Long-term and Sustained Economic Growth Should Not Be Encouraged
Delon, the U.S economist from U.C. Berkeley, did a research on the law of economic growth in human history, which strode across 2,500,000 years from the Paleolithic period to the year 2000.
According to the study, mankind spent 99.4% of the early stage of agricultural civilization — from the Old Stone Age to 15,000 years ago — on pushing the world’s per capita GDP to 90 international dollars (a fortune measuring unit verified based on the international purchasing power in 1990). Later, within 0.59% of the time, the number was doubled to 180 international dollars by 1750. And through the rest 0.01% of that period, the per capita GDP increased by 37 times to reach 6600 international dollars by the year 2000. The world economy is keeping growing in 2022, and the per capita GDP has soared to about 60 times that of the primary stage of the Industrial Revolution.
Delon’s study shows that the world’s per capita GDP did not change much in 99.99% of the past 2.5 million years until the middle of the 18th century. The sudden acceleration of the economy growth took off with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
So did the population growth. There were only 0.7 billion people in the world in 1750, but now almost 7.8 billion, 11 times larger than that of 270 years ago. Let us do a little calculation here: 11 times the population multiplied by near 60 times the economic consumption. The result tells us our earth now is bearing the burden that is 660 times heavier than that of the initial period of the Industrial Revolution, which has brought about a lot of problems in resources, environment, and so on.
Take resources as an example. Economic growth means resource consumption. Today we are facing universal resource depletion, which is exactly the result from the continual growth of economy since Industrial Revolution. I did some research on resources. Based on the present proven reserve, all kinds of resources are facing the destiny of running dry in one or two hundred years, especially petroleum, natural gas, etc.
After all, it is impossible to launch large-scale exploitation in outer space, because from the perspective of predictable future, we only have Mars and the moon to exploit. The former’s quality is only one tenth that of Earth, and the latter is much smaller. Since Earth could not withstand our hundreds of years’ abuse, how can they!
And we cannot rely on scientific progress to solve this problem, for many resources are irreplaceable, or parts of performance of some resources may be replaceable, but another part is irreplaceable. Besides, the resources on Earth would almost be dried up before replaceable technologies are worked out. Isn’t it too irresponsible?
We are obliged to do something good for our descendants; we cannot leave a barren earth to them in the numerous 270 years to come. Considered from the perspective of inter-generational justice, to pursue continual growth of economy is extremely irresponsible. Since growth of economy means resource consumption, our descendants will definitely be left with no way out if we still demand continual economic growth even under the context of such a large economic scale at present.