About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

1 Dublin L. & Pol. Rev. 58 (2020)
Degrowth and the Fermi Paradox - Ecopolitics, Techno-Pessimism and Implications for Cosmology

handle is hein.journals/dublpr1 and id is 67 raw text is: 



                       Niamh Reilly, Dublin City University


The twin emergencies of climate change and more recently the coronavirus pandemic has seen
degrowth   economic policy focused on a wilful contraction of the global economy  begin to
be seriously considered with a view to increasing individual wellbeing and ecological
preservation which has been neglected under the classic neoliberal model. Against the
background of this increasing interest in degrowth, this paper offers a critique of academic
and ecopolitical degrowth philosophies, concluding that current policy proposals remain
largely betrothed to the capitalist regime they ostensibly seek to dismantle, and may potentially
exacerbate socio-economic inequality in the name of one-planet living. A hitherto
unreported undercurrent of techno-pessimism in the degrowth literature has also been
identified, raising questions about the ultimate consequences of embracing the movement. To
address this, the paper proposes that concerted efforts to decarbonise the global economy be
undertaken in the renewable energy research sector through emulating the urgent approach
taken by medical science in the search for a COVID 19 vaccine by taking the initial step of
making renewable energy research Open Access. Failure to rise to the challenge of bringing
renewable energy technology to state-of-the-art may mean that degrowth is deployed as a
necessary survival strategy to avoid resource depletion and associated climate breakdown. An
exploration ofanthropogenic climate change within the broader context of cosmology suggests
that degrowth may indeed be an inevitable consequence of technological civilisations
throughout the Universe having reached the limits of their technological capabilities. This
scenario is proposed as a novel explanation for the Fermi Paradox  the continuing lack of
evidence for advanced extra-terrestrial life despite high odds in favour of its existence
entitled the Reversion Hypothesis.

A Typical Anthropocene?

During a conversation with colleagues at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the summer of
1950, Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi mused why no evidence has ever been observed
of extra-terrestrial contact with the Earth nor of any extra-terrestrial presence whatsoever in
outer space, despite mathematical and astrophysical predictions that the vastness of the cosmos
likely hosts millions of alien civilisations similar to or more advanced than our own. Sometimes
referred to as the Great Silence, this lack of evidence for extra-terrestrial life despite very
high odds in its favour is more formally known as the Fermi Paradoxi. Dozens of explanations
for the Fermi Paradox have since been proposed including: the Rare Earth Hypothesis that only

N. Reilly

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing thousands of academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline.

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most