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Ecological Economics

Many people would agree that the central desirable end of economic activity is a high quality of life for this and future generations.  Conventional economists argue that humans are insatiable, and therefore economics should focus on endless economic growth and ever-increasing consumption.  Considerable evidence, however, suggests that humans are in fact satiable&emdash;there is a point […]

Money and Energy

The debt-based money system just described cannot work if there is less and less energy available.  We only borrow if we think we’re going to have more money in future with which to repay, and a society as a whole cannot expect to have more money unless there is economic growth, or inflation, or a […]

The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality

Economists insist that recovery is at hand, yet unemployment remains high 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 Heinberg’s latest book goes to the […]

Population: The Multiplier of Everything Else

When it comes to controversial issues, population is in a class by itself. Advocates and activists working to reduce global population growth and size are attacked by the Left for supposedly ignoring human-rights issues, glossing over Western overconsumption, or even seeking to reduce the number of people of color. They are attacked by the Right […]

Beyond the Limits to Growth

In 1972, the now-classic book Limits to Growth explored the consequences for Earth’s ecosystems of exponential growth in population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion. That book, which still stands as the best-selling environmental title ever published, reported on the first attempts to use computers to model the likely interactions between trends in resources, […]

Smart Decline

In 2002, after decades of trying to restart economic development like most other Rust Belt cities, Youngstown made a radical change in approach. The city began devising a transformative plan to encourage some neighborhoods to keep emptying and their vegetation to return. The plan, still early in its implementation as we write (March 2010), would […]

The Death of Sprawl

In April 2009—just when people thought things couldn’t get worse in San Bernardino County, California—bulldozers demolished four perfectly good new houses and a dozen others still under construction in Victorville, 100 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. The structures’ granite countertops and Jacuzzis had been removed first. Then the walls came down and the remains […]