Green Economics: Turning Mainstream Thinking on Its Head by Thomas Prugh
Ideas about how the world works that don’t accord with reality can be unhelpful. That’s especially true about mainstream economics, which is based in part on ideas that made a lot of sense at some point in the last 250 years but that have outlived their time and usefulness. These ideas–such as the reliance on GDP as the key index of general wellbeing–still dominate assumptions and thinking about economic matters in the media, governments, businesses, and popular consciousness.
But in recent decades, economics theoreticians and researchers have suggested a variety of reforms that would make economics truer, greener, and more sustainable:
- Scale. How big is the global economy relative to the global ecosystem?
- Stress development over growth. That is, make the economy better at satisfying human needs, not simply bigger.
- Make prices tell the ecological truth. For instance, climate change is arguably the result of failing to charge for dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
- Account for nature’s services. Pollination performed by honeybees, air and water purification, soil generation, pest control, seed dispersal, and nutrient recycling, are among the many other services that nature provides.
- The precautionary principle. Ordinary risk analysis asks, “How much environmental damage will be allowed?” But the precautionary principle asks, “How little damage is possible?”
- Commons management. People generally believe that there are only two workable regimes for managing resources: private property or government control. But commons management regimes are a third way, one that taps the strong human impulse toward cooperation and the common good.
- Value women. Economic systems ought to be gender-blind but they’re not.
(Photo by opaqueEpiphany)