Nillumbik climate café – “Degrowth” presentation

Words by Elizabeth Doig and CopperLine

The recent Climate Café conversation in Eltham was abuzz with animated discussion following a presentation from Degrowth Network Australia’s Michaela Carter. Michaela spoke from the heart about her passion for the principles and practices of degrowth. This global movement offers an alternative to the prevailing economic model of endless growth – a model which many see as contributing to the climate and ecological crisis that the world is now facing. 

Michaela outlined the principles of degrowth. These include environmental sustainability, circular and localised economies, cooperation, useful production, sharing, achieving a work-life balance, creating caring communities and meaningful relationships, and having fun! The movement embraces controlled downscaling of production and consumption, and aligns with related movements such as permaculture, regenerative agriculture, democratic reform advocacy and social justice initiatives. 

She explained how individuals’ involvement can start with something as simple as sharing tools or produce with a neighbour, or perhaps making or repairing things rather than buying them. Action at the political level might involve advocacy for a 4-day week or universal basic services. It could include fighting for reform of our democratic institutions to address the issue of state capture, or campaigning for an end to fossil fuel subsidies. 

The discussion that followed touched on a wide range of topics, including the pros and cons of capitalism, the Wellbeing Economy, issues around militarism, and the nature and mechanisms of social change. People engaged in a spirit of enquiry and showed how sensible and realistically minded people can think together in the room. This was a far cry from the alarmist rhetoric that polarises. Discussion prevailed over debate.

Missing, however, was any reference to “Natural Capitalism”, an enterprise pioneered by Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado – also with international reach. It endeavours to unite neo-liberal economics and climate safety through innovation.

For more on degrowth, please email: [email protected] 

Our final Climate Café for the year is at 7:30 pm Thursday, 30 November at Platform 3095, 965 Main Road, Eltham . The topic is Soil Health, (notified in July 2023 CopperLine), presented by Bev Middleton. Bev is a Healthy Soil Advocate, and a member of Local Food Connect. She is responsible for initiating Soil Week Australia, held annually in December, and covered in . Bev will talk about the importance and benefits of healthy living soil. She will explore the carbon cycle and discuss how agriculture can offer solutions to drawing down carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil.
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