Greta Thunberg on the leaders that have failed us

23 Sep, 2019 at 20:09 | Posted in Politics & Society | 7 Comments


We are in the middle of a climate breakdown, and all they can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth

In the postwar period, it has become increasingly clear that economic growth has not only brought greater prosperity. The other side of growth, in the form of pollution, contamination, wastage of resources, and climate change, has emerged as perhaps the greatest challenge of our time.

Against the mainstream theory’s view on the economy as a balanced and harmonious system, where growth and the environment go hand in hand, ecological economists object that it can rather be characterized as an unstable system that at an accelerating pace consumes energy and matter, and thereby pose a threat against the very basis for its survival.

nicholasThe Romanian-American economist Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen (1906-1994) argued in his epochal The Entropy Law and the Economic Process (1971) that the economy was actually a giant thermodynamic system in which entropy increases inexorably and our material basis disappears. If we choose to continue to produce with the techniques we have developed, then our society and earth will disappear faster than if we introduce small-scale production, resource-saving technologies and limited consumption.

Following Georgescu-Roegen, ecological economists have argued that industrial society inevitably leads to increased environmental pollution, energy crisis and an unsustainable growth.

Today we really need to re-consider how we look upon how our economy influences the environment and climate change. And — as Greta Thunberg and other youngsters tell us today — we need to do it fast. Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen gives us a good starting point for doing so!


  1. off topic but dear god this is awful and you need to read it.

    • Given Litterman is essentially a mainstream economist I found this interview quite encouraging. He seems to be on the same side as Greta Thunberg (and me). What is so awful about it?

      • A carbon tax has its merits. The problem is that Litterman looks at the world through neo-classical theory and makes vacuous assertions such as the ” if you want to understand human behaviour, you’d have to understand incentives. And that’s economics.”
        But really, how usefully does neo-classical theory or incentives explain the activist movement among young people such as Thunberg and their concerns for the environment?

  2. I’ve not read Georgescu-Roegen myself but it has been pointed out, I think by Steve Keen amongst others, that “entropy increases inexorably” only in a closed system, which the Earth is not. So civilization is not inevitably doomed, we just have to stop creating entropy faster than Earth can reverse it. It is Capitalist incentives that cause the damage not something necessarily inherent to industrial society.

    • Sunshine warmth radiation enters the Earth and approximately the same amount of energy leaves the planet by reflection. The problem with the green gas effect is that is that carbon dioxid is leverd up by the most efficient green gas, H2O, water in the atmosfer. This way the energy balance is altered and the earth heated at ground level, in the troposfär and warmed or cooled in the stratosfär.

      It’s an open system as you say.


    An excellent book on climate change for those fluent in Swedish, but not so familiar with climate science.

  4. The problem is that any policies designed to address climate change will likely restrict my freedom. I’d rather take my chances with the weather than be subjected to well-intentioned public policies that hurt me, because policy makers assume everyone can be represented by a single agent who wants to live indoors.
    Public policy response to garbage dumping for example is to shut off access to public land. I would rather clean up the garbage myself and be able to continue to live outdoors, than be forced to live indoors because policy makers assume I don’t exist because their representative agent model requires me to pollute public land (otherwise I would irrationally be losing money).

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