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Named one of a hundred "visionaries who could change your life" by the Utne Reader, Herman Daly has probably been the most prominent advocate of the need for a change in economic thinking in response to environmental crisis. An iconoclast economis t who has worked as a renegade insider at the World Bank in recent years, Daly has argued for overturning some basic economic assumptions. He has won a wide and growing reputation among a wide array of environmentalists, inside and ...
Named one of a hundred "visionaries who could change your life" by the Utne Reader, Herman Daly has probably been the most prominent advocate of the need for a change in economic thinking in response to environmental crisis. An iconoclast economis t who has worked as a renegade insider at the World Bank in recent years, Daly has argued for overturning some basic economic assumptions. He has won a wide and growing reputation among a wide array of environmentalists, inside and outside the academy.
In a book that will generate controversy, Daly turns his attention to the major environmental debate surrounding "sustainable development." Daly argues that the idea of sustainable development--which has become a catchword of environmentalism and international finance--is being used in ways that are vacuous, certainly wrong, and probably dangerous. The necessary solutions turn out to be muc h more radical than people suppose.
This is a crucial updating of a major economist's work, and mandatory reading for people engaged in the debates about the environment.
"Daly is turning economics inside out by putting the earth and its diminishing natural resources at the center of the field . . . a kind of reverse Copernican revolution in economics."
|Introduction: The Shape of Current Thought on Sustainable Development||1|
|Ch. 1||Moving to a Steady-State Economy||31|
|Ch. 2||Elements of Environmental Macroeconomics||45|
|Ch. 3||Consumption: Value Added, Physical Transformation, and Welfare||61|
|Ch. 4||Operationalizing Sustainable Development by Investing in Natural Capital||75|
|Ch. 5||Fostering Environmentally Sustainable Development: Four Parting Suggestions for the World Bank||88|
|Ch. 6||Toward a Measure of Sustainable Net National Product||99|
|Ch. 7||On Sustainable Development and National Accounts||103|
|Ch. 8||Carrying Capacity as a Tool of Development Policy: The Ecuadoran Amazon and the Paraguayan Chaco||121|
|Ch. 9||Marx and Malthus in Northeast Brazil: A Note on the World's Largest Class Difference in Fertility and Its Recent Trends||129|
|Ch. 10||Free Trade and Globalization vs. Environment and Community||145|
|Ch. 11||From Adjustment to Sustainable Development: The Obstacle of Free Trade||158|
|Ch. 12||The Economic Thought of Frederick Soddy||173|
|Ch. 13||On Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen's Contributions to Economics: An Obituary Essay||191|
|Ch. 14||A Biblical Economic Principle and the Sustainable Economy||205|
|Ch. 15||Sustainable Development: From Religious Insight to Ethical Principle to Public Policy||216|
|References Cited in Text||241|
Posted January 18, 2012
Herman Daly's "Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development" is a valuable addition to the library of anyone who is concerned about the limits to growth imposed by resource scarcity and environmental degradation. Daly explains the basic fallacy of mainstream economics in treating resource depletion and environmental damage as 'externalities', i.e. features not included in the market economy.
He makes numerous excellent points in his book:
1. Chief among them is that the human economy exists within nature's ecosystem that is constrained by the second law of thermodynamics. The economic orthodoxy maintains that the human economy exists without any real restraints; while Daly insists that we must determine what the optimum size of the macro-economy is in the context of the earth's natural ecosystem of which the macro-economy is a part.
2. Through resource depletion we are spending nature's capital yet our GDP accounting system treats resource depletion as income. Daly posits that GDP accounting is dead wrong because it does not account for resource depletion as spending from our capital account, and it does not account for the costs of pollution.
3. Through the pollution that we generate, we are impairing the natural world's ability to absorb our impacts and maintain the ecosystem in which our economy is embedded.
4. Sustainable growth is an oxymoron in the context of the thermodynamic constraints placed on the economy. Daly stresses that we may have sustainable development in the quality of the economic output increases while the quantity does not as it is limited by the carrying capacity of the earth.
5. Population control is central to creating a sustainable economy. Also wealth very well will have to become less unequally redistributed, once we realize that we cannot create prosperity for all on the globe through unsustainable growth through a market based economy.
6. Daly suggests that globalization has maybe gone too far, and that national autonomy should be stressed over globalization. His argument here does not have the compelling logic of his ones for other issues, however, it seems likely that a global order will not be able to compel the kind of changes of the economic system that he thinks are necessary and that nations will be better able to accomplish such changes.
Overall, I found Daly's book to be a very thought provoking read that provides the economic arguments that support the green movement in the face of the economic orthodoxy of our globalized market driven economy.