Introduction by William Rees.- Ch 1: The great acceleration, planetary boundaries and the Anthropocene, Will Steffen, Ch 2: Assessing natural environments: a summary, David Lindenmayer & Chris Dickman.- Ch 3: Human health and the natural environment, Colin D. Butler.- Ch 4:UN Sustainability Goals, Kerryn Higgs.- Ch. 5: The evolution of neoliberalism, John Quiggin.- Ch 6: Population growth, Ian Lowe.- Ch 7: Evaluation ‘The Limits to Growth’ 50 Years On, Kerryn Higgs.- Ch 8: The role of the fossil fuel industry, Ian Dunlop.- Ch 9: Economic failures of the IPCC process, Steve Keen.- Ch 10: Introduction to ecological economics, Philip Lawn & Stephen Williams.- Ch 11: Energy systems for sustainable prosperity, Mark Diesendorf .- Ch 12: Climate litigation and human rights, Michael Kirby & Sean Ryan.- Ch 13: What is a green deal without growth, Riccardo Mastini.- Ch 14: Paying a Green New Deal: MMT and the job guarantee, Steven Hall.- Ch 15: The Paradigm Shift, Stephen Williams.- Appendix.
Stephen J. Williams is an Australian-based researcher with a background in journalism and law. His primary interest is the relationship between economic systems, social justice and environmental outcomes. His most-recent peer-reviewed writing is: Williams, S. & Alexander, S. ‘MMT, post-growth economics, and avoiding collapse’. In Washington, H. (ed). 2020. Ecological Economics: Solutions for the Future. ANZSEE.
Rod Taylor is a Canberra-based science writer and broadcaster, whose latest book is Ten Journeys in a Fragile Planet (Odyssey 2020). He has written a weekly science column for The Canberra Times newspaper for the past 10 years. His background is in IT and business systems.
This multidisciplinary book provides new insights and hope for sustainable prosperity given recent developments in economics – but only if swift and strong actions consistent with Earth’s biophysical limits and principles of justice are universally taken.
It is one thing to put limits on resource throughput and waste generation to conform with the ecosphere’s biocapacity. It is another thing to efficiently allocate a sustainable rate of resource throughput and ensure it is equitably distributed in the form of final goods and services. While the separate but interdependent decisions regarding throughput, distribution, and allocation are the essence of ecological economics, dealing with them in a world that needs to cure its growth addiction requires a realistic understanding of macroeconomics and the fiscal capacity of currency-issuing central governments. Sustainable prosperity demands that we harness this understanding to carefully regulate the rate of resource throughput and manipulate macroeconomic outcomes to facilitate human flourishing.
The book begins by outlining humanity’s current predicament of gross ecological overshoot and laments the half-century of missed opportunities since The Limits to Growth (1972). What was once economic growth has become, in many high-income countries, uneconomic growth (additional costs exceeding additional benefits), which is no longer advancing wellbeing. Meanwhile, low-income nations need a dose of efficient and equitable growth to escape poverty while protecting their environments and the global commons.
The book argues for a synthesis of our increasing knowledge of the ecosphere’s limited carrying capacity and the power of governments to harness, transform, and distribute resources for the common good. Central to this synthesis must be a correct understanding of the difference between financial constraints and real resource constraints. While the latter apply to everyone, the former do not apply to currency-issuing central governments, which have much more capacity for corrective action than mainstream thinking perceives.
The book joins the growing chorus of authoritative voices calling for a complete overhaul of the dominant economic system. We conclude with policy recommendations based on a new economics that, if implemented, would come close to guaranteeing a sustainable and prosperous future.
Upon reading this book, at least one thing should be crystal clear: business as usual is not a viable option.