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Prosperity without Growth by Tim Jackson

The full title of this book by Tim Jackson is

Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet“.

In my review posted at Amazon.co.uk, I gave the book Four Stars. This means it is Good and Well Worth Reading.

Here is my book review.

It’s going to be much tougher than I thought

For some time I’ve known that the world can’t continue as it is. Quite simply, infinite growth in a finite world doesn’t add up.

But how can we make the transition to living in a sustainable world without growth? It seems like turkeys voting for Christmas. It’s not going to happen in today’s society.

This book looks at what is involved, debunks the decoupling myth that says we can have growth without destroying the world, explains how the search for novelty inspires both suppliers and customers to continue the engine for growth but this must be broken and looks at how societal changes can be brought about.

Is it possible or are we doomed?

The author suggests that we might have to adapt to an economy with about a quarter of our current GDP on current carbon intensities on a world contract and converge policy. (Developed countries are forced to contract, developing countries are allowed to converge.)

How would you manage on 25% of your current income? Can you imagine a stable society in the UK at that level? To put the numbers into perspective, the Great Depression in America say the economy dip by around 30% and Greece is currently down by about 25%.

Clearly something major needs to be done to improve carbon intensity but how can we stimulate the research, development and commercialisation of the products? The market could do it if energy prices increase dramatically (either naturally or through the imposition of extremely high green taxes). But how high do they have to go to get attention to the right things (usage and efficiency) rather than the current demands for the energy companies to be forced to hold prices stable for 20 months after the next election?

Even worse, where are the scientists and engineers to develop these technologies? Our education policies have been woefully directed for decades. It’s time to abolish tuition fees to encourage the best and brightest into areas that can save society.

It also says that governments will have to play a much bigger role in public ownership and investment but where is the money to come from when it already spends in the high forties percent of our GDP and is up to its neck in debt?

This book is well worth reading but it’s left me with more questions than I started together with an appreciation of just how daunting a task it will be to move to a sustainable economy.

I struggle to see how it can be done in a democracy because of the unwillingness of the majority of the electorate to make the hard decisions to sacrifice prosperity in the near future to protect it in the longer term.

It is available to buy from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Paul Simister is a business coach who helps business owners who are stuck, get unstuck. If your business is based in the UK, you can have a free Business SOS consultation with me.

There are many thousand of business books, you can see the full list of my reviews at Business Books Reviews by Paul Simister. I’ve also narrowed these down to a list of the 12 Best Business Books For Business Owners & Entrepreneurs.

 

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