A July 11 commentary by Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Rodricks discusses whether growth is always “good” and the benefits and challenges posed by the adoption of a sustainable growth model:
Population growth is hardly ever discussed because, again, growth of any kind is considered good. In Maryland, politicians brag about the prospect of thousands of jobs — and new families — coming our way because of military base realignment. While Maryland made some progress in restricting development with the Smart Growth initiative, and while the O’Malley administration purchased some major tracts of Chesapeake land for preservation, growth still wins the day around here and open spaces disappear. …
But we need a real turn toward sustainability: finding ways to use and reuse resources to meet human needs without destroying the environment. It’s essential to a future of quality for our children and grandchildren. It’s a holistic way of living, working and producing goods to meet the new realities of slow economic recovery, environmental degradation and population growth.
I’m sure the idea of a steady economy — sustaining what we have while satiating the human desire for advancement and affluence — sounds like an experiment in socialism to many. If you believe sustainability incompatible with capitalist enterprise, try this definition from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development: “The delivery of competitively priced goods and services that satisfy human needs and bring quality of life, while progressively reducing ecological impacts and resource intensity throughout the life-cycle to a level in line with the earth’s carrying capacity.”