To Order BookHome PageAbout the BookRelated Topics

Why Economic Growth Is Unsustainable

by Michael Bond

The present global economy is caught in a catch-22 of its own making. Solutions exist, but the blindness that created the problem also stops the solutions from being seen.

Problem 1   How Much Is Enough?
The present economy is obliged to grow annually at between 3% and 6%. Too much less than 3% for too long and the economy will collapse from lack of currency. Too much over 6% for too long and inflation will spiral out of control, rendering currency meaningless.
Below is a table that points out how long it takes for something to double, triple, etc in size, when it increases at rates of 3%, 4%. 5% and 6% per year. For the last 15 years the global economy has been growing at an average of about 4% per year. Note that at 4% growth the economy doubles every 19 years, and grows 10 times its size in a mere 59 years.

By the beginning of the 21st century the world's environment was in critical decline. Oceans are turning acidic from atmospheric CO2 threatening marine life, melting glaciers are flooding cities where soon little water will flow at all, species are disappearing from the Earth at a faster rate than during the dinosaur extinction 65 million years ago.
The design of the global economy demands that by 2019 the economy will be twice the size it was in 2000. At its present rate of growth, by 2059 the global economy will be ten times its 2000 size. But Earth cannot  sustainably support a global economy the size it was in 2000.
Even if the economy slid along at a minimal 3% growth it would still be 10 times its 2000 size by the year 2080.
So in order to survive, the global economy is compelled to keep growing like a cancer, at an unsustainable rate that will kill its host. This self-destructive design is a direct result of the flaw in the global money system (see accompanying article Money - Deadlier Than Plutonium).
But wait - there's more!
Let's assume, like most corporations and politicians do, that the world's resources are endless and that no environmental threats exist. Even if that were the case, the global economy is self-destructive for an entirely different reason, if the first way isn't fast enough.

Problem 2 - Coming Ready Or Not!

The second problem stems from the fact that in order to sustain 4% annual economic growth, global debt must increase at about 10% annually. Because it is annual growth, this means it is exponential  rather than mathematical growth. The difference between the two is shown below.
Mathematical Growth    1 + 1 + 1 + 1 +  1  +  1  + 1  =     7
Exponential Growth       1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 32 + 64 = 127  (Much faster growth in same time.)
Because global debt increases exponentially 6% faster than the global economy, debt will quickly smother the economy by demanding its entire output merely in interest payment.

To the left is a table that illustrates the global situation using the Australian economy as an example. In 2003 the OECD rated Australia's economy as "one of the best  performers" in the developed world. The table to the left showing Australia's debt and income figures, demonstrates that even the best performers in the global economy will be bankrupt before 2030.
If Australia stays on its present "good" course, within a few decades Australia's interest bill each year will be larger than Australia's entire national income. . Australia would be bankrupt well before it got to this.  The figures of 4% economic growth and 10% debt growth are about the same for the entire global economy. The Global Economy is  on course to collapse well before 2030 due to a looming
global inability to repay annual interest. The reason why debt outpaces economic growth
 stems from a fault in global money supply. This fault is described in the article
 Money - Deadlier Than Plutonium, available from

To Order BookHome PageAbout the BookRelated Topics

A copy of this document is available from
Michael Bond is a promoter of social and environmental reform. 
His book Eve of the Apocalypse sheds light on the present global situation and its affect on individual people.