Note — Dec 16, 2018

The Nobel Prize for Climate Catastrophe

Jason Hickel deconstructs William Nordhaus’ pro-growth views, and does quite a good job of showing that for developed countries theres is just no relation anymore between wellbeing and GDP growth. If we start properly assessing growth and who it serves, we can understand much more easily, and find a path towards a changed economy away from carbon. “[I]t comes down to a much more obvious choice: between living in a more equitable society, on the one hand, and risking climate catastrophe on the other.”

A discount rate of zero means that future generations are valued equally to the present; a high discount rate means that future generations are valued less, or “discounted,” compared with nearer generations. […]

While Nordhaus has spent most of the past four decades calling for gradualism to preserve the conditions for economic growth, the IPCC calls for radical and immediate action in order to preserve the conditions for life. Growth versus life. The conflict between economics and science has never been clearer. […]

Indeed, growthism is hegemonic to the point of transcending ideology. Politicians on the left and right alike hold it up as the single most important policy objective; they may quarrel about how to make growth happen, and how to distribute its yields, but on the question of growth itself there’s no daylight between them. […]

Europe’s GDP per capita is 40 percent less than that of the United States, and yet it has better social indicators in virtually every category. Costa Rica has higher life expectancy than the United States and happiness levels that rival Scandinavia, with one-fifth of America’s GDP per capita. […]

People like Nordhaus are ready to risk everything—literally—for the sake of something that we don’t really even need.