Edited by an impressive array of experts, this book identifies several areas in which we must fundamentally rethink our societal organisation. They ask what it means to abandon the objective of economic growth; how we can encourage the emergence of other visions to guide society; how global visions and local transition initiatives should be connected; which modes of governance should be associated with the required social and technological innovations. Alongside the necessary respect of ecological limits and equity in distribution, the promotion of autonomy (involving all in the building of socio-political norms) could serve for guidance. The topics addressed over the chapters range from the future of work to the de-commodification of economic relations; the search for new indicators of progress to decentralized modes of governance; and from the circular economy to polycentric transitions. Each contribution brings a unique perspective, a piece of a larger puzzle to be assembled.
Post-growth Economics and Societyis an important volume to those who study ecological economics, political economy and the environment and society. It invites theorists as much as practitioners to re-explore the roots of our societal goals and play an active role in the systemic shift to come.
The first is the physical and monetary costs and losses of environmental health and natural resources driven by economic growth. The authors undertake a monetary valuation and quantification of environmental damage, using techniques that have been developed to better understand and quantify preferences and values of individuals and communities in the context of environmental quality, conservation of natural resources, and environmental health risks. The second part estimates the value of ecosystem services from the major biomes in India using state-of-the art methods with a view to preserving them for the future. The third section provides a menu of policy instruments to explore trade-offs between economic growth and environmental sustainability using a Computable General Equilibrium approach with particular attention to air pollution.
The conclusions focus on the way forward in terms of policies, measures and instruments as India has to balance the twin challenges of maintaining economic prosperity while managing its environmental resources.
"Reduce, reuse, recycle" urge environmentalists; in other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage. But as this provocative, visionary book argues, this approach perpetuates a one-way, "cradle to grave" manufacturing model that dates to the Industrial Revolution and casts off as much as 90 percent of the materials it uses as waste, much of it toxic. Why not challenge the notion that human industry must inevitably damage the natural world?
In fact, why not take nature itself as our model? A tree produces thousands of blossoms in order to create another tree, yet we do not consider its abundance wasteful but safe, beautiful, and highly effective; hence, "waste equals food" is the first principle the book sets forth. Products might be designed so that, after their useful life, they provide nourishment for something new-either as "biological nutrients" that safely re-enter the environment or as "technical nutrients" that circulate within closed-loop industrial cycles, without being "downcycled" into low-grade uses (as most "recyclables" now are).
Elaborating their principles from experience (re)designing everything from carpeting to corporate campuses, William McDonough and Michael Braungart make an exciting and viable case for change.