- Is a revolution in capitalism the key to saving us from doom?
- Are sustainable companies the key to saving us?
- Will “zero / negative economic growth” be the answer?
I guess it started as a thought only in Weekly Ponder #4 when I considered one emerging school of thought in sustainability that argues whether the model of perpetual economic growth is (1) viable or (2) even desirable. The assumption was that resource depletion for some time now has already reached a point where it exceeds the rate by which we can restore those resources. Underlying this was an idea that questioned whether we may even need to consider zero to negative economic growth in developed countries to slow that rate of resource depletion – while still not losing that much in the quality of life.
Perhaps because part of me feels the idea of non-growth is semi-reasonable just at the same time that it’s also crazy and heretical, I’ve been wondering how much we are really achieving with the prevailing mode of sustainability of today. As I come across hundreds of blogs, tweets and Facebook comments every week on the web, I feel increasingly uneasy and -for a long time already – quite unsatisfied with the headlines about this or that corporate CSR/sustainability achievement here and there. As some of you may remember my past skepticism about sustainability as we know it, I’ve always considered the majority of corporate sustainability efforts, while well meaning, not much more than “doing less bad” than actually doing real good. Combine this with the last ponder about growth and I am encouraged in my doubt, which I restate commonly as follows: there is simply no way we can have our cake and eat it.
In other words, I fear we can’t keep capitalism – even the sustainability-prone type – the way it is. Not if we care about esoteric, hippy stuff like survival, that is. But what I will argue today – and indeed what I fear far more – is this: even “super-duper sustainable, radically modified, shared/blended/mixed/hybrid value” capitalism won’t do it for us… not by a long shot.