Changes in policy which succeeded in increasing the rate of economic growth among Western economies would inevitably increase the pressure on the world’s ecology. Higher output would raise consumption of raw materials and produce more waste. Raising living standards could, unless carefully handled, substantially increase rather than reduce the risk of destabilising the world’s climate. Can, therefore, a convincing case be made that a policy orientated to producing better economic performance, as conventionally measured, is likely to be self-defeating? While this line of attack has always had a vocal constituency, there are strong arguments that this view is much too pessimistic. From all major perspectives, the prospects for a sustainable future — and increased human happiness — look to be much better if the developed countries of the world are stable and prosperous than if they are teetering towards financial disaster, with all the social and economic problems that such a scenario would bring in train.
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