At the end of March, just before the G20, the Sustainable Development Commission released a provocatively titled report: “Prosperity Without Growth“. I didn’t actually hear about it when it first came out but only stumbled across it later via an email newsletter.
At first I thought, ‘Well, I must not have read the paper properly that day.’ But a retrospective search turns up only two Guardian articles (one news, one opinion), a cranky opinion piece in the Times, and nothing in the Telegraph, Independent, or Economist.
This is disappointing. The report asks serious questions about how our society seeks to improve the lives of its citizens and it’s been almost entirely ignored by the mainstream media. And while the blogs do take up some of the slack, the debate isn’t always as rigorous as one might hope.
Having now read some comments from around the web, and re-examined the original report, I think part of this apathy is because of the definitional baggage and misunderstanding that surrounds the concept of economic growth. Let me explain what I mean.