Established in about 2012 as a project of the Worldwatch Institute, the Club For Degrowth (CFD) is an anti-capitalist group that seeks to “raise [public] awareness” about the degree to which the United States and other Western industrialized nations have become “overdeveloped” as a result of their insatiable quest for “perpetual growth,” their unbridled “consumerism,” and their “environmentally, socially and culturally destructive” predilection for “over-accumulation.” “Economic growth,” says CFD, “appears more and more as the problem and not the solution.”
To address these problems, CFD advocates “degrowth,” which it defines as “a controlled and secure contraction of the economy.” The long-term objective is to “bring the human economy back within Earth’s ecological limits” and thereby “create security and sustainable prosperity for humanity.”
Specifically, CFD produces writings that explore “what life within a degrowth society and economy would look like.” For example, in such a system people would purportedly “work less, consume less, and live better, fuller, and most importantly sustainable lives.” Full-time work norms, CFD proposes, should be reduced from 40+ hours per week to about 20 or 25, leaving people more time for leisure activities.
CFD also works to promote public policies and cultural attitudes that could help Americans “transition to an economic system in which being sustainable and responsible to future generations is the norm.” To advance the practice of degrowth, CFD advocates the following measures:
- Raise income tax rates on “the wealthiest global citizens” and on goods that “harm either the planet or people”—e.g., tobacco, carbon, automobiles, and junk food.
- Use these increased tax revenues to support various forms of “public consumption”—such as mass transit, bicycle lanes, libraries, and clean drinking water—that “offset” the “private consumption” of competing commodities like cars, books and CDs, and bottled water.
- Make automobile ownership a rarity, and redesign city streets to accommodate mainly bikes, pedestrians, pedicabs, taxis, buses, emergency vehicles, and delivery trucks.
- Encourage the creation of “eco-social service providers” that can “facilitate the transition to a sustainable economy” by helping people develop “a new ecological philosophical orientation to replace consumerism.”
- Restrict wages and salaries, so as to rein in the innate human impulse toward excess and accumulation. Incomes should be sufficient to allow people “to afford life’s necessities,” but not so high that they encourage “luxury consumption.”
- Strictly limit carbon dioxide emissions in order to counteract climate change—a precept founded on the premise that greenhouse gases associated with human industrial activity contribute heavily to global warming and enviromental degradation.
- Use revenues derived from tax hikes to create “rainy day” funds to deal with disasters that will inevitably result from “climate change” that has already occurred.
- Starve the fossil-fuel and nuclear-power industries into extinction, and replace them with clean energy derived from wind, water, and solar sources.
- Promote a steady population decline in the U.S. by using societal institutions like schools, churches, and the media to “reinforce a one-child [per] family norm.” The persuasiveness of this message can be enhanced not only by “strong access to family planning” (contraception and abortion), but also by a “low infant mortality rate,” which would serve to “reassur[e] families that their one healthy child will survive.” A worthy objective, in CFD's view, would be to reduce the U.S. population to about 150 million people by the year 2125.
- Develop “denser,” more tightly-packed cities where “more people liv[e] in much smaller homes”—the ideal being about 300 square feet per person, as opposed to the current norm of roughly 900 square feet. Research on population density has found that there is an average tipping point at which municipalities shift, politically, from Republican to Democrat: roughly 810 people per square mile. Above that, two-thirds of metropolitan-area counties tend to elect Democrats to Congress; below it, two-thirds elect Republicans. Thus, by encouraging people to live in densely populated, geographically constrained communities, CFD can help promote the election of left-wing political candidates.