Dienstag, 15. Januar 2013

The absolute limits of growth

Is there anything else left that we can personally and globally do in order to avoid further damage to the climate, the environment and the social balance? Greenpeace interviewed Prof. Uwe Schneidewind, President of the Wuppertal Institute and member of the German Bundestag's Study Commission on Growth, on the subject.

Green light in the greenhouse. This is the title of Greenpeace Germany's podcast section. It is easy to access or download the audio contributions from online. In episodes 27 and 28, Uwe Schneidewind answers questions about the consequences that natural resources are limited, both on a personal and on a global level.

To Schneidewind, the consequences of the growth debate are clear. The shortage is not caused by the much-discussed scarcity of raw materials. It is in fact due to the overstepping of growth limits in three domains: biodiversity, absorption capacity of natural sinks  and the use of certain nutrients. Schneidewind says a critical point has already been reached in these areas.

The most important consequence is not to do without, but to realize that quality of life in affluent societies is not so much about material goods but much more about other things, such as time. The consequence of the ecological boundaries of growth could only be absolute limits (“caps”) to stop carbon-intensive modes of production such as fracking and oil sand extraction, limits which could only be enforced at an international level. On the one hand, this could be achieved by enhancing the efficiency of resource-efficient technologies and on the other hand, with the help of the normative force of the principle of a global sense of fairness regarding carbon emissions, which would require further actions of civil society groups.

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