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Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  734 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Is more economic growth the solution? Will it deliver prosperity and well-being for a global population projected to reach nine billion? In this explosive book, Tim Jackson - a top sustainability adviser to the UK government - makes a compelling case against continued economic growth in developed nations.
No one denies that development is essential for poorer nations. But
Paperback, 276 pages
Published June 27th 2011 by Earthscan Publications (first published 2009)
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Although, as a longtime environmentalist, I'm a member of the choir that this author is preaching to, I found myself resisting much of what he was saying, and I certainly could not imagine that a gung-ho, pro-growth, climate-change skeptic would be moved by the arguments presented in this book. My main takeaway was the realization of just how far apart people can be who are supposedly on the same team.

For one thing I had problems with the style and presentation of the book. The heavy use of sent
“And I am a weapon of massive consumption / And it’s not my fault it’s how I’m programmed to function,” “The Fear,” Lily Allen

NB: I have taken advantage of the “spoiler” tag to append notes and asides that don’t directly bear on this review. The reader may open them or not as he or she pleases.

Coming as it does on the heels of Derrick Jensen’s Endgame: Volume 1: The Problem of Civilization and Herman Daly’s Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development, reading Tim Jackson’s Prosperity
Remi van Beekum
Als je kinderen hebt of wilt, geïnteresseerd bent in de toekomst, in politiek, of in economie, of als je gewoon verder denkt en kijkt dan de aankomende paar jaar, dan is dit boek een must-read.

Onze economie is gebaseerd op structurele groei, terwijl de aarde niet groeit. Dus tenzij we ineens op Mars gaan wonen, kan iedereen zien aankomen dat de grondstoffen op raken en het hele economische systeem in elkaar zal donderen (binnen enkele decennia zoals het nu lijkt). We zien dat met de huidige eco
This is an important, serious but ultimately disappointing book. Important because it grapples with the vital task of how to redefine economics in a world of limited resources and an ever more damaged climate. Serious, because it approaches the task stage by stage, confronting some of the important issues which any change of this magnitude must face. But disappointing, because it still leaves us dangling, wondering exactly what a society which adopted this completely different set of objectives ...more
Oct 25, 2014 Krzysztof is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this now. Exciting to find a book which addresses the single most important problem facing our civilization! Now, I want to recommend this to my (skeptical) friends, so I need to be prepared for their criticisms.

1. Foreword by Pavan Sukhdev. He throws a bunch of numbers around with no references. I'm a bit skeptical from the get-go (35% of Earth's surface is used for agriculture? Does he mean, Earth's surface excluding water, or what?), and then he drops the following number as the popu
Chris Jensen
When I made the move from engineering to acting, I was fortunate to find a teacher early in my training that translated what can be a very airy-fairy touchy-feely language that often pervade acting technique into a clear and structured approach to acting training.

I have found the same in my experience with environmental and community groups issues.
"You can't pursue infinite growth on a finite planet", "consumerism and materialism are undermining our community and humanity", these are all things

In these post-2008 times of perpetual recession and economic uncertainty, governments around the world remain obsessed with maintaining economic growth. Never again must we anger our free-market gods, and their fickle invisible hand, they say. But why is this? Why do our market economies require perpetual growth to be healthy? And why does our society assume greater wealth will bring us greater well-being? These are two fundamental questions Tim Jackson sets out to address in his popular-economi

Here is the review of the book that made me want to read it:

Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet by Tim Jackson

Jeremy Leggett, The Guardian, Friday 22 January 2010

"Tim Jackson states the challenge starkly: "Questioning growth is deemed to be the act of lunatics, idealists and revolutionaries. But question it we must." And that is the core mission of this perfectly timed book. Had he published it before the financial crisis, he would probably have been dismissed as another gre
An important and much cited book on sustainability circles. However, it covers little new ground. Much is based on the Club of Rome's [i]Limits to Growth[/i], some of the modeling is based on Herman Daly's [i]Steady State Economy[/i], both 40 years old. Sure, he introduces new data and confirms that the same disturbing trends continue. There are a few relevant studies cited that show material wealth is not the same as happiness, and his summary of what really matters to people more than money dr ...more
Todd Wheeler
A challenging book and one not easily accessible as a casual read. The premise is stated early on:
"The possibility that humans can flourish, achieve greater social cohesion, find higher levels of well-being, and still reduce their material impact on the environment is an intriguing one." p.47

Yes indeed. However, it takes most of the book to get to that point. The author spends a great deal of time debunking the current model of capitalistic growth used in many Western developed countries as well
Routledge Economics
This is a worthy addition to the roster of post-crisis "trade" economics books (see also Nouriel Roubini, Paul Mason, John Lanchester and others), concentrating as it does on the very concept that fostered economics as a discipline in the first place - that of resource scarcity.

There is now a considerable literature that argues for an alternative to Gross Domestic and Gross National Product as measures of wellbeing and this goes all the way back to Victor Anderson's Alternative Economics Indica
Kevin Zeck
Too many big words strung together to form too many over long sentences. But that said, the authors make a couple of really good points. First, growth-based capitalism is like running on an ever accelerating treadmill. It's an inherently chaotic system we can't keep up with. Second, growth-based capitalism requires significant resource consumption, which is becoming problematic given the world's population and desire to emulate Western-lifestyles. Third, growth-based economics forces us to sacri ...more
Tim Jackson tackles the problem of persuading us to take the obvious conclusion that infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible seriously, by sending up the myth of decoupling - the decarbonisation of economic activity can't happen fast enough to prevent ecological disaster unless population and affluence stop increasing too. Inequality has to be addressed, both globally and within societies suffering from affluenza...

We need immense structural changes and a redefinition of prosperity; an
I've given this book five stars partly because it's such an excellent resource for finding out about load of specific things. There are tons of references on everything from monetary reform to the philosophy of consumption, alternative communities, renewable energy, and plenty more besides.

The other reason it gets the top rating from me is because there are a couple of gems in there (in terms of ideas), and I didn't have to work too hard to find them, and those are my two criteria for a good no
If you've ever heard that the planet has more people on it than it can support, we are running out of global resources, or that the problems of poverty and climate change cannot both be solved at once, this is an excellent book to read. It quantitatively shows how we cannot rely on some factors some economists use to dismiss the issues, such as productivity and efficiency improvements, or carbon decoupling.
My biggest gripe with this book is that it tries to address two problems at the same time, namely sustainability and equality. The author does argue, plausibly, that inequality drives the pursuit of status in form of material goods. However, it would have been more interesting to see a discussion of the possibilities for sustainability without the constraint of equality. Perhaps there is a radically unfair way of organizing human society, more like the status quo, that nevertheless can stay with ...more
Jason Weeks
Just finished.

Must confess it's taken me 2 years to go away and come back to this book and then start it again in order to finish it.

There's some relatively economic heavy components in here and then it feels like on specifics in other areas where you would like more detail around solutions (although who has them!).

It's worth reading but compared with Paul Gilding's "The Great Disruption" it's less of a great eye-opener and more of a solid reference point to a lot of other works in the area of c
Filip Sjöstrand
I've read it halfway through and I'm feel ready to give it a 5/5 on the basis of that alone. I've got so much stuff out of this already.

This is both a clearly argued argument for the severity and dangers of our current treatment of our planet as well as a more ideological argument for a more sustainable, different, economy and society. Both arguments are put forward in a evidence based and logical fashion. I would say it is a great introduction to "greeen-thinking" or "green-ideology" as well a
An interesting book dealing with one of the most important issues humans face: should we protect the only planet we (and countless other organisms) live on, or should we just live fast and die young (or at least before any of the unpleasant consequences of our resource-guzzling obsession with monetary wealth effects us)? It's a conundrum many of us fall foul of every day, in many different situations, preferring to take the easy, short-sighted but quickly gratifying route rather than the less ea ...more

Great book that discusses world’s economic view centered only in the growth of the GDP without considering well-being factors. Economics and politics are built to ensure one main goal: keep consumption raising to favor economic growth. He proves that after reaching a certain level of economical power, there is no need to obsess in getting more since it does not contribute in increasing human’s happiness. On that sense, he adds that after a certain stage, to help poorer countries achieve the same
Matthew Dahlhausen
Underwhelming. Significant gaps.

Tim Jackson, with the UK Sustainable Development Commission, published 'Prosperity without Growth' to summarize the commission's findings for the general public. The intent of the work is to raise awareness for alternative economic models in the wake of the financial collapse. The book reads as a summary report with moderate depth and extensive references.

The book does a good job of describing why alternative economic models are necessary. The first reason are ec
This book won first place in the APF Most Significant Futures Works award of 2012. I recall, at the time, asking myself why? I read the book when it first came out in 2009, and then read it again after the awards. I still don't rate it that much.

The book continues to be very good at examining the viability of an economy where growth receives too great an emphasis. It pleads well the case for more restrained growth. I don't disagree with this as a proposal. Where I part company with the book is o
This is a worthy addition to the roster of post-crisis "trade" economics books (see also Nouriel Roubini, Paul Mason, John Lanchester and others), concentrating as it does on the very concept that fostered economics as a discipline in the first place - that of resource scarcity.

There is now a considerable literature that argues for an alternative to Gross Domestic and Gross National Product as measures of wellbeing and this goes all the way back to Victor Anderson's Alternative Economics Indica
Cogent argument for sustainable growth

Gross domestic product (GDP) is a common measure of economic growth. But GDP fails to account fully for the ecological damage that growth wreaks. By prioritizing economic growth, societies based on capitalism permit excessive consumption of oil and other finite natural resources. Growth promotion, for example, has led to an orgy of deregulation that is depleting vital resources and compromising air and water quality. One of the 21st century’s major challenge
I actually read the pdf version that is online, but most likely the book is very similar. I think this was interesting and it is remarkable that it kept me reading even though I tend to lose patience with "degrowth" gospels (too naive, too coarse, poorly informed in some issues, too ideologically constrained and too convinced about the "Truth" even when ignorance is apparent). Jackson explains well why we need growth and discusses clearly what it might take to transform a society into a steady s ...more
Keith Akers
I read the book Enough Is Enough: Building a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources before reading this and saw a generous reference to "Prosperity Without Growth," and decided to take a look. The two books have a lot in common with each other, and share the same basic viewpoint, but both talk about the subject in different ways. Tim Jackson, like Dietz and O'Neill, has gotten an impressive array of endorsements, such as Bill McKibben, Herman Daly (who wrote forewords for both books) ...more
Steve Bedford
This book speaks mostly in broad strokes about the current economic and ecological woes that humanity faces. I was hoping for more specific prescriptions for how to fix these problems, rather than mostly generalized arguments calling for change. If you already agree with the premise that indefinite economic growth is untenable, then there a ton of substance here. Some good points are made, but I have heard more convincing arguments about the economic and ecological side of the issues (Limits to ...more
Kunnen we economisch blijven groeien op een planeet met een eindige voorraad grondstoffen? Volgens Tim Jackson, hoogleraar duurzame ontwikkeling en hoofdadviseur duurzame economie van de Britse regering, staan we op het punt ons in een crisis te storten die we misschien niet meer te boven komen. De reden? We blijven ons richten op economische groei, tegen alle ecologische logica in. We zijn onherroepelijk op weg naar een klimaatverandering die zijn weerga niet kent. Kan het anders? In zijn boek ...more
A useful explanation of where humanity is going wrong with it's fulsome embrace of unlimited economic growth, but the solution was not fully explained and was not written in a particularly inspiring fashion. The problem is there, we really need a solution.

What would a transitional world look like, how could it operate, how can people still lead fulfilling lives without the economic treadmill of "more, more, more" consumption which isn't making us happier. Consumerism is like a drug or fast food.
Cedric Jean-marie
Dec 25, 2012 Cedric Jean-marie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cedric by: Vance Chow
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have a lot of respect for the authors ability to illustrate his various insights in ways that make the subject matter quite clear without ever going into too much detail as to repeat himself infinitely which can be the case in these types of books.

This book is in my opinion perfectly constructed where often the last subject feeds into the next thus building upon all the previous material as to give you a great understanding of the big picture of developing an e
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“The overriding aim of this book is to seek viable responses to the biggest dilemma of our times: reconciling our aspirations for the good life with the constraints of a finite planet.” 1 likes
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