Andrew Simms, Victoria Johnson, and Peter Chowla are the authors of the New Economics Foundation report "Growth Isn't Possible." This direct challenge to the ever-present mantra of modern capitalism is based on the contradiction between limited global resources and the unquenchable demands of expanding markets.
The previous report, "Growth Isn't Working," demonstrated that far from alleviating global poverty, the benefits of global economic growth were highly unbalanced and that globalisation, far from helping developing economies, was bleeding them of resources. The current report places growth in the context of global warming and climate change.
The science is too clear to be ignored that human activity is producing increasing levels of carbon dioxide and that this is a fundamentally important factor in global warming. That necessarily imposes economic constraints on growth. If growth requires an increase in carbon dioxide emissions, then it will be achieved at the expense of damaging the environment to the extent of undermining economic activity itself. Business as usual means irreversible damage to the environment. So much is already very clear.
The very term "growth" is ambiguous because it is possible to have increased economic activity caused by clearing up after environmental disasters such as floods and earthquakes. You can also have growth when an increasing proportion of the population is deprived of work.
But the key problem concerns the doubling time. Suppose an economy grows by 3%. It will double in capacity in 23 years, but it will consume as much in that time as in all previous doubling periods put together. For that reason, either there has to be a massive expansion of available resources, or the growth model becomes unsustainable.
Current human use of global resources is outstripping the world's capacity to replace it by 44%, so the earth needs just under eighteen months to produce the resources that the world population uses in every year. The global resources are depleting, so unless major new energy sources are found and exploited in ways which do not reduce global capacity for renewal, we are emptying the account.