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Managing without Growth, Second Edition

Slower by Design, not Disaster

Peter A. Victor

Ten years after the publication of the first edition of this influential book, the evidence is even stronger that human economies are overwhelming the regenerative capacity of the planet. This book explains why long-term economic growth is infeasible, and why, especially in advanced economies, it is also undesirable. Simulations based on real data show that managing without growth is a better alternative
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Chapter 2: Why manage without growth?

Peter A. Victor


The data shows that economic growth in OECD countries is slowing down and adjustments will have to be made regardless if this continues. Humanity’s impacts on the biosphere, exacerbated by economic growth, justify the naming of a new geological era: the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene is unlikely to prove hospitable to humans and many other species. The proposition that economic growth can be ‘decoupled’ from these impacts is shown to be most unlikely and various meanings of managing without growth are discussed. Systems analysis, which plays an important role in this book, is introduced. Economies as open systems is explained – they are dependent on a ‘throughput’ of materials and energy from the environment which become wastes. Understanding economies as open systems that are dependent on their environment raises questions about the longevity of economic growth. Without a reliable supply of cheap energy, it will be impossible to maintain the built and organizational structures that we are accustomed to and growth will suffer.

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