Environmentalists and economists don't always see eye-to-eye. Economists view environmentalists as an obstacle to growth and profit, while environmentalists view economists as an obstacle to the protection of the environment and sustainability. However, there are some individuals that acknowledge that these two groups can work together. One of these individuals is Herman Daly. Daly is a kind of hybrid environmentalist and economist. He helped to found Ecological Economics, a journal that integrates the management of ecological systems and economics.
Daly once worked at the World Bank as a Senior Economist in the Environmental Department, where he helped develop policies for sustainable development in both First World and Third World countries. He is now a professor and his work has received a lot of attention. He has won numerous awards for his unique take on environmental economics, including Man of the Year in 2008.
In his book released in 1996, Beyond Growth, Daly proposes that growth cannot be unlimited. He recognizes the limits of economics, including the growing wealth imbalance, the "cruel efficiencies of capital flowing in and out of communities" and the question about Earth's capacity to sustain human lifestyles. He states that the idea of sustainability is innocent. He wrote, "One way to render any concept innocuous is to expand its meaning to include everything".
The important idea in Beyond Growth is that Daly shows how continuous, unlimited growth is impossible, but also undesirable. He points out how, contrary to what many economists believe, the global human society can't continue to replace natural resources with manmade once the natural resources are gone. His whole idea is to change the way that growth is viewed. Rather than to have unlimited growth, he suggests that the idea of growth be redefined to improve the quality of life without increasing the quantity of development.
Daly compares the contrasting views as such: Development is a qualitative improvement of life, whereas growth is a goal to get bigger without qualitative improvement. One of the most important ideas in Beyond Growth is that more is not always better. Many economists believe that growth is the solution to poverty. Daly explains how that is completely wrong. He suggests that because growth will not lift the global society out of poverty, something else will. "The answer is painfully simple: by population control, by redistribution of wealth and income and by technical improvements in resource productivity. In sum, not by growth, but by development", he states.
Beyond Growth is a great tool for any environmentalist wishing to find middle ground with economists. EnviroCitizen.org believes that this book is a well-researched, well-thought out book that deserves your attention!