Economics, Equity and the Ecological Predicament
Advances in Ecological Economics series
Edited by Joshua Farley and Deepak Malghan
Chapter 3: Toward a sustainable and desirable future: a 35-year collaboration with Herman Daly
My connection with Herman Daly began several years before I met him. As a PhD student at the University of Florida studying under H.T. Odum, I was introduced to Herman’s 1968 article ‘On economics as a life science’ (Daly, 1968) and his path-breaking books on steady state economics (Daly, 1973, 1977). Daly was held in high esteem by Odum as the only economist he knew who understood the basic interconnections between humans and the ecological systems that supported them and which they were embedded within. It seemed obvious that the human economy, as a subsystem of the larger global ecosystem, could not continue to grow indefinitely. Obvious to everyone, that is, except mainstream economists. Teaching thermodynamics to economists was also the goal of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, whose book on the entropy law and the economic process (Georgescu-Roegen, 1971) was also on my reading list. Georgescu-Roegen was Herman’s mentor during his PhD at Vanderbilt and Herman is still one of the few economists that understand thermodynamics and its implications for economics. That economists could (and continue to) ignore the laws of thermodynamics has always been a frustrating mystery to both of us.
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