5. Running out of Gas: James Ward and Paul Sutton 2019

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Keeping to the big picture, Growthbusters produced this excellent and wide-ranging podcast in 2019 that seeks both to cover the big issues for the environment and address their deeper causes.

Interviewer and text: Dave Gardner

Our two guests for this episode: Dr. James Ward, a sustainability science and ecological engineering researcher and educator from the University of South Australia, Professor Paul Sutton from the Department of Geography & the Environment at the University of Denver.

“Our conversation covered limits to growth, climate change, peak oil, and economic growth. Is the future ‘all about growth?’ Climate change is just one part of a bigger- picture need for us to shift away from our expansionist mindset. An economy that’s ‘already transgressing planetary boundaries’ cannot be expected to ‘multiply by a factor of ten,’ we’re told. Ward tells his classes that ‘growth is viewed as inevitable, possible, and desirable, and it’s none of those things.’

“We have a good discussion of ‘the decoupling delusion’ (believing we can divorce economic growth from resource depletion and negative environmental impacts). Just switching our growth-obsessed society to renewable energy won’t ensure the survival of our civilization.

“Paul shares about the Grand Challenge Impact 2025 urban sustainability group he’s a part of, and how difficult it is for scientists and other sustainability advocates to wrap their heads around the idea that our population needs to contract.

“Also:

– Which countries are today using more than their share of biocapacity, and which are not?

– James talks about the 3 D’s: denial, despair and delusion.

– Fantasies of the future. A pod metropolis on Mars? (Listening to Podcasts, no doubt.)

– Sutton: Killing all the bees will create jobs and grow GDP and tax revenue. ‘The idiot lights on the economists’ dashboard are jobs, GDP, tax revenue.’

– Al Bartlett’s explanation of exponential growth

– Ward: ‘We’ve got one planet here; we’ve got to get it right.’

– Running out of Soylent Green

Ultimately, we arrive at the conclusion that we need a cultural change. We need to figure out how to “thrive and enjoy a future that’s not based on growing.”

Running Out of Gas (Podcast Episode #26) | GrowthBusters 

 

1Ward, J. and Sutton, P. 2019. Running out of Gas: Things go Better with Degrowth. Growthbusters Podcast #26. March 14th.

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