The goals of technology and those of “economics” as a profession need to be thoroughly re-assessed. For example, the goal of making things “more efficient” seems laudable in many contexts. BUT the mindless pursuit of efficiency can become a tragic distraction and dangerous diversion from the larger problem of moving humanity collectively away from its large and growing dependence upon fossilized carbon energy sources.
We need to keep clear in our minds that the goal is not simply to become more efficient in the use of fossil fuels, but rather to displace them entirely and move to a zero-carbon emission fuel system based on the infinite supply of throughput solar energy. Efficiency, properly conceived, needs to foster the transition from our current fossil fuel dependence toward solar sustainability. If it fails to do this “efficiency” itself is not a virtue and may well be counter-productive, since it could serve to keep alive the illusion of heightened consumerism and continuous growth.
The life-long commitment and insightful and incisive writings of Herman Daly over the last half century represent, perhaps, the single most important critique of the myopia of neo-classical economics when it comes to our ecological circumstance.
- The Law & The Profits vs. Natural Law & The Prophet: Herman Daly & the Future of the Human Prospect
- “Transition Studies” … because extinction is not the goal…and
- To Respect the Earth’s Limits — or Push Them? – Bill McKibben – The New York Times
- The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World – Charles Mann
- The Law & The Profits vs. Natural Law & The Prophet: Herman Daly & the Future of the Human Prospectas well as:
- Charles C. Mann, “The Wizard and The Prophet”
- Charles Mann: The Wizard and the Prophet
- Wizards and prophets with Charles Mann Breakthrough Dialogues Podcast
For an ecological approach to the limitations of “development economics” from a perspective inspired by the seminal work of Herman Daly, and other scholars focused on historical ecology see:
- The “Green Revolution:” Its Essence, Achievements & Aftermath
- The 500-yr+ collapse of Agricultural Development Schemes in Africa & the implications for humankind.
- The mistake of petro-intensive agriculture – the UNA “Global Engagement Summit” – 22 February 2019
- Introduction and Overview of Historical Research Series….
- Maps, Stones & Plants: Agents of Empire and the Ecology of the Atlantic Trade
- “Just take the case of agriculture…”
- Some Troubling and Enduring Thoughts of a Balliol ‘Old Boy’ on the Focus, Direction and Value of PPE at Oxford (and beyond…).
- Soils, Agriculture, Carbon Sequestration and Human Survival