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Growth criticism – Cervenka joins in

Andreas Cervenka, financial reporter and columnist at the Swedish daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, has joined the group of people criticising unlimited growth in a closed system (i.e. planet earth).

A fair summary of the criticism against growth in a closed system would be much longer than the format of this website (and most other websites like it) would allow. Therefore, this will be a very brief version of that criticism. (I did a slightly more extended, but by no means comprehensive, summary in my Master’s Thesis in Educational Science which you can read (only in Swedish, though) here).

The criticism of growth can be said to have begun at least as early as 1972, when Donella and Dennis Meadows together with Jorgen Randers and William Behrens published their book The limits to growth. The book was much criticised, and was even ascribed comments it had never made. However, in 2008, Graham Turner compared the initial estimates of Meadows et al. (1972) with thirty years of reality and found that they were in many respects reasonable, adding that the system may collapse “midway through the 21st Century”.

The criticism of unlimited growth may seem straightforward enough. Planet earth, being a closed system, can only house so many people, houses, corporations, cars etc. It can also deliver only a limited amount of renewable and non-renewable natural resources. But apparently this is not obvious enough to a large number of economists and politicians.

In the UK, the new economics foundation (nef) tried an innovative approach to try to illustrate the impossible concept of
umlimited growth in a closed system by introducing “The Impossible Hamster” – how fat can the hamster get? How much growth, in very concrete terms, is feasible on planet earth?

And now it is Cervenka’s turn to highlight this paradox. Will it open a few more eyes? Will it lead to change? We can only hope so. For all our sakes.


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