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NYT Journal asks: What if financial progress is ‘incurring extra prices than positive aspects’?


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On Sunday, New York Times Magazine published an interview with economist Herman Daly, a professor emeritus at University of Maryland who previously served as a senior economist at the World Bank, entitled “This Pioneering Economist Says Our Obsession With Growth Must End.” 

During the interview, Daly argued the world is too “full” and that people have exploited its resources, the government should deemphasize growth to help prevent climate change, and wealthy nations like America must limit its consumption of goods so that we “make ecological room for the poor [countries] to catch up”.

“Without a continually rising G.D.P., we’re told, we risk social instability, declining standards of living and pretty much any hope of progress,” David Marchese, the interviewer, said in his introduction.

“But what about the counterintuitive possibility that our current pursuit of growth, rabid as it is and causing such great ecological harm, might be incurring more costs than gains?” he continued, explaining that Daly has been exploring the idea that “prioritizing growth is ultimately a losing game” for decades.

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German Klaus Schwab, founder and president of the World Economic Forum, WEF, gestures during a press conference, in Cologny near Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)

German Klaus Schwab, founder and president of the World Economic Forum, WEF, gestures during a press conference, in Cologny near Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)
(The Associated Press)

He said Daly created a theory that “forgoes the insatiable and environmentally destructive hunger for growth” and “recognizes the physical limitations of our planet “.

For his part, Daly cast doubt on GDP as a metric of a country’s wellbeing. “Does growth, as currently practiced and measured, really increase wealth? Is it making us richer in any aggregate sense, or might it be increasing costs faster than benefits and making us poorer?” he asked. “If it [GDP] goes up, does that mean we’re increasing standard of living? We’ve said that it does, but we’ve left out all the costs of increasing G.D.P.”

Daly attributed “deaths and injuries caused by automobile accidents, chemical pollution, wildfires and many other costs” to “excessive growth” in rich countries.

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U.S. special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry bows to someone after his speech during a panel session at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

U.S. special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry bows to someone after his speech during a panel session at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
(The Associated Press)

He argued America and other developed nations need to cut back on their consumption so “we don’t hog all the resources for trivial consumption” because “the wealthy part of the world has to make ecological room for the poor to catch up to an acceptable standard of living.”

While Daly advocates for Americans to cut back on their standard of living, U.S. special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry’s private jet has emitted over 300 metric tons of carbon since Biden took office.

Daly also said that the planet is “full” to ecological capacity and that people “exploit” and “deplet[e]” natural resources.

Young people attend a protest of the Fridays For Future movement in Rome, Italy, Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. Environmentalists around the world joined a global day of protests, in a symbolic gesture to demand that governments act against climate change. (Angelo Carconi/ANSA via AP)

Young people attend a protest of the Fridays For Future movement in Rome, Italy, Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. Environmentalists around the world joined a global day of protests, in a symbolic gesture to demand that governments act against climate change. (Angelo Carconi/ANSA via AP)

Daly admitted “at one time I would have tended to favor moving toward a global government” but said that he has since changed his mind. 

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He called for the U.S. government to “enact laws for counting the ecological costs of your production in the United States” and subsequently impose tariffs on other countries to protect our green weakened economy from competition.

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