GDP – a Growing Destructive Problem
Here’s an excerpt from a piece by George Monbiot which I just read at Celsias. Celsias, by the way, is one of the best global warming-focussed websites I know of and I’d welcome suggestions for any that you think are as useful. It’s certainly an excellent resource for following Bali-related developments as efforts mount to create Kyoto+.
Point being – remember that riddle from when you were little about how a frog is in the middle of a pond. On the first jump, the frog gets halfway to the edge, and on each successive jump the frog goes half as far as the jump before. How many jumps until the frog reaches the edge of the pond?
Well guess who’s the frog now?
Underlying the immediate problem is a much greater one. In a lecture to the Royal Academy of Engineering in May, Professor Rod Smith of Imperial College explained that a growth rate of 3% means economic activity doubles in 23 years(24). At 10% it takes just 7 years. This we knew. But Smith takes it further. With a series of equations he shows that “each successive doubling period consumes as much resource as all the previous doubling periods combined.” In other words, if our economy grows at 3% between now and 2030, we will consume in that period economic resources equivalent to all those we have consumed since humans first stood on two legs. Then, between 2030 and 2053, we must double our total consumption again. Reading that paper I realised for the first time what we are up against.