All posts by Bill Rees

On Herman Daly’s Economics for a Full World: Biosocial context and future prospects

Prof Herman Daly is one of the founding fathers of the emerging discipline of ‘ecological economics’. He has long argued that to achieve genuine sustainability, the global community should be transitioning to a ‘steady-state’ economy based on ecological principles derived from biophysical reality.

In 2014 Daly added a prestigious Blue Planet Prize to his list of international accolades. His Blue Planet acceptance speech, Economics for a Full World,1 contains a fine summary of Daly’s award-winning economic philosophy. The essay below is a response to that speech in which I compare Prof Daly’s steady-state ecological economics to the growth-oriented neoliberal economics that currently dominates mainstream thinking – of possible interest to anyone curious about the contemporary roots of humanity’s self-destructive development trajectory. Continue reading On Herman Daly’s Economics for a Full World: Biosocial context and future prospects

The tragic events of 22 October in Ottawa


Having listened fairly closely to media coverage of the shootings at the National War Memorial and Centre Block of Parliament in Ottawa yesterday, this is what I think we know:

1) A lone gunman, later identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, shot and killed an unarmed reserve soldier at the National War Memorial; by all appearances, this was a despicably cowardly act.

2) The same lone gunman somehow managed to enter the Center Block and proceed down the corridor or Hall of Honour toward the caucus rooms of various parties in the house, some of which were meeting at the time.  This reveals serious weaknesses in routine security protocols on Parliament Hill and particularly the House of Commons.

3) Significantly, according to various reports, the gunman was armed with a “double-barrelled shotgun” (highly unlikely), a “long hunting rifle” or a “two shot rifle”. (Surely hours after the event a modicum of investigative reporting should be able to specify the weapon.) Continue reading The tragic events of 22 October in Ottawa

What Ails Higher Education (and Everything)

Here’s a link to a lovely, lucid, literate, pointedly accurate and, ultimately, sadly introspective essay by William Major about what ails higher education (in fact, what ails society at large):

A quote to lead you in:
“Our investment bankers and their ilk will have to take the fall because, well, they should have known better. If only because, at bottom, they are responsible — with their easy cash and credit, their drive-through mortgages, and, worst of all, their betting against the very system they knew was hopelessly constructed. And they were trained at our universities, many of them, probably at our best universities, the Harvards and Princetons and Dartmouths, where — it is increasingly apparent — the brightest students go to learn how to destroy the world (emphasis added).

I am not arguing that students shouldn’t take classes in accounting, marketing, and economics. An understanding of these subjects holds value. They are honorable subjects often horribly applied. In the wrong hands they become tools less of enlightenment and liberation than ruthless self-interest.
Continue reading What Ails Higher Education (and Everything)