Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet

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9781849713238: Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet
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Prosperity without Growth challenges the embedded, unquestioned assumptions of the global policy of growth and shows that it is necessary—and possible—to have increased and widespread prosperity without economic growth.

The modern economy is reliant on economic growth for stability. When growth falters, politicians panic, businesses fail, people lose jobs, and recession looms. Tim Jackson argues, however, that continual growth is just not possible, not sustainable—to believe so is ignoring our knowledge of the finite resource base and fragile ecology in which we live.

The book starts with a compelling analysis of the consequences—for the planet and for people’s wellbeing—of the relentless pursuit of economic growth and material goods. It illustrates why a return to business as usual after the current financial crisis is not an option. Prosperity for a few founded on ecological destruction and persistent social injustice is no foundation for a civilized society.

The current economic crisis presents a unique opportunity to invest in change and a future that delivers lasting prosperity for the predicted 9 billion people who will inhabit the earth in 2050. The author—a leading expert and advisor to the UK government—concludes by outlining pathways towards a sustainable economy. It involves radically changing our “shop until you drop” mentality, as well as engaging other disruptive economic practices. Jackson doesn’t claim this will be easy, but points out that while action is urgent, it is possible.

The book opens up dialogue on the most urgent task of our times—the challenge of a new prosperity encompassing our ability to flourish as human beings—within the ecological limits of a finite planet.

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About the Author:

Tim Jackson is the Sustainable Development Commission’s Economics Commissioner. He is also Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey and Director of the newly-awarded ESRC Research Group on Lifestyles, Values and Environment (RESOLVE).

Review:

'On a planet with finite resources, perpetual growth is not only impossible, but it is endangering the survival of present and future generations. I urge everyone to read Tim Jackson's brilliant and visionary book. He offers a detailed critique of the existing economic paradigm, and makes compelling suggestions for a shared and lasting prosperity.' - Bianca Jagger, Founder and Chair, Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation; Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador; Member of the Executive Director's Leadership Council, Amnesty International, USA; Trustee, Amazon Charitable Trust

'In a world of massive inequality and limited resources, Tim Jackson asks the fundamental questions of what prosperity really is and how we can invest not just in material goods but in each other. This is an outstandingly intelligent and creative contribution to debate.' - The Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

'Tim Jackson offers a penetrating insight into our current state of affairs, and a thought-provoking pathway towards redesigning our future.' - Dame Ellen MacArthur

'The question of whether progressives should abandon growth or continue a champion it remains unresolved. But attempts to short-circuit that debate by dismissing de-growth as 'pie-in-the-sky' now face the demanding task of refuting this impressive work. I look forward to Tim Jackson's further elaboration of it.' - David Choat, Policy Progress blog

'One of the most outstanding pieces of environmental economics literature in recent years' - Le Monde

'A new movement seems to be emerging, and this superbly written book should be the first stop for anyone wanting a manifesto... In terms of a worldview for the new decade and beyond, this could well be the most important book you will read.' - The Guardian

'One of the best books of 2009' - Financial Times

'Bold and provocative...' - The New York Times

'In the teeth of the economic crisis, Jackson has written the most important book that could possibly be written now.' - James Gustave Speth, author of The Bridge at the Edge of the World

'This might well become as important for sustainable development as the Brundtland Report.' - Paul-Marie Boulanger, Director of IDD

'Prosperity without Growth's hugely encouraging and thrilling theme is that humanity can prosper without growth.In fact there is no other way left to us.' - Dr Robert Goodland, former Adviser to the World Bank Group, winner of World Conservation Union's Coolidge Medal of Honor, 2008

'Tim Jackson's book simply resets the agenda for Western society.' - Bernie Bulkin, SDC commissioner for Climate Change, Energy and Transport

'A must-read for anyone concerned with issues of climate change and sustainability - bold, original and comprehensive. We have to define prosperity and welfare differently from the past and separate them from economic growth measured as GDP: this work shows how we should set about the task.' - Anthony Giddens, Emeritus Professor, London School of Economics

'Jackson's cutting edge research has already begun to re-define the debate about how to achieve a future of human and planetary well-being. A must-read.' - Juliet Schor, author of Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth, and Professor of Sociology, Boston College

'Jackson goes after the complacency and dishonesty at the heart of contemporary politics, and provides a brilliant and compelling account of the crucial importance of the growth debate.' - Jonathon Porritt, former chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission

 'The best account of the financial crises and the state of society I have read in a long time. . . The beauty is that the change that is needed will make us happier.' - Clare Short, MP

'Zero growth is not only necessary, it is inevitable and will supercede Selfish Capitalism. In this brilliant analysis, Tim Jackson lays bare a system in crisis and lights the way forward.' - Oliver James, Author of Affluenza

'Tim Jackson provides a convincing case as to why conventional economic growth has not and cannot deliver prosperity. By showing why this is the case, we have the tools to start to build an economy based on sustainable development.' - Jan Bebbington, Professor of Accounting and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews

'A vital, much-needed, and timely work that deserves to be widely read, this is more than a brilliant treatise on the difficulties of developing a truly sustainable economy. It is also an important contribution to the increasingly urgent debate over the nature of the good life and the good society.' - Professor Colin Campbell, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of York

'Economic growth is both unsustainable on a finite planet and undesirable in its failure to continue to improve real welfare. What we need is true prosperity without growth. Why we must have this and how it can be achieved are compellingly explained in this essential work. It is not sacrifice to adopt the measures advocated. It is a sacrifice of our current and future well-being not to.' - Robert Costanza, Portland State University Professor of Sustainability and Director, Institute for Sustainable Solutions

'Provokes official thought on the unthinkable. No small accomplishment! I hope this gets the serious attention it deserves.' - Professor Herman Daly, author of Steady-State Economics and recipient of the Honorary Right Livelihood Award (Sweden's alternative to the Nobel Prize)

'What makes it unthinkable to stop growth even though it is killing us? Tim Jackson boldly confronts the structural Catch-22 that drives this madness and proposes in this lucid, persuasive, and blessedly readable book how we might begin to get off the fast track to self-destruction. Don't miss it!' - Dianne Dumanoski, author of The End of the Long Summer and co-author of Our Stolen Future

'Tim Jackson cuts through the official cant and wishful thinking to tell us what we have refused to admit we cannot preserve a habitable planet and pursue endless economic growth at the same time. In an era when all ideologies have failed, this book lays out the basis for the only viable political philosophy for the 21st century.' - Clive Hamilton, Author of Growth Fetish and Professor of Public Ethics, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Australia (Forthcoming Earthscan title: Requiem for a Species)

'If you want to understand why current growth centric economics is not fit for purpose then read this book. This is the clearest and most important contribution to proving it's time to rethink growth economics in order to live the low carbon, poverty free and one planet life we all need and want.' - Alan Knight, Founder of Singleplanetliving

'Endless growth on a finite planet, or endless misery-spreading recession, both represent impossible futures. Here are some very powerful steps towards a possible, indeed a very hopeful, alternate outcome!' - Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy

'We were delighted when Professor Jackson spoke at our July Meeting at Lloyds Banking HQ in London. He endorsed the feelings of many in the BCSD-UK that business as usual is not an option. His clear and concise challenge of what is considered convention is timely and highly appropriate.' - David Middleton, CEO, Business Council for Sustainable Development UK

'Prosperity without Growth says it all: informatively, clearly, inspiringly, critically and constructively, starting from the very troubled, unsustainable and unsatisfying economy we have today and providing a robust combination of suggestions for going toward a sustainable economy and fulfilling lives.' - Richard Norgaard, University of California, Berkeley

'Rising consumption may not be sustainable, due to climate change, energy shortfalls, and to social and psychological harms. In this compelling argument, Tim Jackson shows how urgent it is to think of what might replace it, and what to aim for.' - Avner Offer, Professor of Economic History at Oxford, author of Challenge of Affluence

'Stimulating and timely. This is the best attempt I've seen to build a trans-disciplinary critique of economic growth, with prescriptions based in economic theory.' - Ronan Palmer, Chief Economist, The Environment Agency

'Tim Jackson's book is a powerful intellectual challenge to an economic orthodoxy out of touch with the real world of physical limits, global warming and peaking oil reserves. It is refreshingly rigorous, honest and hopeful.' - Ann Pettifor, Fellow of the new economics foundation and co-author of the Green New Deal

'When it comes to resolving the tension between the environment and the economy the watchword should be 'less is more'. If you want to find out how we could all be healthier, wealthier and a lot wiser you should read this book.' - Molly Scott Cato, Reader in Green Economics, Cardiff School of Management and Economics Speaker for the Green Party

'We live in a finite world but with infinite demands. Human wants, political convenience and intellectual inertia trump planetary limits. Tim Jackson makes headway in setting signposts towards a more sustainable future.' - Camilla Toulmin, Director of the International Institute for Environment & Development (IIED)

'This is one of the most brilliant analyses I've seen. It is a thoughtful and action-oriented masterpiece, with an eye open to how to overcome resistance to the task ahead.' - Arnold Tukker, Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research

'Tim Jackson's book clearly demonstrates how our passion for consumption drives unsustainable results and it opens up the potential for a new model of consumerism that delivers a more sustainable world.' - Chris Tuppen, Chief Sustainability Officer, British Telecom

'This is an important work, well worth reading.' - Darcy Hitchcock, author of The Business Guide to Sustainability

'It's easy to lament the unsustainable nature of growth economics. It's slightly harder to re-imagine it on the other side. Hardest of all is to detail the transition, how you get from growth to a steady state without breaking the economy. That's the missing piece, and Tim Jackson has boldly stepped into the breach with a book that is clear, balanced and free of political bias. This isn't a blueprint for such a transition, but it does show that it is possible. For that, Prosperity Without Growth has got to be one of the most important books of the year.' - www.makewealthhistory.org

'[Tim Jackson] has done us a tremendous service in putting the debate into practical and comprehensible language, deferring some of the derivations and details to endnotes and appendices, and organizing his message into short self-contained chapters with well researched and documented source material. This book will be a widely read and influential basis for practical exposition of many of our underlying concerns and ideas for their solution to the broader public.' - Ecological Economics

'Jackson's analysis is truly unique in meticulously disentangling the interdependencies between the economic logic of production, the social logic of consumption, and the conflicting position of the state that keeps the unsustainable machinery of growth moving. Jackson also provides an original perspective that identifies leverage points for change that hold the prospect of eventual effectiveness. I have not encountered such a bright and insightful analysis since the path-breaking work of the Donella and Dennis Meadows and Herman Daly.' - Journal of Industrial Ecology

'Budget cuts remind us of our unsustainable current financial system, but the crisis also creates space to consider alternatives. GDP is still king, but in a recent lecture Prof Jackson described how senior civil servants are beginning to debate his alternatives. I think this book can provide us with a language to develop these long overdue debates ourselves.' - Rob Couch, Environmental Health News.

'A hard read but rewarding if you can stay the course.' - Judy Kirby, The Friend

'It is clear that the current pattern of economic growth is simply unsustainable. Jackson in Prosperity without Growth makes the case very clearly and convincingly.' - Fran Baum, Australian Options

'Presents a case against continued economic growth in developed nations and considers how human society can flourish within the ecological limits of a finite planet by reducing emphasis on growth' - Journal of Economic Literature, June 2010

'He recognises that to avoid enormous social disruption, it will take committed governance to manage these changes. I have no idea what critical mass of citizens will be needed to bring such governance. All I can do is to sign up with renewed faith.' - Phil Kingston, Renew

'Prosperity without Growth gets my 'twice read' honour...the book reads something like a novel...Finally, I asked my wife Angie to read the book and summarise it for me. Her conclusion? 'This is a good book that will change your life. Read it' - Vinod Bhatia, JIE

'The form is good - and so is the content. This innovative book is recommended to readers seeking insight into the governance and policy challenges of spreading prosperity while safeguarding the environment.' - getAbstract

'I thought the book was splendid. Jackson's writing is lucid and well organised. He has a gift for the telling sentence.' - Bryan Walker, Hot Topic

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