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Limits to Growth

Limits to Growth

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Responses to the Limits to Growth argument:



Conservative Response

pro-economic growth:

  • can have growth without reaching limits
  • growth necessary for:
    • raising living standards,
    • for alleviating poverty
    • for technological development
  • growth possible through expanded use of available resources
  • economic growth leads to lower birth rates in developing countries
  • growth provides money for technologies to:
    • improve pollution control,
    • reduce waste,
    • improve efficiency of resource management
  • regulating mechanisms
  • changes in cultural values
  • price system (deliberate or automatic)

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Liberal Response

  • critical of limits to growth arguments
  • skeptical of urgency
  • argue that limits to growth analys is too technical and apolitical
  • no growth policies reflect the self-interests of environmentalists, computer simulation experts, environmental scientists
  • adverse consequences for the poor by deflecting attention from other problems
  • no-growth policies will hurt the poor most
  • limits to growth arguments used to legitimate reduced wages and living standards
  • limits to growth advocates ignore role of power and influence in resource allocation

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Radical Response

argue real problem is growth under capitalism:

  • social and political limits to growth more important than biophysical limits to growth argument serves multinationals by covering economic and political limits to their growth
  • by providing an argument for a global political apparatus to stabilize the world economy and ensure raw materials and markets were provided by 3rd world
  • by helping them to stabilize wages, consumption and living standards
  • need for alternate forms of economic organisation that would allow for growth in poor countries

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© 2001 Sharon Beder