of paradigms and kings: sustainability requires new economics

paradigm change

The consumer was king in the old economic paradigm, which some called the "science of markets". "Keep 'em spending and all will be well!"…and all that.

Except, it turns out, there'll be no king come catastrophic climate change. Which is where BAU will take us.

Which means we're gonna need a new kind of economy. One that doesn't collapse if we stop growing.

“Sadly”, says Richard Heinberg, “neither free marketers nor state controllers have the answer. Humanity has reached physical limits to growth that spell ruin to all economic philosophies that fail to take such limits into account” (via ecologist).

Of course, I'm thrilled to hear Heinberg's endorsement of "ecological economics", having toiled in this new field for lo these many years. (...Especially including the 'ecol-econ' listserve from the mid-90s...)

Still, as Heinberg notes, ecol-econ remains "marginalized" in the "titanic battle over who can restore the beatific condition of perpetual growth."

Most old-school economists are now rushing to announce a that "only massive government intervention can put us back on track."

"Sadly, this time the tracks are gone", says Heinberg.

"How long will it take the theoreticians to figure this out?

How much of our remaining wealth will they destroy in a futile attempt to prove their paradigms eternally true?

How far will society unravel before someone in charge begins to question the received wisdom?

Best hopes for quick learning."

Wot he said.

Published by Ken on February 5th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Systems Thinking

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