We May Be Losing the Growth Race

By Siddharth Singh, 17th February, 2016

Physicist Mark Buchanan suggests on Bloomberg that our economies may be “losing” the “high-stakes race with its own growth”. He writes,

Lest our use of energy and materials get out of control, we must constantly innovate to become more efficient. (…) The rapid advancement of electronics technology illustrates how the race works. The number of transistors in the world’s devices has gone from one in 1947 to a thousand billion billion today (…) The proliferation hasn’t inundated the planet because the amount of physical material and energy used in each transistor has shrunk spectacularly, reflecting a relentless advance — seen in almost all technologies — that gets economists and tech enthusiasts excited about the possibilities for a cleaner and more environmentally friendly future.
The hope is that by doing more with less, we can keep growing without bumping up against physical limits — an optimistic vision sometimes called “decoupling.” But is there any evidence for it? That’s less clear.

He argues that efficiency improvements have not been enough to “to outpace the combination of population growth, economic expansion and the rebound effect”. Therefore, overall material use has increased. But he suggests that there may be a way around this. To know more, read the article here.

Siddharth is on Twitter @siddharth3