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Media Type: News / Op - Ed
Date of Publication: March 2019
Year of Publication: 2019
Author(s): Herman Daly
Newspaper: Real World Economics Review
We have many problems – poverty, unemployment, environmental destruction, climate change, financial instability, etc. – but only one solution for everything, namely economic growth. We believe that growth is the costless, win-win solution to all problems, or at least the necessary precondition for any solution. This is growthism. It now creates more problems than it solves.
A journey of no return, not a circular economy
The economic process is not a mechanical analog that can be run forward and backward, nor a circular process that can return to any previous state. Rather it is an irreversible and irrevocable process moving in the direction of time’s arrow of increasing entropy.Finitude and entropy guarantee that the economic life of our species will be a journey of no return. Therefore even a stationary economy, in the classical sense of constant population and constant capital stock, is ultimately a journey of no return, because the metabolic throughput of matter and energy required to maintain constant stocks of people and physical capital, in the face of depreciation and death, is an entropic flow from ever less concentrated sources to ever filling sinks – and both sources and sinks are finite. Consequently, technology must change qualitatively to adapt to entropy increase, to depletion and pollution of the environment, even in the stationary, or “steady-state economy” as it has been more recently called.
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