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Losing the North: Developed Countries No Longer Need to Grow

When is a “developed” country “developed” enough? At what point do we say, I think we’ve reached the limit? When do we stop? When is enough finally enough?

These are the questions put forth by French ecological journalist Hervé Kempf (How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth) in this article from

When does one stop development? The customary answer to this question is: You can’t refuse Southern countries the possibility of escaping from poverty and, in one way or another, of catching up to the level of comfort enjoyed in Northern countries. Certainly. So, let the countries of the South develop.

But when must the countries of the North, for their part, stop developing? This question poses itself very concretely when projects for highways, industrial regions, superstores, housing estates, parking lots, etc. arise. Rationality should, in virtually all cases, lead us to reject their implementation. The logic of economic interests – which camouflages the appetite for lucre underneath promises of job creation – most often imposes the pouring of concrete. The result of this rationale is the constant aggravation of the ecological crisis in which we are involved. […]

Let’s restore the problem to its most crudely simple terms: If it’s true that climate change, the erosion of biodiversity and chemical pollution are major problems, the North must not be developed. Does Québec need that development? According to the Statistical Institute for that province, disposable income per inhabitant is roughly equal to that of France or Japan. One may consider that that’s enough and that there is no necessity for enrichment. It’s up to Québec’s society to decide whether, by occupying it, it wishes to lose the North. But the situation suggests an obvious fact that holds true for all rich countries: Developed countries no longer need to grow.


Translation: Truthout French language editor Leslie Thatcher.

Read the whole article here.


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