We can grasp, from the previous description, why this current is called 'Degrowth': it simply pushes in the opposite direction of the nowaday 'Growth' economy, whose prosperity is based on the increasing demand of always new goods and services.
Anyway, to be more precise, 'Degrowth' refers to the lowering of the indicator called Gross Domestic Product (or GDP), that measures the economic performance of a system according to, in simplified terms, the number of goods and services it can provide. Therefore, the DE assesses that more valuable prosperity is possible if we consistently lower the value of this indicator, in particular in that countries we call ‘Developed Countries’, that stand out for their very high level of GDP in comparison to the world average. As a matter of fact, DE underlines also that this difference in GDP exists because there is a huge gap, both in economic and development terms, between the North and the South of the planet. The predominance of the North holds hostage the South socio-economic system, slowing down also its potential alternative trajectories toward a better life.
Usually, when we want to change something in any present situation, it is a good idea to check some facts in the past, probably the reasons of the existence of certain things in the present have their roots in the history.
Take a look at the following picture:
All the most ancient cultures were born in the North hemisphere.
Figure 2. The surface extension of emerged lands.
Thus, an important macroscopic physical difference between North and South of the planet is the extension of emerged lands in not polar zones.
We can summarise saying that: More are the emerged lands, more are the possibilities of creating a network of connections and more are the possibilities to have suitable places where things could be manufactured.
Thus, I go back to the opening question of the post: has, (and had in the past) climate any impact on civilisation? And could it be related to the productivity of the human beings?
Here, as one of the example that reinforce the thesis of the author, I just report the following graphs, from his book:
This figure reports the main temperature in which a man, employed in a factory job, is able to reach his best performance in terms of productivity, intended as the best combination of mental and body energies. This temperature it is around 50 °F or 10 °C.
And, especially in a Degrowth Economy, the relationship between our body energy and the climate is, probably, the most important to keep in mind if we want to achieve more equity in the opportunity of future sustainable development, for all the cultures independently of the latitudes they are.
What I would like to point out with these ideas, is that the productivity of humans, on which civilisation and economy both rely, have been and still remains highly conditioned by climate.
The North and the South of the planet are different environments, different availability of space and climate, i.e. a mainly physical differences, that, reasonably, have affected the history of the world economies, with an active role in originating the inequalities we are observing now.
Changing our economy implies to face these climate diversities, maybe now more than in the past, to image a future more equitable civilisation as it is described in the vision of a Degrowth Economy, or another new desirable more equitable Economy, that I think, we need so much precisely ‘now’.
The message of Huntington is full of hope, he concludes his treaty saying: ‘If we are able to conquer the climate, the whole world will become stronger and nobler”.