The end of growth?

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”
Edward Abbey

During most of the history of mankind, average incomes across the globe amounted to somewhere between $1 and $2 per day and income growth was only marginally above zero, averaging about 0.033 percent per year from year 0 to year 1868 (and probably even less during the preceding millennia). In the hundred year period from 1868 to 1968, however, real per capita income growth suddenly increased forty-fold to about 1.43 percent per year, and when I was born average per capita income in the world had reached about $10 a day. During my life-time, income growth has averaged 1.96 percent, implying that average per capita GDP in the world is now above $20/day. Growth rates have kept increasing steadily, reaching an average of about 2.94 percent per year in the first decade of this century. Such growth rates are unprecedented in the history of our species (1).

The big question is: Will growth continue at these high, and perhaps even accelerating, rates? Or is the growth spurt experienced over the last 150 years just an anomaly, which is about to come to an end?

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Can economics protect the environment?

When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money,” Native American saying

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” Brundtland Report

It is undeniable that our current way of life is unsustainable; If every country consumed resources and created waste at the same per person rate as the United States, we would need three to five planets to survive. Part of the problem lies in the fact that economics—the major discipline advising global and national policy—has failed to include the environment in its calculations. To rectify this problem, different methods have been proposed, so as to make predictions and come up with better ways of managing the planet’s resources without compromising the future.

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From Average to Exceptional: Why Outliers Matter

“If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average”

Psychologist Shawn Achor in a hillarious and wildly inspiring TED talk.

Walking into the shady classroom of the second school we visited last friday, we were disappointed to find only a handful of young, primary school students, one teacher and a parent inside. The two-classroom school in the community of El Terrero, adorned in blue and white colours of the Nicaraguan national flag, as all of the country’s schools are, was recently built as a joint project between Pencils of Promise and Seeds of Learning – two NGOs working to improve education and promote community cohesion in the Matagalpa region of Ciudad Dario. Read More »


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