NYT Magazine asks the following question: what if economic growth “entails more costs than gains”?

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On Sunday, the New York Times Magazine published an interview with economist Herman Daly, a professor emeritus at the University of Maryland who was formerly a senior economist at the World Bank, titled “This Pioneering Economist Says Our Obsession With Growth Must End “.

During the interview, Daly argued that the world is too “full” and that people have exploited its resources, that the government should reduce its focus on growth to help prevent climate change, and that countries wealthy like America need to limit their consumption of goods so that we “make ecological space”. for the poor [countries] to catch”.

“Without a steadily rising GDP, we are told, we risk social instability, falling living standards and just about any hope of progress,” said David Marchese, the interviewer, in his introduction.

“But what about the counter-intuitive possibility that our current pursuit of growth, however crazy and causing such great ecological damage, is carrying more costs than gains?” he continued, explaining that Daly has been exploring the idea that “prioritizing growth is ultimately a losing game” for decades.

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German Klaus Schwab, founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum, WEF, gestures during a press conference, in Cologny near Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)
(The Associated Press)

He said Daly created a theory that “renounces the insatiable and destructive hunger of the environment for growth” and “recognizes the physical limits of our planet”.

For his part, Daly questioned GDP as a measure of a country’s well-being. “Does growth, as currently practiced and measured, really increase wealth? Does it make us richer in an overall sense, or could it increase costs faster than profits and make us wealthier? poor?” He asked. “If it [GDP] increases, does this mean that we are increasing the standard of living? We said yes, but we left out all the costs of the increase in GDP”

Daly attributed “deaths and injuries caused by automobile accidents, chemical pollution, forest fires and many other costs” to “excessive growth” in wealthy countries.

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US Presidential Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry bows to someone after his speech during a roundtable discussion at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/ Michael Euler)

US Presidential Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry bows to someone after his speech during a roundtable discussion at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/ Michael Euler)
(The Associated Press)

He argued that America and other developed countries must reduce their consumption so that “we don’t monopolize all the resources for trivial consumption” because “the rich part of the world must make room ecologically for the poor catch up to an acceptable level. standard of living.”

While Daly pleads for Americans to lower their standard of living, US Presidential Climate Envoy John Kerry’s private jet has emitted more than 300 metric tons of carbon since Biden took office.

Daly also said the planet is “full” to its ecological capacity and people are “exploiting” and “depleting[e]” natural resources.

Young people attend a demonstration by the Fridays For Future movement in Rome, Italy, Friday, November 29, 2019. Environmentalists around the world have joined a global day of protests, in a symbolic move to demand that governments act against the climate change.  (Angelo Carconi/ANSA via AP)

Young people attend a demonstration by the Fridays For Future movement in Rome, Italy, Friday, November 29, 2019. Environmentalists around the world have joined a global day of protests, in a symbolic move to demand that governments act against the climate change. (Angelo Carconi/ANSA via AP)

Daly admitted “at one point I would have tended to favor a move towards world government”, but said he has since changed his mind.

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He called on the US government to “enact laws to count the green costs of your production in the United States” and then impose tariffs on other countries to protect our weakened green economy from competition.

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