By Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero

Two recent events should make us rethink not only our energy path but also our economic path.

First, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a summary of the most recent climate science findings last month. File it under "horror."

The report asserts that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal." According to the document, the world will continue to get hotter under all scenarios.

Ominously, it adds: "Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped."

But sadly, carbon emissions are not stopping; we keep spewing the stuff into the atmosphere from our cars, trucks and coal plants.

Second, the ongoing disaster at Fukushima proves that nuclear power is not the solution. The TEPCO utility and the Japanese government have barely an idea of what to do with 13,000 spent nuclear fuel rods that are in peril at the reactor site. They contain more than 400 tons of extremely radioactive material.

So, all roads lead to renewable energy sources like solar and wind, right?

Well, it's not that simple. As professor Ted Trainer of the University of New South Wales in Australia has demonstrated, renewables cannot work in a consumer society based on endless growth and ever-increasing and wasteful consumption.

Therefore, reducing humanity's collective ecological footprint is no less important than switching to energy alternatives.

The best way to lighten that footprint is to repudiate the need for constant economic growth.

De-growth is already under discussion in Europe and in some circles in Latin America. The proposal is not new. Economists like Serge Latouche of France, Joan Martinez-Alier of Spain and Herman Daly of the United States have written extensively about it. And there are new thinkers joining the fray, like economists Tim Jackson and Peter Victor, who are inviting us to consider prosperity without growth.

We should get used to the idea that we cannot have both an environmentally sound economy running on renewable energy and an endlessly growing economy.

We need to re-examine what we mean by growth and what we mean by prosperity, while we still have time.

Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero is a Puerto Rican author, journalist and environmental educator. He can be reached at

Copyright Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero.

Photo: Flickr user Mark Rain, creative commons licensed.



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Trump's politics are not the problem.

The fiery Milwaukee Sheriff is on the shortlist to head the Department of Homeland Security.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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