“But Growth”

To infinity and beyond.


[CATO] The decline of global CO2 emissions is one of many positive phenomena documented in our new book, “Ten Global Trends.”

Objections and Replies

(China) If we do not grow China—
Reply. #ButChina is another Bingo square.

(Deregulation) Only by deregulation can our economy grow—
Reply. Here is PaulC‘s rule of thumb: Nature + Laws – Tech = Starvation; Nature + Tech – Laws equals Plunder; Nature + Tech + Laws = Prosperity.

(Endless capitalism) We can solve all our problems with smarter comp—
Reply. Material growth needs to end at some point.

(Poor) Degrowth freaks are hurting the poor—
Reply. #ButThePoor is another Bingo square.


{Benefit} People who helped reduce emissions could see benefits by their lifetime.

{Boundaries} Humans are pushing all the planetary boundaries at the same time. There is no Planet B.

{Fragility Paradox} If economies are so fragile that going carbon zero would risk societal collapse, how much fragile will it be when facing irrevocable climate change that impacts food security directly? (h/t KenF)

{GRRRRROWTH} I like to mock pornocupians with the concept of GRRRRROWTH.

{Income} Businesses try to maximize income, not productivity or production. Growth cannot mean the same in economics and in accounting. Cf. Wiki.

{Plant-Based Food} More people means more food, more food means more gasses. This implies we need to switch to a plant-based food to grow.

{Productivity} Productivity decline and production vulnerability tend to get farmers’ attention. It should also interest Growth enthusiasts.

{Water} We consume more water than ever, yet the share of water for each of us has been reduced over time. We need ways to grow food with less water.


Follow the Food
A project by the BBC.

The Global Carbon Project
Tracking carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.

The Nine Planetary Boundaries.
A concept introduced by the Stokholm Resilience Center.

The State of Food in Agriculture.
By the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.


2019-10. Vaclav Smil: ‘Growth must end. Our economist friends don’t seem to realise that.’

2019-10. The GRRRRROWTH Institute.

Further Readings

2020-10. Managing Land‐based CDR: BECCS, Forests and Carbon Sequestration. https://doi.org/10.1111/1758-5899.12827

2020-07. The Historical Impact of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Global Agricultural Productivity. arXiv:2007.10415v1

2020-05. Country-specific dietary shifts to mitigate climate and water crises. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2019.05.010

2019-04. Why children must emit eight times less CO2 than their grandparents.

2018-06. Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaq0216

2014-12. Maximum warming occurs about one decade after a carbon dioxide emission.

2012-11. Murphy’s Law? or, Follies of a Finite Physicist.

2009-01. Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions. doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0812721106

2009. Planetary Boundaries: Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity.

2008-02. Is there warming in the pipeline? A multi-model analysis of the Zero Emissions Commitment from CO2. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-17-2987-2020