Posts


Normalizing Outbreaks in the Anthropocene: Growth Isn’t the Cure

By James Magnus-Johnston Death rates. Infection rates. Handwashing. Handwringing. May I re-frame the coronavirus conversation? Although the world is currently stunned by the rapid spread of this virus across the globe, we must understand that these kinds of outbreaks are simply going to happen more often in our climate-altered world, and they highlight the fragility […]


Population and the Outbreak of Peace

By Max Kummerow Adelyne More’s 1917 feminist pamphlet Fecundity and Civilization stated flatly that population stabilization “is the most effective way of ensuring the cessation of war.”[1] All species’ potential rates of reproduction enable exponential population growth. Population numbers are kept within environmental capacity by rising mortality as populations increase. Ecologists call this process “density-dependent […]


Meaning and Ethics in Ecological Economics

By Haydn Washington The True Meaning of Ecological Economics Ecological economics has a problem: Pluralism is out of control, to the extent that “ecological economics” is starting to mean different methods, approaches, and values to different people. We need to know precisely what we mean by “ecological economics,” and to settle upon an ethical framework […]


My CASSE Internship: A Unique Experience in Unsustainable Times

By Ben Valdez I don’t think it’s ever easy to consider being an unpaid intern right out of college. It’s something you don’t usually think about while you’re in school, at least from my experience, and it’s certainly not something you’re trained to aim for as a prospective graduate. Before I came to the Center […]


Book Review: Falter by Bill McKibben

By Herman Daly Thanks to Bill McKibben, not just for his new book but for 30 years of honest, eloquent, and insightful environmental writing and activism. He begins Falter by pointing out that “the human game we’ve been playing has no rules and no end, but it does come with two logical imperatives. The first is […]


[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 […]


The World Fertility Transition: Moving Toward a Steady-State Population

“There’s just too many of us and no one is talking about it.” —Biologist Patrick Benson in Meera Subramanian’s, A River Runs Again: India’s Natural World in Crisis   By Max Kummerow It is hard to imagine a growing population supporting a steady state economy. “Jobs” and higher incomes for growing numbers of people anchor […]


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.


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 […]


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 […]