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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.


A Country of Immigrants

By Herman Daly

Historically, the U.S. is undeniably a country of immigrants. But why is this uncontested fact so repeatedly emphasized? Might the unremitting celebration of immigration as a policy (as opposed to the celebration of particular immigrants as people) obscure a dark side of our immigration history?


The Future History of Political Economy – Part 2

Thermodynamics in Economics: Revolutionary portent, future history by Eric Zencey Ecological Economics represents the extension into economics of the thermodynamic revolution of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In physics, that revolution dethroned Newton and brought relativity. In biology, it was midwife to the birth of ecology, the study of ecosystems as wholes in which energy networks—food […]


The Future History of Political Economy – Part 1

Economics Ignores Thermodynamics by Eric Zencey Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this essay appeared as a comment in the Great Transition Network Forum, which will appear on the Great Transition Initiative website next week along with a new essay by Herman Daly, “Economics for a Full World.” Ecological Economics and its corollary, Steady State […]


An Economics Fit for Purpose in a Finite World

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?


The Populations Problem

Herman Daly offers an original take on the tired debate of “too many people vs. too much consumption” — a spot-on reframing of a critical issue.


Economics as if the Laws of Thermodynamics Mattered

Everyone who participates in the economy should understand the relevance of entropy to economic production and consumption.