That's what Satyajit Das sees when he looks at Earth today, a world full of fact-resistant humans. The Indian-born, Australian banker, academic, and author is featured in the latest Tyee discussing the post-growth world economy that will soon be on us and, with our resistance to facts generally, how this will hit us sooner than you imagine.
I think the last 50 to 60 years were quite odd in terms of the longer run economic history of the world. Now, we face a series of challenges. Some are financial and some are non-financial. But, they are all linked. The first challenges I would list are financial and economic, built around excessive debt. The sum of global debt is about three times GDP. If we had interest rates of three per cent on average, the global economy would need to grow annually, over the long run, by roughly nine per cent just to service it.
Policymakers and most people have decided it's just too difficult to deal with. For now, they ignore it. But these things can't be ignored forever. Not only did we borrow, but we also promised ourselves government services, like elder care and health care, which haven't been fully paid for. These will have to be paid over the next 20 to 30 years.
...The planet is now full of fact-resistant humans and we don't want to even acknowledge climate change. We're experiencing extreme weather conditions which impact on the costs of world operations, in terms of insurance, food production, and many other things.
And there are a whole series of other problems for economic growth, like the demographics of aging. Also, improvements in economic productivity and rates of innovation have generally flattened off.
We also face geopolitical uncertainties, some of which are going to become more heightened with fights over food rights, water security, and energy security.
The whole model of quantitative easing, low interest rates and government spending, does not actually solve these underlying problems. For example, climate change summits tend to defer the problem rather than confronting it. All we're doing is piling these problems up. And as we do this, the problems get bigger.
Das mocks what he calls the Davos Man narrative that preaches perpetual economic growth while ignoring the key factors that have driven growth since the outset of the Industrial Revolution, especially population growth. Think of it as a bit like driving a car down the highway only with the windows blacked out.