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The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality
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The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  461 ratings  ·  73 reviews
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 civilization is colliding with non-negotiable natu ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 9th 2011 by New Society Publishers (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Keith Akers
This is a tough book to review because basically, it depends on the audience. Generally, though, I like the book and agree with the thesis. Heinberg's book is right in all major respects, well-written, and important.

Please consider this a five-star review if you are asking yourself, "what's all this talk about 'peak oil'?" or if your last encounter with the idea of limits to the economy is dim memories of reading "The Limits to Growth" in the 1970's. On the other hand, if you regularly peruse t
Leland Beaumont
The book effectively uses representative and systematic data to argue we are in ecological overshoot and economic overshoot. Either one is alarming; together they sound a critical alarm; if only it can be heard!

The author distinguishes between economies—the exchange of goods and services—and economics—a money-based model of an economy. Fractional reserve banking, debt-based currencies, and displacing externalities allow the two to diverge significantly. As a result, our financial accounting syst
Cary Neeper
Clearly written without an overload of details-this book makes the case for all of us.

I have never understood why mainstream economic theory ignored the impact of a huge population. Even as that impact has grown, classical economists continue to use outmoded theories of macroeconomics, ignore effects of the flow of capital, and refuse to acknowledge that there could be a limit to the resources so many billions of people use or need—like water. Isn’t that a requirement for life? Like air. Will t
While reading this book I couldn't help but continually reflect back on my reading of "Abundance", by Peter Diamandis. Both are really good books with powerfully contrasting arguments and outlooks for humanity in the not so far off future. I think the two books should be read in tandem. Abundance is so overly optimistic in its views that even I was momentarily beguiled into its slipstream of persuasive perspectives on the infinite ability of technological innovation to fuel man's ambition to exp ...more
I agree with the other reviewers that this book does a very good job of stating the problem, and outlining how our current economic system is done for, but doesn't offer a clear, easy solution. Well, that's because the solution won't be easy. The first step is to convince enough people of the problem. This book adds to that discussion. But, of course, is mostly preaching to the choir. It's up to those of us who have read it, and other similar books, and have seen for ourselves what is going on t ...more
Tom Currier
Terrific book! Highly recommended. Although great ideas, some of the solutions are so far away from any political will to implement that they seem almost impossible. The detail to which the author details the issues and causes is at times almost overwhelming.
I was extremely disappointed with this book. It fails to persuade at all. I'm a massive proponent of sustainability and I also believe that GDP is an inappropriate measure for tracking the development of a sophisticated society.

The peak everything sections are OK but as with many of these writers the implication is that disaster starts now. It doesn't. Things will get worse, in terms of availability and price, with different resources at different times. The responses to each will be different a
Jay C
A sobering analysis of the current state of the world economy, and where it is headed in the future.The basic premise is that our current rate of energy consumption and resource depletion is unsustainable, and in the shorter term than one would hope. I am not an economist nor do I fully understand all that was presented in this book. It seems logical to me, however, that these issues and questions must be raised and considered NOW rather than when a economic crisis of titanic proportions overwhe ...more
Daniel Burton-Rose
If you've ever had the disquieting sensation that global capitalism has no long term plan beyond the infinite consumption of everything, this book provides a stark confirmation. It also offers a level-headed assessment of myriad crises and amelioration strategies on a spectrum of plausibility. The author calls for a popular movement much like what Occupy has become.
Daniel Cunningham
This book raises many interesting/serious issues, and a few interesting ideas.

I think most people probably have some idea, perhaps only very generally, that e.g. oil is not in infinite supply; fewer people may have thought about other resources (water is something folks may have heard about.) Potash, rare earths, and some others come up if you read e.g. the Economist or some other similarly serious publications (I'm guessing probably not in USA Today...)

I think less often thought about is that t
This is by far the most comprehensive and honest analysis of our global economy and where it's headed than anything else I have read. A must read for anyone who is concerned about what the future might be like.
This book made me want to hide under the bed. The author makes a pretty compelling case that we're all hurtling toward resource depletion and financial collapse. I want my mommy.
Apr 14, 2014 Kevin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All
Unlike many books of this type, I did not get bored a few chapters in because The End of Growth neither preaches nor pointlessly repeats. Richard Heinberg walks the reader slowly and carefully through the concept of the end of growth, starting with basic economics and finishing with solutions. Chapters are well laid out:

1. Economics in a nutshell
2. Economics & the "Great Recession"
3. Earth's Limits
4. Limitations to innovation & substitution
5. Competition & relative growth
6. Managing
If there is a single book out now that contains all the arguments for the post carbon decline that the world will be seeing this century, this is it. Various other authors have opined on the impossibility of endless economic growth on our finite planet, and postulated on how the future could look like in a fuel scarce world, but Heinberg does a great job on putting all the pieces together in quite a comprehensive manner, beginning with the basics and history of economic thought that has led to o ...more
Must admit the first couple of CD's were a little dry. However, as the story started to unfold, the arguments were excellent around resources leveling off (and not just oil) and what could begin to occur globally. The movement of economy's to regional / local based currency was very compelling and made me wish we had the town square in the area I live in. I grew up walking everywhere while out East, now in the suburbs of the Midwest, you do need to drive everywhere for everything.

Another one of
This book argues that our economy is shifting in a fundamental and unprecedented way, from a growth-based economy to a steady-state economy. The reason is a number of factors that all seem to be converging at once: debt crises, environmental crises, and resource depletion. This book does tend to be overly alarmist, and toward the end it's overly optimistic about grassroots movements, but for the most part it makes an impressive case.

I hadn't fully appreciated how much our debt- and growth-based
The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality by Richard Heinberg

“The End of Growth …” is the enlightening financial reality of our times. Accomplished author Richard Heinberg makes the compelling argument that we can no longer sustain growth because of the following three factors: resource depletion, negative environmental impacts and crushing levels of debt. This insightful 336-page book is composed of the following seven chapters: 1. The Great Balloon Race, 2. The Sound of Air Escap
If there was an option to give a book three-and-a-half stars, then that's probably what I'd give "The End of Growth." Nevertheless, the book was somewhat disappointing.

Heinberg's examination of economic theories was mostly weak, with the exception of bringing to light economic models that either incorporate or are based upon ecological principles. The weakness is tied to his review of Keynes and Hayek. He addresses their differences but glosses over some finer-grained, but no less important, det
Check out my comment on this book in my Spanish blog: This book is divided in three parts. In the first one; the author shows the arguments to support the fact that growth is a past thing. No matter what they say; the economies are not going to grow any more. Businesses are not going to double their profit year after year; and households are not going to have raises in their income (even smaller ones). This is a fact; and can be terrifying because we have ...more
David Golibersuch
A tough slog because it is information and data dense -- definitely not bedside reading. Heinberg presents a very disturbing view of the future.

Early in the book he notes that Malthus missed the mark because he failed to see many important future events. Will Heinberg's forecast suffer the same fate?

As Neils Bohr said - "Prediction is difficult especially of the future." The reason, of course, is that there are many events that are unknown to our imagination and thus impossible to predict -- th
Michael Slattery
The idea of the book is quite depressing. Resource availability is no longer growing, while population continues to grow. Our financial system is essentially a Ponzi scheme that depends on increasing numbers of people and credit. While potentially disturbing, the truth in the book is informative for seeing through the current financial machinations on state, national, and international levels. If our earth can't support our growing out of the financial crisis, what do we do?

If you're looking fo
Graham Mulligan
The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality
Richard Heinberg, New Society Publishers, 2011

Reviewed by Graham Mulligan

This is a ‘living book’ updated at

Heinberg is a Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute and leading educator on Peak Oil.

The book presents the reader with an economic argument, beginning with a brief review of how economies have evolved through history. The significant point here is the ‘take off’ based on cheap energy. 20th Century economic theory ha
Chris Stratton
If you’re worried about the recession and looking for reassurance that the world’s economies will soon be back on track and everything will return to normal, you should probably stop reading now.

But maybe you’re concerned about all the debt we’re in. Maybe you’re skeptical about how we currently measure societal progress and personal well-being. If you’re prepared to examine the hard, unsettling economic and environmental realities that await us, then may I recommend to you, brave reader, Richa
An extended and compelling argument that we have reached the ecological and financial limits to economic growth, along with rebuttals to the contention that innovation, substitution, and efficiency will be sufficient to save the global economy from widespread contraction. Outlines policy options for managing contraction and then takes a quick look at post-growth efforts to build resilient local communities.

Heinberg has been a key voice in the peak energy scene for some time. His previous books h
An interesting take on the economics of our growth-fueled economy. Surprisingly, Heinberg doesn't just stick with diminishing fossil fuel supplies as the stop sign standing in the way of future economic growth. He also argues (well) that the level of debt that has built up in the financial system is just as much of an impediment to future expansion of trade.
Though this book raises some good arguments and gives a good overview of growth-dependent economics, I was annoyed that it didn't do much to
The first section on the current situation was well known for me and probably for anybody who follows economics. Th second section, the one with his answers, was a bit disapointing. Nothing very precise, many wishes, principles, but no real way to apply all those except the usual small comunities...
This book was recommended by They have a list of really good books, worth checking out. This book explains the reality of growth on a small planet - it is eventually going to end and it is already in decline. There are finite resources and finite space. At some point we have to stop looking at growth as the sole model of economic prosperity and start rethinking what happiness is and how we can all live healthy lives together on this small planet. Growth does seem to be an out ...more
Daniel Lee
Along with Prosperity Without Growth by Tim Jackson this book posits that our transition to to a more sustainable non-growth based society is inevitable. Many of the examples of alternative societies whether transition towns, co-ops, or Dancing Rabbit carry more weight than many of Jackson's suggestions for a different future in that they are examples of alternative societies already in place within the US and around the world. This book was published just prior to the emergence of OWS in the US ...more
Ravi Shrivastava
This book is gives an overview of the coming “great contraction”. I was a bit skeptical of its basic premise (that the phenomenal growth we witnessed in the past couple of centuries is soon to be a thing of the past) when I picked it up but it does make some valid points. It is well researched, well written and drives its point home by deeply examining the assumptions that are critical for continuous growth in the future.
The book, however, deeply discounts the possibility of new technology being

Mostly boring as authors first engineer a manmade energy scarcity by ruling out nuclear power and then derive ideologically acceptable storyline of decay, collapse, and revolution. The sections about monetary issues were somewhat interesting, but the rest not that much. Lots of rationalizations also for keeping poor people poor. Apparently subsistence farming is good, because it is resilient when we run out of energy discussion about what it implies to actually live with few hundred do
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  • The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World
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  • The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience
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  • Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development
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  • Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World
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  • World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse
  • Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects
  • The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability
  • The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines
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“the existing market economy has no “stable” or “neutral” setting: there is only growth or contraction.” 0 likes
“Urbanization, the industrialization of food systems, and the building of highways may have contributed to GDP over the short term, but they have created societal vulnerability over the longer term. In a world of Peak Oil, scarce fresh water, unstable currencies, changing climate, and declining trade, true “development” may require implementation of policies at odds with — sometimes the very reverse of — those of recent decades.” 0 likes
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