Society is faced with a profound dilemma. To refrain from growth is to risk economic and social collapse. To pursue it relentlessly is to endanger the ecological systems on which we depend for survival.

For the most part, this dilemma goes entirely unrecognised. When reality starts to impinge on the collective consciousness, the best suggestion to hand is that we can somehow ‘decouple’ growth from its material impacts and continue to do so even as the economy continues to grow indefinitely. The green economy – as this idea is often called – was all the rage at Rio in June.

The reasons for such ...


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