Population is not the issue

Screen shot 2014-03-28 at 14.50.53Charles Eisenstein writes:

“If everyone on Earth lived the lifestyle of a traditional Indian villager, it is arguable that even 12 billion would be a sustainable world population. If everyone lives like an upper-middle-class North American (a status to which much of the world seems to aspire), then even two billion is unsustainable.

“This means that overpopulation is a red herring… Lurking behind the spectre of population growth lies a more challenging problem: economic growth.”


“The short answer is that our financial system requires growth in order to function. In a system in which money is created as interest-bearing debt, the absence of growth means fewer lending opportunities. Without new money entering the economy, existing debts are harder to repay. Bankruptcies increase, wealth concentrates in fewer hands, and pressure grows to financialise assets, liquidate natural wealth, cut social services and essentially direct all resources toward the servicing of debt. While this is going on, technological improvements in productivity lead to lower employment, which, coupled with rising indebtedness, cut demand and reduce lending opportunities even more.

“In other words, the growth imperative comes not because human needs are greater than in the past, but because the financial system requires growth.”

“Economic growth is much easier to achieve when the population is growing as well. In its absence, consumption per capita must grow instead.”

When the Earth is full, both options, growing population and growing consumption, become increasingly difficult. The existing system experiences stresses and strains.

People continue with the ways they know. But that won’t work, any more than Canute could hold back the rising tide.

What we need now is a new way of looking at things — a new ‘paradigm’. A permabusiness approach.

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