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ENST 2500 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Planetary System, Industrial Revolution, Mantra

Environmental Studies
Course Code
ENST 2500
Jaimee Brownlee
Study Guide

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ENST 2005
Nishitha Singi
Student #: 101045107
Professor Dr. Jamie Brownlee
Due Date: October 6th, 2017
Critical Reaction Paper
In week four, the important subject matters that we discussed, which is
also a pressing issue in our time today is capitalism versus the climate and
examining the impact of capital accumulation, economic growth and
globalization, which has consumed majority of civilization today. The readings
this week, from Ellwood, Angus and Pierre-Louis all focus on what growth
(whether good or bad) can do to our finite planet.
The reading by Ellwood, in The No-Nonsense Guide to Degrowth and
Sustainability, from the chapter The Growth Machine, he argues primarily
about economic growth how it all started from an idea and then progressed
into this so called growth machine, due to its unhealthy value of goods and
services produced (Gross Domestic Product or GDP) in the global world. Ellwood
goes on to talk about how that economic growth is essentially exponential
growth and what that means in the real world. The major theme that Ellwood
calls attention to is that exponential growth cannot exist in a bounded, finite
world, with physical limits, and he does this, by making references to existing
literature based on these topics, for example, from The Limits to Growth.
Economic growth is influential forces shaping our world today and that I think is
an incredible statement, given the extremely short history of economic growth as
a major phenomenon in human life. As Ellwood points out, for most in human
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history, the idea of economic growth did not really exist. Societies developed
slowly, economies were founded on steady subsistence often and growth was
very minimal for the vast majority of human history. The idea of growth as a
measure of human progress first emerged during the enlightenment period and
it was out of that legacy of thought, ideas and philosophies that a couple hundred
years ago, economic growth was related to human progress. These links between
economic growth and human progress slowly advanced in the mind, but not
concretely, because it still remained much on the philosophical, abstract realm.
Corporations were certainly growing before that time economies were
expanding, but it was not until the Second World War, that our modern
understanding of growth began to enter the consciousness of governments,
policy makers and international organizations. Before 1950, Ellwood notes from
another scholar, there was hardly a trace of interest in economic growth as a
policy objective in the official or professional literature of western societies
(Ellwood, 2014, p. 16). So, this mantra of economic growth entered popular
consciousness of policy makers through war. In the Second World War, countries
were pumping up their war economies all over the world they discovered that
growth and a growing economy could happen rapidly, if necessary, if people put
their minds to it. During the Cold War that followed, the notion of growth took on
another important dimension often an indictor of which economic system
(capitalism or communism) was performing better. Over the course of just a
couple decades, economic growth really became the ultimate measure of social
and economic progress around the world, which was something unquestionably
good and beneficial, which continues to the present day. As mentioned, Ellwood
then moves forward to discussing how this idea formed exponential growth he
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