Decoupling of Economic Growth and Material Consumption is an Illusion, Researchers Say

“Metrics on resource productivity currently used by governments suggest that some developed countries have increased the use of natural resources at a slower rate than economic growth (relative decoupling) or have even managed to use fewer resources over time (absolute decoupling). Using the material footprint (MF), a consumption-based indicator of resource use, we find the contrary: Achievements in decoupling in advanced economies are smaller than reported or even nonexistent.”

“By calculating raw material equivalents of international trade, we demonstrate that countries’ use of nondomestic resources is, on average, about threefold larger than the physical quantity of traded goods. As wealth grows, countries tend to reduce their domestic portion of materials extraction through international trade, whereas the overall mass of material consumption generally increases.”

“Our findings call into question the sole use of current resource productivity indicators in policy making and suggest the necessity of an additional focus on consumption-based accounting for natural resource use.”

Read more: The material footprint of nations, Thomas O. Wiedmann, Heinz Schandl, Manfred Lenzen, Daniel Moran, Sangwon Suh, James West, and Keiichiro Kanemoto, in PNAS 2013. Open Access. Via Klimaatblog.

Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed

“All of America’s well-publicized problems, including obesity, depression, pollution and corruption are what it costs to create and sustain a trillion-dollar economy. For the economy to be “healthy”, America has to remain unhealthy. Healthy, happy people don’t feel like they need much they don’t already have, and that means they don’t buy a lot of junk, don’t need to be entertained as much, and they don’t end up watching a lot of commercials.”

Read more: Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed. Thanks to Bori.

The World’s First Post-Growth Economy

Japan economic growth “One of the problems with the post-growth movement is that it can appear theoretical. No matter how confident we might be, we lack proof that a post-growth economy is possible. Or do we? Perhaps the world already has a post-growth society, albeit an unintentional one. Here’s what Japan’s GDP has been up to for the last twenty years.”

“As far as economists are concerned, this is a tragedy and a disaster. And yet, the lights are still on, everything still works. Literacy is high, and crime is low. Life expectancy is better than almost anywhere on earth – 82 years to the US’ 78. The trains run to the second. Unemployment is only 5%, and levels of inequality are enviable. So maybe Japan isn’t a failure. Maybe it’s just ahead of its time – not ‘stagnating’, but settling into the plateau of ‘enough’.” Read.

Tax Resources, Not Labour

“In our society, high taxes on labor drive businesses to minimize the number of employees. Resources remain untaxed, so we use them unconstrained. This system causes both unemployment and scarcity of resources.” Read. Via Femke Groothuis.

Economy = Energy

“The world economy will contract for at least the next 50 years as oil production declines since oil is such an important proportion of world energy use and oil energy facilitates the production of other energy forms (e.g. coal mining, solar, wind). There may be some local and temporary economic growth in regions with local concentrations of available energy but, on the whole, contraction will be the rule”. Read.