Wednesday June 08, 2016

The Degrowth Paradigm

Listen to Full Episode 54:00

The degrowth movement is a relatively new contender in the economic and political debates that swirl around humanity's future. Degrowthers believe we need a more modest and sane alternative to the constant pressures of expansion that are destroying the ecological basis of our existence. Author and essayist Richard Swift explores the degrowth alternative, in theory and in practice. **This episode originally aired December 13, 2013.

"Growth has become an element of faith. It's so deeply ingrained into our cultural narratives. Growth is something that is seen as necessary, where in actual fact, we could probably be a lot happier with less consumption." -- Bob Thomson 

Since the dawn of the environmental movement there's been a growing disquiet that our current pattern of economic growth is destroying the world around us. The degrowth movement has emerged from this disquiet. Degrowth is different from other currents in the environmental movement, as it takes on the social as well as the environmental effects of our current model of growth. 

"Degrowth is deliberately a provocative word. It's not an economic model or an ideology. It's a paradigm shift. It's looking at something completely differently. The fact is that you can't grow infinitely on a finite planet. Although there's a huge amount of energy in the universe, the fact is we've used up 300 million years of photosynthesis which produced our fossil fuels in 200 years ... We're seeing the limits of growth." -- Bob Thomson

Guests in the program:

  • Jim Merkel, author of Radical Simplicity, Small Footprints on a Finite Earth, published in 2003. He now lives in a yurt near Belfast, Maine, and is building his own home from local materials.

  • Bob Thomson is an Ottawa degrowth advocate, who helped organize the international degrowth conference in Montreal, in 2012. He has a background in engineering, and has been involved in international development, fair trade, and environmental issues for 45 years. He also volunteers at Can Decreix in southern France.

  • Joan Martinez Alier, one of the founders of modern ecological economics. He teaches ecological economics at the Autonomous University in Barcelona. He provides the intellectual underpinnings for Europe's nascent degrowth movement.

  • Éric Pineault teaches sociology and economic sociology at the Université du Québec à Montréal, UQAM. He spoke at the degrowth conference in Montreal in 2012.

  • François Schneider, from France, organized the first Degrowth conference in Paris in 2008. He founded Can Decreix, in the south of France

  • Filka Sekulova, from Bulgaria, is a veteran environmental activist and an advocate of degrowth. She has been associated with Can Decreix since the beginning.

  • Federico Demaria is an economist from Italy. He is one of the founders of the Barcelona based group, Research and Degrowth.

  • Carolina Zerpa, from Venezuela, works at the Integrated Catalan Cooperative, in Barcelona. The Cooperative was started as a degrowth initiative.
  • Tatiana is from Argentina and works and lives at the eco-industrial project called Calafou, a couple of hours west of Barcelona. It is a member project of the Integrated Catalan Cooperative.

Related websites:

**This episode was produced by Alison Cook