The Blog of Curtis Chambers

Is capitalism sustainable?

with 2 comments

Is capitalism really a sustainable economic system in an age of environmentally friendly practices and declining growth rates of populations? This question came up in my mind after reading about San Francisco’s ban of both plastic grocery bags and plastic water bottles. The move by the city makes for less waste and forces people to reuse materials as opposed to just throwing away single use containers. However, the companies that produce these plastic bottles and bags are crying foul about the whole thing because it will cut into their profit margins. Hence my question about the viability of our current system, because capitalism promotes consuming more and more, while environmental practices promote consuming less and less.

The other factor against capitalism is declining growth in population. There have been many people closely studying the growth of the world population and the most common consensus is that we’re seeing a phenomenon very similar to the shape of an arc tangent.

World Population Growth

Arc Tangent

Now while population is still growing, the concern comes when it starts growing at much slower rates. Wall Street doesn’t reward growth, it rewards growth beyond what is expected. So according to the above graph, we’re rapidly approaching the cusp of the exponential growth we’ve been experiencing for the last 100-200 years, which coincidentally is about how long capitalism has been around.

So what’s next? What economic system can support a slowly declining populous that reduces, reuses and recycles? And once we determine a system that can support that, when will the revolution come and how violently will it be opposed by those with money?

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Written by Curtis Chambers

July 12, 2007 at 5:38 pm

Posted in Society, Thoughts

2 Responses

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  1. This is a nice little article. You’re correct that most economists see an upcoming decline in population growth. We need a system that is not so obsessed with constant growth and is more concerned with sustaining what is.

    Scott

    July 12, 2007 at 5:57 pm

  2. Don’t be an ass. The economy will evolve just fine without plastic bags. They’ll make something better and more useful for our future.

    Amy

    July 15, 2007 at 11:49 am


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