“Development” is a term used in biology to express such things as the blooming of flowers. Its sense of acquiring material prosperity, sense that is now the most obvious to us, was born a bit more than fifty years ago. The inventor of this notion is Harry Truman, in his 1949 speech on the ***. During the war the USA had been increasing a lot the production of their war industry. After the war this industry had to converted and needed new markets to sell everything that its big capacity was producing. Calling countries developed or underdeveloped, and making development a compulsory historical step (the final one ?) for a society, was in fact opening new markets by creating a desire for industrialisation and international *exchanges*, what we call now globalisation. A new colonialism had succeeded to the old one. Now what we can see is a world where development created profits for a small part of mankind. Big transnational companies leave bits of bread to 20% of the population, while the rest is starving. And considering environment, globalisation and the constant material exchanges created a big need for mobility of goods (and of persons, through tourism), this hunger of transportation being the cause of the biggest ecological danger, greenhouse effect. Not to mention all the pollutions due to industrialisation.
This notion of development was green washed many times, with such expressions as ‘human development’ and ‘sustainable development’. Positive adjectives needed to tell that development had not been a failure. Wouldn’t it be time to get rid of this expression that was used by Western industry to conquer minds and the planet? Taking as an example the greenhouse effect, we must not only stop the growth of the CO2 we reject in the atmosphere, we must also reduce these rejections to the point where the planet can deal with it and recycle it. Radical green movements consider this reduction, and others, like the main goal of political ecology. Are we ready to follow them ?