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Approaching the Energy Cliff

by Dave Rollo

Warn anyone in the USA about the coming energy crisis and you’re likely to see eyes roll. “What energy crisis? That was half a century ago! Markets and technology won. Today we’re back among the top oil suppliers!”

All true, but the response gives a false sense of security that has policymakers and publics sleepwalking toward a cliff. An energy crisis is likely ahead, no matter our rank (currently third) among oil supplying nations.

Time to Make a Material Difference

by Gary Gardner

Well, COP 28 ended yesterday with (seeming) agreement to (sort of) walk down the fossil fuel ladder toward a (not for a while) sustainable future. Geez! It’s almost 2024, more than half a century since Limits to Growth was published, and the human family is in a pouting mood. Why is it like pulling teeth to do the right thing, sustainability-wise? Why are we sleepwalking toward a cliff?

Christ Didn’t Shop for Christmas Presents (Much Less Jets and Guns)

Editor’s note: This essay originally appeared December 23, 2020 and is slightly modified.

by Brian Czech

With Christmas two weeks out, folks are making tough decisions about Christmas presents. The public is rattled by inflation, credit card debt is through the roof, and gift-giving is a real strain for many. My advice for anyone stressing out over Christmas presents is simple:  Take a break from the shopping!

Learning from Las Vegas: The Costs of Growth

by Daniel Wortel-London

Since 1998, the City of Las Vegas and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have been gambling with nature. By auctioning off public land from the BLM for development and using the proceeds to preserve natural areas, policymakers and federal officials have bet that development and conservation can go hand-in-hand.

But it hasn’t worked out that way.

As the Las Vegas region has grown from 1.3 to 2.7 million people since 1998,

The Imperative—and Peril—of Density

By Dave Rollo

The transition to a steady state economy—in which humans, their operations, and their artifacts are nested harmoniously within the economy of nature—is fundamentally about reconciling human needs with the needs of nature. Leaving space for habitat and the functioning of natural systems is critical to our survival and  the survival of myriad other organisms.

Natural and traditional agricultural ecosystems are autotrophic (‘self-feeding’), meaning they are capable of regenerating resources and assimilating wastes.

Herman Daly Has the Floor

Editor’s Note: Saturday, October 28 marks the first anniversary of Herman Daly’s passing.  The father of steady-state economics, Daly was CASSE’s economist emeritus and a long-time board member. We celebrate his clear and stimulating thought with three classic essays from Best of The Daly News.

Wealth, Illth, and Net Welfare

Well-being should be counted in net terms, that is to say we should consider not only the accumulated stock of wealth but also that of “illth;” and not only the annual flow of goods but also that of “bads.” The fact that we have to stretch English usage to find words like illth and bads to name the negative consequences of production that should be subtracted from the positive consequences is indicative of our having ignored the realities for which these words are the necessary names.

The Crisis in the Middle East is a Crisis of Growth

by Daniel Wortel-London

The catastrophe unfolding in Israel and the Gaza Strip is the product of many factors, including colonialism and religious fanaticism. But another impulse driving this disaster deserves discussion: competition over growth and the natural capital—particularly energy, water, and land—that ensures it. These resources provide the basis for economic and population expansion in the Middle East and elsewhere. As nations continue to recklessly pursue this expansion in a finite world we will see more and more struggles over fewer and fewer resources.

A New Papal Statement Hits—and Misses—the Mark

by Gary Gardner

Religious groups have long been players in movements to create a better world, from the anti-apartheid and civil rights movements to initiatives on arms reduction, debt forgiveness, and divestment from fossil fuels. It makes sense that they are involved in the sustainability movement as well. Sustainability, including the effort to create a steady state economy, requires a shift in one’s worldview and values,

What Makes a County Great?

by Dave Rollo

Think about the county where you live. Picture your favorite streets, event spaces, scenery, or terrain. If you’ve lived there awhile, chances are you know what makes it great: the natural, cultural, and commercial places whose characteristics make your community special to you and your neighbors.

Your connection to them becomes part of your sense of place. You delight in taking visiting family and friends to these special sites and you lament changes that threaten or despoil them.

Three Telling Takeaways from Climate Week in New York City

by Daniel Wortel-London

New York City was busier than usual last week.

The occasion was Climate Week, a host of events devoted to charting and increasing environmental progress. Hundreds of sold-out summits, covering everything from biodiversity to energy, could be found across the metropolis. And within those halls, would-be thought leaders discussed the challenges of sustainability with both earnestness and self-congratulation.

There was a tension,