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Living Better on Less? Toward an Economics of Sufficiency

My last article summarised a longer paper I have just finished called “Living Better on Less? Toward an Economics of Sufficiency.” This paper reviews the social research that examines the relationship between income and happiness. The central question I ask is: How important is money to happiness? The weight of evidence suggests that income growth tends to contribute positively to human... read more

The Simple Life has Benefits for All of Us

The following article was published in The Age today (16 March). The online newspaper version is available here. Increasing material wealth has been, and remains, one of the dominant goals of humankind – perhaps the dominant goal. This is hardly surprising, of course, given the extremely low material living standards endured by most people throughout history, and indeed, by great multitudes around the... read more

Questioning the Growth Imperative

This post has been published recently in Green (the publication of the Australian Greens), Issue 35, p9.  Celebrated economist, Sir John Hicks, began one of his essays with the pronouncement, ‘We are living in an age of growth.’ It is a view that applies more so today than ever before, at least as a statement of economic desire, if not as a description of recent economic reality. As the world economy... read more

Sustainability in Fiction: Black Cow by Magdalena Ball

Magdalena Ball, one of the readers of this website, has just published a book of fiction called Black Cow, which explores themes related consumerism and sustainability. Below she provides an overview of her novel. Thanks to Maggie for her efforts, and congratulations for bringing this work to fruition. Freya and James Archer live the high life in a luxury home in Sydney’s poshest suburb, with money,... read more

There’s No Tomorrow (Film)

Ignoring the rather gloomy title, I highly recommend this new educational video on peak oil and economic growth. It’s a very engaging summary of many of the issues related to peak oil and resource depletion, and it’s essentially a short (34mins) visual expression of my recent paper, “Peak Oil, Energy Descent, and the Fate of Consumerism,” which is available here. To watch the video,... read more

Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

A shout out to all Melbournians: Transition Coburg is screening “The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil” this Sunday (today) 26 February at 3pm, the Coburg Library (access in the side door, from the Coburg Mall). This is an inspiring film about how Cuba relocalised its food production almost overnight…. when they had to. Food for thought. Hope to see some of you there.... read more

Overcoming Barriers to Sustainable Consumption

Our country is set up structurally to oppose voluntary simplicity. – Michael Jacobson Our lifestyle decisions, especially our consumption decisions, are not made in a vacuum. Instead, they are made within social, economic, and political structures of constraint, and those structures make some lifestyle decisions easy or necessary and other lifestyle decisions difficult or impossible. Change the social,... read more

The Simpler Way: A Practical Action Plan for Living More on Less

I’m pleased and excited to announce the launch of the latest initiative of the Simplicity Institute – The Simpler Way: A Practical Action Plan for Living More on Less. ____ The Simpler Way, created in collaboration with Ted Trainer, consists of a website and booklet which provide detailed practical advice on how to live a ‘simpler life’ of reduced and restrained consumption. More... read more

The High Price of Materialism

Tim Kasser is a psychologist that has spent many years researching into the effects of materialistic values and practices on human wellbeing. I highly recommend his excellent book, “The High Price of Materialism,” but for those who only have five minutes to spare, many of the key insights of that text are summarised in a new educational video Kasser has made. It’s only five minutes long,... read more

David Holmgren: Retrofitting the Suburbs for Sustainability

Exciting news for all Melbournians: David Holmgren, co-originator of the ‘permaculture’ concept, is giving a free lunchtime talk at Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre on 16 February 2012. His subject is ‘Retrofitting the Suburbs for Sustainability,” and it isn’t to be missed. David’s insight into the various social and ecological challenges of our times is unrivalled, and... read more

Toward a Foucauldian Ethics of Sustainable Consumption

I’ve turned my last post ‘Self-Cultivation and the Art of Voluntary Simplicity’ into an essay, which itself is based on the rather-too-long manuscript I posted a few months ago, called ‘Voluntary Simplicity as an Aesthetics of Existence.’ I hope this much abridged essay might be less daunting, despite the fact that it is framed by Foucault’s ethics. I’ve posted the... read more

Self-Cultivation and the Art of Voluntary Simplicity

Consumption is a proper subject of ethical concern primarily for the following three reasons: (1) the planet’s resources are being consumed at an unsustainable rate, and this is placing in jeopardy the future of life as we know it, with potentially catastrophic consequences; (2) a small percentage of the world’s population live in relative comfort and luxury while great multitudes live in material... read more

Unleashing Transition Coburg: From Oil Dependence to Local Resilience

Greetings all – especially those of you who might live in Coburg (Melbourne), or thereabouts. I’m guessing many of you have heard of Transition Initiatives, but for those who haven’t, the basic idea is this: it doesn’t look as if our governments are going to do anything significant with respect to peak oil or climate change, or the other problems we are facing, so we are... read more

Peak Oil Can Fuel a Change for the Better

I managed to get an article on peak oil published in a mainstream newspaper today (The Age). It’s available here: Peak Oil Can Fuel a Change for the Better. Thanks to all those who came down to the talk in City Square last night. During discussion time, when the audience was throwing ideas and perspectives around, I found myself reflecting on how amazing it was that a large group of people were... read more

Peak Oil, Energy Descent, and the Fate of Consumerism

My new paper ‘Peak Oil, Energy Descent, and the Fate of Consumerism’ can be downloaded here, and it has also been published on the Energy Bulletin. I’ve reposted the abstract below. Abstract: Western-style consumer lifestyles are highly resource and energy intensive. This paper examines the energy intensity of these consumer lifestyles and considers whether such lifestyles could be... read more
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