Georgescu-Roegen, N. (1975). Energy and economic myths. Southern Economic Journal, 347-381.
First, the production of all instruments of war, not only of war itself, should be prohibited
completely. It is utterly absurd (and also hypocritical) to continue growing tobacco if, avowedly, no
one intends to smoke. The nations which are so developed as to be the main producers of
armaments should be able to reach a consensus over this prohibition without any difficulty if, as
they claim, they also possess the wisdom to lead mankind. Discontinuing the production of all
instruments of war will not only do away at least with the mass killings by ingenious weapons but
will also release some tremendous productive forces for international aid without lowering the
standard of living in the corresponding countries.
Second, through the use of these productive forces as well as by additional well-planned and
sincerely intended measures, the underdeveloped nations must be aided to arrive as quickly as
possible at a good (not luxurious) life. Both ends of the spectrum must effectively participate in
the efforts required by this transformation and accept the necessity of a radical change in their
polarized outlooks on life.
Third, mankind should gradually lower its population to a level that could be adequately fed only
by organic agriculture. Naturally, the nations now experiencing a very high demographic growth
will have to strive hard for the most rapid possible results in that direction.
Fourth, until either the direct use of solar energy becomes a general convenience or controlled
fusion is achieved, all waste of energy-by overheating, overcooling, overspeeding, overlighting,
etc.-should be carefully avoided, and if necessary, strictly regulated.
Fifth, we must cure ourselves of the morbid craving for extravagant gadgetry, splendidly illustrated
by such a contradictory item as the golf cart, and for such mammoth splendors as two-garage cars.
Once we do so, manufacturers will have to stop manufacturing such “commodities.”
Sixth, we must also get rid of fashion, of “that disease of the human mind,” as Abbot Fernando
Galliani characterized it in his celebrated Della moneta (1750). It is indeed a disease of the mind to
throw away a coat or a piece of furniture while it can still per form its specific service. To get a
“new” car every year and to refashion the house every other is a bioeconomic crime. Other writers
have already proposed that goods be manufactured in such a way as to be more durable [e.g. 43,
146]. But it is even more important that consumers should reeducate themselves to despise
fashion. Manufacturers will then have to focus on durability.
Seventh, and closely related to the preceding point, is the necessity that durable goods be made
still more durable by being designed so as to be repairable. (To put it in a plastic analogy, in many
cases nowadays, we have to throw away a pair of shoes merely because one lace has broken.)
Eighth, in a compelling harmony with all the above thoughts we should cure ourselves of what I
have been calling “the circumdrome of the shaving machine” , which is to shave oneself faster so
as to have more time to work on a machine that shaves faster so as to have more time to work on
a machine that shaves still faster, and so on ad infinitum. This change will call for a great deal of
recanting on the part of all those professions which have lured man into this empty infinite
regress. We must come to realize that an important prerequisite for a good life is a substantial
amount of leisure spent in an intelligent manner.
Considered on paper, in the abstract, the foregoing recommendations would on the whole seem
reasonable to anyone willing to examine the logic on which they rest. But one thought has
persisted in my mind ever since I became interested in the entropic nature of the economic
process. Will mankind listen to any program that implies a constriction of its addiction to
exosomatic comfort? Perhaps, the destiny of man is to have a short, but fiery, exciting and
extravagant life rather than a long, uneventful and vegetative existence. Let other species-the
amoebas, for example-which have no spiritual ambitions inherit an earth still bathed in plenty of