Green Growth vs No Growth: Why we need a Golgafrinchan Ark B

Guest Douglas Adams’ing by David Middleton

This morning I made the mistake of reading this article on Real Clear Science…

“Green Growth” Is Supposed to Fix Climate Change. It Won’t Work
By Christine Corlet Walker August 12, 2019

You may have missed it, but a recent report declared that the main strategy of world leaders for tackling climate change won’t work. It’s called green growth, and it’s favoured by some of the largest and most influential organisations in the world, including the United Nations and the World Bank.


Fixing the climate crisis without having to compromise on economic growth sounds appealing.


Proposals for green growth that rely solely on technology to solve the climate crisis are based on a flawed idea.


Our goal in the 21st century should be creating economies that allow people to flourish, even when they don’t grow.

Christine Corlet Walker, PhD Candidate in Ecological Economics, University of Surrey

Real Clear Scuence

I made an even bigger mistake by downloading the report.

Decoupling debunked – Evidence and arguments against green growth as a sole strategy for sustainability

I even started to read it…

Date of publication: July 2019

Authors of the report:

Timothée Parrique, Centre for Studies and Research in International Development (CERDI), University of Clermont Auvergne, France; Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC), Stockholm University, Sweden

Jonathan Barth, ZOE.Institute for Future-Fit Economies, Bonn, Germany

François Briens, Independent, Informal Research Centre for Human Emancipation (IRCHE).

Christian Kerschner, Department of Sustainability, Governance, and Methods, MODUL University Vienna, Austria; Department of Environmental Studies, Masaryk University, Czech Republic

Alejo Kraus-Polk, University of California, Davis, USA

Anna Kuokkanen, Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology, Lahti Finland

Joachim H. Spangenberg, Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI Germany), Cologne, Germany

Page 3

I looked up the lead author on LinkedIn:

Timothée Parrique: PHD Researcher at Stockholm Resilience Centre,…


Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Degree Name: Degrowth Summer School Field Of Study: Monetary and Banking Reforms
Dates attended or expected graduation 2014 – 2014

Uppsala University
Degree Name: Masters of Science, Sustainable Development Field Of Study: Specialisation in Economics Education
Dates attended or expected graduation 2011 – 2013

Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines
Degree Name: Masters of Sciences of the Environment, Territory and the Economy Field Of Study: Sustainability Science, Tools and Techniques
Dates attended or expected graduation 2010 – 2011

Uppsala University
Degree Name: Erasmus Exchange Field Of Study: International Economics
Dates attended or expected graduation 2009 – 2010

Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines
Degree Name: Degree in Economics Field Of Study: International Economics
Dates attended or expected graduation 2007 – 2010

There doesn’t appear to be anything resembling a real job in his résumé… But he was in college for 7 years…

Figuring that the coauthors’ would be even less qualified to run the global economy, I didn’t bother to look them up. But, I did read on…

This report highlights the need for a new conceptual toolbox to inform and support the design and evaluation of environmental policies. Policy-makers have to acknowledge the fact that addressing environmental breakdown may require a direct downscaling of economic production and consumption in the wealthiest countries.

Page 6

As if that wasn’t stupid enough…


Is economic growth compatible with ecological sustainability? Almost half a century after the publication of the Meadows report “Limits to growth” and Sicco Mansholt’s letter to the President of the European Commission in 1972 in defence of a shift away from the pursuit of economic growth, the relation between Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and environmental pressures remains a matter of fierce political debate.

The debate has two main sides. Proponents of what has been named “green growth” argue that technological progress and structural change will enable a decoupling of natural resources consumption and environmental impacts from economic growth. On the other hand, advocates of “degrowth” or “post-growth” argue that, because an infinite expansion of the economy is fundamentally at odds with a finite biosphere, the reduction of environmental pressures requires a downscaling of production and consumption in wealthiest countries,
which is likely to result in a decrease in GDP compared to current levels. On one side, green growth advocates expect efficiency to enable more goods and services at a lower environmental cost; on the other, degrowth proponents appeal to sufficiency, arguing that less goods and services is the surest road to ecological sustainability.

Today, the green growth narrative dominates most political circles.


Page 10

That’s as far as I could get before triggering a Billy Madison.

Points of ridicule

  • WTF are Ecological Economics?
  • Climate change would only need fixing if it stopped changing.
  • There is no climate “crisis”.
  • “Our goal in the 21st century should be creating economies that allow people to flourish, even when they don’t grow,” is perhaps the most self-ridiculing sentence ever written in the English language.
  • Their “debate has two main sides”… Dumb and dumber.

“The debate has two main sides”

And the report got them both wrong. The two sides of the debate are Malthusians and reality. Malthusians have a 100% perfect track record of being wrong and reality is what it is.

It’s a fossil fueled world

It’s a fossil-fueled world.

There is no climate crisis

Even if you don’t like Dr. Christy’s depiction of the temperature data, the models still wrong.
In case you prefer Fahrenheit. RCP2.6 is the scenario where we never learned how to burn things.
RCP4.5 is a strong mitigation scenario, achieved without mitigation.
More oops!
Better make up some more scenarios!
Did you ever notice that reality is always near or below the modelers’ undiscovered fire scenario?

To the extent there might be a climate annoyance… natural gas, nuclear power, carbon sequestration & utilization and a little bit of green schist will make it manageable.

“Golgafrinchan Ark Fleet Ship B”

Just in case some readers are unfamiliar with the classic works of Douglas Adams…

The Golgafrinchans realised that were three types of beings on the planet of Golgafrincham: the leaders (or thinkers), the workers (or doers), and the middlemen.

The leaders contained the artists and “achievers”. The workers were the people who “did all the actual work”, and who made and did things. The middle management was comprised of hairdressers, lawyers, telephone sanitisers, and other such “worthless jobs.”[1]The three classes of Golgafrinchans, as seen in Episode 6 of the TV series.

The group of leaders built a ship and convinced the middlemen to leave Golgafrincham by telling them several different reasons, including: that the planet was going to crash into the sun (or perhaps the moon was going to crash into the planet), that the planet was being invaded by a gigantic swarm of twelve foot piranha bees, and that “the entire planet was in imminent danger of being eaten by an enormous mutant star goat.”[1]The middlemen were sent off, told that the other Golgafrinchans would follow soon, however they remained on the planet with no intention of leaving. The middlemen stayed in space for a long period of time, with many on board in suspended animation for the majority of the journey, with the exception of the Captain and his Number One and Number Two. This third class eventually crashed onto Earth, while the other two-thirds of their society on Golgafrincham lived full, rich and happy lived until they were all suddenly killed off by a raging disease contracted from a dirty telephone.

Eventually, while sustaining major losses, and settling down in a cave-dwelling lifestyle, becoming ‘cavemen’, the Golgafrinchan middlemen wiped out the hut-dwelling original humans of Earth, and became the ancestors of present day humanity, “mucking up the program to determine the Ultimate Question.”[1]

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Wiki

It’s time to build a B Ark, pack it with ecological economists, climastrologers and other people who’ve never had real jobs, then launch it toward the nearest Earth-like exoplanet… making sure the flight trajectory takes them through the thickest parts of the Van Allen radiation belts. The bright side is that we won’t have to worry about being “wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone”… because telephone sanitiser would have been a real job and public telephones are largely a thing of the past.


Adams, Douglas. 1979. The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy. New York: Harmony Books.

Parrique T., Barth J., Briens F., C. Kerschner, Kraus-Polk A., Kuokkanen A., Spangenberg J.H., 2019. “Decoupling debunked: Evidence and arguments against green growth as a sole strategy for sustainability”. European Environmental Bureau.

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August 12, 2019 6:22 pm

Lets stop arguing about whether the CO2 is good or the CO2 is bad. Lets capture that CO2 and turn it into good paying full times jobs and money.
It’s also going to be very good for agriculture, and all the calcium carbonate that will be produced can be used to build sea walls protecting the coast from rising ocean waters. Problem solved

Reply to  Sid A
August 12, 2019 8:03 pm

Good paying jobs only come from creating products that people want and are willing to buy.
Which is the complete opposite of what you have planned.
Taking money from people by force and using it to pay people to do something that is harmful to the planet is the ultimate in insanity.

The fact that you have to keep coming back to beg people to buy into your scam just indicates that most people aren’t as stupid as you wish they were.

Curious George
Reply to  MarkW
August 13, 2019 9:44 am

Don’t Senate and House jobs pay well?

Reply to  Curious George
August 13, 2019 4:57 pm

The only job in the world where you get to vote on your own salary.

R Shearer
Reply to  Sid A
August 12, 2019 8:14 pm

Why don’t you do it?

Reply to  Sid A
August 12, 2019 9:29 pm

Sid, you can not market carbon dioxide reduction and sea level rise to this crowd. It just will not work.
If you have a better way to process sugar beets, work with a sugar beet processor to build a demonstration set-up. If your process works out and you can demonstrate proof of concept, you will be in a much better position to move up to pilot plant scale processing. Then you will be on your way.

One wonders why Sid Abma bothers to post here, when he has never responded to questions and inquires.

Reply to  TonyL
August 13, 2019 4:58 pm

It’s free, and there’s a sucker born every minute.

Reply to  Sid A
August 12, 2019 10:06 pm

I think we should have a currency reform!

Like the Golgafrinchan’s we could all adopt the “Leaf” as a currency and because of the ready availability of the “Leaf” we could all become wonderfully rich. If inflation gets out of hand, all we need to do is burn the forests down.


Reply to  Sid A
August 14, 2019 2:56 am

Hilarious. I assume that’s sarcasm?

August 12, 2019 6:40 pm

Policy-makers have to acknowledge the fact that addressing environmental breakdown may require a direct downscaling of economic production and consumption in the wealthiest countries.

Environmental breakdown!

I took a poll of the various flora and fauna who inhabit my yard. They’re quite happy with conditions there and see no evidence of environmental breakdown.

Reply to  commieBob
August 12, 2019 8:18 pm

I know commieBob! In the space of less than one year we have gone from possible ”climate warming” and it’s rather uncertain (yet so far mild) consequences, to complete ecological collapse and the end of the world. WTF??
It’s of course the result of uneducated and unhinged folks feeding off each other’s twisted need for the excitement of uncontrolled imminent doom on social media. And this in turn comes from nothing else to do.
The ecology around my few acres is improving yearly. I have not noticed any increase in heat or any change in weather patterns in the 15 years I have been here.

Reply to  Mike
August 13, 2019 1:56 am

I can beat you there Mike. I’ve been here 27 years, with full records of 8.00 AM temperature & rainfall for those 27 years.

This year is the coldest we have had,. & up to the first of this month, the driest. It is only a little drier than 93 & 94, but is considerable colder than any other.

We have even lost some native shrubs, indigenous to this area to the frosts. How anyone can still be naïve enough to fall for the global warming scan, I really can’t imagine.

August 12, 2019 6:54 pm

You may as well be deciphering the symbolic fecal scrawl of a family of stoned chimps who got the munchies and ate a carton of colored crayons a few days back.

Reply to  WXcycles
August 12, 2019 8:20 pm

Ha ha. Nicely put, and the models have about the same value as the chimp do.

CD in Wisconsin
August 12, 2019 7:11 pm

“…Our goal in the 21st century should be creating economies that allow people to flourish, even when they don’t grow….”

IMHO, the only way humanity can “flourish” in the absence of economic growth is to bring population growth to a halt. To do that, the govts of the world would have to strictly control procreation in their home countries. Couples would have to get permission from their govt to have a child. The death and birth rate would have to be equal—or maybe the death rate would have to exceed to birth rate if they wanted to bring the global population down. Again, govt would have to monitor births and deaths and ensure the former never exceeded the latter. Any unauthorized pregnancies would have to be aborted.

I can only begin to imagine what would happen if the world’s govts started doing this. And then there is the question of immigration….

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
August 12, 2019 8:26 pm

Countries all across the Western world have population growth rates below the replacement rate. Just halt floodgate immigration and let it play out. All succeeding generations put less pressure on all resources such as food, housing, and energy. Seems to me to be a recipe for prosperity, particularly in terms of housing, as pressures come off the real estate market. Perhaps, after a while, birth rates would creep up again as young people became more confident in their future.

Any chance there might be an equilibrium in there, somewhere?
But “The Powers That Be” relentlessly tell us that this is bad, Bad, BAD. But never say why.

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
August 12, 2019 10:04 pm

I have a better plan get all the greenies to go for a conference to some obscure place and launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike. Do we have a location for COP26 and COP27 yet?

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
August 13, 2019 5:21 am

Flourishing as defined by the enlightened… is being unemployed but not starving while sitting in front of the TV slack-jawed watching CNN and Dr. Phill all day.

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
August 13, 2019 10:31 am

How about you go catch diseases instead of telling me to?

John the Econ
August 12, 2019 7:22 pm

I do appreciate when these people are accidentally honest. Genocide via economic decline.

Pol Pot would be proud.

Tom Foley
August 12, 2019 7:30 pm

‘The bright side is that we won’t have to worry about being “wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone”… because telephone sanitiser would have been a real job and public telephones are largely a thing of the past.”

What we do have to worry about is being wiped out by the increasing virulence of a range of antibiotic resistance bugs, so we better train up a lot of sanitisers! In my family, one person survived a CA-MRSA lung infection (which has a 30% death rate) a few years ago, but is left with serious muscle and joint issues. The treating specialist said ‘I am delighted he is still alive, but I have no idea how we managed it’; no subsequent doctor has been prepared to give any prognosis for the future. Another elderly relation was refused admission to a series of hospitals because of MRSA (picked up in hospital); we had trouble finding her, chasing the ambulances around the city. We enlisted a paramedic friend to help, who said this is a common problem, locating patients who are shunted from hospital to hospital because of their infection status.

*CA-MRSA – community acquired methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (golden staph). HA-MRSA – hospital acquired.

August 12, 2019 7:36 pm

“creating economies that allow people to flourish, even when they don’t grow”

Sounds like they just want less humans. I propose they lead by example and be the change they want to see.

Reply to  WR2
August 13, 2019 3:32 am

Hear, hear.

Bill Powers
Reply to  WR2
August 13, 2019 4:26 am

The only problem is those few that reproduce tend to go into higher education to advance the further indoctrination and brainwashing of our children.
From the time we send them off to public schools by the time they reach their safe zones they are cogs in these Borg machinations.

Ed Fix
August 12, 2019 8:32 pm

Perfect example of someone who is educated far beyond his actual intellectual ability.

Reply to  Ed Fix
August 12, 2019 10:07 pm

The technical term is University Educated Zombies.

August 12, 2019 8:52 pm

If only I could live another hundred years, hate to miss the end of the “play”.

August 12, 2019 8:55 pm

Proponents of what has been named “green growth” argue that technological progress and structural change will enable a decoupling of natural resources consumption and environmental impacts from economic growth

So screamingly obvious, I can not imagine anybody disputing this. Resource substitution has been a major player for a very long time. Resource usage reduction has also been a huge success story.
Just a simple example:
Oil drilling Saved The Whales. Mention it and you can reliably get any greenie’s head to explode. Great fun.
Resource reduction:
Compare the weight of cast iron and steel in an automobile engine circa 1960 with today. Calculate it out per unit horsepower. Back in the 1940s and 50s, you had to check the oil every time you got gas. Those engines burnt a lot of oil. Those days are long gone. Resource Reduction.
I was on a B-24 Liberator with an old guy. The fellow pointed out a large tank in the middle of the fuselage. He said that was the oil tank. The all out range limit of the aircraft was set not by the fuel, but by the amount of oil it carried. The fellow had flown the B-24 on bombing missions in Japan.
Resource Reduction in spades. Better, Faster, Cheaper.

Reply to  TonyL
August 12, 2019 9:44 pm

“The all out range limit of the aircraft was set not by the fuel, but by the amount of oil it carried.”

This is a very interesting statement. I tried researching it on the net but to no avail.

Reply to  Marv
August 12, 2019 10:49 pm

I was a bit surprised by that myself. But then think about the state of the art back then. Precision machining was expensive and not universally available. What precision machining was available, was allocated to the most critical jobs. Engine clearances were rather large, they simply had to make due with what they had. As a pragmatic decision, there was not a lot of point committing fine fabrication resources to anything which would very likely be destroyed long before it’s service life was up. So everything got exactly what it needed and no more. So it is no real surprise that those engines burnt a lot of oil. If you ever get to see any engines from that era which are still running, look for the drip pan placed underneath the plane/truck/whatever. Those engines leaked like crazy, too.

As far as range limits go, I take it to mean maximum ferry range, or possibly after the engines have a few hundred hours on them. This would have been a condition that would have occurred later in the war as enemy air defenses weakened. At which point, the range being oil limited would have bothered exactly nobody. All in all, that fellow knew that aircraft inside and out.

Tarquin Wombat-Carruthers
Reply to  Marv
August 13, 2019 12:20 am

Have you had to do a de-coke and/or valve grind for any vehicle younger than about twenty years?

Mike McMillan
Reply to  Marv
August 13, 2019 1:35 am

The C-123K ran Pratt & Whitney R2800 radials, with a 40 gallon oil sump. When our outfit ferried some of them back to the states, they installed a couple of 55 gallon oil drums in the cargo hold with hand crank pumps and lines out the wings to the engines. Every hour the crew would turn so many cranks and pump oil out to replenish what the engines were using.

Reply to  David Middleton
August 13, 2019 8:26 am

Fiew in a Ford trimotor many years ago and it was pissing so much oil out of its right engine I got worried. Went up to the pilot’s cabin and told the pilot. He laughed and said it was normal. Of course, this was Island airlines serving Put in Bay, Ohio which was about a 4 mile trip. still, as a small single engine pilot at the time it still worried me.

Reply to  Marv
August 13, 2019 9:31 am

Here’s an interesting read about the engine used in “The Spirit of St. Louis”.

Years ago I came across information that the crankshaft was greased, which I found interesting.

Reply to  Marv
August 13, 2019 11:58 am

Here’s an interesting snip from Wikipedia …

Lindbergh sat in a cramped cockpit which was 94 cm wide, 81 cm long and 130 cm high (36 in × 32 in × 51 in). The cockpit was so small, Lindbergh could not stretch his legs. The Spirit of St. Louis was powered by a 223 hp (166 kW), air-cooled, nine-cylinder Wright J-5C Whirlwind radial engine. The engine was rated for a maximum operating time of 9,000 hours (more than one year if operated continuously), and had a special mechanism that could keep it clean for the entire New York-to-Paris flight. It was also, for its day, very fuel-efficient, enabling longer flights carrying less fuel weight for given distances.[Note 1] Another key feature of the Whirlwind radial engine was that it was rated to self-lubricate the engine’s valves for 40 hours continuously. Lubricating, or “greasing,” the moving external engine parts was a necessity most aeronautical engines of the day required, to be done manually by the pilot or ground crew prior to every flight and would have been otherwise required somehow to be done during the long flight.[9]

Spirit of St. Louis – Wikipedia

Reply to  TonyL
August 12, 2019 10:10 pm

It’s called dematerialization or ephemeralization.

Studies on material use and economic growth show instead that society is gaining the same economic growth with much less physical material required. Between 1977 and 2001, the amount of material required to meet all needs of Americans fell from 1.18 trillion pounds to 1.08 trillion pounds, even though the country’s population increased by 55 million people. Al Gore similarly noted in 1999 that since 1949, while the economy tripled, the weight of goods produced did not change. Yes, that Al Gore.

If you extrapolate, we can do more and more with less and less until eventually we can do everything with nothing. Buckminster Fuller

We actually have a tiger by the tail. If the greenies manage to kill technological progress, something will catch up with us and the economy will collapse us back into the stone age. link

Tarquin Wombat-Carruthers
August 13, 2019 12:23 am

Have you had to do a de-coke or valve grind on any vehicle built in about the last thirty years?

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
August 13, 2019 1:09 am

You can add the vast improvement in the effective working life of engines. I remember when if you got 80,000 miles from a car engine before you had to take it apart and rebuild it you were doing well.
Today even bog standard cars, looked after, can clock up twice that and more.

Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
August 13, 2019 2:42 am

Tony the thing that damages engines is moisture collecting inside the engine block from a lack of use. With regular use the moisture does not get a chance to build up inside it. But if you regularly leave it for a week or two in humid conditions the oil runs off the surfaces and moisture condensation starts to corrode parts. The longer the engine sits the worse it gets especially if the oil is old and lost its viscosity. Once the corrosion causes metal to touch metal through the oil surface-film the engine will wear out fast.

Taxis routinely achieve 600 to 700 thousand kilometers in five years of constant 24/7 use with nothing more than standard servicing. After 5 years it’s no longer allowed to be registered as a taxi, but I’ve seen a former taxi that was sold to s 24 hr security company which eventually achieved 1.6 million km using the stock standard factory engine with zero mechanical work having been done to it. Just standard servicing the whole time.

Sealed modern engines running synthetic oils and run constantly simply don’t wear-out. It’s the metal fatigue within gears, cogs and shafts and their deformation which eventually destroys such engines.

August 13, 2019 2:09 am

We don’t need to ship these people to another planet, just abolish the utterly pointless jobs so that they have to get a real job more suited to their abilities.

I had to grind in two valves on a 1996 Triumph Daytona that had broken its cam chain and bent two valves. It was slightly less than 20 years old at the time. Generally speaking though, cars and motorbikes are far more durable that they used to be so that they don’t need replacing anything like as often. My previous car had 140,000 miles on the clock when it died and it had only had an annual oil and filter change by way of servicing for the last 40,000 miles or so.

August 13, 2019 5:30 am

the year is 1928
the novel `dirt track` motorcycle racing idea was sweeping in over from the other side of the pond
Rudge motorcycles introduced their new dirt track motorcycle and a road going bike
(I have one of each standing side by side on the oak parquet floor in the garage)
I was always intrigued by the hand release (pre-sprung) oil shot system on the dirt tracker that squirted oil directly into the rear of the cylinder if the rider felt the engine getting tight. And the new recirculating oil system of the other which replaced the `total loss` oil system of the previous model other where the usage rate was carefully checked to be so many teaspoons full per period of time, to be dripped directly onto the road
My latest bike . . . I`m not even sure where the oil filler cap is

August 13, 2019 6:58 am

Why do we need another .Golgafrinchan Ark B?

If you saw the blog I am currently dealing with you would think the Capitan was still in his bath.

August 13, 2019 9:45 am

Our goal in the 21st century should be creating economies that allow people to flourish, even when fields like Ecological Economics don’t grow

Walter Sobchak
August 13, 2019 10:42 am

“It’s time to build a B Ark, pack it with ecological economists, climastrologers and other people who’ve never had real jobs, then launch it toward the nearest Earth-like exoplanet… making sure the flight trajectory takes them through the thickest parts of the Van Allen radiation belts. ”

Lawyers. Send them the lawyers too. Remember there will be no prosperity until the last lawyer is strangled with the entrails of the last environmentalist.

August 13, 2019 5:05 pm

Wait… so they deliberately picked a cover graphic that looks like the Loch Ness monster? No, really, they did that on purpose?

old construction worker
August 13, 2019 6:19 pm

“green growth” new PR word for “sustainability”

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