Can the World Live with the Pace of Economic Growth? Time to Find Out
McCarthy, Michael, The Independent (London, England)
Michael McCarthy reports from the Sustainable Planet Forum in Lyons
IT USED to be the biggest question, but now it seems to be the forgotten question of the environment movement: can economic growth continue indefinitely? And this weekend it's going to be brought back into the spotlight at a major international gathering co- sponsored by The Independent.
For three days from today, politicians, environmentalists, writers and thinkers from Britain, France and Italy will gather in the French city of Lyon to debate the idea of "A Sustainable Planet". Sustainability: that's the forgotten issue which until a decade ago was the green movement's major concern. Can we provide for our needs now, in the present generation, without ruining the prospects of the generations of the future?
It's absolutely central, yet in recent years environmental campaigners seem to have become entirely preoccupied with global warming, to the extent that the environment movement has more or less morphed into the climate change movement.
This is perfectly understandable, as the climate threat is a terminal one. But it does mean that some other vital green issues have been shifted into the background, such as the worldwide threats to wildlife, and the question of sustainability and sustainable development, which ultimately is concerned with economic growth.
Economists may think of growth as endless, but the fact is that the Earth is finite, and sooner or later, as the human population soars towards nine billion, limits will be reached. In fact, in some areas, such as the exploitation of fish stocks, they have been reached already. Can we go on like this? In the Sustainable Planet Forum, which has been organised by the The Independent, the French newspaper Liberation and the Italian daily La Repubblica, we will be examining the proposition in depth with more than 150 participants in three days of debates, opinion and exchanges.
French speakers known in Britain include the openly gay mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delano, who beat Boris Johnson to the idea of free bikes in London, and will speak about cities facing up to the environmental challenge, Jack Lang, the former culture minister, who will debate the idea of "Who benefits from creation?", and Yann Arthus-Bertrand, the photographer who, in recent years, through his aerial photographs of threatened landscapes, has become France's best-known environmental champion, a sort of cross between David Attenborough and Jonathon Porritt.
Eight of Britain's leading environmental thinkers will be taking part: Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party and Britain's first Green MP; Porritt, who until last year was chairman of the Government's green advisers, the Sustainable Development Commission; Lord Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association, the lobby group for organic agriculture and food; Tom Burke, the Government's green adviser; Tony Juniper, the leading green writer and campaigner; Andrew Simms, the policy director of think-tank the New Economics Foundation; Peter …
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Publication information: Article title: Can the World Live with the Pace of Economic Growth? Time to Find Out. Contributors: McCarthy, Michael - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: September 24, 2010. Page number: 12. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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