Degrowth, for the salvation of our earth ?
At the era of globalisation, growth, and consummation, a small idea started to show his teeth. For some economists, scientists, and non-governmental organisations the real way to sustainable development is the degrowth. Is this true?
The idea of degrowth
The premises of degrowth emerged in 1972 with the report « The limits of growth », this report developed the idea that we must change our economy and production otherwise we cannot preserved our earth, this report was very criticized. It was written by the Club of Rome ; this organisation is composed by economists, scientists, and representative from industry. They conducts research above complex problems that, developed countries or developing countries are dealing with, like growth, environmental impacts, sustainable development …
The degrowth, is a phenomenon where countries must lower their production which will inevitably lower their growth, and will also reduced the impact on the environment and on our natural wealth. It takes into account the economy, but also sustainability, democratic and responsible self-management, justice, equity and equal access at resources.
For Serge Latouche, a French economist we should speak about « a-growth » as we speak for « atheist », because we abandoned a faith or a religion, this of economy, progress and development ; we must rejected the almost idolatry of growth for growth.
What we should do for that ?
The degrowth is not just an economic approach, it is almost an ideology because we shall not just reduce the production, but we must reduce the consumption.
To reduce consumption started from citizens who have to change the way to consume, do not buy but to use barter trade. We also must be more selfless because inevitably the reduction of the production perhaps will cause a lot of unemployment and so we must reduced our work time to give to everyone the possibility to work.
But these ideas are not really precise.
For Serge Latouche in « petit traité de la décroissance sereine » edition Mille et une nuits in 2006, he speak about the logic of the 8 R
- Reassess : change the values of our society, do not get stuck in our principle and imaginary
- Reconceptualise : breaking away from the capitalism, reinvigorate the social and human in economy
- Restructure : we must restructure our society, our value and way to think and do not just hope to have a profit.
- Redistribute : the restructuration will let the equal access of the wealth and will enable equal the balance between the North an south
- Relocalize : is to produce localy for the essential. All production that can response at the needs must be be localy, and that will finance local communities and local companies. Return to the peasant activity and downturn to the intensive production.
- Reduce : reduce the environnemental impact, overconsumption and wastage.
- Reuse/Recycle : fight the planned obsolescence of the equipment’s, recycle waste not reusable. Ex : in Switzerland some companies had created carpets once spent, will can be used like a mulch in garden because they are made withe based of an organic matter.
What are the limits ?
The limits are multiple :
Firstly, the degrowth should be a world action. It must be led by the rich countries, because they used practically the totally of resources of the world and causes the most important impact on the environment in comparison with the south countries. They also have the budget to finance this action.
Secondly, all companies should play the game. Because if just small groups of companies attempt the bet of degrowth they will quickly stop it because of the losses.
And thirdly, poor countries who don’t have basic needs, cant they really change their economy, society or way to live know ? or did they have the means ?
Basically we know that this idea is « utopian » and also not, because the degrowth is the finality but we can make some actions like the local production, the recycling, and decrease our consumption and change our way to consumed. These small steps should be undertaken because is not just the question to change our way of life but the major goal is the preservation of our earth for us and our future generation or the human race will disappear.
Serge Latouche : petit traité de la décroissance sereine. Editions mille et une nuits