Business & Economy

The Moral Dilemma of Growth


Bob Massie

How are we to reconcile the desire for growth with that of sustainability? This is the primary question that Bob Massie seeks to address in this article. Massie begins by giving a brief explanation as to why there is such an inherent focus on limitless growth and materialism within American (or western) society. Massie then shows how a sole focus on limitless growth is now in much sharper conflict with the recent more pressing move toward sustainability. In particular Massie points out that the current levels of consumption within an American lifestyle is one that is not sustainable for other societies to adopt since it would take five planets to provide the needed resources—a point which raises various ethical concerns when paired with people’s desire to raise standards of living for those who are less fortunate.

Despite this saddening reality, Massie does point to signs of hope that are emerging such as local and regional solutions that focus on more sustainable forms of distributed energy and regional food efforts. Massie concludes by encouraging people to adopt success measures that are far more encompassing than simply materialistic and financial indicators like the oft-used GDP per capita metric. Those who are interested in exploring how to reconcile the relationship between growth and sustainability from a theological perspective will find this article a valuable resource.

What might be some ways Christians could embrace a form of growth that is more aligned with issues of sustainability?

Source: Yale Divinity School

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