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What is Degrowth?

What is Degrowth?

C.R. “Doodle” White Overlook, Hampton, Tennessee

I’m going to start this article with a song from Billy Joel. Those outside the United States might find the song somewhat difficult to understand. When the song came out, even I didn’t fully comprehend the implications the song brings to the forefront. The song is basically lamenting the de-industrialization that occurred in the US in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Most of this was caused by degrowth stemming from the peak conventional oil reached here in the US in 1970-71 (the US has since reached a new peak, but this was only achieved with the new technology of fracking). Another factor was environmental laws and the economics surrounding inflation and the necessity of wages to increase to meet the rising cost of living. Manufacturers started realizing that they could save money by moving operations elsewhere and avoiding environmental regulations and expensive labor costs. The US began a transition from a manufacturing behemoth to a more service-oriented economy.

Billy Joel’s song pointed to several social issues above and beyond the disappearing factory jobs, such as high school education here in the US being designed more for how to do certain jobs rather than how to think critically and how to solve problems. Another issue mentioned is the lack of coal (resource decline), having mined it all out locally. Still, it is a rather bold statement regarding the times back then, not to mention what a great song it is (number 43 on Billboard’s Top 100 year end chart for 1983).

With so much talk recently about supply chain issues, inflation, the job market, the cost of groceries, cars, and houses skyrocketing, it seems that many people are finally beginning to realize that there is a serious issue going on…

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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