To paraphrase E.F. Schumacher we need a new economics ‘as if people and planet mattered’.
Economics and the way the economy is perceived generally has become decoupled from its purpose which is to provide well-being to all people. The economy has become increasingly complex and abstract. It is also environmentally unsustainable.
Many people say that the economy must grow. This is not a fact. It is only said by the people who benefit the most from a growing economy – the rich and the want-to-be rich. In a report from January 2018, Oxfam estimated that 82% of all wealth created in the previous year went to the top 1% of wealthiest people, and nothing went to the bottom 50%. Continual economic growth, as we have had for the past 300 years, is unsustainable. The planet cannot sustainably supply the resources that humanity is using and in fact, we are using up natural capital to make up the difference. If this continues it will lead to the bankrupting of nature.
The ideal economy is one which provides for the greatest amount of general well-being for the least amount of resource use and environmental harm.
There are a number of fundamental strategies for developing sustainable economies including:
A steady-state economy is a no-growth economy. It is like a mature forest where there is a constant cycle of birth, growth, death and decay but there is no growth in the overall ecosystem. Whilst a steady-state economy means no growth in the size of the economy there would still be growth in the quality of economy. This would include a much better redistribution of wealth and sustainable, long-term well-being for all. Read more about Steady-state Economy»
A circular economy is one that acts like nature in the sense that it produces no waste because everything is recycled. Also, there is no systematic increase in toxic or hazardous chemicals. Read more about Circular Economy»
Whilst globalisation of trade may have financial advantages it also has a multitude of disadvantages. Besides, as the cost of fuel and transport increases global trade will have less financial advantage.
Economies that are largely confined to local areas are more self-sufficient. This is especially true for fundamental material needs like food, clothes, shelter and energy. This means local communities will also be more resilient and egalitarian.
Localised economic policy would support small-scale, intensive agriculture, craft industries and small-scale, local manufacturing using local resources. Read more about Localised Economy»
A solar economy is one based on only current energy input from the sun (as opposed to ancient energy input i.e. fossil fuels). The sun provides the energy to grow food and biomass. It provides energy for solar power generation. It also energises climate and weather systems and in that sense, it indirectly provides hydro and wind-generation. Read more about Solar Economy»