consumerism growth

The principle of optimum size

“When an organism grows beyond its design, nature will determine it to fail—a fact of life, in the strictest sense. Nowhere in evolutionary theory is hypertrophic growth posited as the key to success. What is key is optimum size, what we’d more accurately call right size.”

So says Christopher Ketcham in this great article in Orion Magazine, . This principle holds true across the sciences. At the cellular level, large cells collapse easily. The larger atoms are the most unstable. Stars explode into supernova when they reach critical mass. Bee colonies divide, goldfish naturally stop growing at the right size for their tank or pond. Why do we think we’re an exception to the laws of nature?

That’s the challenge of this century, in my view. It ties together climate change and pollution, loss of biodiversity, debt, and a dozen other ills. We need to downsize back to reality. “The most realistic future for humankind,” says Ketcham, “lies in a determined return to the human scale.”

One comment

  1. This idea is very relevant to the book review post you recently wrote, titled, The case against the global economy, and for a turn towards localization. Consider linked up the two posts for better navigation and SEO 🙂

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