Entries by

Introducing the Sustainable Missions Act

by Daniel Wortel-London

What’s your mission? While few can answer this question quickly, most of us recognize the importance of a mission to an individual or an organization. A mission provides direction, a framework of goals, and a basis for developing the strategies we need to reach them. In the USA, every cabinet-level department must develop a mission as part of its broader strategic planning process.

Unfortunately, most federal mission statements tend to promote planet-destroying economic growth or attempt—in vain—to reconcile growth with conservation goals.

Two Degrees: Guardrail? Or Guide Rail to Disaster?

by Kent Peacock

The idea that 2⁰C is a safe guardrail against global heating was a guesstimate by an economist almost fifty years ago, and it had a sketchy scientific basis even at that time. In November 2023, a consortium comprised of many of the top glaciologists and climate scientists in the world published a report entitled “The State of the Cryosphere 2023—Two Degrees is Too High.” (See also the review on Carbon Brief.)  The only hope of preventing catastrophic sea-level rise,

The Steady State Economy Act: Halfway to the Hill?

by Brian Czech

Promulgating the steady state economy via federal legislation has long been a primary goal at CASSE. However, even a primary goal isn’t necessarily pursued from the get-go. Much of the CASSE run thus far has been focused on raising awareness of the need for a steady state economy. Raising such awareness was even higher on the list of goals, because drafting statutory law is of limited use if there is no knowledge of the need for it.

Recipe for Obesity: Ultraprocessed Foods and Economic Growth

by Gary Gardner

People of a certain age will remember the tagline from the Lay’s potato chip jingle: “No one can eat just one!” Lay’s’ marketing campaign ran successfully for years because it carried a deep truth: The chips are eminently enjoyable, even addictive. Eating them involves a nonstop cycle—hand to bag to mouth—that repeats until the bag holds only air. At least that’s been my Lay’s experience.

The chips’ addictive character did not emerge from Lay’s skill in finding exceptionally tasty potatoes.

The Steady State of Beautiful Bayfield County

by Dave Rollo

Bayfield County, Wisconsin is situated on the shores of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area. Deep in the heart of the Great Northwoods, the county is unique in its glaciated beauty. It also happens to be a rare example of a county in harmonious balance between its natural and constructed communities.

Bayfield County has been refreshingly free of growth controversies and displays key attributes that approach the characteristics of  a steady-state county.

We Asked for Science. We Got Sustain-a-Babble.

Editor’s Note

CASSE encourages members and readers to hold their government agencies to account on the conflict between economic growth and environmental protection. Last week, Brian Czech presented Gag-Ordered No More to the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome, concluding with recommendations for engaging agency directors. We follow up this week with a letter from the Qualicum Institute (British Columbia) to Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change,

Introducing the Commission on Economic Sustainability Act

by Daniel Wortel-London

What U.S. federal agency is responsible for identifying and reducing the environmental and social costs of economic growth? None, really. The government has plenty of agencies and programs devoted to conservation, natural capital accounting, “green” industrial policy, and just transitions. But none address the elephant in the room: economic growth. Growth is what causes a nation’s ecological footprint to exceed its biocapacity.

Sortition for a Steady State Economy?

by Gary Gardner

In my frustration over humanity’s sluggish response to the urgent issues of our time, I find a bit of hope in an idea championed by the philosopher John Rawls. He had a simple and appealing suggestion for shifting people’s preferences in the direction of the common good.

Rawls proposed that anyone deliberating about public matters–legislators, officials, citizens, and others–start from behind a “veil of ignorance,” that hides from them their place in society.

Water Theft in the Heartland: The Case of Tippecanoe County

by Dave Rollo

Imagine a landscape with some of the richest wildlife habitats in North America. Settlements are scarce and water is plentiful. Birds dot the skies, mammals abound on the ground, and fishes fill the rivers and lakes.

That’s Tippecanoe County, Indiana. In 1800.

The county’s transformation over the past two centuries would make it unrecognizable to its original inhabitants. Today, much of Tippecanoe consists of flat plains of fertile soils.

Introducing the Mileage Fee Act

by Daniel Wortel-London

Economies that operate within planetary boundaries are likely to be heavily localized compared to economies today. Planners will need to shift modes of transportation and redesign cities. Businesses will need to shorten supply chains. This is because freight and passenger travel impact the environment extensively. Respecting planetary boundaries requires that we create economies that do not rely heavily on long-distance travel.

To help accomplish this goal,