As we’ve emphasized at CASSE for two decades, “Sustainability is a steady state economy.” It’s time to add, “GDP is the ecological footprint.”
Indeed, one thing seems indisputable: Unleashing fusion in an unbounded, growth-driven economy would be a wholesale disaster.
Brian Czech once likened modern economic growth to a runaway train. This metaphor drives home the point that to save nature and humanity from an ecological train wreck, the most important thing is to decelerate the global economy.
A new book explains how an economist, in challenging the orthodoxy, has helped activists change the world.
Ideally, in the context of implementing a Green New Deal, the state would work with civil society and business and in partnership with other states to design, plan and activate the systemic transition to steady state sustainability. A culture and mindset that value sufficiency, limits, sharing, justice and care should be encouraged.
Attempts to integrate economics and ecology have been based on one of three strategies: (1) economic imperialism; (2) ecological reductionism; (3) steady-state subsystem.
In a recent speech to the International Monetary Fund economist Larry Summers argued that since near zero interest rates have not stimulated GDP growth sufficiently to reach full employment, we probably need a negative interest rate.
The perceived battle between unlimited wants and limited means forces us to make tough choices about how to manage scarce resources.
Ecological economics of course has roots in ecology and biology as well as in economics. Most of ecological economists’ and steady-state economists’ time has been well-spent correcting economics in the light of biology and ecology. And there is still more to do in this direction. However, we should be careful to avoid importing some deep metaphysical biases frequent in biology, along with its scientific truths.
Ecological economists, top scientists, and even a few financiers have put forth powerful arguments for moving to a steady state economy. Sometimes described as a true-cost economy, a sustainable economy, or a spaceship economy, the steady state offers a positive alternative to the delusion of endless growth.
This book demonstrates that empty-world economic theory has failed on its own terms and that its application by policymakers has resulted in the failure of capitalism itself. Pursuing absolute advantage in cheap labor abroad, First World corporations have wrecked the prospects for First World labor, especially in the US, while concentrating income and wealth in a few hands.
The basic tenet of the steady state economy (or SSE) is an observation that makes complete sense: you can’t have infinite growth in a finite system. Unfortunately, conventional economics – perhaps in an attempt to defy its characterization as the dismal science – says otherwise. Its faith in unending growth portrays it as both possible and desirable.