Rightly the focus of much environmental news is on Climate Change (as an article this week identified we are likely to miss the 1.5 degree target for warming set earlier this year at COP 21 in Paris)
But climate change is really only one of many symptoms of a deeper issue: the overuse of the planet’s resources. On August 8th a few new sources identified we had reached Earth Overshoot Day for the year.
As this blog identifies this ‘ isn’t one of those fun holidays, like International Cat Day or Squirrel Appreciation Day. Instead, it’s a depressing reminder that we humans are living well beyond our means. Today (Aug. 8) marks the point when humanity as a whole has used up the resources needed to live sustainably for a year.’
The exponential growth in our consumption of resources is underpinned by our current economic system. This is summed up beautifully in a quote from David Attenborough…
‘Anyone who thinks there can be limitless growth in a limited environment, is either mad or an economist.’
It sounds ridiculous put that way, but economic growth – or GDP – is currently the way we measure societal progress. However useful as GDP is, it has some crucial flaws.
GDP can’t differentiate between spending on good things (like education) and terrible things (like recovery from a car crash or a natural disasters– the money and resources used to rebuild and repair will increase GDP). It doesn’t measure the economic services that nature provides, such as fresh water or clean air, or those that don’t come with a market price, such as raising children.
Above all it encourages the depletion of our finite natural resources by a focus on infinite growth.
Look out for references to economic growth …… what are the alternatives and who is talking about them?