Life Beyond Growth

STEVE THOMPSON commends the grassroots movements seeking alternatives to economic growth

The current edition of New Internationalist (NI434. July/August 2010) tackles what I consider  to be one of the most crucial problems we face today, perhaps the most crucial. Headlined ‘Life beyond growth’, it deals with the conundrum that economic growth is not environmentally sustainable and causes a crisis in resources, yet if the economy does not grow, it collapses.

The resources nations depend on, such as oil, are drying up, and extracting such resources is less and less sustainable. This threatens the lifestyles all of us expect to lead. Furthermore, the reckless use of oil and other resourses to feed our lifestyles and habits has brought about a climate crisis which may be irreversable.

The Co-operative group is supporting the Transition movement and the Permaculture movement. I commend this decision because in these grass roots movements can be seen the beginnings of a different way of looking at our lifestyle expectations which take into account the depletion of resources and offer practical, collective ways forward.

The beginnings of the Transition movement are similar, in some respects , to the beginnings of the Co-operative movement, people coming together to address a common need.

Last November Co-operative members sponsored a joint Co-operative/Transition conference in Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire, attracting 200 delegates. There were speakers from both movements who spoke of the need for a co-operative approach to meet the challenge of the oil and climate crisis.

For more information about Co-operative campaigns:

For more about the Transition movement try: or for a US slant.

For more about teh Permaculture movement:


  1. Jonathan
    16 August 2010

    The opposing argument seems to be that financing investment through borrowing with interest forces businesses to seek growth. Alternatively, businesses cannot plan for stagnant growth; they must identify expansions to develop and survive. In this view, presumably then the reason for permanent growth is not capitalism but markets……Even co-ops plan for growth, usually.

  2. Jonathan
    16 August 2010

    Interesting article about capitalism and growth, saying that capitalism does not depend on it

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