By Max Kummerow For hundreds of years, economists have debated whether population growth is good or bad. Malthus said exponential population growth increases labor supply, so wages fall until starvation, war, or plague stops growth in numbers. Marx said capitalism causes poverty and hunger, so population growth is good, because “every stomach is born with […]
By Herman Daly
The economic process is not a mechanical analog that can be run forward and backward, nor a circular process that can return to any previous state. Rather it is an irreversible and irrevocable process moving in the direction of time’s arrow of increasing entropy . Finitude and entropy guarantee that the economic life of our species will be a journey of no return. Therefore even a stationary economy, in the classical sense of constant population and constant capital stock, is ultimately a journey of no return, because the metabolic throughput of matter and energy required to maintain constant stocks of people and physical capital, in the face of depreciation and death, is an entropic flow from ever less concentrated sources to ever filling sinks – and both sources and sinks are finite.
By Josh Farley
Perhaps the main reason people reject the need for a steady state economy is some form of cornucopianism, the belief that technological progress will overcome all ecological and physical limits, allowing endless economic growth into the indefinite future. Cornucopianism has several flavors, and I will describe three: mainstream economics, eco-modernism, and singularity theory.
By Brian Czech
How ironic for the Washington Post to opine “Earth may have no tomorrow” and, two pages later, offer up the mini-bios of William Nordhaus and Paul Romer, described as Nobel Prize winners.
Without more rigorous news coverage, few indeed will know that Nordhaus and Romer are epitomes of neoclassical economics, that 20th century occupation isolated from the realities of natural science. Nordhaus and Romer may deserve their prizes for economic modeling, but each gets an F in advanced sustainability.
By James Magnus-Johnston A new voice has emerged recently in Canada called the “Ecofiscal Commission,” which could have the funding, clout, and determination to steer the country in a more promising direction. The group includes high-profile economists, former political leaders, and high-powered financiers. They define “ecofiscal policy” as something that “corrects market price signals to […]
by Brent Blackwelder A renewable energy revolution is sweeping the planet. This revolution has profound implications because it signals that the global economy is moving to stop the growth of our human carbon footprint. The global economy has run for a century primarily on fossil fuels but is now undergoing a rapid transition to a global […]
Daly explains how the conflation of growth and development, and a reliance on the Cobb-Douglass production function, can lead to the spurious conclusion that natural resources are unimportant factors of production.
Brian Czech responds to Paul Krugman’s shockingly weak column, which argues against the limits to growth with the example of slow steaming.
Our current economic policy goal is not fit for a finite and entropic world. But what would our economic policy goal be in a steady state economy?
Our economy faces a futility limit, ecological catastrophe limit, and an economic limit. Fortunately, the economic limit will likely be the first we encounter; hopefully we can implement a steady state economy before the others are reached!