The Radical Plan to Save the Planet by Working Less by Shayla Love was the article of the week in my sharing circles. I’ve long been a fan of solving for stasis as the most expedient means of halting emissions, so this piece ticked a lot of my boxes—even if the foundational idea that curbing growth will constrict the economy to the emissions extent we need is up in the air. Literally.
I am drawn to the idea of degrowth on such a deep level because growth feels like it’s baked into me, like a coin in a Christmas cake. Degrowth is so compelling because everything inside me defaults to growth. I’m always thinking about how I can run more miles, do more work, lifehack my way to profound knowledge and spiritual enlightenment and better jokes. I catch myself carving these upward mental curves at all moments of the day, even (especially?) when meditating. Sorry, Andy Puddicombe.
Are we wired for growth, or has growth just been beaten into us since forever? A little bit of both, perhaps. And more of the latter if you grew up in the ‘80s watching the kind of movies where Michael J. Fox inexplicably ascends to great corporate heights based on his winsome charm and little else.
At the same time degrowth has never been more appealing. Writes Love:
“Degrowth is now a buzz word in left-leaning and academic circles around the world; its proponents are economists, environmentalists, democratic socialists, and activists, young and old. They see a post-growth world as a way to fundamentally change how we measure success and well-being, thereby addressing our growing financial and social inequalities while also saving the planet.”
What’s not to like about slowing down, using less, enjoying more, and saving the planet? Even if the calculations are muddy and the economic value not 100%, simply doing/flying/being less WILL help. When people say, “the plane was going anyway,” degrowth means that … maybe it won’t? If enough people reduce and retreat, things will constrict. Think about all those FroYo places that no longer exist.
Having preached the buyerarchy of needs for years, this is an easy argument for me to get behind. Though I recognize that it’s risky, and toothless without sweeping commitments. But, as one academic states in the piece, growth isn’t working. Unchecked growth hasn’t solved our social ills or resulted in human flourishing. It’s accelerated our race to the planetary breaking point.
From a marketing perspective, I worry that degrowth is a tough sell. How do you divorce spiritual and mental growth from material growth? It gets complicated pretty quickly. New skills — good! Exploiting those skills for money, power and shiny things — not so much!
As I write this, my husband is chiming in with his idea for an anti-tourism campaign called “Just Stay Home.” It’s got a little of the same problem as degrowth. Wanderlust, again, is so foundational to who we are that it might well be baked in. But if we can remember that modern air travel is tedious at best, celebrate the Hygge of home, and sing wherever you go, there you are, we might just get people to staycate the premises.