The idea that the production of more and more goods is the fundamental purpose of the economy and society transformed the ecological system - via productive economic activity - into a source of profit. Through the increasing dilapidation of nature, the economy begins to run one of the most regrettable services: it destroys ecosystems to quench their auri sacra fames (sacred hunger for gold).
Marcus Eduardo de Oliveira
In pursuit of economic growth, natural resources are exhausted (materials and energy), the pursuit destroys the bases of the environment and "develops" (within the meaning of the term) , less and less , because there is no development really and this means environmental destruction .
Beforehand, the traditional economy confused development (evolution, progress) with growth (physical increase , material expansion).
The followers of the theory of economic growth , as well as "growth promoters" (State and companies) seem to ignore the fact that most economic expansion (hence growth) means greater transformation of matter and energy, therefore, the laws of thermodynamics, more heat.
In the words of Herman Daly, the higher voice of contemporary ecological economics, growth "means naturally increase the size, with the addition of material through assimilation or expansion" ; already developing "means to expand or realize the potential of : fostering gradually for an internship fuller , bigger or better " . Put in other words, when something grows (growth) is greater; when developing (development), it gets better.
However, for any kind of growth, there are limits and pre-conditions. For the economy, this is no different. In the case of the economic system, the limiting factor of production (goods) is the natural capital (environmental services and resources offered "free" by nature).
The words of John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873) in this regard are punctual: "If the land has lost most of its beauty for damages caused by an unlimited growth of wealth and population [ ... ] then, for posterity's sake, I sincerely hope that we are satisfied to stay where we are in the current conditions, before we are forced to do so by necessity."
Thus, natural resources constitute the essence of the economic process. Therefore, to assert the primary purpose of the economy - the satisfaction of needs - and not accumulate material, the economic system must constantly set out on the trail that leads to prosperity, but always with respect to what the French theorists call degrowth (décroissance ) both highlight and explain in "Les objecteurs of croissance - Prospérité oiu ... mais à quel prix ? " , or "prosperity ... but at what cost?"
Fundamentally, this practice degrowth must be based on substantial reduction of the influence of humans on nature, recognizing, before anything else, it does not belong to us. The economy, unfortunately, already advanced (extrapolated ) much about the limits, transforming the elements of nature into economic goods. We cannot lose sight that maximizing production/consumption relies on predation and plunder of natural resources.
To continue bankrolling this policy for further growth in a world of finite natural resources is unsustainable and impractical. It is time to abandon the growth regime. It is high time to overcome this "economic horror" expression (Arthur Rimbaud) . Above all, it is a "necessity" decreed by nature.
Marcus Eduardo de Oliveira is economist and Professor of economics at FAC-FITO and UNIFIEO, São Paulo, Brazil. firstname.lastname@example.org