SodaCanyonRoad | The unrelenting pursuit of economic growth
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The unrelenting pursuit of economic growth


Bill Hocker | May 6, 2019 on: Growth Issues

BBC News 5/6/19: Nature crisis: Humans 'threaten 1m species with extinction'

An agency of the UN has just issued a report projecting the extinction of one million species in the next decades due to human expansion and consumption and the resultant effects of global warming.

From the press release: "...a key element of more sustainable future policies is the evolution of global financial and economic systems to build a global sustainable economy, steering away from the current limited paradigm of economic growth." The IPBES press release is here. (The actual Report is hard to locate.)

Much of the loss is attributable to the conversion of natural lands into agriculture and the loss of species habitat. That conversion is the subject of current battles going on in Napa county between the economic motivation of developers (wine makers wanting new vineyards for their business expansion and homebuilders wanting to tap into the high end estate market) and the moral motivation of conservationists (activists, rural residents and growers and vintners that see benefits in retaining the natural environment).

The economic motive is easy to see - it is age old. The moral motive less so: how moral is it to risk Napa's water quantity and quality to encourage the expansion of its luxury product. How moral is it to continue the removal of carbon-sequestering woodlands for that product. And how moral is it to bulldoze and fence off the woodlands and shrublands needed for the movement and survival of a diverse group of wild species- and the point of the ISPEB report - that will be moved ever closer to extinction.

The amount of wine to be made from Napa grapes is finite in this small county. A successful wine industry exists despite this limited supply. (Some might see the limited quantity is part of the success.) While the wine industry may complain that the quantity must continuously expand to maintain that success, the reality is that much of the passion around the new conservation regulations seemed to have more to do with real estate speculation than wine making.

Pandering to the growth mentality of those who stand to profit from growth is a moral failure on the part of government to acknowledge the enormity of the damage to the natural world that growth is bringing. Unfortunately, the notion of limitless economic growth, upon which the American economy and self-mage were founded, has left governments unable to sustainably regulate natural resources to the benefit of all species, not just one, and to sustainably maintain our collective environment into the future without profit-induced calamity.