Herman Daly on Fracking, Growth, and Limits

Posted in: News and Updates

Click here, to read Herman Daly on The Fracking of the Limits to Growth.  Here's a brief taste:

The first Woodlands Conference in 1975 was a great success.  Its theme was “Alternatives to Growth.”  In addition to the Meadows, speakers included E. F. Schumacher, Jay Forrester, Wendell Berry, Lester Brown, Amory Lovins, Bruce Hannon, Gerald Barney, and many others including yours truly.  The anti-limits position was led by Herman Kahn. The idea of a steady-state economy got a respectful hearing.  It was an excellent beginning, to be followed by four more conferences on the same theme.

Somehow by the third conference the theme had mutated from “limits and alternatives to growth” to “management of sustainable growth.”  The leadership passed from Meadows and Meadows to the Aspen Institute and the University of Houston.  Instead of challenging business-as-usual, the emphasis shifted to sucking up as usual to business interests.  The new, “more balanced” view was that we really must not limit growth, just focus on good growth rather than bad growth. Growth had somehow become “sustainable,” contrary to the main conclusion of The Limits to Growth.  The reasoning behind this reversal was kept vague.  There was an utter failure of nerve on the part of scientists and especially economists to confront the continuing challenge that George Mitchell and the Meadows had initially set up. Indeed, practically no economists attended the conference.  The very idea of limiting growth was too big a pill for economists, politicians, and most scientists to swallow. They coughed it up and silently spit it into their napkin at the conference banquet.

And it ends this way:

The bad news is that evidently things still have to get much worse before we will muster the courage and clarity to try to make them better.  The “good news” is that things are indeed getting worse — thanks to our mistaken belief that growth in GDP and its close correlate, resource throughput, must, even in a full world, always increase wealth faster than illth.

I confess, I had to look "illth" up!

Posted in: News and Updates


  • (we won't publish this)

Write a response