Posts


Existential Dread: We Need to Talk About our Feelings

By James Magnus-Johnston

Just as the smoke disperses from fire-ravaged parts of the world, the specter of ecological breakdown is creeping into humanity’s collective psyche. Whether that manifests as a bit of anxiety or full-on dread of mass extinction, we need to start talking about our feelings. If we don’t, we may avoid rather than confront the reforms needed for the planet to continue supporting life.

As a university instructor in Canada,


KYIV COMMUNIQUÉ

On the Environmental Impact and Economic Sustainability of Nord Stream 2 and Other Sub-Marine Natural Gas Pipelines

Kyiv, November 6, 2019

 

Summary

Representatives of the Ukraine National Academy of Sciences, National Technical University of Ukraine, Ukrainian National Forestry University, Naftogaz Board for Science and Technologies, Institute of Market Problems and Ecological Economics Research, Ukrainian Institute for the Future, and scholars from France,


[Book Review] Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline

by Max Kummerow

In Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline (Crown Publishing Group, New York, 2019) Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson argue that population decline will bring many social and economic changes—some good, some bad. They assert that “In three decades, give or take…global population starts to decline.”

Note that their title is a bit misleading. World population will probably rise to over 10 billion before the slow decline would begin.


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 Not-So-Nobel Prize for Growth Economists

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.


Gross Domestic Problem On World Animal Day

By Brian Czech

If you like animals, your feelings may have been nurtured by “Hedgehogs Being Adorable,” “Baby Hippo Has Won Our Hearts,” and other such gems. The Huffington Post, The Animal Blog, and various animal-lover media take a heartfelt approach to the appreciation of animals—wild as well as domesticated—reminding us of the needs and vulnerabilities of our fellow creatures. It’s a refreshing approach compared to the stodgy science and economics of conservation.


A Sustainable True-Cost Economy Promises an Escape from Massive Water Pollution

by Brent Blackwelder

A year ago, I wrote about how a true-cost steady state economy would deal with water pollution. Last August, the alarming green slime at the west end of Lake Erie was so bad that it shut down Toledo’s water supply for half a million people. Who would pay the tremendous damages caused by the green slime? Certainly not the industrial agricultural interests who were responsible for about two-thirds of the problem!


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”


Seismic Political Shifts Reveal Desire for Serious Change

by James Magnus-Johnston

If you demonstrate to people that the NDP [New Democratic Party] can win in Alberta, suddenly anything seems possible. —Paul Fairie, University of Calgary political scientist

 

On the problematic political spectrum, neither the right nor the left have become wholesale champions of the steady state economy. Then again, embracing something perceived as ‘new’ has never been the strong suit of the politician.


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!