Degrowth to save humanity?

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To support the current pace of life of the world's population, it would take 1.7 planets. And if everyone on Earth lived with the same standard of living as in Canada, then that would take 4.7 planets. These numbers are constantly growing, on the one hand, because the world population is increasing and, on the other hand, because economic systems are based on perpetual growth. We hear more and more about the concept of degrowth to turn things around. What exactly is it?

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To support the current pace of life of the world's population, it would take 1.7 planets. And if everyone on Earth lived with the same standard of living as in Canada, then that would take 4.7 planets. These numbers are constantly growing, on the one hand, because the world population is increasing and, on the other hand, because economic systems are based on perpetual growth.

Perpetual growth

We hear that strong and sustained growth in country X would increase the standard of living of all its inhabitants. But is this really the case? According to Oxfam, in 2018, 82% of the wealth created globally ended up in the pockets of the richest 1% on the planet. Growth has therefore widened inequalities instead of enriching the population in general. Perpetual growth means that we consume more than the previous month, that we buy more than the year we just spent. Increasing our consumption increases production and pollution, in addition to reducing the amount of natural resources available. Statistics recorded in recent years show humans who use more resources than the Earth is able to generate each year. For example, in 1971, there were theoretically no more natural resources available on December 20. But in 2018, it was August 1 that humans ran out of what was available for the entire year. Growth at all costs?

The decrease

According to Wikipedia:

"Degrowth is a concept at once political, economic and social, born in the 1970s and according to which economic growth brings more harm than benefits to humanity. According to the actors of the degrowth movement, the process of industrialization has three negative consequences: dysfunctions of the economy (mass unemployment, precariousness, etc.), alienation at work (stress, moral harassment, increased number of accidents, etc.) and pollution, responsible for the deterioration. ecosystems and the disappearance of thousands of animal species. "

Decreasing means first of all producing less, owning less material goods and relying on local and sustainable purchases. If we produce less, we consume less, so we need to work less. This is also degrowth: reducing the time spent on paid work. Degrowth means doing less, but doing differently.

The concept of degrowth seems very effective, but also disturbing for the way of life to which we are accustomed. Is degrowth a possible option? Have we reached that point of no return where a radical change in habits seems the only possible avenue?

Your challenge

To introduce and understand the concept of degrowth, watch this video produced by the Rad team. Your challenge is to write, in your own words, a definition of the concept of degrowth and to think about actions in your daily life that can follow this path.


 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES

Disciplines and levels targeted

– Contemporary world (secondary 5)

  • Richness

- Science and technology (lower secondary)

  • Earth and Space: Climate Change

- Ethics and religious culture (2nd cycle of secondary)

  • Reflecting on ethical questions: the future of humanity

Targeted dimensions of digital competence

  • Producing content with digital
  • Communicate with digital
  • Developing and mobilizing information literacy
  • Collaborate with digital

Suggested digital tools

  • Paper, Autodesk Sketchbook or Adobe Illustrator Draw
  • Padlet, Google Doc or other collaborative document
  • Anchor or Garageband

Educational intention of the guide

At the end of the readings and activities, the students will be able to take a position on the concept of degrowth and to support arguments to qualify their remarks.

Objectives of the activities

  • Create a sketch-note that explains the concept of degrowth.
  • Record arguments “for” and “against” the concept of degrowth.
  • Produce a podcast to answer the question: Ready for downsizing?

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