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The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered Paperback – May 31, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The Wealth of Nature proposes a new model of economics based on the integral value of ecology. Building on the foundations of E.F. Schumacher's revolutionary "economics as if people mattered", this book examines the true cost of confusing money with wealth. By analyzing the mistakes of contemporary economics, it shows how an economy centered on natural capital-the raw materials that support human life-can move our society toward a more productive relationship with the planet that sustains us all.

The Wealth of Nature suggests public policy initiatives and personal choices that can help alleviate the economic impact of peak oil. These strategies must address not only financial concerns, but the issues of resource depletion and pollution as well. Examples include:

  • Adjusting tax policy to penalize the use of natural nonrenewable resources over recycled materials
  • Placing public welfare above corporate interests
  • Empowering individuals, families, and communities by prioritizing local, sustainable solutions
  • Building economies at an appropriate scale.

Profoundly insightful and impeccably argued, this book is required reading for anyone interested in the intersection of the environment and the economy as we enter the twilight of the Age of Abundance .

About the Author

John Michael Greer is a scholar of ecological history, an award-winning author and an internationally renowned Peak Oil theorist whose blog, “The Archdruid Report”, has become one of the most widely cited online resources dealing with the future of industrial society. He is a certified Master Conserver, an organic gardener, and has been active in the alternative spirituality movement for more than 25 years.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers; unknown edition (May 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865716730
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865716735
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paula L. Craig on July 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
I wish I could buy a thousand copies of this book and hand them out to environmentalists and economists across the United States. Maybe then we'd have some chance of a soft landing to the present economic crisis. I get so sick and tired of hearing economic pundits get up and make recommendations that will make matters worse, not better. Even harder is hearing it called "science." I am a scientist myself (I have degrees in biochemistry and law) and I have a great respect for science. Mainstream economic science in recent decades has unfortunately completely lost its way. Greer does a fine analysis of this. Greer understands that our country is presently facing hard limits of energy supplies and other natural resources. Pumping up the economy with more stimulus money or bailing out banks in this economy is just throwing good money after bad. You might as well try to solve economic problems by sprinkling magic twinkle dust.

Greer is not an economist. In fact, though he doesn't talk about it much in this book, in the past he was best known as a writer about druidry. Lately he's mostly shifted from writing about druid subjects to writing about economics. Don't let Greer's lack of economic credentials stop you from reading this book. If you're an economist and don't agree with Greer, at least give him a serious hearing and point out what you think he got wrong.

Greer's main point is that the past three centuries or so of fossil fuel usage have created an economic super-bubble. As fossil fuels become exhausted, this bubble will deflate with a vengeance.

Greer's discussion of productivity is great. Mainstream economists have long assumed that increases in productivity are wonderful for an economy.
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Historian and philosopher John Michael Greer boldly rejects the sophistry of modern economics. Drawing on E. F. Schumacher, Greer classifies economics into the primary economy (nature), the secondary economy (human goods and services), and the tertiary economy (money). Neo-classical economics omits the primary economy, which however is foundational as growth turns to contraction. The money of the tertiary economy has become predatory on the secondary economy, which is now at extreme risk as resources are being used up at phenomenal rates along with environmental damage.

Energy is identified as the ur-commodity, the enabler of all other goods and services. Hence it has a special status, subject to strict natural limits and useful only when it is sufficiently concentrated for the purposes at hand. Ideally it is either used directly, as in passive solar heating or growing plants, or nature has already concentrated it in a form that easily processed and stored or transported, as in fossil fuels.

Greer rejects as superstitious faith-based economics, the claims of many economists that new forms for energy and technology will surely be found that will equal or surpass fossil fuels in quantity and ease of access and use. Certainly none are even close today, despite a long history of speculative claims.

For Greer industrial civilization itself is the ultimate bubble. The precursors to collapse are already happening, and all signs are consistent with the Limits-to-Growth business-as-usual scenario of severe turmoil and partial collapse in the 2020 to 2030 time frame.

For this world of energy scarcity we'll need an economics that maximizes the ratio of value to energy.
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This is a rare kind of book: one that can truly be called life-changing. John Michael Greer explains the realities of our economic situation in clear, understandable terms and shines a light on some facets of that are poorly understood even by most economists.

Greer builds on his previous peak-oil books (The Long Descent: A User's Guide to the End of the Industrial Age and The Ecotechnic Future: Envisioning a Post-Peak World), adding the economic dimension in its full context as both a contributing cause and a consequence of over-reliance on fossil fuels. But he also explores the difference between money and wealth, the increasing disconnect between money and things of intrinsic value and the political dimension.

Read this book and a lot of things in the news will make sense to you that never did before.
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Format: Paperback
It was halfway through my engineering degree, a few years ago, that I became disenchanted with the notion of "solving" engineering problems because they always seemed to create new ones. Ones that demanded more technology and more sophistication, and, more work for everybody. As a student, I didn't like work.

Around then I had stumbled across the concept of peak-petroleum, and closely after that, the author of the blog "The Archdruid Report". My psyche has changed forever, and my suspicion that humanity was spinning its wheels was confirmed.

Well, ever since discovering John Michael Greer, he has undoubtedly become my virtual mentor. Every sentence written by this man fits a grand spiderweb of Sense - nothing contradictory, nothing egotistical, and nothing sponsored - just a calm and collected set of observations that resonate with the natural world as it really is.

Economics, the way we think of it in modern terms, is a difficult concept and doesn't make much sense to the layman. Too much number crunching and logistics - let's leave it to the economists, right? Look, if it's made too complicated for the average person to understand, there's a good chance of some wool being pulled over the eyes.

Greer pulls the wool back and speaks economics in words, not numbers. The book dissolves the intimidation associated with economics as a discipline, revealing it to be not like the hard natural sciences of physics and chemistry, but more like the right-brain social and biological sciences of energy, ecosystems, and biospheres.

The super-high insight:difficulty ratio of this book makes it a must read! Go get it!
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