Chris Stratton, The Center for a New American Dream
…Unlike previous authors, going back to Thomas Malthus, then later Dennis and Donella Meadows, Herman Daly, and more recently, Tim Jackson and Gus Speth—to all of whom Heinberg gives their due—he’s not just saying that economic growth should stop or that it will stop. He’s saying that it in fact has stopped, whether we like it or not. Discussion in the popular media aside, this is not a choice. Physical laws dictate that all living things must stop growing at some point and, our adamant resistance notwithstanding, the human species has reached that point.
But haven’t we heard before how growth will stop because we’ve run out of resources? (Think The Population Bomb.) So far, it hasn’t happened. Innovation (say the business people), substitution (say the economists), and efficiency (say the scientists) have always allowed us to overcome any resource limitations and advance along the path of progress and growth—and they will continue to do so in the future. But Heinberg says, not this time. Today, innovation mostly just involves tweaking existing technologies. And some materials fundamental to economic growth—most notably fossil fuels—simply have no substitutes. And efficiency can be used to decouple energy use from economic growth only to a certain point….Read more
I had dinner recently with a man who does confidence tricks. He asked me why companies were so obsessed with growth. I suggested he compare not just corporations but entire economies with one of the more famous confidence tricks, attributed to Charles Ponzi. This comparison receives a clear and analytical treatment in The End of Growth.
This treatment illustrates two features of the book that make it quite compelling: bringing together thinking that many politicians would regard as ‘unthinkable’ with empirical evidence from the ongoing economic crisis; and a narrative style that makes the book itself an entertaining (if mostly frightening) read…Read more
Tony Brooke-Taylor is general insurance risk director at Aviva
…Heinberg, a Peak Oil expert and Senior Fellow-in-Residence at Post Carbon Institute, has spoken and written extensively on this topic. His book The Oil Depletion Protocol won ForeWord magazine’s Gold Environmental Award in 2007. The End Of Growth marks his tenth published book.
The scope of The End of Growth is both overwhelming and audacious. Heinberg argues as energy resources tighten, exclusive use of growth-based metrics must change. This means investors will need to redefine progress and reevaluate priorities. They will no longer be able to expect unlimited increases in sales and services due to natural limits on resources. And a society used to shopping globally will have to adapt to a community-centric mindset such as Community Economic Laboratories (CELs). “The mission of a CEL,” writes Heinberg, “would be to increase personal and community resilience by bringing together in one place the essential elements of a new local, resilient economy.”…Read more
…When I interviewed Heinberg earlier this month (stay tuned later this week for that piece, and read my interview with him from earlier this year in the meantime), he said he hoped the book would influence thought leaders and policymakers, and make the jump to the general reader. On the first two scores, there’s no doubt this is the must-read of 2011. Heinberg’s got the bona fides to back up every case he makes — from Wall Street’s role to Washington’s — in a logical, clear, and non-partisan manner.
General readers will enjoy the book too, immensely, if they already have a penchant for teasing out economic and banking intricacies. But some may find this part a bit tedious, as did I. You’ll be rewarded, however, once you’re past all the quadrillion in credit default swapping talk and the Fed’s song and dance and move on to what it means in the larger context of the expectation by America’s elites that such a major financial debacle was just a bump in the road on the way to getting back to growth as usual….Read more
Richard Heinberg’s latest book, The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality, argues for a new economic paradigm. He presents a clear, thorough, and convincing argument that our faith in unrelenting growth and unfettered capitalism has led to the demise of our global economic system. The book is well-cited throughout, encouraging curious readers to dig deeper into the source material that helped shape Heinberg’s case. (He acknowledges in particular our own Capital Institute Founder, John Fullerton, who provided background for the book from his perspective as a former managing director at JP Morgan on how Wall Street has evolved over the past quarter century.)
It is unfortunate that Heinberg’s terms seem harsh, but as a young person who is already concerned with limits to growth, he clarifies that the time is now for an era of qualitative development rather than quantitative growth. The End of Growth appropriately invokes fear and a sense of irreversible urgency but it is all in the cause of productive change towards a more buoyant and adaptable economy….Read more