destruction. Most elements of the crisis share an important characteristic:solutions require local action . . . Action can be taken only when localresources are in local hands.Ch 2 "End of the Open Frontier" (28-42)
The problems we face becausepopulation is growing too large for our resource base.We ought, he says, to act as if we were astronauts on a spaceshiprather than like cowboys in an environment where there is no need tolimit what we do. Because of
the more than fivefold expansion since 1950 theenvironmental demands of our economic system now fill the availableenvironmental space of the planet. . . .Most environmental stress is a direct function of human consumption. . .Economic globalization has greatly expanded opportunities for the rich to passtheir environmental burdens to the poor by exporting both wastes andpolluting factories. . . J apan has reduced its domestic aluminum smeltingcapacity from 1.2 million tons to 140,000 tons and now imports 90 percent of its aluminum.
Korten cites three studies about earth's carrying capacity
. TheCornell research team concluded that the earth can sustain a population of oneto two billion people consuming at a level roughly equivalent to the current percapita standard of Europe. To highlight the trade-off involved they posed afundamental question: "Does human society want 10 to 15 billion humansliving in poverty and malnourishment or one to two billions living withabundant resources and a quality environment?"
While Korten acknowledgesthat these studies are only approximations he states that in any casethere is no way that just increasing economic growth can resolve ourproblems.
Ch 3 "The Growth Illusion" (43-56)
Attacks the view that growth is the answer.
Perhaps no single idea is more deeply embedded in modern politicalculture than the belief that economic growth is the key to meeting mostimportant human needs, including alleviating poverty and protecting theenvironment.
Korten cites the Irish economist Richard Douthwaite's 1989study in which, after trying to use growth to solve problems, hereluctantly realized
"the unquestioning quest for growth has been anunmitigated social and environmental disaster. Almost all of the extraresources the process had created had been used to keep the systemfunctioning in an increasingly inefficient way. The new wealth had beensquandered on producing pallets and corrugated cardboard, non-returnablebottles . . (etc)"
Korten adds that during the period of rapid productivityafter 1950
the number of people living in absolute poverty has kept pace withthe population: both have doubled. The ratio of the share of the world's incomegoing to the richest 20 percent to that going to the bottom 20 percent poor hasdoubled. And indicators of social and environmental disintegration have risensharply nearly everywhere. Although economic growth did not necessarilycreate these problems, it certainly has not solved them.