The Degrowth Paradigm

Wow! I was just racking my brain the other day trying to imagine how the concept and practice of permaculture could be applied to all aspects of life (social, economic, etc.) I mean if we could mimic nature to achieve a sustainable and productive food forest couldn’t that same theory be applied to work? Finances? Relationships?

I couldn’t get my head wrapped around it – it seemed limitless and complicated. A food forest depends on biodiversity and the symbiotic relationship between all it’s elements. One element serves multi functions. The whole concept, in practice, requires far less maintenance than a small tilled vegetable plot. And is far more productive.

How could I take my three jobs and apply permaculture principals. Work smarter. Shorter hours with increased production and increased rewards (monetary). Not to consume more but to have the time to pursue my own interests and hobbies.

I asked my 22 year old daughter. She rolled her eyes and looked at me like I was mad YET she was the one who had told me a few days before that she was worried that we, as a society, were growing too fast. That the planet couldn’t keep up with our growth and civilization was not meant to continually grow. (She’s still pissed about the mining in the Great Barrier Reef and life isn’t worth living any more)

Well what pops up on my fb news feed today – a CBC podcast on the Degrowth Paradigm. I’m not about to start living in a Yurt and some of this stuff is a little way out there for me but compelling! And it helped get my head wrapped around a different way of living.

I have never been a big consumer. As long as I have enough to pay the bills and muck about home I’m happy. I don’t want winter vacations in Aruba and I haven’t had cable television for six years. But even that is getting to be a challenge; one job turned into two, then two to three and I’m working on a fourth – just to meet those minimal requirements.

There is no time for self anymore. Everything used to be closed on Sundays. Now you can work 24/7. And this is a good thing?

“‘Degrowthists’ aim to maximize happiness and well-being through non-consumptive means—sharing work, consuming less, while devoting more time to art, music, family, culture and community.” – Economic Degrowth for Sustainability and Equity

So degrowth proponents say it isn’t enough to look for alternative energy solutions (solar, wind) as a solution to depleting our resources – we need to stop being such consumption pigs! We are growing at such a rate that even renewable resources will be unable to keep up or our quest to find new technological means to extract our non renewable resources threatens our renewable resources – WATER!

An interesting contradiction here though – “Degrowth therefore sees sustainable development as an oxymoron as any development based on growth in a finite and environmentally stressed world is seen as inherently unsustainable” – Wikipedia

So sustainability is bad?

“Proponents of degrowth hold that the only effective ‘sustainable’ solutions must involve a complete rejection of the growth paradigm and a move toward a degrowth paradigm” – Wikipedia

Food for thought….



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3 responses to “The Degrowth Paradigm

  1. Jane Lewington

    This is your sister here. I’m not sure about ‘degrowth’, but I’m definitely sure we’re staying with low growth which is and will continue to be a painful transition for our society which is used to a much more consumptive lifestyle as indicators of personal success.

    • I agree – huge transition! Neither is going to happen under Harper’s regime. On the topic of consumption though – there was a good interview on CBC this morning about recycling and how people still need to consider consumption and how they shop instead of feeling vindicated because they recycle. Tossing a newspaper in the trash doesn’t bring that tree back.

  2. Terry Wilson

    Because of human nature, “degrowth” IS the end-play scenario and is inevitable.
    Oil sources run dry for example and everyone’s world literally becomes smaller -Survival will mean returning to a smaller community existence – competition will be fierce to claim the remaining rural agricultural areas. Elsewhere, the big die-off will relentlessly reduce the world’s population. What we think of as “pioneer” skills will become essential for survival. High tech – will be worthless once the solar panels wear out.

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