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Vilja Reads

I'm a student, so I don't have nearly as much time for leisure reading as I'd like. If I manage to read an entire course book instead of just the assigned chapters, I'll review that here, too.

The End of Growth

The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality - Richard Heinberg

The title of the book states its content. The Club of Rome wrote on the limits of growth; now, Heinberg argues, we've reached them. Our economic system is based on continual growth of the GDP. If that growth is driven by cheap energy, and cheap energy is at an end as easily accessible carbon fuel sources deplete, it's time to prepare for the collapse of world economy.


In my <140 character review of this book on Twitter, I called it "feisty", and I stand by that. Heinberg makes a point to speak of future projections as given, and I could see why. The "we'll be in trouble IF we don't act now" rhetoric has been employed since the 70s and it failed to mobilize change fast enough to avoid the present situation. It's time to say, okay, we are up shit creek without a paddle NOW. This WILL happen. What are we going to do to minimize the losses and suffering that are going to result from our decades of excess, and from the bursting of the biggest bubble in history?


The style makes for captivating reading, even if it makes the text seem slightly less academic, especially since Heinberg then eagerly promotes the Transition Network. There's something depressingly cultish about the idea of depending on a grassroots citizens' movement for sustainable living, which must base its functioning on the assumption that human beings are not terrible. I would have put more stock on a plan to recreate economy in a way that makes sense to the people in power, who cannot be expected to act out of selflessness: the CEOs and politicians, who would not be where they are now if they were not driven by the pressure to grab advantage where they can see it. Citizen organizations are essential, but they can only do so much, especially in a short time frame.


In many ways, this book was educational, and neatly covers the recent financial crisis and the evolution of financial operations in the past few decades in an accessible style. I could recommend it just based on those chapters. Well worth a read.