Ever played this game? You know how it works – each turn you take a block out from somewhere in the tower and place it on the top. At the beginning it’s easy, and then as the tower gets taller and taller it gets increasingly precarious and finally crashes onto the table.
Our economy works in a similar way. Every year it gets bigger, but less stable. More stuff is sold, more money is made, but next year it will be harder. Why? Because every year the environment is more polluted, the climate is warmer, the debts are bigger, the fish stocks are smaller, the gap between rich and poor is wider, there is less oil left in the ground and there are fewer trees in the rainforest.
It would make sense to grow a little slower, or stop growing at all. Most of us in the developed world have the things we need to live quite comfortably. Unfortunately, the economy can’t slow down – that’s called a recession. People lose their homes and their jobs when the economy stops growing.
So we have to keep going, even though we can see the environment and society deteriorating around us. This is the paradox of growth – we can’t live with it, and we can’t live without it either.
Beyond Growth is about solving that paradox.