Capitalism as we know it is over. So suggests a new report commissioned by a group of scientists appointed by the UN Secretary-General. The main reason? We’re transitioning rapidly to a radically different global economy, due to our increasingly unsustainable exploitation of the planet’s environmental resources.
History has witnessed a shift in the dominant organizing structure of the economy from hunter-gatherer to agrarian to industrial. The exploitative tendencies of people, including exploitation of both nature and other people, have expanded with these shifts to the point that humanity now faces a crisis of overexploitation.
Many of the violent conflicts raging today can only be understood if we look at the interplay between climate change, the shrinking of cheap energy supplies, and a dominant economic model that refuses to acknowledge physical limits.
Our contemporary world is host to two coexisting but fundamentally different—and, in at least one crucial respect, contradictory—realities. Political Reality and Physical Reality.
To achieve a sustainable, steady-state economy, we’re going to have to limit matter-and-energy throughput in the economy to what the planet can sustainably give to us and what it can sustainably absorb from us.