5 Green economy

Pursuing endless waste-producing economic growth and preserving a habitable planet is not possible. Mindless exponential growth will mean endless recessions of increasing gravity when ecological limits are passed.

Traditional political parties base their thinking on the illusion that the Earth’s resources are without limits, and that it is possible to continue eternal, exponential growth in economy, material consumption and ecological debts. Alas, the Earth is a planet; a closed system, and we are quickly approaching the limits, or have in some cases already passed them.

Some hundred years ago some people believed the Earth was flat. Today, many people have transformed the “Earth-is-flat-thinking”  to “the-Earth-is-endless-thinking”. We even hear from some of these people that it would be a sin not to consume all natural resources right away, since they are “gifts from God”.

At times the ecological price is too high. Svetca factories, Mitrovica, Kosovo. Photo: Å. Bjørke

However, the Earth is limited, and so are its resources. Endless, consumption-driven, waste-producing, exponential material economic growth simply cannot provide sustainable and equitable lives for seven billion, not to speak about the nine billion people we are estimated to be 35 years from now.

The current liberalized monetary economy underperforms for the majority of the world’s human population, and it creates more problems than it solves.

Household garbage being composted. CDM project in Western Uganda.Photo: Å. Bjørke

Our environment is being depleted, there is an increasingly violent international competition for energy and other sources, the world’s wealth is increasingly unequally distributed and concentrated on the 0.1-percent multibillionaire group, while many become increasingly indebted and most people feel insecure for the future (Wolf, 2012). Too many of the world’s leaders and their friends; the billionaires, are shamelessly corrupt, stealing ordinary people’s money and hiding it in tax-havens. If they wanted to, the world’s leaders could easily fight corruption by demanding the end of tax-havens . Why don’t they?

The top 1% of wealth holders now own half of all household wealth.

Our consumer society is based on building up a tremendous and unmanageble ecological debt. When debts become unmanagable, what happens to the economy? Is increasingly frequent crises a symptom?  The Chinese economy is often portrayed as a miracle. However, some analysts predict a coming ecological collapse, with grave consequences for the Chinese economy – and with implications for the rest of the world. The markets are volatile and unpredictable. We seem to go from one crisis to the next. At times it seems like reckless speculators rule the world’s major economies.

If a system does not perform, we should not ask for more of it. We should replace it with something that works better. We need economics for a sustainable future.  The International community through the UN tries to sketch a new path towards more sustainability in the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs).

A transition to green economy requires new ways of thinking about economy, new strategies, more tedious planning and new attitudes.

Online lecture: Climate, resource, and ecological crisis require a trasformation to a green economy

Produced by Yannick Schillinger

Animation about Economic Growth and Green Economy

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Chapter 4  4. Ecosystems
Chapter 5 5. Green economy
5.1 Green economy games
5.2 Throughput
5.3 The eco economy
5.4 Towards a green economy
Chapter 6 6. Greener future?