There are so many constraints to growth in Elk Rapids (geography, culture, remoteness among others) that I question whether the standard measures of progress (based on growth) actually apply. Perhaps Elk Rapids can adapt some principles put forth by Tim Jackson in his book “Prosperity without Growth.” Here’s a synopsis/intro/review of this book:
Published: June 29, 2011
Is more economic growth the solution? Will it deliver prosperity and well-being for a global population projected to reach nine billion? In this explosive book, Tim Jackson, a top sustainability adviser to the UK government, makes a compelling case against continued economic growth in developed nations.
No one denies that development is essential for poorer nations. But in the advanced economies there is mounting evidence that ever-increasing consumption adds little to human happiness and may even impede it. More urgently, it is now clear that the ecosystems that sustain our economies are collapsing under the impacts of rising consumption. Unless we can radically lower the environmental impact of economic activity – and there is no evidence to suggest that we can – we will have to devise a path to prosperity that does not rely on continued growth.
Economic heresy? Or an opportunity to improve the sources of well-being, creativity and lasting prosperity that lie outside the realm of the market? Tim Jackson provides a credible vision of how human society can flourish within the ecological limits of a finite planet. Fulfilling this vision is simply the most urgent task of our times.
This book is a substantially revised and updated version of Jackson’s controversial study for the Sustainable Development Commission, an advisory body to the UK Government. The study rapidly became the most downloaded report in the Commission’s nine year history when it was launched earlier in 2009. Amazon.com
Is growth OK for Mancelona but problematic for Elk Rapids? I don’t have an informed opinion – just a hunch for now that this approach works for us.
Here is an excerpt from a 2010 book review:
Endless growth is a ridiculous notion to the typical ecologist because we live on a planet with finite resources, the mining and use of some of which is undermining our planet’s life-support systems. But the typical economist believes we can “decouple” GNP growth from resource use through the increased efficiency that tends to be intrinsic to capitalism: that we can grow our economies and reverse environmental degradation too. Tesco, as it were, can keep building more stores for ever, provided they are increasingly resource-efficient.
Jackson argues compellingly that such “decoupling” is a myth. A key area of argument, as with so much else in the current world, involves climate change. If we keep growing GNP, Jackson explains, then we fail to cut greenhouse gases deeply. This means we stoke destruction of prosperity beyond the short-term horizons – “next quarter’s growth figures” and all the rest – on which we routinely put such emphasis today. Jeremy Leggett in The Guardian
If Elk Rapids is to continue having an excellent quality of life to offer its citizens, can it embrace unlimited growth as an attractive future? I welcome your comments.