End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economics Reality

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Wed Apr 11 11:17:50 BST 2012

End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economics Reality [Paperback]
Richard Heinberg (Author)
New Society Publishers; Original edition (19 Aug 2011)

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 civilisation is colliding with 
non-negotiable natural limits. Richard Heinberg's 
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; and, environmental impacts and 
crushing levels of debt. These converging limits 
will force us to re-evaluate cherished economic 
theories and to reinvent money and commerce. This 
book describes what policy makers, communities, 
and families can do to build a new economy that 
operates within Earth's 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.

The End of Growth brings together the crises of 
Peak Oil, the climate and the financial crash to 
give a view of a world that cannot go on living 
beyond its limits. It should be required reading 
for every politician who talks about a return to 
'steady growth'. The good news is that there are 
lots of things we can do to prepare for a 
radically different future. Start by reading this excellent book!

Richard Heinberg is one of the most clued in 
thinkers around. The lack of any questioning of 
infinite growth on a finite planet was starting 
to bug me big time. The book covers all the major 
structural impediments that are causing the end 
of growth. The first section about the financial 
problems is thorough but doesn't add anything new 
if you follow the financial problems and causes 
already. Very good overview/crash course if you don't


At 08:15 11/04/2012, Paul Mobbs wrote:
>Hash: SHA1
>Public Awakens to Limits of Growth
>Ugo Bardi, financial Sense, 5th April 2012
>Recently, the web has been abuzz over an MIT study predicting 'global
>economic collapse' by 2030. Ugo Bardi, who recently published the book The
>Limits to Growth Revisited, shares his views on this study and its
>This year, we have reached the 40th anniversary of the controversial study,
>"The Limits to Growth," originally conducted in 1972. It was sponsored by
>the think-tank called the "Club of Rome" and performed by a group of
>researchers at MIT, led by Dennis Meadows, using the most powerful
>computers of the time. Using data going back hundreds of years they created
>a long term model of major global trends taking into account resource
>depletion, birth and death rates, population growth, pollution, and food
>per capita (see image).
>It was a bold attempt using innovative methods that showed the economic
>growth experienced up to that time would be impossible to maintain beyond
>the first few decades of the 20th century. It was not a prophecy of doom,
>but a warning that included ways and methods to avoid the decline indicated
>by the calculations. But it was not understood. After a moment of intense
>interest that lasted a few years and led the study to become well known
>with the general public, there came a strong negative reaction. In the
>1980s and 1990s, the study was attacked, demonized, and ridiculed in all
>possible ways. With the apparent end of the oil crisis, in the late 1980s,
>the ensuing general wave of optimism consigned the Limits study to the
>dustbin of "wrong" scientific ideas; together with the dinosaurs of Venus
>and the evolution of the giraffes' necks according to Lamarck. Urban legends
>on the "mistakes" of the Limits study are still common today, despite being
>just that: legends.
>But, with the turn of the century, the general attitude seems to be
>changing. In 2004, some of the authors of the original "Limits" published
>"Limits to Growth; The 30-Year Update", confirming the result of the
>earlier, 1972 study. In 2011, Ugo Bardi published "The Limits to Growth
>Revisited" (Springer ed.) which reviewed the whole story of the study, from
>its inception, the demonization and the new trend of reappraisal. In 2008,
>the Australian physicist Graham Turner1 had compared real world data to the
>"base case" scenario of the orginal 1972 study, finding a good agreement; an
>impressive result taking into account that the scenario spanned more than
>three decades! These are just examples of a return of interest in the old
>Limits which is now perceived as more and more relevant to us, especially
>in view of the ongoing economic crisis.
>Today, with the 40th anniversary of the first book, the return of interest
>in the Limits seems to be literally exploding. On March 16, 2012, the
>Smithsonian magazine published a comment, citing Turner's work.2 The
>Smithsonian piece has been taken up on April 4 by Eric Pfeiffer on Yahoo
>news3, which seems to be the first appearance of the study in mainstream
>news in the 21st century (by April 5, it had more than 13,000 comments!).
>Unfortunately, Pfeiffer's piece is full of imprecisions and mistakes. Among
>these, Pfeiffer states that "This post has been edited to reflect that MIT
>has not updated its research from the original 1972 study," which is not
>true: the study was updated two times, in 1992 and in 2004. Then Pfeiffer
>says that "the study said 'unlimited economic growth' is still possible if
>world governments enact policies and invest in green technologies that help
>limit the expansion of our ecological footprint," while the study said
>exactly the opposite: that unlimited economic growth is impossible, but
>that green technologies and other forms of policy could at most avoid the
>Pfeiffer's text shows how difficult it is, still today, to understood the
>Limits study. Nevertheless, it is an important milestone of the public's
>realization that certain trends taking place are unsustainable. The renewed
>diffusion of the study might lead to reconsider the ideas proposed as ways
>to avoid collapse in the 1972 study (and reiterated in the later editions).
>We lost 40 years that could have been used to prepare for what we are
>seeing happening today in the world's economy but, perhaps, it is not too
>late to do something to reduce the impact of the crisis. The future can
>never be exactly predicted, but we can be prepared for it and the old
>Limits study, and its later versions, can greatly help us at that.
>1 Graham Turner (2008). "A Comparison of `The Limits to Growth` with Thirty
>Years of Reality". Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
>Organisation (CSIRO).
>- --
>"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
>nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
>for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
>that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
>righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
>God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
>(Edward Burrough, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')
>Paul's book, "Energy Beyond Oil", is out now!
>For details see 
>Read my 'essay' weblog, "Ecolonomics", at:
>Paul Mobbs, Mobbs' Environmental Investigations
>3 Grosvenor Road, Banbury OX16 5HN, England
>tel./fax (+44/0)1295 261864
>email - <mailto:mobbsey%40gn.apc.org>mobbsey at gn.apc.org
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