Green Growth vs. No Growth – a debate on CBC’s Ideas

CBC’s radio show Ideas recently hosted and then podcast a debate on Green Growth or No Growth at the University of Ottawa.  The debate starts from accepting the idea that humanity faces serious environmental problems.  The debaters then debate the resolution: Be it resolved that building an environmentally sustainable society will require an end to economic growth.

I disagree with the idea framing the debate that human impact on the natural world is always problem. While reducing the environmental impact per unit of human wellbeing is good, we can also work to shift the impacts of human impact from a negative to a positive. Or in other words we can also choose to invest in the building, enhancing, restoring Earth rather than only reducing the amount we impact it.

The program was released as a downloadable podcast on February 28, 2011, and will be available until the end of March.  The podcast can be found at at http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/index.html?newsandcurrent. Click on the link and scroll about half way down the page, click “The Best of Ideas” link.

The ‘no-growth’ side was:

Peter Victor
Author of Managing Without Growth: Slower By Design, Not Disaster, professor (and former Dean) at York University, and former Assistant Deputy Minister in the Ontario government.

Tim Jackson
Economics commissioner with the UK Sustainable Development Commission, professor at the University of Surrey (UK), and author of Prosperity without Growth – economics for a finite planet.(external link)

The ‘green-growth’ side was:

Richard Lipsey
one of Canada’s pre-eminent economists, professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University, and author of Economic Transformations: General Purpose Technologies and Long Term Economic Growth.

Paul Ekins
Author of Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability: The Prospects for Green Growth, professor at University College London, and Director of the UK Green Fiscal Commission.

One thought on “Green Growth vs. No Growth – a debate on CBC’s Ideas”

  1. While lots of us may sympathize with the no-growth fantasy, it is just that. Not even a totalitarian government has the political clout to control growth impulses. In a democratic society, forget it. Better to focus the energy on influencing strategies and methods and attenuating impacts.

    I work as a consultant on community and regional planning, where the resilience conversation is finding traction. See: crcalabama.org

    I’d love to talk to others interested in resilience strategies connected to integrating land use, transportation, public health, sustainability and affordability planning.

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