Muggles, wizards and grandfalloons
Anyone who has already decided that there are no limits to economic growth and fossil fuel energy and that global warming is not a problem and unrelated to human activity, is unlikely to want to read this book.
Nor is it likely to appeal to those who believe that both developments pose grave threats to human existence but it is already too late to stop an impending crisis.
Brian Davey provides a comprehensive critique of the many irrational aspects of economics and economic growth and how they continue to support wealthy and powerful elites whilst widening the gap between rich and poor and eroding the natural environment on which all life depends.
He has arranged the 50 chapters of his book in 8 parts each of which describes the many different ways in which economic growth impacts on the lives of individuals and communities. Some of the arguments are quite complex, but Davey uses ample metaphors and examples for clarification.
Perhaps an alternative title for this book could be “Muggles, wizards and granfalloons”. ‘Muggles’ are the ordinary people without magical powers described in the Harry Potter novels. Economists are the ‘wizards’ with the magical power to confound those who are not economists with the idea that their theories are rational and that there are no alternatives to economic growth. ‘Granfalloons’ are theoretical and technological ideas put forward by economists as solutions to serious social and environmental problems which are either ineffective or compound those problems.
Davey not only describes the crises that economics is causing, but describes ways of creating and distributing wealth driven mainly by cooperation and a need to reduce global consumption of fossil fuels. He uses the term ‘degrowth’ to describe the process. Based on the belief that global warming is the most serious crisis facing humanity as a whole, the system for reducing carbon emissions in an equitable way named ‘Cap and Share’ described in Chapter 46 should grab the attention of readers already familiar with the economic arguments in the book.
There is even a section (Chapter 50) for the pessimist who believes that ‘it is all too late anyway’.
This book is essential reading for all students of economics, but there are many arguments in the book we can all use to question bankers, businessmen and politicians who are continually calling for the walk down the economic growth road - the one that Brian Davey shows in many ways has a global disaster beckoning at its destination.
Readers may also be interested to read 'What has nature ever done for us? by Tony Juniper which seeks to place some monetary values on the services provided for free by the natural environment. Davey might contend that there is no amount of money that will deal with the global crises that both authors have identified i.e. remedial actions must be taken no matter the cost.
Michael Thomas (author of 'Countdown - responding to a global crisis')