As Ireland gets bailed out by a massive Euro 90 bn loan, a fascinating new book "The End of Growth" being released next year by Richard Heinburg looks even more ominous.
Heinburg's book makes a simple but profound observation: that economic growth as we have known it is a thing of the past. The "growth" he talks about is the expansion of the overall size of the economy (with more people being served and more money changing hands) and of the quantities of energy and material goods flowing through it.
Why does he suggest this? From 3 major realisations:
a) The depletion of important resources including fossil fuels and minerals.
b) The vastly increasing environmental impacts arising from both the extraction and use of resources, including fossil fuels, leading to snowballing costs from both these impacts themselves and from efforts to avert them and clean them up.
c) Financial disruptions due to the inability of our existing monetary, banking and investment systems to adjust to resource scarcity, soaring environmental costs and, in a shrinking economy, to service the enormous government and private debt we have accumulated.
Mankind has always had to adapt and it now requires real leadership from our World's leaders to recognise that our existig economic model cannot last forever. Will they take the enormously unpopular decisions in order to provide a long term sustainable future? Right now, I doubt it.......