One of Bristol Airport’s arguments in favour of expansion is based on the Keynesian concept of the need for continual economic growth. The theory is that if the economy does not expand it will contract and that if it contracts jobs will become fewer, living standards will suffer and the burden of national debt will be greater. This theory has influenced the World’s economic models for years. Its validity is likely very soon to be put to the test in the aftermath of Covid-19. 
Until the next major pandemic arrives the World will be faced with two huge problems: climate change and a perpetually growing population. The combined effect will mean that the lifestyle we now enjoy in the post-industrial economies will become more obviously unsustainable. Shortages of food, water and living space combined with a number of other factors will make it necessary to rethink our economic model and adapt to a different kind of economy. The sooner we start to adapt and to prepare for this the fewer problems the easier life will be for us, or at least, for our descendants.
We need to create a lifestyle that is not based on ever-increasing consumption, that slows the pace of climate change, that equips us to deal with its consequences and allows a greater number of people to live peacefully in a more crowded World in which food, water and other raw materials are scarce. This will be difficult and very expensive. Growth will come from creating jobs in entirely new sectors where technology supports rather than harms the environment. Living standards will have to be geared less to unfettered consumption and more to working with available resources. Mass tourism between countries will probably diminish. So far, governments have not been very good at preparing for this future scenario which does not bode well for our future.
You may ask, “How relevant is this to the expansion of Bristol Airport”? It is very relevant. In the absence of any evidence of a clear and sustainable need to expand for reasons that will benefit the economy there is no compelling need to continue with the damage to health and the environment that will inevitably result. National resources allocated to minimise such damage would be better employed in developing those aspects of the economy that desperately need development, such as renewable energy, insulating buildings, creating a more sustainable farming industry and others. The sooner this is recognised and accepted the easier and more affordable these changes will be.
 Bristol Post online 11 Feb 20 (link not available)