Terrestrial and Solar Resources in a Steady State Economy

By Herman Daly

Let us consider a different slant on the current discussion about the necessity versus sufficiency of renewable energy for a steady state economy at the present physical scale.

Pursuant to the pioneering economics of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen (G-R), we recognize two sources of the low-entropy flow that sustains our lives: the solar and the terrestrial. They differ in their pattern of scarcity. The solar energy source is practically infinite in its stock dimension,

Degrowth Toward a Steady State Economy: Unifying Non-Growth Movements for Political Impact

By Brian Czech and Riccardo Mastini 

Limits to Growth and the Environmental Movement

No later than the 1960s, scholars wrote in rigorous terms of the limits to economic growth. Europeans such as E.F. Schumacher, Americans including Herman Daly, and European-born Americans (most notably Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen and Kenneth Boulding) set the stage for later studies in ecological economics and sustainability science. Their scholarship, supplemented by the population focus of Paul Ehrlich and the modeling approach of Donella Meadows and coauthors (for the Club of Rome),

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.

What Is the Limiting Factor?

It is not for nothing that our system is called “capitalism” rather than “natural resource-ism.”

Not Production, Not Consumption, but Transformation

You can always count on Herman Daly to ask the critical questions: “How did this nonsense come into economics?”

Fitting the Name to the Named

To some, “steady state” sounds pessimistic. But to many, “steady state” is a sincere name for our best bet at an exceptional economy.

A Liberating (but Damned Uncomfortable) Conversion

Herman Daly entreats economists not to eschew the wonderful wisdom of Wendell Berry.