Do we need to degrow?

do908-laudato-siThere is no doubt that Pope Francis is being a revolution inside of the Catholic Church. His second encyclical, a particular kind of letter that catholic popes send out, had an environmental content that nobody was expecting from the highest hierarchy of such a traditionalist institution. Laudato si’ criticizes consumerism and irresponsible development, which lay behind climate change and environmental destruction. It also defends a more equalitarian share of wealth and the need of economic growth to be connected to social development.

This text has been even seen as a support by some defenders of Degrowth theories. This movement supports anti-consumerism and anti-capitalism, looking for a better balance between environment and human beings. This theory seeks to reduce production and consumption, which would mean a contraction of economies but, they defend, a more proportional share of wealth and a solution to environmental problems.

Would that work? Is it necessary such a “drastic” measure? Is environment more important than employment? Are we (and our governments, enterprises and societies) willing to sacrifice economic growth in order to stop the destruction of environment? Could we sacrifice our life standards, high-technology devices, comfortable homes and exquisite diet? Up to what point our life style would be affected? Is there any alternative to keep growing in a way that our planet would resist?

Some of these questions were also made around the transcendental 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. The COP 21 showed that countries are more concerned about climate change and environment protection than ever. But above that, they are still more concerned about employment and economic growth of their societies.

Degrowth, whether if Pope Francis likes it or not, doesn’t seem to be in any agenda right now. We might not need it and maybe there is a way to make development sustainable without affecting our economies. But we should find it soon. Otherwise, climate change might be not only an environmental catastrophe, but also a huge handicap for economy and employment. Or you think it’s easy for countries to develop when they are flooded or during a draught?

 

And that’s where our Aspire 2016 track “Limited resources – limiting resources” appears. With the objective of finding the right balance between our infinite needs and the limited resources available to satisfy them, this track will reunite experts and motivated people around a topic that is more urgent that it seems.

Join us from the 18th to the 20th of November. Registrations are open in http://www.aspire.co.at/aspire2016/

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