A Future Beyond Growth: Towards a steady state economy, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

A Future Beyond Growth

Towards a steady state economy, 1st Edition

Edited by Haydn Washington, Paul Twomey


280 pages | 24 B/W Illus.

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There is a fundamental denial at the centre of why we have an environmental crisis – a denial that ignores that endless physical growth on a finite planet is impossible. Nature provides the ecosystem services that support our civilisation, thus making humanity unavoidably dependent upon it. However, society continues to ignore and deny this dependence.

A Future Beyond Growth explores the reason why the endless growth economy is fundamentally unsustainable and considers ways in which society can move beyond this to a steady state economy. The book brings together some of the deepest thinkers from around the world to consider how to advance beyond growth. The main themes consider the deep problems of the current system and key aspects of a steady state economy, such as population; throughput and consumerism; ethics and equity; and policy for change. The policy section and conclusion bring together these various themes and indicates how we can move past the growth economy to a truly sustainable future.

This volume will be of great interest to students and scholars of economics, sustainability and environmental studies in general.


"Ours is a world in potentially fatal overshoot; human consumption of living resources already exceeds the regenerative capacity of the ecosphere. If all that were needed for decision-makers to ‘fix’ the problem is a set of evidence-based briefing notes, they need look no further than A Future Beyond Growth. The remaining question is whether our political leaders can rise above collective denial, defy entrenched economic elites and (re)turn to serving humanity’s collective interest in survival with dignity." – William E. Rees, Professor Emeritus (human ecology and ecological economics), UBC School of Community and Regional Planning, Canada and Fellow of the Post-Carbon Institute, USA

"The age of growth is over. If humanity is to prosper in the years to come, then we must develop a new economics that does not rely on increasing GDP to deliver economic prosperity. A Future Beyond Growth makes an important contribution to the post-growth literature. It tackles tough topics such as the need to stabilise population, the subversive nature of a ‘green’ or ‘circular’ economy, and the conflict between capitalism and a steady-state economy. Its essays should be required reading for all those who are serious about sustainability." – Dan O’Neill, Lecturer in Ecological Economics, University of Leeds, UK, and co-author of ‘Enough Is Enough’ (2013)

"Economic growth is in decline everywhere. Mainstream economists and politicians hope to reverse this trend. Others concerned about humanity’s impacts on the planet look to a future beyond growth. What might such a future be like? This book provides some answers. Now if only those economists and politicians would read it!" – Peter A. Victor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, Canada

Table of Contents

Foreword: Setting Things Straight for the Steady State Brian Czech Introduction: Why the growth economy is broken Haydn Washington Section 1: Population – The heresy of numbers 1. A population perspective on the steady state economy Herman Daly 2. Population – better not bigger Ian Lowe 3. Nine Population Strategies to Stop Short of 9 Billion Robert Engelman 4. Choosing a Planet of Life Eileen Crist Section 2: Throughput and consumerism – a key elephant in the room 5. Re-engineering Cultures to Create a Sustainable Civilization Erik Assadourian 6. Sustainable business – what should it be? Circular economy and the ‘business of subversion’ Helen Kopnina 7. Peak Mining – stepping down from high resource use Simon Michaux Section 3: Key aspects of a steady state economy 8. What is the steady state economy? James Magnus-Johnston 9. The Physical Pathway to a Steady-State Economy Graham Turner 10. Relating the steady state economy to the circular, blue and green economies Paul Twomey and Haydn Washington 11. The relationship between SSE and economic stability, social equity and ecological sustainability Frank Stilwell 12. The Genuine Progress Indicator: An indicator to guide the transition to a steady-state economy Phillip Lawn 13. Capitalism and the Steady State: Uneasy Bedfellows Joshua Farley Section 4: Ethics and a ‘message from the future’ 14. Sustainable Development vs. Sustainable Biosphere Holmes Rolston 15. ‘Message from the future’ Geoff Mosley Section 5: Policy for change 16. Degrowth as a transition strategy Robert Perey 17. Strategies for transition to a ‘future beyond growth’ Mark Diesendorf Conclusion: The endless growth myth – simplicity and complexity Haydn Washington and Paul Twomey

About the Editors

Haydn Washington is a Visiting Fellow in Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies (Science) at UNSW (University of New South Wales) Australia.

Paul Twomey is a Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Built Environment at UNSW (University of New South Wales) Australia.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy