Below is a select list of books that not only imbibe the spirit of Enlightened Economics, but also are highly informative and inspirational. The titles are linked to booksellers (mostly Amazon.com) where they may be purchased. Ron Robins receives commissions on some book sales.
State of the World 2015: Confronting Hidden Threats to Sustainability, by The Worldwatch Institute, Island Press 2015.
“In State of the World 2015, the flagship publication of The Worldwatch Institute, experts explore hidden threats to sustainability and how to address them. How will nations deal with migration as climate change refugees cross borders in order to escape flooding, drought, or other extreme weather events? What will happen to the price and availability of fossil energy—the foundation of industrial civilization–as these resources oscillate between surplus and scarcity? If perpetual economic growth on a finite planet is impossible, what are the alternatives? Can national governments manage the transition?”—Book description.
The Little Big Number: How GDP Came to Rule the World and What to Do about It, by Dirk Philipsen, Princeton University Press 2015.
“GDP is not just a number but is code for a set of economic values and principles that we’re not supposed to question. Philipsen breaks that taboo by critically assessing the origins and impacts of our overreliance on this flawed metric. Anyone who wants to understand our economy’s weaknesses–and how to make them better–needs to read this book.”—Annie Leonard, author of The Story of Stuff and executive director of Greenpeace USA.
Beyond GDP: National Accounting in the Age of Resource Depletion (Lecture Notes in Energy), by Matthew Kuperus Heun, Michael Carbajales-Dale, and Becky Roselius Haney, Springer 2015.
“The authors make a fundamental advance in economic thought, one that also provides a policy tool. They sharpen the concept of economic metabolism with a detailed analytical accounting of the metabolic flow from nature through the economy and back to nature, with attention to the different roles of stocks and flows, matter, energy, and value… Highly recommended!”—Herman Daly, Emeritus Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland.
The New Indicators of Well-Being and Development, by Jean Gadrey and Florence Jany-Catrice, Palgrave Macmillan 2007.
“The growth of GDP remains the principal focus of attention when it comes to judging the progress of the ‘wealth of nations’ …New indicators of development, well being, social health or ecological footprint are presented in this volume as alternative methods of re-assessing the growing gap between well being and ‘more having’. They show that ongoing growth might destroy vital natural resources and has already begun this depletion.”—Book description.
The Growth Illusion, by Richard Douthwaite, New Society Publishers 1999.
A radical perspective on present day economics by a knowledgeable, but controversial economist. He calls for a replacement of the Gross Domestic Product measure with something that accounts for environmental responsibility and true material well-being. He calls it the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW). It is stimulating reading.
Democracy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street from Wall Street—A Populist Vision for the 21st Century, by Jeff Gates, Perseus Books 2000.
A book rich with economic and social data about modern America, giving the impression that the United States is a long way from real democracy in its economy.