Growth: economics vs. ecology

A question from Yahoo! Answers:

Shouldnt economists stop using the word growth and instead call it expansion: conning people with a positive sounding word is pathetic.

doesnt that word merely mean escalating the production of useless items that advertisers try to con us into wanting?
its ironic that economists try to apropriate a word with such ecologically benign connotations[growth], while so called “growth” is leading to the decreased viability of this planet for future generation of all life forms.
do they really operate under the delusion that there can be continous growth ad infinitum with no negative consequences
i know fishermen used to have these delusions about a never ending supply of fish..i thought economists were more intelligent than fishermen..maybe not!!
do all people in the mathematical sciences despise organic life or what? will they only be happy when they have computer brains and android bodies!!
i dont want to hear about economic growth, i dont want us to be cutting others throats so we can prosper, and demolishing communities and environments abroad as long as it makes us money.

Maybe ecologists should stop using the word instead; economists were there first… 🙂

Economics as we know it today began in 1870s with the works of Leon Walras (when, incidentally, agriculture was the prevalent sector of the economy) and became a mainstream discipline by 1890; ecology started much later, with Vladimir Vernadsky in 1920s, and didn’t make it into mainstream until 1950s…

As to whether there can be continuous growth ad infinitum with no negative consequences, the answer is yes, absolutely. The more growth there is, the more resources can be devoted to protecting the health of both people and environment. For example, human society usually cannot afford sewage treatment until it reaches a standard of living roughly equivalent to that of mid-to-late 19th century England…

In addition, wealth is inversely related to fertility; the only way to solve the overpopulation problem is to transition from agrarian society into an industrial and eventually post-industrial one… No poor country in the world has yet managed to reach negative population growth; Germany, Italy, and Japan did.

As to delusional fishermen, you seem to see only one half of the story; fishermen indeed used to have delusions about a never-ending supply of fish, and as a result of those delusions are gradually giving way to fish farmers… Go to your local Costco and see how much of the seafood isle is wild and how much is farmed (the proportion is probably going to be about the same in all stores, but Costco includes “wild” and “farmed” into labeling)…

As to economic growth “demolishing communities”, re-read “Pride and Prejudice” (or, if you are too lazy, watch the latest movie; Kiera Knightley is quite good, in my opinion); somehow, I feel rather good about that particular community having been demolished by economic growth…

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