This article by Ethan Goffman is part of a series of articles drawing inspiration and ideas from the 2016 SCORAI conference that has just been happening in Maine, USA. Enjoy the reading!

Transitions Beyond a Consumer Society, SCORAI Conference Blog #1

Due to a combination of my own stupidity and bad luck, I flew in eight hours late and missed the first day of the SCORAI (Sustainable Consumption Research and Action) conference at the University of Maine.  Since I’ve made it a personal mission to find ways to lower my environmental footprint (perhaps this is my way of testing myself with some seemingly insurmountable goal, the way some people run marathons), I probably deserved this.  Indeed, while stewing in the airport, I made a promise to the universe to never, ever, fly again as long as I live.  The universe, however, is indifferent.  We shall see if I keep my promise.

In any case, I will have to start with the second day of the conference . . .

Which opened with a keynote address by Giorgos Kallis on Political Ecological Economics, arguing that major international figures continue to live in a fantasy land in which decoupling of economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions is possible, even though the two have historically grown together.  Since economists like hard data such as correlation, Kallis pointed out that it is wishful thinking for them to ignore this evidence, a triumph of ideology over data.  Discussing the global state of economic inequality, he pointed out that it was only the disaster of World War II that led to a period of high growth and decreasing economic inequality, an event unlikely to be duplicated.  It seems that it will take a similar disaster, however, to spur the kind of change needed.

Read more at What To Do With Excess? | SSPP Blog