Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Quesnel Observer.

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Quesnel Observer.

FORESTRY INK: Green economics deserves attention

Jim Hilton examines the idea of slow growth

I was introduced to Peter Victor through a webinar supported by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on Feb 24, 2021. Note the link below. I have since seen a number of presentations, interviews and book reviews based mostly on his book Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster published in 2008.

My reasons for saying people don’t show much interest in his economic discussions dealing with negative growth are based on the relatively low number of viewers listed on his media events. One of my reasons for writing this article is to encourage discussion on what I consider an important topic of changing our focus on growth of GDP and creating more jobs. What? Am I saying that more jobs is not good?

While most of us are used to the idea that economic growth is good, the following is a review of the no (or slow) growth concept. Although Mr. Victor and many others have been writing about their concerns of growth-based economic principals starting in the 1940s it has been an uphill battle. Their challenge is based on a critical analysis of environmental and resource limits to growth along with the disconnect between higher incomes and happiness, and the failure of economic growth to meet other key economic, social and environmental policy objectives. They point out that shortly after World War II, economic growth became the paramount economic policy objective in most countries (mostly focused on GDP and job creation), a position that it maintains today.

Three arguments are presented on why rich countries should turn away from economic growth as the primary policy objective and pursue more specific objectives that enhance well being of the planet and not just human well being. The author contends that continued economic growth worldwide is unrealistic due to environmental and resource constraints.

If rich countries continue to push growth, poorer countries, where the benefits are more evident, will lag. Rising incomes increase happiness and well being only up to a level that has since been surpassed in rich countries. Moreover, economic growth has not brought full employment, eliminated poverty or reduced the burden of the economy on the environment.

The authors point out that the economic crash in 2008 was a wake up call to the many traditional growth economists. While there are a number of reasons given for the crash Mr. Victor promotes one of the major factors being corporate greed. The richest corporation CEOs were pushing for public money to help them maintain their positions of wealth – power gap advantage.

“Much of contemporary green economic analysis has been enlisted in support of the Green New Deal (GND). Inspired by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s, the GND is a government stimulus package designed to promote environmentally sustainable growth and social justice through financial re-regulation and the encouragement of green technological innovation, especially in the areas of carbon reduction and sequestration, energy efficiency, and the development of renewables. Its goal is the creation of a green capitalism.

But there is a rival school of green macroeconomics for which growth is an integral part of the ecological crisis and therefore cannot be the solution to it. Green growth, from this perspective, is a contradiction in terms – a case stated robustly in George Monbiot’s polemical Out of the Wreckage (2017).

In terms of achievements, Victor concedes that people in developed countries live longer and (in some ways) healthier lives. But growth always entails environmental costs such as spoliation, waste disposal, and the depletion of habitat and species. And then there are the social costs, including community breakdown, alienation, overcrowding, and crime. Drawing on Richard Layard’s Happiness: Lessons from a New Science (2005), Victor disputes the connection between income growth and increases in the human sense of well being and goes on to challenge other claimed benefits of growth in respect of full employment and of income and wealth distribution.

I encourage readers to look at some of the book reviews and videos which cover this material especially in light of pressing policy changes needed regarding climate change, deforestation, reduced biodiversity, clean water and air issues and food production. Unlimited growth may be just another name for CANCER. Has the human species become a cancerous growth or pandemic destroying planet earth?

(https://vimeo.com/516928327).

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.

FORESTRY INK: Technology an asset in science communications



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Columnistforestry

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Emergency crews respond to a structural fire on Highway 97 between Williams Lake and Quesnel on Friday, April 16. (Photo submitted)
Update: Famous Cariboo carver Ken Sheen’s wood shop destroyed by fire

The shop was located between Williams Lake and Quesnel

The Quesnel RCMP Detachment is one of seven northern police buildings which can now connect directly to Prince George for daily bail hearings. (Observer File Photo)
Bail hearings going virtual in B.C.’s north

A court pilot project will see virtual courtroom cameras set up in seven RCMP detatchments

The proposed renovations at the Quesnel Rec Centre. (CRD Drawing)
CRD approves Quesnel pool referendum date

Voters will be asked to approve borrowing $20 million to upgrade Quesnel Rec Centre

CNC’s Applied Research and Innovation had partnered with the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Cariboo Agricultural Research Alliance and Mackin Creek Farm after receiving funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to research a number of solutions potentially extending northern growing seasons. (Photo submitted)
Ways to extend growing season in B.C.’s north explored by College of New Caledonia in Quesnel

Low-cost supplemental LED lighting appears to benefit plant growth

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Most Read