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,


How to Take out a Pipeline

Gregory M. Mikkelson

The speed of economic growth hinges to a large extent on the supply of fossil fuel, especially of oil and gas, which depends in turn on pipeline capacity. Thus, if we are to turn the tide against economic growth, pipelines are a good strategic place to start. In what follows I focus on the fight against one pipeline in particular.

Spiderwebs of pipelines hold six continents in thrall to climate-wrecking,


Reflections on Thirty Years of Worldwatching

Gary Gardner

It’s been a fascinating experience watching the human family’s response to the emerging sustainability challenges of the past 30 years. Over a career writing on the topic, largely at the Worldwatch Institute, I marveled at the ingenuity displayed by many changemakers. I also bemoaned the blindness and stubborn resistance to change apparent in many sluggards. Here I reflect on sustainability’s ups and downs over three decades.

My perspective is captured well in the thoughts of 45 climate scientists interviewed recently by The Guardian.


Defining “Economic Development” in Statutory Law: Content and Strategy

by Brian Czech

The only way to arrive at a safe, sustainable, steady state economy is with substantial behavioral and political reform. Those two categories of reform correspond roughly with the demand side and supply side of the economy, respectively. In the simplest of terms, people must conscientiously demand less—wealthy people in particular—and policymakers must help ensure that the supply of goods and services is not in a state of overshoot.

My focus here is on the supply side.


Degrowth for Engineering and Engineering for Degrowth

by Kendrick Hardaway and John Mulrow

In Chicago, the great dome atop the Museum of Science and Industry rotunda is emblazoned with these words:

Science discerns the laws of nature

Industry applies them to the needs of man

The inscription’s lofty rhetoric hides a powerful assumption that is broadly internalized in industrial societies today: that the “needs of man” are unlimited,


Work Less, Study More, and Forget About GDP

by Gregory M. Mikkelson

Trends in human health have recently decoupled from GDP growth throughout the world. In other words, health improvement no longer tracks economic expansion. Meanwhile, environmental degradation remains firmly coupled to economic growth. As damages from economic growth mount globally, and as benefits fade, the case against further growth is stronger every day.

Within the USA, the case against economic growth is especially compelling, and not just because of the country’s massively disproportionate contribution to global ecological breakdown.