Every once in a while I read something that sums up the basic premise of this blog, and I found such a quote in Andrew Simms’ Cancel the Apocalypse, which I reviewed a while back. There are actually several passages I could have quoted, but here’s one:
In a physically limited system where growth is ultimately constrained, simple logic dictates that to increase the material standards of living of the poor must require better, more equal distribution. If you cannot bake a bigger pie, you must get better at sharing what you have, otherwise you either condemn the poor to go without or crash the ecosystems that livelihoods depend on through overburdening them.
That’s pretty much the overarching theme of what I write about. One of the main reasons I started writing about it was because I didn’t know anybody else who was, so it’s always nice to find those on the same track.
Of course, the usual response to these concerns is to protest that this isn’t a zero-sum game – one person having more doesn’t necessarily require someone else to have less. But this is to take a lesson from financial wealth and wrongly apply it to natural wealth. Fresh water, land, fossil fuels, the atmosphere, these are all finite, and we cannot be complacent about how they are distributed. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why we’re so determined to deny the existence of any limits. If there are limits to growth, we need to learn to share better. And as I am reminded every time I take my son to nursery, we’re not very good at sharing.