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The End of Growth by Richard Heinberg
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Sep 30, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: politics-economics
Read in September, 2011

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 Escaping, 3. Earth’s Limits: Why Growth Won’t Return, 4. Won’t Innovation, Substitution, and Efficiency Keep Us Growing? 5. Shrinking Pie: Competition and Relative Growth in a Finite World, 6. Managing Contraction, Redefining Progress, and 7. Life After Growth.

1. Richard Heinberg is one of the best authors in the business. His writing style is engaging and direct.
2. Profound, thought-provoking book without being unintelligible. Accessible and comprehensive.
3. Great command of the topic. The knowledge and ability to convey such knowledge to the public.
4. Great use of charts and illustrations.
5. The central assertion of the book: economic growth as we have known it is over and done with.
6. The slick reality of oil.
7. Why economic growth is important. Fascinating insight!
8. Are economic statistics accurate? Find out…
9. Great wisdom throughout, “To survive and thrive for long, societies have to operate within the planet’s budget of sustainability extractable resources”. The author makes it perfectly clear; many economists have ignored the physical limits of the planet.
10. A sensible tour of economic history. A great refresher!
11. The two remaining mainstream economic camps, the Keynesians and the neoliberals.
12. The human economy exists within and entirely depends upon Nature…the sooner we understand that, the better.
13. Another truism, “Corporations keep the profit and leave society as a whole to clean up the mess”.
14. The basics of economics but in an accessible and engaging manner.
15. The process of deregulation and regulatory change.
16. America’s distribution of income…sickening.
17. Alan Greenspan’s failure.
18. The staggering household debt.
19. The impact of the firewall destruction that was the Glass Steagall Act of 1933.
20. “Criminal behavior” by so-called prestigious banks.
21. Debt, debt, debt. Our economic machine needs debt like a car needs gas.
22. “Lemon socialism”, the privatization of profits and socialization of losses.
23. The realization that without energy nothing happens.
24. Awesome facts, “The amount of solar energy that falls on Earth’s surface each hour is greater than the amount of fossil-fuel energy the world uses every year”.
25. What peak oil really represents.
26. The trends in the oil industry are clear and undisputed: exploration and production are becoming more costly.
27. A look at coal and natural gas.
28. Concern over freshwater supplies.
29. The strong correlation between food and oil prices.
30. The impact of phosphorus.
31. Limited metals and non-metallic minerals.
32. Climate change and its impact!
33. Our attempts to restart growth will collide with natural limits.
34. The failure of the corn ethanol industry.
35. The EROEI as a key indicator.
36. The impact of having to substitute key resources in the future.
37. The understanding that as there are limits to resources, there also limits to efficiency.
38. Interesting angles, consider the following statement, “As energy gets increasingly expensive, a countertrend is therefore likely to emerge: generalization”. In other words, we will have to adapt to an energy-constrained economy.
39. The four compelling reasons why current trends cannot be sustained.
40. An interesting look at China. Their strengths and vulnerabilities.
41. An insightful look at the US dollar.
42. The population problem.
43. A different look at “developed countries”. The UN Human Development Index (HDI). And how the priorities of poor nations have just changed.
44. The most widely used economic metric, the Gini coefficient, and how we stack up.
45. The end of growth and how it will impact both rich and poor.
46. There are sensible solutions and tactics to our economic problems. Find out what they are.
47. The six ways of resolving a debt crisis.
48. A modified debt jubilee…interesting approach.
49. The realities of a debt-based currency.
50. The four fundamental principles at the core of economic theory.
51. A steady-state economy.
52. A different taxation solution?
53. US corporations as legal persons?
54. A look at the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI).
55. A look at Gross National Happiness (GNH).
56. The things you can do to make your community resilient.
57. The fifth great turn in human history.
58. Great notes section.

1. A crime…links didn’t work.
2. Economists may find a lot of what is in the book basic but it certainly provides a great foundation for the masses.

In summary, a fantastic book; it covers the future of our economy like few books have. Insightful, educational and just a great read. It was a page-turner of a book indeed and a very useful, topical and handled with great expertise and care. Even-handed book that completely addresses the premise of the book: economic growth as we have known it is over and done with. A 5-star book if there ever was one!

Further suggestions: “The Crash Course” by Chris Martenson, “Aftershock” Robert B. Reich, “Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class” by Thom Hartmann, “War on the Middle Class” by Lou Dobbs and a number of the author’s previous works.

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