A vast majority of Internet users think that we should give up growth to protect the planet. A quick look at the data suggests the argument is simple. The top online argument says that dealing with climate change is necessary to secure a healthy society and healthy economy for the future: If our economic system is based on increasing consumption of resources that the planet can no longer offer, then we should change the system.
According to our social media data, supporters of growth are in the minority but are not out of touch with environmental concerns. Quite the contrary, 42% of them think that economic growth is an essential tool to save the planet. The most common argument is that economic growth gives us the financial means to fight against climate change; Ecological action is expensive, so there is an increasing need to pay for it by maintaining growth.
Green growth and negative growth
Although everyone seems to agree about the need to fight climate change, economic growth seems to be a sticking point. Ecological action and economic growth are not necessarily opposed, however. Indeed, more than 20% of Internet users think that economic growth doesn’t need to be sacrificed, because it can be fueled by green technologies. According to them, the environmentally friendly economy is underexplored, as it can create jobs and help develop a whole economic sector. Politicians, international organizations, and even some CEOs are using the same argument as it allows them to justify ecological transition policies, even if they aren’t always implemented.
Solar panels to save the planet ?
Others believe that the whole concept of economic growth should be redefined. One French MP, for example, suggested that environmental impact be part of the GDP calculation. In a similar vein, many organizations and economists support the concept of negative growth, urging public powers to think about changing the criteria used to calculate wealth. Whenever economic growth is discussed, the debate turns from an economic into an ideological one.