If you are trying to prove something is true and certain facts get in the way, it’s almost always useful to exclude them. This is apparently what technology cheerleader Andrew McAfee has done in his recent book More from Less, which claims that advanced economies have been dematerializing for something like the last 40 years. Simply put, those economies are producing more output with little or no increase in physical resources.
There’s just one little problem as anthropologist Jason Hickel points out in his review of More from Less: McAfee forgot to count the physical resources used in making products imported from other countries by all those advanced economies. McAfee only counts those resources extracted within the boundaries of the advanced countries.
I am highlighting Hickel’s piece not so much as a book review. There are dozens of books making similar ridiculous claims that are contradicted by the facts. I am highlighting the piece because Hickel provides perhaps the clearest, most concise refutation of the nonsense that McAfee and others like him are peddling.
Let me touch on the high points though I encourage you to read the full article:
- “There has been zero dematerialization. No green growth. It was all an illusion of accounting.”
- Global resource use has actually been accelerating faster than growth in the global economy. We are becoming more resource-intensive, not less.
- Ecologists believe human societies are 90 percent over any sustainable rate of resource consumption.
- The economy can’t become infinitely more efficient. There are limits on how much efficiency can be taken out of any process as each increment of efficiency in resource use is more costly to implement.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…