When millions of caterpillars chew away at cultivated plants they are
seen as pests. But, when heavy equipment chews away at wilderness it's
called "economic growth." It "creates jobs" but what does it really
Minus the pretext of housing-starts and construction jobs, the main
impetus is to flatten nature and accommodate endless numbers of
people. This is all happening on a planet that isn't getting any
larger. People keep buying into the fable of endless greener pastures.
Many of them are actually brown, with so much desert construction
despite shrinking water supplies.
There are roughly 3,000,000 more people in the U.S. each year and
75,000,000 more on the planet annually. This growth would
automatically be treated as a crisis if other species were
perpetrating it. We would expect them to live in balance with their
surroundings. But humans are supposedly of supernatural origin, so
it's OK to obliterate wilderness as long as we "plan" for constant
The wide open spaces that lured people to America are being chipped
away daily. With the potential for a BILLION people by 2100, imagine
America with far less open space, and industrial blight (like wind
farms) on much of it. Even if people are corralled in denser housing,
they will spread out on vacation and crowds will grow everywhere. This
scourge on the land is welcomed by the construction industry and
logged as GDP growth.
On a personal level, it's no fun that Caterpillar had to cut 22,000+
jobs. But the building industry is not sustainable in its current
form. A slowdown of construction is a reprieve for everything that
There's much talk of living efficiently and reducing the human
footprint, but when it actually happens it's called a recession. In
many ways, a recession is based on the expectation of endless
population growth. The GDP has shrunk, but why must it keep growing in
the first place? Without more people, we wouldn't constantly need to
create more jobs; more of them funded by government loans now. In a
steady-state system, we could refine the economy instead of just
fattening it all the time.
Housing starts should be dropped as a leading economic indicator since
they indicate bloat, not health. People buy fat homes with money they
don't really have, which enables slick operators to do the same.
Investors get involved and the whole sham collapses. Endlessly-growing
resource consumption is the disease, not the cure, for our economic
woes. But more growth is being peddled as the answer. People are still
playing games with money while pretending the physical size of the
economy is irrelevant.
In a sane world with a stable population and steady-state economy, the
construction industry could scale back and finally operate in balance.
Its main focus would be repairing old structures or replacing them
with new ones. Since the Earth is FINITE, the entire economy should
stop trying to grow all the time to pay off increasing debts. Global
replacement-level birth control is the first step on the road to
Can one really be a productive member of a consumptive society?