Posts


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.”


The Poison Beer of GDP

By Herman Daly

Disaggregating reported GDP growth to reveal the differences in growth by income class, as per the Schumer-Heinrich Bill, is a good idea. After all, telling us, say, that average income grew by 4% is not nearly as informative as telling us that the richest ten percent received the entire growth increment while the bottom ten percent suffered a decline in income.


Time to Stop Worshipping Economic Growth

By Brent Blackwelder There are physical limits to growth on a finite planet. In 1972, the Club of Rome issued their groundbreaking report—Limits to Growth (twelve million copies in thirty-seven languages). The authors predicted that by about 2030, our planet would feel a serious squeeze on natural resources, and they were right on target. In 2009, the Stockholm Resilience […]


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 […]


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 […]


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!


The Guardian and Monbiot versus Forbes and Worstall

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.


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?