Peter Victor: The Trouble with Growth (ASI 2016)

The Trouble with Growth

Peter A. Victor, York University

Economic growth is the over-arching policy objective of governments worldwide. Yet its long-term viability is increasingly questioned because of environmental impacts and impending and actual shortages of energy and material resources. Furthermore, rising incomes in rich countries bear little relation to gains in happiness and wellbeing. Some hope to ‘decouple’ economic growth from its material and energy requirements but will this be enough to allow economies to grow without limit? Others argue that the trouble with growth is not only that it is bound to be short-lived, but that its pursuit prevents the achievement of more important social objectives. These perspectives will be examined in this presentation. What can and ought to grow will be distinguished from what can’t and shouldn’t and scenarios of alternative economic futures will seed discussion of possible ways forward that will better serve humanity and all life on the planet.

Peter A. Victor is an economist who has worked on environmental issues for nearly 50 years as an academic, consultant and public servant. Dr. Victor was one of the founders of the emerging discipline of ecological economics and was the first President of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics. His most recent books are Managing without Growth. Slower by Design, not Disaster (Edward Elgar, 2008) and The Costs of Economic Growth (ed.) (Edward Elgar, 2013). In 2011 Dr. Victor was awarded the Molson Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts for his contributions to the study of economics and the environment and in 2014 the International Society for Ecological Economics named him as the recipient of the Kenneth E. Boulding Memorial Award. He was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 2015.

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