Economic Heresy: Herman Daly (#113)
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?”
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!” Herman Daly writes frequently for The Daly News (named in his honor), published by the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy.
This is the 13th in our series of podcasts and radio programs. We post a new podcast episode every Thursday. Be sure to subscribe! You can find us at iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher, or sign up to get an email every Thursday with the newest episode. If you like what you hear, please support this project with a tax-deductible donation. 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 (1988 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)
Ecological Economics and the Ecology of Economics
Toward a Steady State Economy
For the Common Good (with John B. Cobb, Jr.)