Economic growth--and the hope of better things to come—is the religion of the modern world. Yet its prospects have become bleak, with crashes following booms in an endless cycle. In the United States, eighty percent of the population has seen no increase in purchasing power over the last thirty years and the situation is not much better elsewhere. The Infinite Desire for Growth spotlights the obsession with wanting more, and the global tensions that have arisen as a result. Amid finite resources, increasing populations, environmental degradation, and political unrest, the quest for new social and individual goals has never been so critical.
Leading economist Daniel Cohen provides a whirlwind tour of the history of economic growth, from the early days of civilization to modern times, underscoring what is so unsettling today. The new digital economy is establishing a "zero-cost" production model, inexpensive software is taking over basic tasks, and years of exploiting the natural world have begun to backfire with deadly consequences. Working hard no longer guarantees social inclusion or income. Drawing on economics, anthropology, and psychology, and thinkers ranging from Rousseau to Keynes and Easterlin, Cohen examines how a future less dependent on material gain might be considered and, how, in a culture of competition, individual desires might be better attuned to the greater needs of society.
At a time when wanting what we haven't got has become an obsession, The Infinite Desire for Growth explores the ways we might reinvent, for the twenty-first century, the old ideal of social progress.
Meadows, Randers, and Meadows are international environmental leaders recognized for their groundbreaking research into early signs of wear on the planet. Citing climate change as the most tangible example of our current overshoot, the scientists now provide us with an updated scenario and a plan to reduce our needs to meet the carrying capacity of the planet.
Over the past three decades, population growth and global warming have forged on with a striking semblance to the scenarios laid out by the World3 computer model in the original Limits to Growth. While Meadows, Randers, and Meadows do not make a practice of predicting future environmental degradation, they offer an analysis of present and future trends in resource use, and assess a variety of possible outcomes.
In many ways, the message contained in Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update is a warning. Overshoot cannot be sustained without collapse. But, as the authors are careful to point out, there is reason to believe that humanity can still reverse some of its damage to Earth if it takes appropriate measures to reduce inefficiency and waste.
Written in refreshingly accessible prose, Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update is a long anticipated revival of some of the original voices in the growing chorus of sustainability. Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Update is a work of stunning intelligence that will expose for humanity the hazy but critical line between human growth and human development.