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Fire raging in California's Simi Valley

Inconvenient But True: Clean Energy Not Enough

While the news isn’t good, I’m not going to kill the messenger. In fact, I’m going to heap a lot of praise on Jason Hickel for writing what is too seldom communicated about climate change:

Clean Energy Won’t Save Us – Only a New Economic System Can

There is no doubt in my mind that Dr. Hickel is right. So he has earned a spot on the Wall of Fame here at Growth Bias Busted.

Why can’t “clean energy” solve the climate disruption problem? Here are a few pearls of wisdom from his commentary wisely published by the UK Guardian last month:

“What would we do with 100% clean energy? Exactly what we are doing with fossil fuels: raze more forests, build more meat farms, expand industrial agriculture, produce more cement, and fill more landfill sites, all of which will pump deadly amounts of greenhouse gas into the air. We will do these things because our economic system demands endless compound growth, and for some reason we have not thought to question this.”

“The climate movement made an enormous mistake. We focused all our attention on fossil fuels, when we should have been pointing to something much deeper: the basic logic of our economic operating system. After all, we’re only using fossil fuels in the first place to fuel the broader imperative of GDP growth.”

“Clean energy, important as it is, won’t save us from this nightmare. But rethinking our economic system might. GDP growth has been sold to us as the only way to create a better world. But we now have robust evidence that it doesn’t make us any happier, it doesn’t reduce poverty, and its “externalities” produce all sorts of social ills: debt, overwork, inequality, and climate change. We need to abandon GDP growth as our primary measure of progress, and we need to do this immediately – as part and parcel of the climate agreement that will be ratified in Morocco later this year.”

If you’re new to this kind of thinking, please explore our More About Limits to Growth department to get up to speed. You may even want to view the documentary, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth.

Jason Hickel is on the faculty at the London School of Economics. Perhaps his reason and logic will seep into the skulls of a few budding economists. Let’s hope! Read the rest of his piece and please pass this around. It’s inconvenient, but oh so true.

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Dave Gardner

Producer of the documentary, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth. Dave writes and speaks regularly on the subject of growth addiction, including the pro-growth media bias that perpetuates prosperity-from-growth mythology.

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