Herman Daly is a co-nominee for this Peace Prize due to his revelation that the current economic system is leading to ecological collapse, most strongly being experienced at present in the form of accelerating climate change, and the proposal of principles for constituting an economic system to correct the flawed assumptions and excesses of the current system, as well as the generation of an entire ‘school’ of teacher and practitioners of this alternative, known as ecological economics. The persistence of the present flawed economic system will lead to human suffering of immense proportions, including political chaos, national and international competition and warfare over dwindling resources, arable land, as well as food and energy supplies. Without the adoption of the economically sustainable principles of ecological economics, humanity faces a grim future in the 21st century.
Daly is emeritus professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. He was Senior Economist in the Environment Department of the World Bank, where he helped to develop policy guidelines related to sustainable development.
“During his six-year tenure, Daly, the economist-turned-ecovisionary whose works established ecological economics as a discipline, succeeded in getting the World Bank to take notice of the environment in its policies and programs. But he made little headway persuading his colleagues to adopt his more radical views on economic cosmology, which, in his vision, placed the economy squarely inside the global ecosystem, instead of the other way around.” – Lissa Harris, Grist.org April 10, 2003
It was Daly’s realization that the present economic regime of civilization is deeply flawed in a manner that, it is now apparent, is destroying the fabric of the ecology of Earth presenting an existential thread to all of humanity and life on Earth. The present system, actually called NeoClassical economics, or ‘growth economics’, places economic growth as the highest good, the very destiny of humanity. It regards the natural world as a limitless larder of resources for economic exploitation and limitless ‘waste sinks’ into which we can dump and disperse the wastes of a consumption driven system. The current system is underpinned by the ignorance and denial of planetary limits. (See NeoClassical economics, Criticisms.) This was a poor assumption when there were only a billion of us, before the fossil fuel era. It has become a fatal assumption now that there are well over 7 billion of us, with a powerful technology that is devouring the resource base of the planet overrunning its natural waste sinks, atmospheric, ocean and terrestrial, at an unsustainable pace. See the Planetary Boundaries of the Stockholm Resilience Center.
Herman Daly was both a co-founder of the International Society for Ecological Economics, as well as co-founder and associate editor of the journal, Ecological Economics. Daly’s work is among the most frequently cited sources in all of the scholarly literature about sustainable development, as evidenced by the October, 2011 publication of References, authors, journals and scientific disciplines underlying the sustainable development literature.
Daly is a recipient of an Honorary Right Livelihood Award, the Heineken Prize for Environmental Science from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the 1992 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, the Sophie Prize (Norway), the Leontief Prize from the Global Development and Environment Institute and was chosen as Man of the Year 2008 by Adbusters magazine. In 2014 he was the recipient of the Blue Planet Award (Japan) stated as follows:
“For his achievement in building the foundation of ecological economics is tremendous, as he built in elements, namely, the environment, regional communities, quality of life, into economics and incorporated the principle of sustainability into steady state economics. Specifically he had a major impact on the world by identifying indicators that are essential for a sustainable human society that are well known as Herman Daly’s Three Rules:
- Sustainable use of renewable resources means that the pace should not be faster than the rate at which they regenerate.
- Sustainable use of non-renewable resources means that the pace should not be faster than the rate at which their renewable substitutes can be put in place.
- Sustainable rate of emission for pollution and and wastes means that it should not be faster than the pace at which natural systems can absorb them, recycle them, or render them harmless.
He also questioned whether economic growth is connected with the well-being of mankind, and presented the concept of the Herman Daly Pyramid, which sounded an alarm to the world that tends to overemphasize economic growth… He also impacted a vast number of people through his activities within the International Society for Ecological Economics, the World Bank, universities and other venues…”
In 1989 Daly and John B. Cobb developed the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW), which they proposed as a practical and more valid measure of socio-economic progress than gross domestic product (GDP). Since then many similar indices have been developed and offered that do not hold monetary value as the sole measure of success in societies, as does GDP valuation, something that its originator, Simon Kuznets (1939), indicated that it was never intended to be. Daly is widely credited with having originated the concept of uneconomic growth.