Les "limites à la croissance" revisitées

Depuis la fin de la Guerre froide, toutes sortes de barrières sont tombées, et l’économie mondiale a profondément changé. Jusqu’en 1989, le marché mondial comptait entre 800 millions et un milliard de personnes. Aujourd’hui il est trois fois plus grand, et il continue de grossir. Nous assistons à l’une des plus spectaculaires révolutions de l’histoire moderne, et elle passe presque inaperçue. De modèle applicable à la minorité de la population mondiale, “la société de consommation occidentale” est en passe de devenir le modèle économique dominant du monde, auquel il existe de moins en moins d’alternative. D’ici la moitié du siècle, il est probable que la vie de sept milliards d’individus soit dirigée par ses lois.

L’occident a établi le modèle économique du vingt-et-unième siècle, avec son niveau de vie jusque-là inconnu, et presque toutes les nations, et presque toutes les régions, essaient de l’égaler à n’importe quel prix. Quand, dans les années 1970, le Club de Rome a publié son célèbre rapport sur les “limites de la croissance”, il a suscité des réactions d’inquiétude. Au fil des années, cependant, à mesure que l’économie mondiale continuait de croître sans interruption, et à notre époque de mondialisation, sans limites semble-t-il, les prédictions funestes du Club de Rome sont devenues un objet de railleries. Et pourtant, sa vision de base, d’après laquelle nous vivons et travaillons dans un écosystème mondial fini, aux ressources et capacités qui peuvent s’épuiser, est revenue nous défier.

Le monde n’est pas préoccupé aujourd’hui par les “limites de la croissance,” mais la prise de conscience des conséquences de la croissance sur le climat et l’écosystème se répand. La Chine, par exemple, a besoin d’un taux de croissance annuel de 10 % pour contrôler ses énormes problèmes économiques, sociaux et écologiques. Cela n’aurait rien de sensationnel si la Chine était un pays comme le Luxembourg ou Singapour. Mais la Chine est peuplée de 1,3 milliard d’habitants. Les conséquences de sa croissance économique sont bien plus graves.

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