Herman Daly, professor who introduced ecology to economics, dies at 84 – The Washington Post

by | Nov 4, 2022 | Financial

Gift ArticleHerman E. Daly, an economist who envisioned a new practice of his field, a discipline known as ecological economics in which growth is not an unquestioned good and the impact of commerce on the environment and society matters as much as the flow of money, died Oct. 28 at a hospital in Richmond. He was 84.His death was announced by the University of Maryland, where Dr. Daly was a professor in the School of Public Policy from 1994 to 2010 before taking emeritus status. The cause was a brain hemorrhage, said his daughter Karen Daly Junker.Dr. Daly was widely regarded as a founder of ecological economics, a field that stood on the margins of economic study when he entered academia five decades ago but in recent years has attracted increasing notice around the world.He argued for a fundamental shift in the way the economy is understood — not as an independent system, but rather one that exists within the ecosystem of the Earth and is constrained by the resources available on the planet.AdvertisementFor generations, the economy had been viewed, broadly speaking, as a circular flow of money. But “as the economy expands, it takes in more energy, more matter,” Dr. Daly noted. “It takes it from where? From the biosphere. And as we consume more, we throw out more waste. Where do we throw it? Back to the biosphere. That’s depletion, and that’s pollution.”Although it took years to catch on, Dr. Daly’s model has became increasingly influential in recent years.“Herman Daly’s deceptively simple act of drawing a circle — representing the living world — around the diagrammatic box of the economy is, I believe, the most radical act in rewriting economics, because it changes everything that follows,” Kate Raworth, author of “Doughnut Economics: 7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist,” said in an email.“This is precisely why so many economists resist it: because it dethrones their outdated tools and analyses,” she continued. “But the social and ecological crises of this century compel us to begin all economics this way. Indeed I believe that today’s economics students deserve it and should demand it.”Dr. Daly outlined his ideas in dozens of academic articles and in books including “Steady-State Economics” (first published in 1977 and republished in 1991), “Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development” (1996) and “For the Common Good,” co-written with theologian John B. Cobb Jr. (first published in 1989 and republished in 1994).AdvertisementHe saw the concept of “sustainable growth” as an oxymoron — more achievable, in his view, was “sustainable development” — and argued that measures such as gross domestic product were insufficient to quantify the direction of an economy. Even the most robust manufacture of products and increase in wealth did not equate to economic growth, as he saw it, if the resources of the Earth were depleted in the process. Resources depletion was, rather, what he called uneconomic growth.Growth “can cost more than it’s worth,” he said, “and that’s the new era that we’re moving into, and we have to come to recognize that.”Instead of the GDP, he promoted measures such as the “index o …

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