Assembled here from telephone and web media, this Orion Magazine event was presented live on October 18, 2011.
Part 1 of 3: Getting Beyond Economic Growth
Here, long-time associates Richard Heinberg and Helena Norberg-Hodge, along with Orion Magazine’s Erik Hoffner, discuss what Heinberg calls “a basic turning point in human history”. As energy and food prices escalate and debt levels explode, paths that used to bring economic expansion now go nowhere, says Heinberg. There will be no economic recovery from the current recession, he says, but we can only survive as a race if we give up on the futile pursuit of “growth at any cost”. As the author of eleven books related to economics and natural resources and as a fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, he has appeared in numerous documentaries including the 2011 release, “The Economics of Happiness” produced by Helena Norberg-Hodge. She made this film on 7 continents over 6 years and has for 30 years written and studied about the destructive path of globalization and the “military-industrial complex”. As founder of the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC), she calls out the global growth economy and stresses not only the urgent need to localize economies but shows how localization is spreading and practiced all over the world.
Here in part one, we hear Heinberg read from the introduction of his newest book, “The End of Growth”. Resource depletion and environmental impacts from extraction and use of these resources is leading to snowballing costs and the inability of our current financial system to adjust to these factors. Add to that the system’s inability to service the enormous debt and there is no way to return to economic growth, ever.
“This recession isn’t like others that we’ve had,” says Heinberg.
Both Norberg-Hodge and Heinberg address the current “Occupy Movement”, he having sent 100 free copies of his book to the Wall Street protestors, but stressing that the protestors need to understand the complexity of the crisis. Norberg-Hodge brings a worldly view from her decades of work in the peripheral corners of the globe such as India, Tibet and her homeland of Sweden. She has documented the changes brought by globalization to localized economies. She calls for re-regulation of global trade, pointing out how local goods cost more than the same goods shipped from the other side of the world.
“We are being strangled by this centralized global economy,” she states. She points to a “gross ignorance”, not evil intent, as the problem with giant transnational banks and corporations.