Endless growth on a finite planet

March 21, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

Can we have endless growth (as proposed by many as the solution to our economic woes) on a finite planet? John Atcheson of Common Dreams explains why this idea of endless growth is absurd:

Right now, it takes 1.5 Earths worth of resources to maintain our current economy. By 2050, assuming only moderate growth, we’ll consume nearly 3 Earths worth.

But of course, we only have one planet.

Those extra worlds we consume represents debt – assets taken from our children. In ecologic terms, it is called “overshoot.” And living systems cannot long survive in overshoot mode.  The term overshoot comes from ecology, and a classic example of an ecological overshoot might serve to make this concept more real.

So here you go. In 1944, the US Coast Guard released 29 reindeer onto St. Mathew Island. By the summer of 1963, the population had exploded to over 6,000 animals.  Quite a success, eh?  Not really. By the end of 1963, the population plummeted to fewer than 50 scrawny, starving animals. They’d experienced an ecological overshoot.


Category: Economy, Quality of Life

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. grumpypilgrim says:

    Google: “Sustainable growth is an oxymoron” and you’ll find many good articles on this subject.

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