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The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  828 ratings  ·  96 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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Rafael Not yet but you might like min. 22'17'' of "Planet of the Humans":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdbOh...…more
Not yet but you might like min. 22'17'' of "Planet of the Humans":
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Keith Akers
Nov 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Diane
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not my usual genre but I enjoyed the history of economics and the fact that the author did try to put a positive spin on the future of humanity at the end. For the most part, this book provided an honest look at our situation as it is and what we are headed for. I would love to bury my head in the sand right now.
Leland Beaumont
Dec 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
...more
Mark
Apr 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
...more
Curtis
Nov 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Katie
Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
Richard Reese
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Richard Heinberg has been a pundit on the Peak Oil beat for more than ten years. With each passing year, his awareness of diminishing resources has grown. In 2007 he redefined the problem as Peak Everything. He came to see that industrial civilization was gobbling up non-renewable resources at a rate that spelled serious problems for the generation currently alive, which included himself. Yikes!

This mind-expanding learning process provided a miraculous cure for blissful ignorance, and replaced i
...more
Stella
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
The first one hundred or so pages can be skipped if one has a basic understanding of economics and what happened during the global financial crisis. This was retelling, a long way to set the scene and provided little insight.

From page 100, the author’s discussion of natural resources, scarcity and depleting natural capital is one of the reasons for end of growth. Has the passage of time served this book well? Not so sure. Commodity price fell (due to lack of demand), oil & coal is now trading ar
...more
Cary Neeper
Apr 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Alice
Oct 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jacqui
Feb 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
David Buccola
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book. Richard Heinberg does a great job of analyzing our current situation in a clear and sober way that still leaves plenty of hope that we have the ability to create a better world that is no longer based on infinite growth on a finite planet. The problems that loom before us seem so big that it's easy to fall into a sort of paralysis. What can we possibly do? Technology will save us! Heinberg does a great job of examining each of these in turn, and while tomorrow is guaran ...more
Marshall
May 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Ryan
Dec 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: environment
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
Jani-Petri
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was ok


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 etc...no discussion about what it implies to actually live with few hundred d
...more
Jay C
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: capitalism
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.
Jean-Philippe
Nov 12, 2014 rated it liked it
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...
Joan
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
January book group selection. Important topic, poorly written book. Michael Lewis does an infinitely better job of making economic topics readable and understandable. Plus the author gave short shrift to the "adapting" part.
Marc
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Marc by: Andre Boileau
Dry, dry, dry. I agree with his thesis and I doubt most that don't want to hear the message of restraint will. It's an academic treatment that few outside of us wonks would trudge through. I struggled to finish it since it dis seem to drone on. As a text/reference book, it's OK.
Joshua
Feb 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
If you're already a reader of theoildrum.com, Charles Hugh Smith's blog, or John Michael Greer's blog, you won't learn anything new from this book.
Aaron
Nov 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: economics
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
...more
Chris Stratton
Oct 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
...more
Justin
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reading the book I get the feeling I would like the author.
Despite agreeing with and liking him I wasn't too thrilled with the book.

My first gripe was the book mostly gave society wide recommendations.
My other problem is that will this is better researched than other books it hits the same main talking points. There is a supplemental chapter online for individual actions but it wasn't that prescriptive/novel either. If you are used to this books and looking to change your life you won't find mu
...more
Carlos
I was really disappointed with this book and found it to be nothing but a missed opportunity. Heinberg, writing in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 recession, paints the bleakest picture of the world economy dedicating the vast majority of the book to predicting no sustained growth ever again and the imminence of an energy crisis. Unfortunately for him neither of these predictions have come to pass in the decade since the book was written. I was particularly disappointed because I agree with ...more
Raine McLeod
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars.

Frankly, a lot of this was over my head. I can understand the words and everything, but the conclusions he's coming to, I can't really conceptualise how he got to them. It's not that I disagree, but this is not really a super entry-level book and I don't have the required background knowledge to understand the correlations between some of what he's talking about.

It's pretty approachable as far as subject matter is concerned, the topic is incredibly interesting, and he does make an effo
...more
Book
Sep 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
David Bradshaw
written in the wake of 2008 financial fiasco

adds debt on to the myriad of conditions that will eventually end growth

following Limits of Growth and successors which detailed resource depletion, pollution, waste, entropy, natural life cycles, neo-Malthusian population concerns, global climatic crisis, species extinction - debt limiting government & individuals alike

a corporation is an externalizing machine - much as a shark is a killing machine

now a virus may hasten things
...more
Devon
Feb 09, 2018 rated it liked it
While I agreed with most of the points the author was making, the writing style was dry. He spent a good chunk of the book just describing the 2008 financial crisis, and if that’s what you’re interested in knowing about, I would recommend watching The Big Short; Brad Pitt doesn’t make an appearance in this book.
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“The end of economic growth does not necessarily mean we’ve reached the end of qualitative improvements in human life.” 2 likes
“All of the solutions to our growth-based problems involve some form of self-restraint. That’s why most of those solutions remain just good ideas. That’s also why we will probably hit the wall, and why the outcomes described in the previous chapters of this book are likely. The sustainability revolution will occur. The depletion of nonrenewable resources ensures that humankind will eventually base its economy on renewable resources harvested at rates of natural replenishment. But that revolution will be driven by crisis.” 1 likes
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