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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can't have our cake and eat it too...
We can't have our cake and eat it too, according to Tim Jackson. While many (or even most) people are convinced that "technology" and ever-increasing efficiencies will allow humankind, and especially us Rich World folks, to live green and still live large, this books demonstrates in well-documented detail the fallacy of this way of thinking. For instance, while we are...
Published on August 12, 2010 by David Radcliff

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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It was going well but....
It is a good book, well written. The first part, where the author makes the case for the unsustainablility of the "growth model" of the economy was very well written. It cannot be said the same about the second part of the book, which was how will be possible the revert and fix the problem. I understand perfectly that it was the most difficult part of the book, and that...
Published on August 25, 2010 by Erminio Di Lodovico


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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can't have our cake and eat it too..., August 12, 2010
This review is from: Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet (Hardcover)
We can't have our cake and eat it too, according to Tim Jackson. While many (or even most) people are convinced that "technology" and ever-increasing efficiencies will allow humankind, and especially us Rich World folks, to live green and still live large, this books demonstrates in well-documented detail the fallacy of this way of thinking. For instance, while we are getting more production for any carbon we emit into the atmosphere (25 percent more efficient globally in the past 40 years), our actual carbon output is up by 80 percent, as more people are finding more ways to burn fossil fuels--in effect overwhelming any impact from being more efficient.

Jackson is thorough in documenting our overuse of important materials such as copper, bauxite and iron ore, which he points out, if the rest of the world used like we do, world supplies would be exhausted within 20 years. He is also quick to note that not only are we exhausting the planet's physical storehouse and storage capacity for things like carbon, we are at the same time driving a large wedge between the haves and have-nots of the world. And more wealth won't solve these inequities: per capita income in the US is some $42,000 per year, yet the US has the largest income stratification of any rich nation.

He blames much of our problem on "novelty"--the pursuit of the new thing. This creates a throwaway society as product after product is "up-graded" for the next model; it also creates persistent anxiety among and between citizens as they strive for acceptance and supremacy via things. He feels that the goal of society should be to create a world that is environmentally sustainable and that focuses on helping people flourish--neither of which can be accomplished in a highly competitive capitalistic society whose mantra is "more." He calls for both local and national initiatives to redefine life, rewarding behaviors that promote the goals mentioned above.

Pithy quote: "Prosperity for the few founded on ecological destruction and persistent social injustice is no foundation for a civilized society."
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars useful restatement of many good arguments, April 19, 2010
This review is from: Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet (Hardcover)
A useful re-statement of all the good arguments made over the past 40 years for transforming public policy beyond erroneous economic models. Summarizes the debate and the conclusions on the need to move to low-entropy models based on better understanding of real human needs and goals of equitable, ecologically sustainable prosperity. Some strange omissions, including E. F. Schumacher's Small Is Beautiful (1973) in its heavily focused British literature and the ascribing of the European Commission and the European Parliaments Beyond GDP conferences in 2007 ([...]) to the OECD. A good introduction for those unfamiliar with this 40-year old debate.

Hazel Henderson, author of Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy and co-creator and author of the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars second edition, please!!, July 15, 2011
By 
Steve (Denver, CO) - See all my reviews
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I'm delighted that the author addresses this topic. I have some suggestions for a second edition:
(1) The subtitle should become the title
(2) The title should NOT become the new subtitle. It is inconsistent for the author to request the development of an ecologically-aware macroeconomics and simultaneously imply that he already has such a macroeconomics in hand. We don't know whether 'prosperity without growth' is our best option - maybe we need generations of economic and population contraction (rather than mere stasis) to get us out of the horrible jam we've gotten ourselves into.
(3) All references to the financial crisis of 2008 should to be removed. The crisis of 2008 is not (and will never be) viewed as suggesting that there is a systemic flaw in the capitalist model. Instead, the crisis is viewed as an acute illness brought on by the development and deployment of a fatally flawed mortgage securitization pipeline by thoroughly corrupt and unprincipled financiers.
(4) In order to convince someone to do something, you can use a carrot or a stick. The carrot that the author dangles here is not particularly appealing (flourishing without growth), and the stick is practically non-existent, except for one meagre sentence toward the end of the book: "By the end of the century, our children and grandchildren will face a hostile climate, depleted resources, the destruction of habitats, the decimation of species, food scarcities, and almost inevitably war." (p. 203) In the second edition, 'the stick' needs to be much more developed, or we humans will just continue on our present path.
(5) The powerful entrenched interests who will fight to the death to prevent the development and deployment of an ecologically aware macroeconomics should be described, along with the tools at their disposal and their manner of use. We can't vanquish an enemy we can't see.
(6) The population growth topic needs to be addressed more fully. A growing population appears to be fundamentally incompatible with a static or contracting economy. It's not sufficient to shrug our shoulders and claim the population growth problem is unsolvable, or depends only upon improved female education. There are things a society can do to encourage small or non-existent families - these policy options should be described and discussed.
(7) It's not clear that the authors are thinking sufficiently 'out of the box'. For example, the authors appear wedded to the traditional notion of 'work' as the foundation of a healthy society, but its not at all clear whether this notion can survive in its present form in an ecologically-aware macroeconomics.
(8) Existing work on this topic needs to be better described. Renegade economists (and others) have been thinking about this topic for decades (and even centuries - consider Malthus).

Get to work!! I'm waiting for the second edition!!
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It was going well but...., August 25, 2010
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This review is from: Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet (Hardcover)
It is a good book, well written. The first part, where the author makes the case for the unsustainablility of the "growth model" of the economy was very well written. It cannot be said the same about the second part of the book, which was how will be possible the revert and fix the problem. I understand perfectly that it was the most difficult part of the book, and that such a complex matter cannot be fully covered in one book, but I was expecting something more than wishful thinking.
Anyway, it is a book worth reading.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flourishing without opulence, July 6, 2011
By 
Simply Curious (Middletown, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
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We are already at or near the ecological limits to growth of our magnificent planet. At the same time the economies of affluent nations, as presently conceived, require continuous growth to avoid collapse into recession and high unemployment. Tim Jackson's book Prosperity without Growth, examines this paradox in detail and presents a path toward its resolution.

A first step is to examine our definitions of prosperity. A shift away from prosperity pursued as opulence -- constantly acquiring new material satisfactions -- and toward prosperity enjoyed as flourishing -- deep and enduring satisfaction and well-being -- allows us to consume less while we enjoy life more. A graph of happiness as a function of average annual income reaches a plateau as essential material needs are met. A graph of life expectancy as a function of GDP per capita reaches a similar plateau. This insight helps us recognize that paths toward increased happiness do not require more material goods.

In the economies of affluent nations, competition stimulates technology improvements that increase labor productivity to reduce costs. As labor becomes more productive, fewer people are required to produce the same goods. This would lead to unemployment unless demand grows at the same rate as labor becomes more productive. If growth stops, unemployment increases, household income drops, demand drops and the system collapses toward recession.

This presents the dilemma of growth:
+ Growth in its present form is unsustainable -- unbounded resource consumption is exceeding environmental capacity, and
+ De-growth under present conditions is unstable -- reduced consumer demand leads to increased unemployment and the spiral of recession.

A solution to this dilemma is essential for future prosperity.

We can begin to see a solution in the "Green new deal". People need jobs and the world needs to manage a transition to sustainable energy. These two goals can be met simultaneously by directing investments away from opulent consumer goods and toward low-carbon systems that reduce climate change and increase energy security. In addition investments in natural infrastructure including sustainable agriculture and ecosystem protection provide long-term benefits. The engine of growth becomes creation and operation of non-polluting energy sources and selling non-material services. In addition, delivering the benefits of labor productivity to the workers would allow them more leisure and less stress as they enjoy a shorter work week. The book describes quantitative models to demonstrate the feasibility of this approach.

The many elements of such a transformation are described, including:

Establishing limits:
+ Establishing resource extraction and emissions caps, including reduction targets,
+ Reforming financial systems to support sustainability, and
+ Supporting ecological transitions in developing countries.
Fixing the economic model:
+ Developing a new macro-economic model based on ecological constraints,
+ Investing in jobs, assets and infrastructures,
+ Increasing financial and fiscal prudence,
+ Revising the national accounts such as GDP to include the value of ecological services and the costs of pollution and destructive activities.
Changing the social logic:
+ Adjusting working time policy to allow shorter or longer work weeks to suit the preferences of the workers and share the work to be done,
+ Reducing systemic inequalities,
+ Measuring capabilities and well-being,
+ Strengthening social capital, and
+ Dismantling the culture of consumerism.

This is an immensely difficult transformation; however it is essential for a lasting prosperity.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In government we trust, February 6, 2014
By 
Paul Vitols (North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) - See all my reviews
Although, as a longtime environmentalist, I’m a member of the choir that this author is preaching to, I found myself resisting much of what he was saying, and I certainly could not imagine that a gung-ho, pro-growth, climate-change skeptic would be moved by the arguments presented in this book. My main takeaway was the realization of just how far apart people can be who are supposedly on the same team.

For one thing I had problems with the style and presentation of the book. The heavy use of sentence fragments made me feel I was reading an expanded PowerPoint presentation, and the pervasive presence of weasel-words like clearly is a sign of the weakness of the supporting arguments.

I was frustrated with the author’s fence-sitting. I was expecting to find, at a minimum, a clear alternative definition of prosperity, but this I did not get–at least, not that I can recall. Instead there were repeated statements to the effect that “our future idea of prosperity will have to include such things as . . .” But the author felt that coming down too definitely on exactly what should be done, or how, was beyond the scope of what one book–his book, anyway–could do.

Much of the book is concerned with providing suggestive evidence that alternative ways of measuring our economic activity and success are feasible. But too often, for my taste, this evidence consisted of the tentative findings of various social scientists, based on mushy things like opinion surveys. To me this is not “science” in any useful sense, for I have little doubt that, like expert witnesses in court cases, other soft scientists could be found to offer “evidence” supporting different or even contradictory conclusions. Only hard sciences–physics and chemistry–carry conviction, and there’s very little of that in this book.

What was most troubling to me was the author’s faith in government as the solution to our global ecological-economic crisis. My alarm bells first started ringing early on when the author says that although the bailouts of financial firms in the crisis of 2008 were used to fund multimillion-dollar bonuses for those firms’ executives, “politicians had no choice but to intervene in the protection of the banking sector.” This reader, for one, believes that politicians did have a choice. Can we possibly believe that there was no choice but to borrow billions of dollars in my name, and use it to reward their cronies for losing such stupendous sums of money?

The bold, visionary change needed to bring a new world economy into being will never arise from such feckless and fatalistic acceptance of government as it is currently practiced. As far as I can tell, governments are more responsible than anyone for the ecological harm that has been wrought on planet Earth. It is governments, after all, who subsidize Big Oil and pay people to destroy fisheries and mow down rainforests. Private interests, of course, could still accomplish these things, but not so quickly or so completely as when they receive government handouts to do so. Canada would still have a cod fishery if its government had not paid people to extirpate it. The idea that the Stephen Harper government in Canada might lead us toward a more ecologically responsible economics would make me laugh if it didn’t fill me with such bleak hopelessness. Our governments rule us; they don’t lead us. Our leaders–that is, the people we spontaneously wish to follow–will have to come from the grass roots.

This book was at its best and most interesting when the author was at his most wonkish. He spends time discussing GDP and the equations with which it’s calculated. But although I found this interesting and informative, I don’t think that a bold new “prosperity”-based economics can emerge from such technical futzing. “Maybe if we can tweak these equations a bit . . .”

My overall impression is that, although the author talks about vision, he sees and treats the question of changing the economic basis of our society as a technical one, to be solved ultimately by academics and bureaucrats. Even the attitudes of us consumers, which, according to the author, must fundamentally change, are really the responsibility of those same bureaucrats, who must construct the institutions and incentives that will cause the livestock, oops, citizens, to behave in the right way. Mr. Jackson sees a more thoroughly socialist society–one in which the evils of “capitalism”, with its promotion of “consumerism” via an unpleasant thing called “novelty”, have been overcome–as the most likely means of getting to the sustainable Earth we need to live on. In this view, a benign dictator or a benign oligarchy will shepherd us to the Promised Land of a prosperous, sustainable, socially leveled Earth.

Of course the author does not say that–not in so many words. But to me it is the necessary implication of a world in which the state is even bigger than it is today. As though our real problem were a lack of right-thinking technocrats. And if people won’t stop their neurotic pursuit of “novelty”, they will have to be forced–won’t they?

Our future and our prosperity are not technical questions. They are questions of principle, of ideas; they are philosophical questions, and they need to be discussed at this level. We do need a new idea of prosperity, but that idea needs to be clear and definite, and it needs to be communicated with passion and conviction by men of vision and integrity–our future leaders, whoever and wherever they are. That was never the mission of this book, but this book could have been and should have been a stone for the sling of one of those leaders, and I’m afraid it just isn’t.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A starting place. (More questions than answers), August 10, 2011
This review is from: Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet (Hardcover)
Clearly not intended to be an inspiring, easy, or "popular" book (esp. re: pop culture, mainstream readers), but more a critical analysis of a set of problems most people, many economists, and far too many politicians & business leaders are either unaware of or trying desperately to ignore, Prosperity Without Growth is an invaluable starting point for a broad social and political discussion we, humanity, need to begin seriously having - and acting upon.

I personally had already internalized most of the broad strokes of this book, their being obvious to me, and I had certainly hoped to find more answers than questions, but I feel its reading was worthwhile, and wish it could be made required reading for world leaders, CEOs and CFOs, economists, and legislators the world over.

The book offers a starting place. The "popular" book can be easily written once we, as a society, actually begin to address the questions and suggestions it offers. (Copied from my Goodreads review)
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting & Empowering Ideas - Helpful & Positive, March 16, 2010
By 
C. Vita (Seattle USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet (Hardcover)
Tim Jackson provides a coherent context of ideas and discussion on how to envision and achieve a better world that is economically and ecologically sustainable and more humane than today's crazy world. While the ideas in this book will not be easy to implement, there really is reason to be hopeful, with at least a start on a workable path forward. Jackson provides a needed and useful framework, with discussions on ecological macro-economics, flourishing within limits, governing for prosperity, and the transition to a sustainable economy. The book doesn't answer all the questions, by any means. But it is well worth the effort to consider its ideas, along with its many references and web sites for more information. I found it uplifting, enlightening and empowering.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great description of the problems of the growth economy, December 3, 2012
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In this book TIm Jackson does a great job of articulating the problems with the paradox of sustainability in a growth economy using classical macroeconomics. His solution, unfortunately, is a discussion of macroeconomics. Are his proposals theoretically correct? Yes, as far as I can tell. Would they be useful to anyone without dictatorial control over the global economy? Not as far as I can tell...

Worth reading the first half so you can cite his well researched argument against the perpetual growth economy in your own work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A steady-state classic, June 25, 2013
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All surviving natural systems are steady-state, that is, each component's waste is the input to some other component, in conformity with the laws of thermodynamics. Our economy defies these laws, with the results we see all around us daily.

Tim Jackson presents a clear discussion of how me might go about bringing our economy into conformity with the laws of Physics. This volume belongs on your bookshelf beside "Enough Is Enough" and "Supply Shock".
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Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet
Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet by Tim Jackson (Hardcover - October 16, 2009)
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