Monday, January 22, 2007

Costs and Benefits of Economic Growth

The benefits of continuing economic growth for the average American are things such as bigger houses, more cars, and more driving.

Some of the costs of growth are highlighted in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, just released in draft form. It predicts that devastating storms will become much more frequent, deserts will spread, coral reefs will die as oceans become acidic, and deadly heatwaves will become common. Hundreds of millions of people will flee their homelands to escape drought or flooding.

This study is a conservative estimate of the damage that global warming will cause, because it was produced by thousands of climate experts, and it only includes points that they all considered indisputable.

Isn't it obvious that the benefits of growth to people in affluent countries such as the United States are now much less than the costs of growth? By consuming luxuries - for example, by driving every time you leave the house - you are depriving your grandchildren's generation of necessities.

It is time for us to take seriously that old saying: live simply so that others simply may live.