Growth?

(By Dan Schubart)
I was doing the rounds and ran across the following, a transcription of an interview that Bernard Maris did on France Inter, as presented on Liberation.fr. It seems pertinent to some of the discussion we had about the EDAP and the use of the word carbon as a way of avoiding fright as part of our vision of the future. It seems clear that we need to militate for less stuff, though that doesn’t necessarily mean that we won’t live comfortably. We can engage on the rest of the vision in other forums.

Growth, Green Growth, Contraction, Selective Contraction, which word shall we choose?

I almost feel like saying: it makes no difference. What’s going on in Copenhagen is the recognition of a problem that is worldwide, not national. In general, the Great Powers get together after each little war. So that’s in peacetime. This is new. Alain Juppé (former Prime Minister under Chirac) speaks of selective degrowth. That shows some courage. It means that we have to become frugal in certain areas, certainly the consumption of cars, but not the consumption of novels. Read, write as much as you like, but drive more slowly; when you’re doing 150 and everyone else is doing 110, you’re a cheater, a stowaway on Planet Earth. We could also talk about selective growth.

Why does contraction cause fear?

It’s because we tell ourselves: everyone will be unemployed, shivering in a cave without animal skins because there will be no more animals. Not so. Everyone must be active–in any case man is generally a restless animal. In addition, his activity has to be renewable, that it not bring into question the activity of others or that of future generations. In the end, contraction inspires fear because is associated with the denial of progress. It’s really the opposite. We’ll have to become extremely inventive to allow nine billion people to co-exist in peace on the planet. Why nine? because that’s the statistic for population stability that’s on the horizon for 2050, when all the women of the world will have two children each. Why two and not ten? I admit that this poses a real problem, beyond simple family resources. Neither Copenhagen nor I has an answer. Copenhagen seems happy enough to say: for nine billion humans in 2050 and two degrees, not more heating of the atmosphere, we have to such and such.

Is Man frying the planet?

Not sure, almost sure, 90%, but it’s of no importance: what’s important is the collective awareness beyond the menace of nuclear catastrophe and war. What’s important is to ask oneself, at a planetary level: do we want to conserve primal forests? Is that good for consciousness, for beauty. Do we want a World Environmental Organization that has more power than the world organization of business? This is not my question, it’s from Jean-Louis Borloo (current minister of the environment in France). Do we want to relocalize the economy? Of course you’ll still fly, but less often. But perhaps you’ll stay for nine months, as de Tocqueville did in America and you’ll birth a magnificent book from it. (de Tocqueville travelled in the U.S. and published his observations in a book entitled Democracy In America in 1835)

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