April 5 ENV222 lecture format.doc(1).docx

4 Pages
Unlock Document

University of Toronto St. George
School of Environment
Kenneth Mac Donald

ENV222: 24) April 5 Capitalism – steady state economy Solution: the radical solution of a steady-state economy, defined as keeping constant year after year the total quantum of materials and energy extracted from nature and wastes returned to nature. This solutions differs from April 3 ecosocialism in two major ways: . unlike ecosocialism, it does not eliminate capitalism; however, it does eliminate a major component of capitalism, never-ending growth in material production; . unlike ecosocialism, the solution does not call for a bottom-up process, with civil society bringing about radical changes in state and market; instead, it calls for government policy (top-down) which will eliminate economic growth 1. Distinction between "green growth" and "no growth/steady-state"; reader p. 478 . green growth = "economic growth ... decoupled from material and energy outputs" This is essentially the solution of clean production/green economy addressed in March 22 lecture; change product design and production processes to increase efficiency of materials use, switch to renewable energy sources and reduce toxicity Victor points to the "rebound" effect (Jevons effect - see also Neuhoff p. 426) previously discussed (efficiency means price drops so total use increases) to argue that green growth is not enough. I would add the argument that even at maximum efficiency, with rebound effect, the finite supply of global materials and energy cannot accommodate both population growth and never-ending economic growth/material and energy consumption. 2. Arguments in favour of a steady state economy . it is necessary, due to environmental impacts of economic growth; . as stated above, efficiency alone cannot solve that problem; . economic growth is associated with growing inequality, which produces problems (p. 479 "poor public health to social unrest") . Southern nations need to increase material production to address poverty; so North must end growth to give them "ecological space" (p. 479) . economic growth is not producing happiness, as measured by opinion polls or indicators of self- destructive behaviour such as alcoholism, drug use or suicide (reader p. 504) 3. Policy measures to achieve a steady-state economy 3.1 p. 480 renewable resource harvest would be kept below replacement rate; this is the objective of existing fishery and forestry policy but certainly in the case of fisheries that policy has not been successful - so the solution is significantly more effective enforcement 3.2 p. 480 non-renewable harvest would not exceed rate of replacement by synthetics; eg, minerals, oil, uranium: unlike renewable resources this would be a radical change in existing policy since at present there are no quotas (total annual allowable extraction) imposed on non- renewable resources in the way there are on renewable - so the solution is a major expansion of the state regulatory role, with major implications for profit generated by relevant industries 1 3.3 p. 480 waste should not exceed environment's assimilative capacity; for toxic wastes this is not a major departure from existing policy and so would require only changes in standards and enforcement; for solid wastes, however, this would be a radical change since there currently no quotas or total annual limits on solid waste which can be deposited in nature (the issue here is not assimilative capacity respecting the benign solid waste itself, but instead the capacity to assimilate the energy use and toxic pollution associated with resource extraction, manufacturing and product use prior to solid waste generation and disposal) 3.4 p. 480 protection of land and water to reduce conflicts, eg protected areas and green belts; this is a goal of existing policy, through park creation and land-use intensification to address urban sprawl; again, it would require tougher standards and increased enforcement 3.5 p. 481 shorter work year ... spread employment among more of the labour force; the basic argument is that during the past fifty years, material production and wealth have roughly doubled; we could have used that doubling of wealth to cut our total work time in half, thus staying at the same level of annual energy and material use and keeping environmental impacts (plus annual income) constant; the market under capitalism cannot achieve that, since it is dedicated to ever-increasing production and so the state would have to regulate work time; that has been done since the 19th c. (a shorter work day was a major goal of the labour movement) and has been done in France and other European countries; however, today it would be a radical change in policy, to bring about a new kind of sharing of available work and limiting total available work 3.6 increased equity p. 482 "better-funded anti-poverty programs"; neither reading discusses this at length, but this is the basic policy needed for a steady-state economy; currently, economic growth and associated job creation are seen by governments as the policy solution to poverty, with direct financial assistance to the poor significantly reduced over the past twenty years; if economic growth is no longer available to alleviate poverty, both on moral grounds and to reduce political resistance, there would have to be a redistribution of
More Less

Related notes for ENV222H1

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.