Feb 13, 2011

Daly on Sustainable Development

We are giving you an ongoing book review of our reading of "Beyond Growth, the Economics of Sustainable Development" by Herman Daly.

Here are some more passages we've enjoyed:

He references the study on Entropy and the Economy by Nicholas Georescu-Roegen from his book,
"The Entropy Law and the Economic Process"
Daly writes,
"There is an important asymmetry between our two sources of low entropy. The solar source(the sun) is stock abundant, but flow limited. The terrestrial source(oil and gas) is stock limited but flow-abundant(temporarily). Peasant societies lived off the abundant solar flow; industrial societies have come to depend on enormous supplements from the limited terrestrial stock.
Reversing this dependence will be an enormous evolutionary shift."

Daly writes of a Steady State economy,
"In an SSE the aggregate throughput is constant, though it's allocation among competing uses is free to vary in response to the market...an SSE can develop, but cannot grow, just as the planet earth, of which it is a subsystem, can develop without growing."

"What is maximized in the SSE? Basically the maximand is life, measured in cumulative person-years ever to be lived at a standard of resource use sufficient for good life...the SSE would (also) go a long way toward maximizing cumulative life for all species by imposing the constraint of a constant throughput at a sustainable level, thereby halting the growing takeover of habitats of other species, as well as slowing the rate of drawdown of geological capital otherwise available to future generations"

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