It would hard to overstate the importance of this study, as Monbiot explains.
The belief that economic growth can be detached from destruction appears to be based on a simple accounting mistake.
Before we get into this, remember that "mistake" is a Flatland word. Here at DOTE we interpret the word "mistake" as typical exercise in human self-delusion.
We can have it all; that is the promise of our age. We can own every gadget we are capable of imagining —' and quite a few that we are not. We can live like monarchs without compromising the Earth’s capacity to sustain us. The promise that makes all this possible is that as economies develop, they become more efficient in their use of resources. In other words, they decouple.
There are two kinds of decoupling: relative and absolute. Relative decoupling means using less stuff with every unit of economic growth. Absolute decoupling means a total reduction in the use of resources, even though the economy continues to grow. Almost all economists believe that decoupling — relative or absolute — is an inexorable feature of economic growth.
On this notion rests the concept of sustainable development. It sits at the heart of the climate talks in Paris next month and of every other summit on environmental issues. But it appears to be unfounded.
The reality of "decoupling" is unfounded.