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Tuesday, 6 May 2008

The Future of Growth - excerpts

"During the last century, population increased by a factor of four, and GDP per capita at least by a factor of five (cf. tables 1 and 2). World GDP, in result, increased by a factor of at least twenty. Clearly, any descriptive explanation of the rise of the ecological crisis has to take these material facts into account.


After all, how can we possibly deal with the so-called environmental problems, if we know nothing at all about the future state of the economy?"

Abstract. In this article I paint a concise portrait of world economic and population history. Key factors include the world population and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The role of technology in relation to the environmental impact of economic activity is represented by an Environmental Efficiency Factor (EEF). It is asserted that any modern political theory aspiring to comprehensiveness should deal with four subject matters: The legitimate level of human interference with the rest of nature; the level of the human population; the nature and extent of the economy and technology. Past GDP growth rates combined with UN population projections result in a number of scenarios of future real GDP to the year 2300. In the course of inquiry, three measures of all time economic activity are introduced: All time world GDP per capita, accumulated world GDP and the annual growth rate of accumulated world GDP. In conclusion, I describe under what circumstances it is conceivable that the growth economy can persist for at least 300 more years. Directions of inquiry are offered to three groups: Those who want to maintain the growth economy for as long as possible; those who want world population to stay, in the long run, at a level comparable to that of today; and those who want to minimize environmental pressure.

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