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Enough is Enough: Building a sustainable economy in a world of finite resources: Rob Dietz and Dan O Neill

October 22, 2013

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We’re overusing the earth’s finite resources, and yet excessive consumption is failing to improve our lives. In Enough is Enough Dietz and O Neill lay out a visionary but arguably realistic and grounded alternative to the perpetual pursuit of economic growth – an economy where the goal is enough, not more.

It’s a message that goes against the grain of our hard wired thinking that growth is both good and desirable. In essence the book is articulating a practical and outworked theory that we have to change course to the norm, that growth is not the answer and that a ‘steady state’ economy of enough has to be the way of the future in order to create sustainability and also well being.

The Idea is to introduce, unpack and make practical the idea of a ‘Steady State Economy’ an economy that is prosperous but not growing. This is not exactly compelling on first reading given the challenges and state of the UK and Global economy at present. It raises the question about what sort of growth is good, sustainable and healthy and the role of the Green economy in this. Can we really create a steady state without growth? Does it become difficult to see how this can be achieved in light of the current economic reality?

The book is divided into 3 main sections:

Part 1: Questions of Enough: This is more exploring the why than the how. It asks lots of great questions as well as summarising some of the compelling scientific evidence of why growth and the current model we operate in is both flawed and unsustainable. This section is great as it raises lots of questions and also looks at lots of data and key facts. A good balance.

Part 2: Strategies of Enough: A practical escape route from the idea of perpetual growth. The section explores in depth ideas around limiting the use of materials and energy, stabilising population growth with compassionate and noncoercive means. Redistributing wealth and reforming financial systems and advocating a change in the way we measure progress and how Businesses and industry create and measure value.

Part 3: Advancing the Economy of Enough: The thrust of this section relates very well to Mark Powley’s excellent book, Consumer Detox, and the very clear and compelling reality that consumerism in its present form is not ideal or sustainable personally and corporately.

One of the compelling aspects of this book is that the idea has been formulated through a great deal of collaborating, sharing and listening. In 2010 over 250 people gathered for a conference on the theme and the outworking of the conference forms the large part of the content of the book.

Each Chapter also begins with a humorous but also profound cartoon image to depict some of the issues at stake. It highlights the creativity of the book and also the profound desire to make this accessible and practically engaging.

The idea of the Steady State Economy (SSE) is summed up in the Metaphor of a building made up of Foundations, Pillars and a Roof.

  • Foundation: Features of an SSE: Sustainable Scale, Fair Distribution, GDP is not the only answer: Health, Happiness, Leisure, Quality time, relationships, community and stability.
  • Pillars Policies and Strategies: Limit Resource use and waste production, Redistribute wealth and change culture of measurement and value. Replace Consumerism with Sustainability.
  • Roof: Well being This is very akin with the idea  and thinking around Human flourishing. Brought to life in an excellent report called Wholly Living by Theos, Cafod and Tearfund.

The challenge in all of this for me was the assumption that growth as a whole is a bad thing, when in reality this may not be so. For example, Growth of the very idea they are seeking to promote, that in itself must be positive and not to be frowned upon. Is some of this just to idealistic and is another world and another way of being really possible? I want to believe that it is. This book definitely goes some of the way but I’m left with some questions unanswered.

I think it comes down to the challenge of how we can find a way of swimming against the tide of what some call ‘Hyper Individualism and Consumerism’. Not an easy task. The book rightly calls for a wholisitic approach to tackle consumption, population, family, community, Business, Agriculture, Nature and Money. The interconnection is paramount, are we willing to make the changes?

That said, the reality that there is such widespread recognition that our planet is finite, that there is a great deal of value and sense in creating practical policies that can achieve some great outcomes and that there is a will and an ability to act as individuals, families, communities and nations highlights the value and importance of this book.  There is a deep rooted need for all of us to be more content, more active, take more notice, keep learning and be motivated to Give more than we receive and express gratitude in our contentment. This book helps with that and empowers us to say that Enough is indeed… Enough.

To read more about this and the Steady State ethos visit:

http://steadystate.org/discover/enough-is-enough/

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 26, 2014 11:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your efforts and I
    will be waiting for your further post thanks once again.

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  1. Enough is Enough | Breathe

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