Enough is Enough – review

Author: | Date: 18 January, 2014 | Category: Book Reviews | Comments: 0

Enough is Enough: Building a sustainable economy in a world of finite resources, by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill, January 2013. Earthscan from Routledge, 240 pages, ISBN 978-0-415-82095-0. RRP £12.99

A paramount fallacy of today is the repetitive refrain of ‘economic growth’ in a finite planet. The goal is growth in GDP which means simply more production and consumption of earth’s shrinking resources. This semantic fallacy is repeated without questioning by politicians, industrialists, and the obsequious media especially TV news. Earth ruinous projects such as unnecessary road and housing, called ‘infrastructure’, and other ruinous construction on dwindling biodiverse habitats, are welcomed as growth in consumption, money, and ‘jobs’. So ingrained is the infinite growth fallacy that it has been difficult even impossible for prophetic leaders and thinkers to eliminate it with arguments for ‘prosperity without growth’ and a ‘GDP’ that promotes human and earth flourishing.

This interesting book by two young economists convincingly challenges the growth fallacy by proposing ‘enough’ as the goal for a sustainable ‘economics’ or ‘home management’ as the word implies. The book is readable, well illustrated, and convincing, proposing a ‘steady state’ economy which takes from the earth only what is enough, sharing, like the cooperative movement ideal, with all. The sustainable goal is not ‘growth’ but ‘enough’ for flourishing of people and planet. The authors rightly insist that a sustainable economy includes a sustainable population limited by procreative restraint. GNP, the code of business, media, and political leaders, means unlimited growth in production and consumption oblivious of planetary biological restraints.

Obviously we need more than an understanding of its arguments for a ‘steady state’ economy. We need prompt effective action or praxis. We must implement Herman Daly’s three rules which are recommended in this fine book: 1) exploit renewable resources no faster than they regenerate; 2) deplete non-renewables no faster than alternatives can be developed; 3) emit wastes no faster than ecosystems can absorb them.

I have one reluctant reservation about this interesting book. The authors omit the religious dimension. Yet we can learn, for example, from the Sermon on the Mount and the Lord’s Prayer. In his own lifestyle the itinerant Jesus lived and taught an ‘economy’ of ‘enough’, sharing with others, and while living sustainably, trusted in God our Father for ‘our daily bread’. I recommend this very readable book for those seeking a sustainable alternative to the infinite growth and development globalism of the dominant contemporary economics.

Dr Edward P. Echlin


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