693: Christopher Ketcham, part 2: The Green Growth Delusion

June 16, 2023 by Joshua
in Podcast

Christopher may be the most direct, accurate reporter on sustainability. Our last conversation treated his helpful and accurate reporting on the book Limits to Growth. Today we start from his (in my opinion) excellent article The Green Growth Delusion, in which he reports on the futility and false promise of chasing growth. It’s tempting, alluring, and seductive to believe technology, growth, or economic trickery will save us, but wanting to believe something doesn’t make it true, even if you really want to believe it.

As before, Christopher doesn’t hold back, nor does he speak inaccurately. I recommend reading the article first, though you won’t go wrong listening right now. Here’s how it starts:

In the annals of industrial civilization, the Green New Deal counts as one of the more ambitious projects. Its scale is vast, promising to reform every aspect of how we power our machines, light our homes and fuel our cars. At this late hour of ecological and climate crisis, the Green New Deal is also an act of desperation. Our energy-ravenous culture cannot continue producing carbon without destroying the systems that are the basis of any advanced civilization, not to mention life itself. Something must be done, and quickly, to moderate the pressure on the atmospheric sink while powering the economic machine.

The consensus on the need for scaling up renewable energy is rarely disturbed by a disquieting possibility: What if techno-industrial society as currently conceived — based on ever-increasing GDP, global trade and travel, and complex global production and distribution chains designed to satisfy the rich world’s unquenchable appetite for bigger, faster, more of everything — what if that simply cannot function without energy-dense fossil fuels? What if, despite the promises of Green New Deal boosters, it is impossible to make sustainable the current system that provides billions of people sustenance, shelter, goods?

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