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Published on Jan 24, 2010
What the impossible hamster has to teach us about economic growth. A new animation from nef (the new economics foundation), scripted by Andrew Simms, numbers crunched by Viki Johnson and pictures realised by Leo Murray.
We wanted to confront people with the meaning and logical conclusion of the promise of endless economic growth. We used a hamster to illustrate what would happen if there were no limits to growth because they double in size each week before reaching maturity at around 6 weeks. But if a hamster grew at the same rate until its first birthday, wed be looking at a nine billion tonne hamster, which ate more than a years worth of world maize production every day. There are reasons in nature, why things dont grow indefinitely. As things are in nature, sooner or later, so they must be in the economy. As economic growth rises, we are pushing the planet ever closer to, and beyond some very real environmental limits. With every doubling in the global economy we use the equivalent in resources of all of the previous doublings combined.
Concept, script and narration: Andrew Simms Animation: Leo Murray & Thomas Bristow Sound: Louis Slipperz Scientific Adviser: Victoria Johnson