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The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality

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The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality Cover

ISBN13: 9780865716957
ISBN10: 0865716951
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Publisher Comments:

Economists insist that recovery is at hand, yet unemployment remains high, real estate values continue to sink, and governments stagger under record deficits. The End of Growth proposes a startling diagnosis: humanity has reached a fundamental turning point in its economic history. The expansionary trajectory of industrial civilization is colliding with non-negotiable natural limits.

Richard Heinbergs latest landmark work goes to the heart of the ongoing financial crisis, explaining how and why it occurred, and what we must do to avert the worst potential outcomes. Written in an engaging, highly readable style, it shows why growth is being blocked by three factors:

  • Resource depletion
  • Environmental impacts
  • Crushing levels of debt

These converging limits will force us to re-evaluate cherished economic theories and to reinvent money and commerce.

The End of Growth describes what policy makers, communities, and families can do to build a new economy that operates within Earths budget of energy and resources. We can thrive during the transition if we set goals that promote human and environmental well-being, rather than continuing to pursue the now-unattainable prize of ever-expanding GDP.

Richard Heinberg is the author of nine previous books, including The Party's Over, Peak Everything, and Blackout. A senior fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, Heinberg is one of the world's foremost peak oil educators and an effective communicator of the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels.

Synopsis:

Economics has failed us . . . but there is life after growth!

About the Author

Richard Heinberg: is the author of nine previous books including The Partys Over, Peak Everything, and Blackout. He is a Senior Fellow of Post Carbon Institute, a think tank helping chart humanitys transition from the brief, waning reign of fossil-fueled megatechnology to the dawning era of re-adaptation to natures limits. Widely regarded as one of the worlds foremost Peak Oil educators, Richard lectures widely and appears on radio, television, and in films. With a wry, unflinching approach, he explains the trends that shape our world.

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Owen Lloyd, September 29, 2011 (view all comments by Owen Lloyd)
As a person, I generally like Richard Heinberg, and wanted to like his book. But often I found myself infuriated reading this. The book itself has a textbook-like sterility to it, with many infoboxes and charts giving more specific detail on certain topics. And the writing feels robotic, as if written from the perspective of an alien from another world looking impersonally down on the world. Beyond that the language is clearly calculated to avoid alienating the typical middle class reader. It seems clear that Heinberg deliberately skewers the strength of his own expertise in order to keep people from panicking.

For instance, the thesis of the book, as the title suggests, is that economic growth has come to an end. Although one might assume that means the economy is headed towards a decline, he studiously avoids saying this in any clear terms. He actually seems to try to comfort his readers by suggesting that we can manage something of a steady-state economy, if one with a different series of assumptions and values than the current systems. He neglects to consider that what we're actually looking at is an economic crash of unprecedented speed and magnitude, in spite of the consistency of this idea with his own research.

But where Heinberg frustrates me the most is when, after noting a few of the ways in which our way of life is killing the planet, he writes:

"Declining oxygen levels, acidifying oceans, disappearing species, threatened oceanic food chains, changing climate-- when considering planetary changes of this magnitude, it may seem that the end of economic growth is hardly the worst of humanity's current problems. However, it is important to remember that we are counting on growth to enable us to solve or respond to environmental crises. With economic growth, we have surplus money with which to protect rainforests, save endangered species, and clean up after industrial accidents. Without economic growth, we are increasingly defenseless against environmental disasters-- many of which paradoxically result from growth itself." He goes on to say that "the end of economic growth cannot be counted on to solve the environmental problems that growth has previously generated".

The first absurdity to strike me in the above passage is when the author says that "we are counting on growth" to solve our environmental crises. I don't know about Richard, but I'm certainly not counting on growth to solve anything. And although some people absolutely do believe this, that is largely because people are heavily invested in this system, and believe they can destroy the planet and live on it, too. Also, Heinberg tactfully ignores that far more capital is used to destroy rainforests, kill endangered species, and cause industrial disasters than to solve them. If we genuinely want to stop these disasters, we're going to need to reduce the power of capital, and reduce our total energy usage, by whatever means necessary. As for his statement that we cannot count on the end of growth to solve our environmental problems, this is true. The problem is too dire to count on any proposed solution. That's exactly why we need to do everything we possibly can as soon as we possibly can. Bringing fossil fuel economies to a dead stop, ending deforestation, and restoring prairies and wetlands will not absolutely, without a doubt, stop climate change from becoming runaway and devastating the planet's biosphere, but it sure sounds a far more reasonable avenue than hoping some magical technological solution will come along if we just hold our breath long enough. Certainly, the author tactfully avoids making any effort to show how his own proposals will help to prevent environmental calamities, let alone to proactively solve them.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780865716957
Author:
Heinberg, Richard
Publisher:
New Society Publishers
Subject:
Sustainable Development
Subject:
Business-Manufacturing and Product Development
Subject:
Politics - General
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20110831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
15 photographs, illustrations, and maps
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Economics has failed us . . . but there is life after growth!
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