The End of Normal Why the Growth Economy Isn't Coming Back-and What to Do When It Doesn't by James K. GalbraithThe End of Normal: The Great Crisis and the Future of Growth by James K. Galbraith, New York, Simon and Schuster, 2014.
This book came out at the same time steadystate.org was making a strong case that "Enough Is Enough." A book with that title by Rob Dietz and Dan O'Neill was published at the same time we released our fictional portrayal of how no-growth economics might work—the award-winner The Webs of Varok (http://archivesofvarok.com).

My shelves are full of excellent non-fiction written in the last four decades by experts in many fields that agree that we must learn to pull back, stabilize populations, and conserve resources—that economic growth is not sustainable in the long run.

Nowadays, no one dare talk about population limits, but it cannot be reasonably separated from our concern that resources are limited. We are already seeing water shortages. Surely we can now agree that classical economics is faulty in neglecting to apply resource availability and scarcity in their equations. Galbraith makes the detailed case, sharing how the equations lead to false conclusions.

He reviews the Soviet Union's demise and how it sends a shadow of parallel concerns with America's loss of post-World War II's booming economy. Things have changed, and we cannot expect to see business as usual. In the end, Galbraith preaches "slow growth," assuming that some economic growth is necessary because human greed and power drives must be assumed.

Given that assumption, I don't see much hope. I believe he is wrong. We are smarter than that. We know that nothing real grows forever. Given the chance for a decent existence, the human being is a remarkable creature, capable of selfless reasoning and brilliant creativity. Capable, even of saying, "Enough is enough."

We can understand how a population of germs can grown and prosper in a closed test tube filled with liquid nutrients. We seed the test tube with a few multiplying bacteria. We watch the population grow until the resources—the nutrient broth—is used up. We can understand why the population growth of the bacteria then slows, then drops to zero as the death rate increases. For a while a few mutants survive on the wastes, then they wink out.

Earth is our test tube, but we are know now that our resources are finite. Therefore, with willful restraint, we can keep them available over millennia by recycling and keeping count, by being watchful, resourceful and efficient in maintaining a comfortable status quo.

Already our population overload may seem overwhelming. It's true that technology will help, but only if it adds to our efficiency. It can't save us if we squander what Earth supplies. Growth—even slow growth—is not a long-term solution.

Neither is escaping to some other planet, for all but very few of us. Again, realism raises hard-to-grasp concepts. The time, energy and distances required to travel through the galaxy--even if we invent speed-of-light buses—are huge. We must take care of planet Earth, and tame our baser instincts to reproduce beyond reason.
1 like ·   •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on November 20, 2016 16:44 • 154 views • Tags: conservation, economics, economy, enough-is-enough, environment, future, growth, limits, politics, population, resources, solutions, sustainability

No comments have been added yet.



Reviewing World-changing Nonfiction

Cary Neeper
Expanding on the ideas portrayed in The Archives of Varok books for securing the future.
Follow Cary Neeper's blog with rss.