Energy, Credit, and the End of Growth (Chapter 2)


Could expensive energy spell the end of economic growth and undermine our welfare?

The prosperous economies and the culture of growth that industrialized nations take for normal, and that most other nations aspire to, rest on cheap (mainly fossil) energy. But we already have tapped the easy energy stores, so the push for continued growth is taking increasing amounts of energy and investment money, leaving less for every other activity.

Moreover, energy prices are walking a tightrope: energy must be costly enough to be profitable for producers, yet cheap enough to be affordable to consumers. Higher energy prices are needed to support ongoing fossil energy development, but higher prices also mean economic malaise and rising debt. Only a fundamental rethinking of the purpose of economies—away from perpetual growth—can address the conundrum of increasingly expensive energy.


We urgently need institutions and populations to begin to prepare, physically and psychologically, for a world with the same or less each year instead of more—a mindset that is not in our collective psyches or even imaginations.”

Nathan John Hagens in Energy, Credit, and the End of Growth

Nathan John Hagens presents his chapter at the State of the World book launch in Washington, D.C.

About Confronting Hidden 

Threats to Sustainability

We think we understand environmental damage: pollution, water scarcity, a warming world. But these problems are just the tip of the iceberg. Deeper issues include food insecurity, financial assets drained of value by environmental damage, and a rapid rise in diseases of animal origin. These and other problems are among the underreported consequences of an unsustainable global system.
In State of the World 2015, the flagship publication of the Worldwatch Institute, experts explore hidden threats to sustainability and how to address them. Eight key issues are addressed in depth, along with the central question of how we can develop resilience to these and other shocks. With the latest edition of State of the World, the authorities at Worldwatch bring to light challenges we can no longer afford to ignore.



Download information about this chapter!



More Information    

Explore Other Chapters

Press Releases & Tip Sheet


Author Bios