This essay forms part of a Nottingham University open source radical engineering course. It explains where economic growth comes from, rival understandings of it in economics and what problems it causes. It also introduces “ecological economics” which is a concept system that recognises these problems and seeks solutions to them within the bio-physical carrying capacity of the planet.
Note: this paper was updated in September 2015. The original version was published in April 2014.
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Brian Davey graduated from the Nottingham University Department of Economics and, aside from a brief spell working in eastern Germany showing how to do community development work, has spent most of his life working in the community and voluntary sector in Nottingham particularly in health promotion, mental health and environmental fields. He helped form Ecoworks, a community garden and environmental project for people with mental health problems. He is a member of Feasta Climate Working Group and former co-ordinator of the Cap and Share Campaign. He is editor of the Feasta book Sharing for Survival: Restoring the Climate, the Commons and Society, and the author of Credo: Economic Beliefs in a World in Crisis.