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Sustainability 2013, 5(2), 432-439; doi:10.3390/su5020432

Growth Is the Problem; Equality Is the Solution

School of Environment, McGill University, 3534 University Street, Montréal, Québec H3A 2A7, Canada
Received: 30 November 2012 / Revised: 21 January 2013 / Accepted: 22 January 2013 / Published: 30 January 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 40th Anniversary of 'The Limits to Growth')
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Abstract

While the world economy has become more efficient in one sense, i.e., ecological damage per dollar's worth of economic output, growth in human population size and per-capita production and consumption of goods and services have together far outpaced these gains. Grievous environmental harm has resulted, whether measured in terms of human sustainability through the ecological footprint, or non-human welfare through such indicators as the living planet index and the number of threatened species. Many have therefore called for a reorientation of economic priorities away from growth, and toward equality as a more environmentally-friendly way to enhance human well-being. In this paper, I test the merits of this proposal through analysis of a few key national economic and ecological variables across time and space. The results confirm the hypothesis that equality does far less harm to ecosystems than growth does. In fact, equality seems to benefit one crucial aspect of environmental quality, namely biological diversity.
Keywords: economic growth; economic equality; ecological footprint; biodiversity loss economic growth; economic equality; ecological footprint; biodiversity loss
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Mikkelson, G.M. Growth Is the Problem; Equality Is the Solution. Sustainability 2013, 5, 432-439.

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