Robust economic growth has become the Holy Grail of public policy and politics. But some economists and many scientists have come to believe growth has become “uneconomic.” Former World Bank Senior Economist Herman Daly explains this in terms we can all understand.

The economy is a sub-system of a larger system. The larger system being the biosphere, the environment. The biosphere is finite, non-growing, materially closed. We get a flow of solar energy coming in, but it’s not growing, either. So, how can the sub-system just continuously grow and grow and grow?”

Herman Daly Daly co-founded the journal, Ecological Economics, and has written and spoken extensively about uneconomic growth, limits to growth, and steady state economics.

In this newly released 2010 interview, Herman Daly postulates that, in a full world, the costs of further economic growth exceed the benefits, and we are reaching a point where it is physically impossible to keep growing the global economy.

It’s politically impossible to control growth, and it’s bio-physically impossible to keep on growing, so, we’ve got a real dilemma. Do you try to do what’s physically impossible, or do you try to do what’s politically impossible? I’d rather take my chances with the politically impossible….”

Using easy to understand, real-world examples, Daly delivers an aha moment. After listening to this interview, one is likely to conclude, “Of course! It’s the environment, stupid!”

We’re presenting encores of our best episodes from Season One while we take a break. Please cast your vote for another season at our Tap the Brightest Minds campaign. Subscribe on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play , TuneIn or PlayerFM to have these podcasts delivered every week to your device. You can also follow us on SoundCloud. Reviews and ratings help more people find the project. And/or sign up to get an email every week with the newest episode. Your comments are invited below. Are you witnessing the negatives of uneconomic growth in your nation, region or community?

More About Herman Daly:

After serving as Senior Economist in the Environment Department of the World Bank (1998 to 1994), Daly became professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. He is a recipient of the Honorary Right Livelihood Award (Sweden’s alternative to the Nobel Prize), the Heineken Prize for Environmental Science from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Sophie Prize (Norway) and the Blue Planet Prize of the Asahi. He has authored numerous books, including:

Valuing the Earth (editor, with Kenneth Townsend)
Ecological Economics
(with Joshua Farley)
Beyond Growth
Ecological Economics and the Ecology of Economics
Steady-State Economics
Toward a Steady State Economy

For the Common Good (with John B. Cobb, Jr.)

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