At the dawn of the Anthropocene, continued economic growth carries the risk of irreversibly damaging the global carrying capacity. Using the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species (2016), I calculate expected extinction rates during the coming century for 557 regions. I illustrate that these rates exceed the planetary boundary formulated by Rockström et al. (2009) virtually everywhere and increase with population density and GDP per capita. By doing so, this paper contributes to an ongoing debate whether absolute or relative scarcity is more relevant to economic thought. My findings suggest that the conservation of nature requires degrowth and the transition to a global steady state economy.
“I cannot, therefore, regard the stationary state of capital and wealth with the unaffected aversion so generally manifested towards it by political economists of the old school. I am inclined to believe that it would be, on the whole, a very considerable improvement on our present condition.”
John S. Mill (1848, Book 4, Chapter 6)