A Post Carbon Memo to Occupy Wall Street: We Need A Post-Growth Economy, For Nature & People

occupy wall street in washington square park photo

photo: Mat McDermott
Richard Heinberg from the Post Carbon Institute has issued a memo to Occupy Wall Street and the growing Occupy movement that's worth paying attention to. If you're familiar with Heinberg's work you can probably guess the content: In short, for the sake of having a livable planet and anything approaching a socially-just civilization, we need to create a post-growth economy.

Here's how Heinberg expresses it:

Both Wall Street and Washington are trying to do something impossible: grow human consumption forever in a world of limited energy, minerals, water, topsoil, and biodiversity, all while protecting and expanding the riches of the top one percent. If economic growth is over, that means we can no longer count on a rising tide to lift all boats. Under these conditions, extreme income inequality is not just unfair, it is socially unsustainable.
It's strategic to bring protest to Wall Street rather than Washington. We must go directly to the crime scene -- not with a request for reforms, but with an arrest warrant from the people. [...]

We need a post-growth economy that works both for people (all of them) and for the rest of nature: a localized economy based on renewable resources harvested at nature's rates of replenishment, not a fossil-fueled global economy driven by the imperative of ever-higher returns on investment.

Richard's 100-percent right here.

While for the moment and for some time still the Occupy movement can ride the tide of airing grievances. It's certainly needed. How long that can go on, with the movement growing quickly across the nation, before it becomes strategically useful and necessary to begin offering up some policy demands is unknown.

However, when that time comes, unless ecological economics, a post-growth economy, a steady-state economy, are all central to the discussion we will, from an environmental standpoint at least, be in a tragically similar position as we are today.

Read more: Post Carbon Institute
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