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“Degrowth” is a tough sell

“Degrowth” is a tough sell

We need positive language to work toward positive outcomes

The seeds of Big-seeded Biscuitroot (Lomatium macrocarpum), a traditional First Food of western North America. Photo taken in eastern Oregon, Aug. 15, 2022.

March 14th was “Earth Overshoot Day” for the United States. What that means is that, if every country in the world consumed at the rate of the US, the limit of the planet’s annual regeneration of resources would run out on that date. (At this website, you can see which countries overshoot and which don’t.)

I don’t know how they calculate their dates, and I’m sure folks could quibble over methodology, but we can be confident that it represents a legitimate warning about the status quo and its danger to people and planet. We need to use less. Far far less.

Personally, I would argue the solution is about systemic change not individual choices. If each person had a share to work with—that is, if the ownership of the resources of the planet were divvied up among everyone and our own decisions to forgo on any particular resource meant that resource would be preserved in place—then it would be all about individual choices.

But it’s not.

If an individual drives less, stops watering their lawn, or turns down the thermostat, then that water, fuel or power is not “saved.” Besides only being a drop in the bucket, it’s a drop that’s gobbled up by the machine some other way. There are other reasons to do these things, of course, such as getting more exercise, saving money on bills, and the value of being attentive to one’s own life. In the big picture, though, what we need is a two-pronged systemic approach…

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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