What if the “financial” crisis is based on a deeper crisis emanating from a global economy reaching its limits to healthy growth? What if we are deep into uneconomic growth and really what we are seeing are the first clear signs that we are heading towards a steady-state economy with zero real growth in GDP. The signs are overwhelming that we are at or over the limits to healthy growth. Climate disruptions and the hottest decade on record, an ever expanding list of extinct and endangered species, decreasing forest cover, expanding deserts, fisheries on the brink of collapse, coral reefs bleaching and dying, massive islands of plastic in our seas, man-made chemicals being found in all of us and even in species on the edge of civilization such as polar bears; the list is endless and frightening. Is the economic crisis just part of a global ecological crisis? Are we heading towards a steady state economy?
A steady state economy is similar to an ecosystem in a “dynamic balance”. The balance comes from a diverse set of interactions in which growth in some elements is checked by growth in others such that the overall system remains in a steady state – regardless of various internal dynamics. What would the global economy look like in steady state? It would not be stagnation as companies and countries that did not adapt to the changing (dynamic) conditions would diminish (economically speaking) and those companies and countries that moved the most rapidly to exploit the new dynamic balance would have the best chance. Nor would a steady state economy reduce technological and social innovation – on the contrary. Innovation would be spurred by competition for efficiency, sustainability, effectiveness and value generated.
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