Introducing the Luxury Cap Act

by Daniel Wortel-London

Even as nearly a billion people go hungry every day, the wealthiest one percent of the world’s population is purchasing ever-more expensive toys. Yacht sales grew by an average of 22 percent per year between 2014 and 2022. Private jet sales have boomed since the start of the COVID pandemic. The global luxury jewelry market, already huge at $56.5 billion,


Redesigning Business for Sustainability

by Daniel Wortel-London

Can businesses become sustainable? Certainly—at least in theory. In recent years, new business models have emerged that attempt to place business on an ecologically healthy footing. The doughnut economy, the regenerative economy, sufficiency enterprises, and postgrowth and degrowth businesses: These and other experiments represent ways of doing business that not only create customer and firm value, but address social and environmental needs as well. 


It’s Time to Ban Earth-Damaging Ads

by Daniel Wortel-London

Advertising works. A recent study by the Advertising Association finds that every dollar of ad spending drives up sales by $21. Ads get us to recognize brands and hum jingles even if we are annoyed by pop-ups. They are particularly effective in driving the kind of unsustainable consumption that is destroying our planet.

This begs a question: Should advertising be limited for the sake of the environment?


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 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.


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,


Suing for the Steady State

by Daniel Wortel-London

On August 14, Montana’s Supreme Court ruled that in light of Montanans’ constitutional right to a clean environment, the failure of state agencies to take climate change into account when considering new projects is illegal. This ruling, resulting from a lawsuit by 16 young people, is being followed up by a similar trial in Oregon—and another is pending in Hawaii. At a moment of legislative disappointment across the sustainability policy landscape,


Cracking the Code: Finding “Economic Growth” in Statutory Law

by Daniel Wortel-London

A chapter in the U.S. Code entitled “Statements to accompany significant regulatory actions” contains a critical directive. It declares that any notice of proposed rulemaking by a federal agency that may result in expenditures of $100,000,000 or more must be accompanied by an estimate of that rule’s effect on economic growth.

Take out your editor’s pen. Imagine amending this code by replacing “economic growth” with “economic stability.” How might this simple change transform the purpose and operation of federal laws?


Who Tallies the Resources?

by Daniel Wortel-London

The economy of the USA, like that of any other nation, depends on natural resources—minerals, timber, fossil fuels, land, and a host of other renewable and nonrenewable assets. It couldn’t function without these resources any more than you or I could survive without air. So you’d think that determining whether our country’s demand for natural resources exceeds the environment’s supply would be of the greatest importance to politicians.


Limits to Wealth = Limits to Growth

by Daniel Wortel-London

Inequality threatens people and planet alike. Billions struggle to make ends meet while a tiny minority grows fabulously wealthy. At the same time, the conspicuous consumption of the wealthy and the waste they generate takes an enormous environmental toll. The intertwining of social and environmental damage suggests that standard fixes for inequality are inadequate.

Herman Daly thought that waste from the wealthy could not be ended through redistributive taxation alone.