12 Nov 2008

Ready for Steady State Economy

A concept that is gathering some momentum after recent events is a 'steady-state economy'.

This concept was introduced by Herman Daly, a US-based academic in ecological economics. His approach to economics is based on the simple fact that the size of the Earth, and the resources it contains, are finite. We only have a limited amount of air, water, land, minerals and other natural resources. Fixed. We can't create any more.

So, pursuing continuous economic growth, that does not take into account the finite nature of these resources, is clearly a strategy that will ultimately fail. Even the most hard-nosed capitalist must understand this logic.

Daly advocates a form of capitalism that does not relentlessly pursue growth. His model is all about switching our focus from quantitative growth to qualitative development. It doesn't mean that our standard of living would regress to living in caves. In fact, quite the opposite - our standard of living would improve, with an improved environment to live in and with more time to enjoy it.

But, whilst the 'masters of the universe' in governments and institutions such as the World Bank debate the latest bail-out, tax cuts or interest rate decisions, what can we as individuals actually do?

Julia Marton-Lefevre, the director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, was asked this question recently and succinctly replied: "Vote. Or better yet, get involved in politics at any level and advocate green economics."

1 comment:

Dan O'Neill said...

The Center for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy (CASSE) has drafted a position statement on economic growth. The goal of this statement is to advance the idea of a steady state economy in policy circles, and help educate people about the conflict between economic growth and environmental protection. I encourage anyone interested in sustainable economics to e-sign the position statement.