Posts


Building a Steady State Economy in a System Evolved for Growth

by Brian Snyder

If you’ve been on the internet recently you’ve been exposed to Tiger King, the wildly popular Netflix series that revolves around the conflict among a bizarre set of humans feuding over the proper way to hold big cats in captivity. Watching the show is a bit like watching a train derail in slow motion, but for our purposes what is important is that it illustrates the discrepancy between the way the world is and the way the world ought to be.


The Triangular Economy: Behind the Circular Flows

By Brian Czech

The “circular economy” is a response to the environmental problems and resource shortages that arise as the human economy expands. The focus of the circular economy literature is on efficiency which, in terms of economic production, means more output per unit of input. All else equal, increasing efficiency means higher profits, too. That’s real motivation for the corporation.

Efficiency connects to the human propensity to innovate, too. From childhood on,


A Journey of No Return, Not a Circular Economy

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 [1]. 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.


Population and the Steady State Economy

By Max Kummerow

Sir David Attenborough remarked in a 2011 presidential lecture to the Royal Society that “every environmental and social problem is made more difficult and ultimately impossible to solve with ever more people.” Wherever women’s status has improved and societies modernized, he said, birth rates have fallen. He begged his audience to “talk about population.”


Appropriate Scarcity

by Robert A. Herendeen

  … appealing to people to restrain themselves [by] self-enforced abstinence alone is a waste of time. By and large, we consume as much as our incomes allow…. changes… cannot take place without constraints that apply to everyone rather than everyone else. Manmade global warming cannot be restrained unless we persuade the government to force us to change the way we live.

—George Monbiot, Heat (2006/2009)

The results indicate that the likelihood of paying a positive amount for supporting renewable energy is higher under a mandatory scheme compared to a voluntary payment option in the UK.


Where is Pope Francis on Economic Growth?

by David Kane

Those who believe that there is a fundamental conflict between economic growth and environmental protection will find Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, Laudato Si (Praised Be), a welcome addition to the literature; as well as an important tool in helping others, especially Catholics, to understand and accept the limitations of economic growth. Pope Francis explains how the environmental and social crises we are experiencing will require “profound changes in lifestyles,


Five Myths About Economic Growth

by Brian Czech
Myth #1. It’s economic.

To be economic, something has to be worth more than it costs. Economic activity, per se, is more beneficial than detrimental. Technically speaking, “marginal utility is greater than marginal disutility.”

If you liked a rug, but liked your grandkids more, it wouldn’t be smart to grab the rug out from under them. That’s basic microeconomics. Yet if we look around and reflect a bit,


The Pope Francis Encyclical And Its Economics

by Brent Blackwelder

The Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis is attracting extraordinary attention for its message on global warming, deforestation, loss of biological diversity, and other pressing environmental issues. What is less well known is the extensive critique of the global economy found in his 184-page Encyclical. This blog highlights some of the significant points that Pope Francis makes about the need for systemic economic change.

Although the Pope does not use the phrase “steady state economy”


Thoughts on Pope Francis’ Laudato Si

by Herman Daly

As a Protestant Christian, my devotion to the Catholic Church has been rather minimal, based largely on respect for early church history and for the love of an aunt who was a nun. In recent times, the Catholic Church’s opposition to birth control, plus the pedophile and cover-up scandals, further alienated me. Like many others, I first viewed Pope Francis as perhaps a breath of fresh air, but little more. After reading his encyclical on environment and justice,


Preempting a Misleading Argument: Why Environmental Problems Will Stop Tracking with GDP

Brian explains how GDP growth will eventually stop tracking with environmental damage–but the reasons may not be what you’d expect!