o the question "Why zero growth?" perhaps the best answer is itself a question: "Why not?". Do we really need more polluting vehicles, more habitat-destroying tracts of housing, more malnourished children, more weapons of mass destruction? Can we not see that the earth's resources are finite, that there must inevitably be an end to growth sooner or later? Should we not rein in our gluttonous, soul-destroying, consumptive ways before a halt is forced upon us under circumstances beyond our power to control or rectify? Are we so blinded by the smog-filled haze and murky waters that we cannot see continued unrestrained growth threatens the very environment that sustains us?
Instances of man's shortsightedness are numerous, and painful to repeat: the hunting to extinction of the passenger pigeon in the early years of this century, the over-harvesting of the Peruvian anchovy fishery with the concomitant destruction of the guano industry, the runaway nuclear arms race carried to the point of overkill and probable self-kill. With the delayed impact of some of our vaunted technology, the threat man poses to himself has become particularly pernicious. The chloroflourocarbons (CFC) we released into the atmosphere before we restricted their production will continue to eat away at the ozone layer for 40 or 50 years into the future. Who can say what the final denouement will be?
Thankfully, many people have begun to look around in recent years and a vibrant, influential environmental movement has struggled and ofttimes succeeded in ameliorating some of man's more egregious sins against his world. Rivers have been cleaned up, forests have been saved, the nuclear arms race has been slowed if not halted. But as often as not these efforts have been nullified by our unrestrained growth. We build less polluting automobiles, but more of them yields us little net gain. We save one wetland only to lose another to the pressures of development. We convert marginal cropland back into woodlands only to be confronted with the spectre of mass starvation. Growth defeats us at every turn.