CAPITALISM & DEGROWTH EXPLAINED IN LESS IS MORE: HOW DEGROWTH WILL SAVE THE WORLD
Not too long ago, I’ve got an intense green gift, that seemed to scream at me. It was a phosphorescent, toxic green that you wouldn’t use unless you need to highlight something important. Well, this book had something crucial to highlight, and it was about how to save the world.
My first impression
Less Is More: How Degrowth Will Save The World is a bold book, starting with the cover. While I was intrigued by the title, the cliché less is more made me think that this book will just offer some general advice, such as use less water when washing the dishes.
Ohh, I was soo wrong.
The author, Jason Edward Hickel, is an economic anthropologist whose research focuses on global inequality and political ecology.
Most of us are already aware of the reality of climate breakdown and ecological collapse, this book actually focuses on causes and solutions, something we need more of. While I knew that capitalism is not the best system for the planet, this book showed me how and why the expansion of capitalism could literarily bring down the planet. There is one core solution according to this book that will lead to meaningful and immediate change, and that is called degrowth, which really intrigued me.
What I’ve learned 1.0 — causes
I. The first part of the book, called More is less, presents the history of capitalism. It is reviewed and explained why certain solutions that still imply growth won’t fix the climate change problem. A part of this section that really got me was about technology. I do put some of my hopes into tech, thinking it could help us reverse climate change, but Hickel explains why we can’t put our faith only in technology. From renewable energy to electric cars to changing the chemistry of the oceans, while all these are innovative and helpful for the planet, they are not enough. Even if these will at some point stop the climate change, as long as we continue to produce more and more we will still face an ecological breakdown:
“Continued growth will still drive continued material use, and continued ecological breakdown. (…) We can choose to keep shooting up the curve for exponential growth, bringing us ever closer to irreversible tipping points in ecological collapse, and hope that technology will save us. But if for some reason it doesn’t work, then we’re in trouble”
In my view, he makes a good point about gambling on technology without making any changes when it comes to growth and consumerism. In this part, you will also learn more about climate agreements and why they are not actually respected.
What I’ve learned 2.0 — solutions
II. Moving to the second part, Less is more, here the author explains possible solutions and why a post-capitalist world would work and save the planet. He does end the book by giving solutions, even though it seems unlikely that these will be implemented soon, learning about these solutions made me understand that we are not completely doomed.
I liked how Hickel highlights the need to slow down and restore the balance on our planet, as two of the core solutions in fixing our planet. He proposes a society that is rooted in reciprocity and regeneration when it comes to nature rather than domination and extraction. If you are curious about how jobs would look in this society or what making progress would mean, I totally recommend reading this book.
Do your best
These being said, we need to keep in mind that a lot of blame is put on the consumers these days when it comes to climate change, and while we all have our part to play, we need to stop feeling guilty when we are not perfectly sustainable. This book shows how the 1% of the richest produce the most waste and pollution for this planet. Of course, this is not an excuse to start to waste more or not be conscious of our choices. This book is an insight in understanding which is one of the biggest contributors to climate change and how a truly sustainable world would look like and everyone should know this information.
What books on environmentalism would you recommend after this one? If you don’t have any ideas, check out this article: