decades will not be enough.” The picture they paint of life a few decades from now is not a rosy one.
Watch Edward Goldsmith explain the problems facing industrial society and some of the alternatives available to us in this documentary from 1990 (below).
For more about “degrowth” in general, visit the website for the 2012 Montreal Degrowth in the Americas conference.
A further event, The Third International Conference on Degrowth, was held in Venice, Italy between 19-23rd September, 2012.
Edward Goldsmith argues that the planetary crisis facing us today cannot be solved by further economic development and technological innovation but only through the cooperative efforts of ordinary people guided by their faith in traditional wisdom.
First aired as part of Channel 4’s Fragile Earth series, 28th January 1990, UK.
Part 1: The Problem—industrial society
Part 2: The Solution—People and Planet
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