Proponents of something called “degrowth” ideology, such as Bill McKibben, have been making the rounds in corporate state media to advance their cause. That cause is, specifically, depopulation, except that it’s couched in humanitarian euphemisms for the self-styled “progressives” who will consume it uncritically.
Per CNBC, it “challenges the idea that economic growth is good for anyone.” (Ironic, no? Given that CNBC devotes approximately 23 of its 24-hour news cycle to breathlessly covering the stock market, the health of which is predicated on endless growth.)
Via Degrowth.info (emphasis added):
Degrowth is an idea that critiques the global capitalist system which pursues growth at all costs, causing human exploitation and environmental destruction. The degrowth movement of activists and researchers advocates for societies that prioritize social and ecological well-being instead of corporate profits, over-production and excess consumption. This requires radical redistribution, reduction in the material size of the global economy, and a shift in common values towards care, solidarity and autonomy. Degrowth means transforming societies to ensure environmental justice and a good life for all within planetary boundaries.
It goes on to call for “a reduction of production and consumption in the global North and liberation from the one-sided Western paradigm of development” and “improvements in efficiency in order to solve ecological problems.” It also gives a nod to Social Justice™ with essentially meaningless platitudes that no moral person would reject, such as “striving for a self-determined life in dignity for all.”
I consider myself an environmentalist. Humans do destructive things to the environment, which should be mitigated if not eliminated. Lots of resources are wasted, and entrenched interests often prevent the technological progress that might remedy these issues. There is a lot of useless production of non-essential consumer items that don’t necessarily benefit quality of life in the aggregate. Material abundance doesn’t automatically translate to more meaningful, fulfilled lives.
But why should the optimization of the economy and the mitigation of externalities that damage the Earth be a zero-sum game? Why not, instead of eliminating economic production, prioritize making industrial activity cleaner and more efficient, given the vast and rapidly growing technological capabilities at hand? Why not make cheap, abundant, clean energy the goal instead of simply shutting off the spigot? Why should economic development be fundamentally opposed to the planet’s survivability? None of this is an immutable law of physics; none of it is written in stone. Rather, these are assumptions that, unfortunately, often go unchallenged.
“Degrowth” ideology is attractive to the technocrats because their goal is not, in fact, empowering more individuals with access to the benefits of industrial production using easily accessible energy without damaging the environment. Their agenda is the polar opposite of populism. Their goal, which is very different from uplifting humanity in harmony with the Earth, is literal depopulation.
Consider, for instance, this 2010 Ted Talk from Bill Gates, in which he unsubtly hinted at reducing the number of people on Earth to “near to zero” under the guise of environmentalism (emphasis added)
Now, we put out a lot of carbon dioxide every year — over 26 billion tons… And somehow, we have to make changes that will bring that down to zero… This equation has four factors, a little bit of multiplication…
So you’ve got a thing on the left, CO2, that you want to get to zero, and that’s going to be based on the number of people, the services each person is using on average, the energy, on average, for each service, and the CO2 being put out per unit of energy. So let’s look at each one of these, and see how we can get this down to zero. Probably, one of these numbers is going to have to get pretty near to zero. [cuts to a frame of people, audience laughs uproariously]
This harkens back to what should have been a scandal several years ago, when Barack Obama flew on his jet to Africa to tell them that they can’t have air conditioners or cars on account of “climate change.” He did not say that we need to develop more efficient models or use alternative energy sources, just that they can’t have them, full stop. “Go home and swelter in silence, peasants,” was the obvious subtext. “Better yet, just kill yourself for climate change.”
Obama, of course, has his infamous sea-level mansion in Martha’s Vineyard that, presumably, is outfitted with air conditioning. He meant his speech for the peons, not him and his rich friends.
If any president other than Obama had the audacity to condescend to minorities in that manner, he would have been branded a White Supremacist™. But Barry gets a pass because he’s a biracial demigod.