Ever since the industrial revolution the human enterprise has relied on growth economics to establish itself and dominate the natural world. For the last 50 years we have been exceeding the capacity of the Earth to recover or regrow the natural resources that we use at the speed that we are using them. This phenomenon is known as Ecological Overshoot. This two minute video explains the concept. Further detail and references to recent research predicting imminent population and economic collapse are provided in this Wikipedia entry.
Although humans are intelligent, they are subject to herd instincts. This often causes us to act collectively in a very destructive fashion. The psychologist Stanley Milgram carried out an unorthodox and revealing experiment about ‘obedience’. The results helped to explain how a civilised society could carry out the atrocities of WW2.
Watching this experiment, one can see the participants looking for reassurance from the researchers. Cries of anguish come through the wall, but the researchers are calm and insistent that to continue is necessary. The participants feel obliged to continue. For many decades the UK public have urged political leaders to continue to pursue the ‘Growth’ paradigm, which has brought us wealth and good living standards. Climate and Ecological collapse is now well under way and escalating; in order to survive we shall need to be willing to lower our expectations and to begin to embrace the idea of voluntary Degrowth.