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Limiting growth will help environment, save jobs, says York prof

Limiting growth will help environment, save jobs, says York prof

Peter Victor, a professor in York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, was featured in the Hamilton Mountain News April 22. His recent book, Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster, argues economic growth hurts the environment and has not eliminated poverty or provided full employment:

“We need a new measure of success,” said Victor, who was the keynote speaker at Environment Hamilton’s annual general meeting earlier this month at the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board auditorium. “We have to knock the concept of economic growth off its pedestal. We are being sold a bill of goods that growth reduces poverty.”

He argues that as richer western nations pursue ever higher gross domestic product figures, they consume more land and energy, which only depletes the world’s resources, contributing to peak oil and climate change. If poorer nations, such as China, India and other so-called Third World countries follow the western nation economic model, the world’s finite resources will be consumed ever faster, just to meet the ideal western lifestyle. “Growth doesn’t solve the poverty problem,” he says.

Victor says western governments must change how they do business if the planet is to survive. He points out, for instance, that to help reduce poverty, western countries should look toward establishing full-employment measures, as some European countries have done. It means more people work, while receiving less in salary. “There would be less work, but more leisure,” he said.

Consumers should also start paying the correct price for products, he says. Victor advises that a carbon tax be added to goods so that prices “become more meaningful” in the marketplace. “(The goods) would become more durable (rather than continue what has become a throw-away culture). You would repair products. And there would be fewer status goods,” he said.

The complete article is available on the Hamilton Mountain News' Web site.

Victor was also quoted in the Ancaster News April 22:

York University economics Professor Peter Victor takes up the idea, writing Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster. He argues that growth isn’t achieving expected goals: eliminating or reducing poverty, protecting the environment and providing full employment.

But at the moment, the idea of changing our capitalist system is only talk and a far-off idea that no person or institution wants to think about. But the day will come when our blue planet will revolt and impose a harsher penalty to our profligate material needs than anything we as a society could impose on ourselves.

Posted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, research communications officer, with files courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin