Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Why is an economic recession such a bad thing?

30 July, 2012 - 16:46 -- John Burton

Everywhere we read of gloom and doom about the slow rate of economic growth. All politicians of the major political parties, of whatever political persuasion, seem wedded to the concept that economic growth is an absolute, a sine qua non. But is it?

Since economic growth is clearly dependent on consuming resources and since these are finite ultimately, as has been remarked on many times over the past half century or so, economic growth must also be ultimately limited. 

Growth is also dependent to a large extent on an expanding market, which often means an increasing consumer population, which again cannot continue indefinitely.

At some point in time politicians are going to have to face the fact that economic growth is not sustainable indefinitely, so why not start looking at alternative scenarios sooner rather than later?

As a conservationist, I could posit that the recession and slow down of economic growth is positively A GOOD THING. Of course it has had a negative impact on our funding, since so much of our funding is indirectly dependent on economic growth. But if we take a broad look at all the impacts of economic growth, then the less there is of it, the better for the environment. 

I am not an economist (that is probably self-evident from the above) but I would like to see someone write something positive about negative economic growth. It is, as I wrote above, something that will just happen?  Is it like a giant volcanic explosion or a massive reduction in human population, a ‘when’ not an ‘if’?

A slowing down of economic growth in places like China would certainly benefit the work of the World Land Trust (WLT) in conserving land in places like the Chaco in Paraguay, which is suffering from an alarming rate of deforestation. Economic growth is the single most important factor destroying the forests of the Chaco to make way for cattle and soya.

Read more about WLT’s conservation project in Paraguay


Submitted by Dominic Belfield on

By the by, had you noticed the recent Radio 4 documentary broadcast Saturday 28 th July called : " Swimming with Piranhas"?

Journalist Mike Greenwood reports from Paraguay and talks to Guyra people about the Chaco and it's destruction. Stirring stuff.

Submitted by Roger on

"I would like to see someone write something positive about negative economic growth..."

Check out Richard Heinberg's "The End of Growth," which does precisely what you ask.

Submitted by john on

Dominic: Thanks. It was a very interesting programme -- a pity it didn't mention our efforts to save the Chaco. Might have raised a few pounds. But factually very good indeed.

Roger: And I will certainly check the End of Growth,

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