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Subject: economic growth and sustainability [detailed reference, if applicable]
Your recent communication about economic growth has drawn my special attention.
The drive for economic growth on our finite planet is scary.
It is estimated that the earth’s oil reserves will run out in 40 years, gas in 60 years and coal in 90 years. Even the nuclear option is not an answer—to my knowledge, uranium reserves will last for 60 years. Nevertheless, leaders push for growth and electrification. They say, 1.7 billion people are still without electricity. Of course, I agree that countries should develop so that the poor and hungry have a decent life. But does that mean they need electricity?
The end of fossil fuels will mean that the rich North will have to do away with wasteful luxuries. Europe and the US face a collapse of their lifestyles, which depend on luxury gadgets. They would do better to relocalise their consumption and production infrastructure before that happens. Relocalisation means elimination of up to 80 per cent of the costs of energy for transporting goods and people. Such a measure would drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Earlier, trade had the function of distributing goods to places where they could not be produced. Today, the only function of trade is more profits.
For survival, we will have to return to local control, democracy and sustainability. But is that possible in this senseless world of more development that is suicidal?
I would much appreciate receiving your response.
Attachment: growth table
The above letter was posted as letter to the editor by Rajesh K Sood at the web site www.crossoverindia.org (2006).