So much of the analysis of how we respond to climate change assumes that economic growth and emissions reduction are compatible goals. But is this wishful thinking? To question maximizing economic growth as an organizing principle of society seems close to economic heresy.
Enter Tim Jackson, a professor of Sustainable Development and author of the book, Prosperity Without Growth. He argues it's time to re-think the very notion of growth and what it means to be genuinely prosperous.
Jackson is speaking as part of the 2010 Alfred Deakin Lecture series, "Brave New World?" Curated by Tim Flannery, the 2010 Deakins presents the climate change challenge from ten different perspectives, with a focus on ten different spheres of life.
Are we, the series asks, willing to take the hard personal, political and economic choices that will truly reduce emissions? Are we brave enough to make the changes -- in thought and deed -- that are required of us? Are we able to shape this new world, or will it shape us?
Tim Jackson is Professor of Sustainable Development and Director of the Research group on Lifestyles, Values and Environment (RESOLVE). His research interests focus on understanding the social, psychological and structural dimensions of sustainable living.
Tim joined the University of Surrey in January 1995 under an EPSRC Fellowship on energy and environment, after five years as Senior Researcher at the Stockholm Environment Institute. In February 2000, he was appointed Professor of Sustainable Development, the first such chair to be created in the UK. From Jan 2003 to April 2005 he held an ESRC Fellowship on the social psychology of sustainable consumption. He founded RESOLVE in May 2006 with core funding from the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). RESOLVE is a novel inter-disciplinary collaboration involving around 30 researchers across four departments (CES, Psychology, Sociology, Economics) in Surrey. Its aim is to develop a robust understanding of the links between lifestyle, societal values and the environment, and to provide evidence-based advice to policy-makers seeking to influence people's lifestyles and practices.
For over twenty years, Tim has been at the forefront of research and teaching in sustainability. In 1988 he pioneered a least-cost approach to carbon abatement for Friends of the Earth. In 1996 he co-authored (with Nic Marks) the first Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare for the UK and has continued to work closely with the New Economics Foundation and others on measures of sustainable wellbeing at national and regional level. During the last decade, he has led numerous research and policy initiatives on sustainable consumption and production in the UK and abroad. From June 2004 to March 2006, he was the sole academic representative on the UK Sustainable Consumption Round Table and in 2006 published the Earthscan Reader on Sustainable Consumption. Tim led the team which developed the Surrey Environmental Lifestyle Mapping (SELMA) model used to estimate the UK's 'carbon footprint' for the Carbon Trust. He is a co-author of the WorldWatch Institute's influential State of the World 2008 on sustainable economies.
In April 2004, Tim was appointed as Economics Commissioner to the UK Sustainable Development Commission (SDC). He contributed extensively to the 2005 UK Sustainable Development Strategy and is now leading the SDC's Redefining Prosperity programme. He is a member of UNEP's Sustainable Lifestyles Task Force, Defra's Sustainable Consumption and Production Advisory Group, the Environment Agency's Science Advisory Panel and the Carbon Trust/BSI Technical Advisory Group on carbon labelling. He chairs the 'New Energy Solutions' Advisory Board for Danish investment company BankInvest and is associate researcher on a Templeton Foundation project on 'The Pursuit of Happiness' at Emory University, Atlanta.
In addition to his academic and policy work, Tim is an award-winning playwright with numerous BBC radio credits to his name. His environmental drama The Cry of the Bittern won a Public Awareness of Science Drama Award in 1998. His most recent play, Variations, won the 2007 Grand Prix Marulic and is longlisted for the 2008 Sony Drama award.
"There is no evidence in social psychology that we really are the narrow, materialist, selfish, individualist consumers that the economy would have us believe that we are," says Professor Tim Jackson. "We have to free our imagination."
Professor Tim Jackson discusses the role advertisers play in perpetuating consumption-based issues like climate change and in hindering the adoption of sustainable lifestyles. He says advertisers and politicos alike are responsible for what he calls the "perverseness of economics."
Process by which a nation's wealth increases over time. The most widely used measure of economic growth is the real rate of growth in a country's total output of goods and services (gauged by the gross domestic product adjusted for inflation, or real GDP). Other measures (e.g., national income per capita, consumption per capita) are also used. The rate of economic growth is influenced by natural resources, human resources, capital resources, and technological development in the economy along with institutional structure and stability. Other factors include the level of world economic activity and the terms of trade. See alsoeconomic development.
As I said, referring to putting eternal growth into question, nobody talks about communism but biased tv programs and uneducated persons. In your brain seems to be only two alternatives: capitalism or communism. That's thinking in black and white. Please go to northern Europe like Sweden and Norway and you will see economies which are democratic, capitalistic but with a lot of socially very valuable restrictions. If you call those economies communism or authoritarian any European would send you to the funny house. (By the way, any government has to be authoritarian in a certain extent. Or are you an autonomist?? God forbid!)
@Hitchcock and Gabriels Goose:
The real utopians are you. The only thing which does not stop growing is cancer and it's not quite something you might want to have. Indefinite growth is logically and calculatory impossible. Just let me take the interest rate as an example: If Abraham of the old testament would have put 1kg of gold on a bank and would have got a yearly interest rate of 5% and interest of interest for it, he now would own the mass of eight suns of gold... I hope that your intellectual abilities are not too limited to understand that this world can't take 10billion people consuming and exploiting our crude materials, our nature and our unused land, destroying the beautiful things god gave us.
Please stop using the term communism so inflationary. Tim Jackson as much communist as George W. Bush is a christian or as Brian Bosworth is a ballerina. It sounds a lot as if you are victims of biased tv programs of the USA. I recommend to read mor about this subject. There might be the chance that you will intellectually understand what Jackson means.
You are talking about the financial crisis and fracking (a new and very hazardous method to exploit natural gas - see the movie "Gasland"). These are the very things that Tim Robbins wants to prevent for the future! Your arguments are extremely ambiguous. Please do some research and then try to sort out how to present logical arguments...
Sure, America has got to change. But not at the rate they are currently shoving down our throat... Read Agenda 21 in it's entirety here, http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/ . The do some research on how quickly Oregon property-rights are changing. Also plently of UN activity in Idaho, and Washington. Quite frankly these people feel like they can govern us... We will govern ourselves, even if it means the destruction of this entire continent. This is a sovereign nation, and 3/4 th's of us intend to make sure it stays that way... The Constitution should be upheld by all Americans, above even themselves and their loved ones. There is no room for debate...
If these people want to do some good, then they should come to Pennsylvania and stop all this under-regulated marcellus shale gas drilling. Or maybe they could help us with our clean-coal initiative. No, I'm not talking about co2 sequestration (lunacy). I'm talking about new carbon, mercury scrubbers.... If we didn't have everyone in the energy sector constantly lobbying against new energy tecs, i.e, Who Killed The Electric Car, then we'd have been ready years ago. The only crises we are facing is peak oil. GO HOME UN!
He is an absolute Utopian, even more so an eco-fascist. These are the type of people that built the Georgia Guide Stones. If they could push a button and kill 7.5 billion of us they would... America is perfectly capable of sustaining 300 million people, middle-class and all. This is a foreign, borderline communist ideology when applied to America. The truth is, this is NWO globalism under the guise of sustainability and smart growth. They want to turn America, let me say that again, AMERICA, in to a national park thats off limits to everyone but the elitists. It's all for the greater good of course, at least thats what they're saying. If you are an American and you aren't familiar with U.N Agenda 21, then it's absolutely imperative that you MAKE YOURSELF AWARE OF IT! I love our Mother Earth, but their methodology is already extreme, and constantly getting worse. They spawn NGO's like maggots. Just look at the hit property-rights has taken in Oregon. Oregon is a model for their plans for the rest of America. Property owners in most of the state can't even build on their own land, can't even allow their cattle to drink from the creeks, heck they can't even give their land away, and they don't own anything, whether it's on their land or not, that contains one drop of water: Yes, from puddles to pools to creeks and ponds, the NGO's own them all.... Ultimately, this form of sustainability would mean a drastic reduction in quality of life for all Americans. It is selfish and unrealistic. As long as the sun still shines, and the earth still turns, and the trees still breath, nature will return, maybe a little different than the last time, but She will return. She is indomitable.... The human species, one species, isn't.... Heck, they've already crafted a post-industrial America with their WTO's, and all that jazz. Leave us the hell alone. Oh, and if you aren't familiar with U.N Agenda 21, and their crafty manipulation and play on language, than you've got some catching up to do... And do not confuse me for some crazed conservative, I'm Quaker...
...this guy is dead on...perpetual growth is impossible..personally I think we're over the edge...the next 20 years will be different than anything you can imagine....keep in mind this Fact: we've used more energy since 1945 than all of history put together, and it WILL run out very soon...All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
Same old Malthusian crap. Every living thing must grow. Once it stops growing, it starts to die. We were going to run out of food. We didn't. We were going to run out of room to live. We haven't come close. We were all going to choke to death on smog. We haven't. Using firewood was once the only form of heat. If it still was, we'd have used it up by now. Fortunately, we learned to harness coal, oil and the atom. How do you separate the Chicken Littles from the Cassandras? Look at their track record. Malthus was wrong. Marx was wrong. Jefferson and John Adams were right. Sustainability is an extremely slippery and open-ended concept. Pidgeons pooping in the Superdome is unsustainable. Theoretically, they'd fill it up. I just don't see how it could really happen. We have to use resources wisely. Fortunately (or unfortunately), the market is the only efficient way that has ever been found to do that. Morgan 3.0 is correct.
Utopians have always caused the greatest damage in society, men like this one and his devotees nearly always head down a road which becomes more and more radical, ultimately to Communism.
Main Aspects of this ideology include:
1. Top Down Planning.
2. Economic Growth will lead to a disaster.
3. The market requires intervention for the long term 'greater good' of society.
Men like this have always been disastrously wrong in the past, it is not different this time. Whether or not Global Warming, Resource Scarcity are genuine problems, the establishment of a authoritarian green regime is not the answer.