Friday, January 24, 2019 @Centre Congregational Church
193 Main St. Brattleboro, VT 05301
“Degrowth: How our blessings have become a curse”
A Talk by Dr. Julie L. Snorek of Dartmouth College
Free and Open to the Public
7:00 Coffee, Tea & Conversation
7:30 The Talk Begins
Dr.Julie Snorek, Environmental Studies, Dartmouth College, who led the exciting “Youth Demand Action on Climate Change” event we had last June, is preparing a talk for us entitled “Degrowth: How our blessings have become a curse” She will talk about new patterns of development, a future of regeneration, sustainability, justice, and degrowth.”
Dr. Snorek explains:
It was 1957, the height of the Baby Boom – anti-segregation laws were under enforcement, the Soviet Union had just launched the first satellite to orbit the earth, and lifestyles based purely on consumerism and overproduction were beginning to take hold. Efforts to grow the economy were wide-spread and highly effective. In more recent decades, this same mindset fueled growth via the constructs of planned obsolescence, highly globalized markets, and international trade agreements that usurp national environmental and human protection-based policies. Today, facing down a new decade, we have been witnessing and experiencing vast ecological shifts, human and environmental disasters, and unequal social, ecological and economic conditions as a result of anthropogenic climate change.
Might these ecological changes, which have recently been determined to be a new geological era called the Anthropocene, be traced back to an economic model based upon uninhibited growth? In light of climate change, some progressive politicians promote a Green New Deal as a solution to a time of crisis. While it is true that a GND might support a technological revolution that has the potential to shift our patterns of extraction from fossil fuels to raw materials that produce solar, wind, and thermal energy, can we really have it all? Is it possible to grow our way out of this problem, trusting primarily in technology? This seems to be using the same thinking that created the problem to solve the problem, which Einstein pointed out as impossible.
Julie Snorek has spent over fifteen years studying climate change, environmentally-induced migration, and patterns of development, working mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa. In her talk, she explains the new economics of degrowth by examining the flawed logic of continuous, constant growth as a solution to the problems of the Anthropocene. She proposes that our blessings have become a curse – growth-based trajectories have devolved into the fragmentation of societies, greater inequality in wealth and income, continued abuse of people living in extraction-based economies, and a psychology that prefers competition over care. The way out is to adopt a degrowth economy that would establish a price on greenhouse gases, eliminate offshore tax havens, shift towards local production schemes, and build social capital through the arts and education to create resilient, connected, and care-based societies. She lays out several concrete examples from India, South Africa, Europe, and the U.S. where people are taking actions to de-grow and build a new ecology of care.