Creating a World Beyond Growth

In her October 5th Earth Island Journal article Creating a World Beyond Growth, Suzanne York explores how Recognizing Rights of Nature can Help us Achieve a Healthy Planet.

For the complete article visit: Creating a World Beyond Growth – Recognizing Rights of Nature can Help us Achieve a Healthy Planet.

Excerpt from Creating a World Beyond Growth:

I just spent the better part of my weekend in a class discussing a global movement springing up around the concept of recognizing rights of nature, something I have been thinking a lot about recently. The class (and the movement) addressed a big concern facing our society — that our way of living is built on a structure of endless economic growth. Yet we live in a world of finite resources and limited space. Why is there this blind faith in growth when we know that it can’t last?

Vilcabamba River taken by Johan Christen Nielsen

The Vilcabamba River in Ecuador. A provincial court in Ecuador recently ruled in favor of nature, saying that the river's flow was being affected by a road expansion project. Photo by Johan Christen Nielsen

Simply put, it is what we are constantly told by our leaders and media. Corporations and economies must grow or they will fail. We must buy more stuff to support business and be happy. Somehow we choose to ignore the reality of non-renewable resources. Our way of living is on a collision course with nature. In our technology-obsessed world, we forget that humans are part of a natural system that provides for our well-being.

Science and technology will indeed play an important part in figuring out a sustainable future. But I think looking at how our relatives lived and interacted with the natural world not that long ago (and many indigenous peoples still do today) is also crucial. Acknowledging that nature has rights puts a priority on ceasing the rampant over-consumption and exploitation of natural resources and species. It is what lies beyond the growth paradigm and what I believe will set us moving in the right direction.