Post Growth Reading List

Here are two lists for the post-growth, steady state economy. The first list is for those of you who haven’t done much reading or are new to the topics. I would suggest reading them for an introduction into steady state concepts and then move on to the more in-depth list. The second list is what I consider (so far) to be the top books/articles – the “must haves” on your post growth reading list and is an expanded companion to the introduction list.

If you only read 5, 10, or 16 books/articles about sustainable economics and post-growth thought these are my suggestions:

Introduction to Post Growth, Steady State Economics

  1. Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train, by Brian Czech
  2. Thought Control in Economics, Adbusters Issue #85
  3. Deep Economy, by Bill Mckibben
  4. Prosperity Without Growth, report by Prof. Tim Jackson at the SDC (now a book)
  5. The Great Transition, report by New Economics Foundation

Further Post Growth Reading

There you have it. There are many other books/articles/blogs out there and I would definitely recommend you read as much as you can on anything that interests you. My problem usually lies in having more books to read than I have time to devote to them. I’m sure there are worse up-hill battles to be in, though.

Externalities and Valuing Non-Market Goods

A Steady State Economy will need for us to value our externalities as best we can in order to take into account every impact we have and move towards a sustainable scale. It will also require us to create policies that protect us when these externalities cannot, or should not, be factored into market forces.

Externalities With Value
Externalities With Value

Our accepted model provides us with a free market – one that is omniscient and omnipresent – that allocates resources, goods and services. Neoclassical economists generally assume that when a consumer (that’s you – got to love that label, huh?) makes a decision, he/she does so with all the information required.

When you buy those pants, neoclassical economists assume that you take into account not only the price, but the material the pants are made from, its scarcity, environmental damage, labor associated with its creation, et cetera when you decide to purchase them. In this way the market is perfect at managing scarcity. We all know that reality is far from this picture, however; consumers make decisions with limited information and often without consideration of the far-reaching effects and “externalities.”

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Work and Leisure in a Steady State Economy

I'd Rather Be Here Than At Work
I'd Rather Be Here Than At Work

Leisure is the thing we so often aspire to gain more of in the US. The irony is apparent in that we have the smallest amount of leisure time in the world. Workers in the European Union have anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks of vacation a year and work about 6-8 hours less per week. Their standard of living is often considered greater than ours. Why? The Growth Economy wants more and more production and consumption.

We work in the US to fuel more and more growth. It is prevalent in other countries as well, but we are definitely the pioneers of the industry. I could rant on and on about this, but in the spirit of working less (and more efficiently) I will not re-invent the wheel. I invite you to watch this video from Workers of the World Relax. Also check out the Work Less Party, this blog post, this article, and this article.

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Why Emissions Must Be Cut Now, Not Later

Climate Change Action Now Or Else
Climate Change Action Now

It seems that climate change is in the news nearly every day, in one form or another. There is a lot of buzz around the upcoming international talks in Copenhagen. Some worry nothing or not enough will come of it whilst others are hopeful progress will be made. I fall into the moderate category: think something will come from it (for if nothing else, political reasons), but I am worried that it will not be enough.

So far Europe has by been ahead of the curve on cutting their emissions, in regards to other developed nations (most notably the US). The US has definitely change its stance on global climate change: now our government acknowledges its existence, unlike the previous administration. However, talk about serious cuts is still only circling around the long-term cuts, not the immediate ones.

This doesn’t work – the biggest cuts have to come soon. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that we must cut our emissions by 25-to-40 percent by 2020 but we’re only talking about the 80 percent cut by 2050. Worse yet, those cuts are supposed to be base on 1990 levels, whereas we’re basing them on current levels which are higher (still “yet to be specified”). The IPCC is basing these numbers on the total concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere (the top scientist recently admitted this should be around 350ppmthe current level is 387ppm).

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Steady State Economy: The Revolution Starts Now

The Social Revolution Starts Now!
The Social Revolution Starts Now!

I have been trying to present simple, logical discussions showcasing why our growth economy cannot be sustained. So far we’ve discussed the principles of the steady state economy, ranging from sustainable scale to fair distribution to global climate change to population stability.

Our addiction to growth is pushing forward global climate change and making scarce resources even scarcer. Meanwhile, our economy is in dire conditions. While our governments are trying to bailout the failed system, the people are suffering. Fat-cats are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer. Control of our money and banking is in private hands, perpetuating the very growth that is hurting us.

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Become a CASSE Member!

The Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) is the leading source for information and news on the steady state economy and ecological economics. CASSE President Brian Czech‘s marvelous book Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train was the inspiration for my blog and starting a steady state revolution!

Membership is $25 ($15 for students) annually and benefits include:

  • The satisfaction of joining a social movement that supports environmental protection, ecological health, human well-being, and responsible consumption.
  • The Steady Stater, CASSE’s quarterly e-newsletter with stories about the steady state economy and updates on CASSE’s accomplishments.
  • Solidarity with others who recognize the trade-off between economic growth and more important goals for society.
  • A tax deduction to the full extent allowed by law for membership dues.

You also gain access to a wealth of information and community in all of CASSE’s Outreach Volunteers throughout the world. It also helps with the sleeping at night to know that you are helping to further a sustainable world for you children and grandchildren.

Take a stand for a sustainable world and a sustainable economy! Become a CASSE Member Today!

Uneconomic Growth

“That which seems to be wealth may in verity be only the gilded index of far-reaching ruin”
John Ruskin

Herman Daly is often given credit for pioneering the term “Uneconomic Growth.”  It is a key term in ecological economics and Daly has given us numerous works on the subject. What is uneconomic growth? It is closely related to the optimal or sustainable scale of our economy.

When social or environment costs become larger than the benefits of more production and consumption growth is no longer economic. As Daly and Farley put it in their textbook Ecological Economics uneconomic growth happens when continued growth “costs us more than it is worth. A situation in which further expansion entails lost ecosystem services that are worth more than the extra production benefits of the expanded economy.”

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Sustainable Scale

Size Does Matter
Size Does Matter

Sustainability is quite the buzzword nowadays. What is sustainability anyway? It would appear at face value to have a simple, easily understood meaning. On the contrary, almost everything labeled “sustainable” is not, creating ambiguity in the meaning of the concept. It has become more of a marketing tool than an actual process. Being sustainable is quite different from what is typically called sustainable in our culture currently.

Something is sustainable if it can maintain balance with the system supporting it, and can do so indefinitely. A sustainable process takes only the amount of resources that can be regenerated by its supporting system between each processing cycle. Waste generated by a sustainable process can be absorbed by the surrounding system at the same rate it is created. Sound familiar? On a large scale, that’s the steady state economy.

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