Depletion vs. innovation the fundamental question of sustainability

Joseph A. Tainter, Deborah Strumsky, Temis G. Taylor, Michelle Arnold, Jose Lobo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


Near the end of World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt asked Vannevar Bush, director of the wartime Office of Scientific Research and Development, to prepare a report on the post-war role of government in promoting science. In his famous report, Bush wrote: “Advances in science will … bring higher standards of living, will lead to the prevention or cure of diseases, will promote conservation of our limited national resources, and will assure means of defence against aggression” (Bush, 1945: 10). This statement, so characteristic of our faith in science, became the basis for the emphasis on innovation that we know today. It is a system that has brought material prosperity in the industrialized countries and high levels of employment. Innovation has fostered the complexity of modern societies. Bush’s statement reflects what is called technological optimism, a faith in technology to solve problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPhysical Limits to Economic Growth
Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives of Economic, Social, and Complexity Science
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781315314952
ISBN (Print)9781138231603
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • General Business, Management and Accounting


Dive into the research topics of 'Depletion vs. innovation the fundamental question of sustainability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this