Dietz, R. & O’Neill, D. (2013). Enough is enough: Building a sustainable economy in a world of finite resources. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Review by Dorothy Atwood, ISSP Secretary and Resource Manager
Enough is Enough is a must read for anyone who has ever wondered how we can sustain continued economic growth in a world of finite resources. The genesis of the title comes from asking the fundamental question of how we move from an economy that continues to demand ‘more’ to one where consumption can stop when we have ‘enough’ – a steady-state economy. Authors Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill thoughtfully lay out the problem, go on to identifying key strategies, and finally provide direction for action. The book is divided into three sections along those lines:
Part 1: Questions of Enough
Part 2: Strategies of Enough
Part 3: Advancing the Economy of Enough
Part 1 is an overview of why a continuously growing economy is unsustainable. It includes a review and update on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and how it relates to quality of life metrics. Herman Daly, in his forward gives the definition of enough as “sufficient for a good life.” One of my favorite graphs is the Life satisfaction versus GDP per capita (page 27), which clearly shows satisfaction is not dependent on a high GDP. Even if you understand and want to skip the ‘whys’, you will want to read Chapter 4, which describes just what a steady-state economy is.
Part 2 is about solutions organized by specific issues for example: materials and resource throughput, population, finances, measurement of progress and employment. Each chapter is divided into a description of the issue (What are we doing?), alternatives (What could we do instead?), and finally how we might get there (Where do we go from here?). I found the chapter on finances and reforming monetary systems (Chapter 8) particularly interesting and provocative. How do we stop the cycle of money begetting money? It is complex with many difficult questions.
Finally Part 3 focuses on actions that can be started now: how to begin to change our consumer behavior, how to get the word out politically and through the media, and how increase international cooperation. The final chapter (Chapter 15), Enough Waiting, is just that – a call to action.
Although many would describe economics and a book about the steady-state economy as dry, Dietz and O’Neill have made it delightfully readable. Key points and weighty ideas are illustrated with personal stories and anecdotes. For those that want to dive deeper, it is extensively footnoted with wealth of information for follow up. An extra added benefit is the cartoons and quotes at the beginning of each chapter.