Nobel Prizes This Year Reflect A Turn Toward A Steady State Economy – Elinor Ostrom is a perfect example

While there was huge howling on both the right and the left about Barack Obama winning the Nobel Prize, I think it was mainly because they don’t understand that we are shifting from a “growth” paradigm to a “sustainable” paradigm and the Nobel people were publicly recognizing that fact. I think if they all knew what that meant, they would be howling even louder. What Barack and company have understood is that standard politics is about to become irrelevant. That is that the Growth method of economics is about to become obsolete and with it a whole way of life.

The sustainable economics of Elinor Ostrom

2009-10-14 17:56

It was not by chance that Elinor Ostrom was awarded this year’s Nobel prize in economics.

Global warming, along with the preservation of the quality of our environment, has become the most pressing issue facing the human race.

The presentation of this year’s Nobel prize in economics to Elinor Ostrom and Oliver E. Williamson–in particular Ostrom’s dedicated researches in the inter-relationship between mankind and our ecological system, thus ensuring the sustainability of our water, forest, fishery and other shared resources–should serve as a loud and clear alarm to mankind, who have now come face to face with ecological disasters of unprecedented proportions.

Environmental initiatives continue to thrive in all corners of the Earth. Although many people are well equipped with the knowledge of protecting our environment, few will actually turn that knowledge into practical actions, resulting in the piling up of trash, severe river contamination, illegal logging as well as ill-planned and uncurbed developments. The quality of our environment has deteriorated further, culminating in a broad array of hygiene issues and illnesses.

Elinor Ostrom spent her teenage years in the depth of the Great Depression and the subsequent second world war, when resources were scarce and potable water a rarity. She grew vegetables in her own yard, and made her harvest into canned food. This opened up her eyes to the realisation of the necessity to work with other people for the common interests of all when resources were in short supply. Such a realisation had laid a solid foundation for her future scientific research works.

Judging from this perspective, it therefore came as no coincidence that she was given the Nobel.

It is an undeniable fact that environmental degradation has resulted in global warming. Even in Malaysia, the average atmospheric temperatures have risen over the past three decades.


Summarizing her findings about the “tragedy of the commons”:

1. We must value the strategy of a more balanced overall development: In the past, due to the lack of overall development concept and plans, our developments have been concentrated in large cities while the well-being of rural residents was overlooked.

For instance, we moved polluting factories from cities to outlying areas and adjacent rural communities. We should have instead formulated a set of preventive guidelines to curb environmental degradation. The success of environment protection depends very much on the monetary expenses as well as manpower, financial and equipment inputs; and priorities and timetables should therefore be set.

2. An environment evaluation system must be put in place. Works on all new major construction projects, manufacturing plants and public gathering places, should begin only after environmental impact assessments have been carried out.

3. Promote a sense of responsibility in nurturing the necessary expertise. Future entrepreneurs must come to the full realisation that the prevention of environmental degradation is a responsibility which they are obliged to, and the money invested in the equipment for the prevention of environmental degradation should be seen as part of the essential operating cost in their production and service delivery. At the same time, they should also establish research bodies aimed at grooming expertise to fight pollution.

Not believing in the “tragedy of the commons,” Ostrom has put her entire lifetime’s effort in the researches on outlying and underdeveloped communities, living over a very long period of time with their impoverished residents.


The 2 types of economies are on a crash course:

The Clash Over Clean Power

Utility chiefs are juggling the conflicting goals of green energy and low rates—and self-interest reigns


What makes the task even more difficult is a fundamental clash between the two goals that Rowe, Rogers, and other CEOs say they are passionate about: keeping power prices low to benefit customers and averting the potential catastrophe of climate change. The effort to curb emissions, after all, will significantly raise the price of coal-fired and other fossil-fuel-generated electricity and make alternatives more competitive.


Some countries are already there:

The future of energy happening now in Germany

Friday, 16 October 2009 08:01

Germans are leading the way in the clean energy revolution.  From huge smart grid projects and massive wind and solar farms to smaller micro-generation projects at the home to new appliances Germany is taking energy efficiency very seriously.

Germany passed legislation more than 20 years ago that required utility companies to pay homeowners who generated renewable power.  Since 1990, carbon emissions there have been reduced by 23 percent as a result of forward-thinking policies and by embracing innovative technologies.

The country is now conducting tests that will determine if homes can produce all of their energy needs and sell excess back to the power grid.  Operating under the label E-Energy, the project will include tens of thousands of homes in six separate regions.  The €140 million project has attracted many of the world’s largest energy and technology firms who have agreed to help pay for the effort.  Germany believes that a similar nationwide program could conserve 10 terawatts of energy annually – an amount equal to the yearly consumption of 2.5 million homes.

The Germans are also working on offshore wind farms and massive solar power installations to be built in Africa.  Several energy companies are working on the solar project that will eventually feed clean energy into Europe’s power grid.  Schemes such as these can eventually provide up to a third of the country’s requirements, according to estimates.


The point being, that the Nobel Committee picked people that reflect that…the “Growthers” just don’t get it and never will:

Nobel Prize Winners For 2009

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2009

Elizabeth H. Blackburn

Carol W. Greider

Jack W. Szostak

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2009

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

Thomas A. Steitz

Ada E. Yonath

The Nobel Peace Prize 2009

Barack Obama

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2009

Charles K. Kao

Willard S. Boyle

George E. Smith

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2009

Herta Müller

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2009

Elinor Ostrom

Oliver E. Williamson


I did not say it up front but Elinor is the first woman to get the Nobel Prize for Economics -Yaaaaaa


2 thoughts on “Nobel Prizes This Year Reflect A Turn Toward A Steady State Economy – Elinor Ostrom is a perfect example

  1. Pingback: Nobel Awarded for Harnessing Light | Shakeel Tariq's Blog

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