insights.som.yale.edu What is ecological economics? “Robert Costanza is one of the founders of a trans-disciplinary effort to understand how economics is embedded in the broader ecosystem that supports all human activity. From this perspective, he sees both limits for economic growth and opportunities to improve long-term human well- being.” …
cusp.ac.uk/ 2020 The Transition to a Sustainable Prosperity—A Stock-Flow-Consistent Ecological Macroeconomic Model for Canada – by Tim Jackson and Peter Victor
“Summary: This paper presents a stock-flow consistent (SFC) macroeconomic simulation model for Canada. We use the model to generate three very different stories about the future of the Canadian economy, covering the half century from 2017 to 2067: a Base Case Scenario in which current trends and relationships are projected into the future, a Carbon Reduction Scenario in which measures are introduced specifically designed to reduce Canada’s carbon emissions, and a Sustainable Prosperity Scenario which incorporates additional measures to improve environmental, social and financial conditions across society. The performance of the economy is tracked using two composite indicators constructed especially for this study: an environmental burden index (EBI) which describes the environmental performance of the model; and a composite sustainable prosperity index (SPI) which is based on a weighted average of seven economic, social and environmental performance indicators. Contrary to the widely accepted view, the results suggest that ‘green growth’ (in the Carbon Reduction Scenario) may be slower than ‘brown growth’. More importantly, we show (in the Sustainable Prosperity Scenario) that improved environmental and social outcomes are possible even as the growth rate declines to zero.
1. Introduction : The defining feature of ecological economics is its rigorous attention to the question of ecological scale (Daly and Morgan, 2019). For this reason, perhaps, it has often found itself at worst ignored and at best in outright conflict with conventional economic narratives framed around the assumption of ‘eternal’ economic growth (Liebreich, 2018)…”…
“If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster.” Thus reads one of the Hopi prophecies which echo throughout Philip Glass’s haunting soundtrack for Koyaanisqatsi (1982). As those familiar with Godfrey Reggio’s cult film know, the title itself refers to “a state of life that calls for another way of living,” a sharply polemical framing of what otherwise appears, at first, to be a detached, objective representation of humanity’s technological encroachment upon nature. What Koyaanisqatsi pioneered still makes for exciting (and unsettling) cinema. Its cinematography, editing, tempo shifts, and music are all marshalled to the end of replicating in art how technology, as a totality of forms and methods, has drawn everything into its domination. (Here is Reggio speaking of this totalizing “environment of technology” as something more or less akin to ideology—the invisible background of existence which “is unseen and goes unquestioned.”)…
Koyaanisqatsi’s concerns, read in this way, overlap to a degree with the critical sociological project of John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York—especially in their substantive compilation, The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth (2010). …
Another important component of FCY’s argument is a thoroughgoing critique of an ecological modernization approach …
And so, to refocus dialectical ecology: in between Darwin and the “New Atheists” like Richard Dawkins, who reductionistically posit the gene, rather than the environment, as a determinative element, FCY bring in evolutionary scientists like Richard Lewontin and Stephen Jay Gould to highlight the dual, interactive evolutionary interplay between the environment and the genetic. As Lewontin argued: “Evolution is not an unfolding but an historically contingent wandering pathway through the space of possibilities.”
For these scientists, the “organism is both subject and an object in the physical world,” a scientific principle which draws from and extends Marx’s dialectical materialism to evolution itself:
theconversation.com 7/2021 Five shifts to decolonise ecological science – or any field of knowledge
…. In a recent paper we explore what is needed to change knowledge production in ecology, but our arguments also have further reach. We reflected on ecology as a subject of scientific inquiry and on the research process, and argue that it needs to change. … we used the graphic reproduced below to show an example of how the growth of western scientific knowledge is rooted in colonialism. This example is about naming birds…
thegreatsimplification.com 7-2022 Josh Farley: “Money, Money, Money” podcast interview with the ecological economist Josh Farley
scencedirect 2007 Environmental economics and ecological economics: Where they can converge? by L.Venkatachalam
Environmental economics and ecological economics share the common objective of understanding the human–economy–environment interaction in order to redirect the economies towards sustainability. In pursuing this objective, these two perspectives utilise different types of analytical framework and are opposed to each other on many of the fundamental theoretical and methodological issues. While the environmental economics has progressed within a narrowly, but sharply, focused neoclassical analytical approach, the ecological economics has expanded by adopting a ‘diversified approach’, which led to widen the gap between the two. This article makes an attempt to highlight the divergence between these two perspectives on different issues and identifies certain research avenues that would potentially bring convergence between these two perspectives.
barnabythinks.com/ 2017 ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMICS Vs ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS This article investigates environmental economics and ecological economics. Debates between these two branches of economics lay at the heart of the sustainability equation.
isecoeco.org/ 2020 Rethinking Ecological Economics: A Mayan perspective Manuel May Castillo, Albert Chan Dzul, David Barkin
“… this meeting also left us with the impression that a Eurocentric perspective still predominates in the reflections on livelihoods, and that in the discussions on the economy, mercantilist and monetary currents of thought predominate. Paradoxically, in its beginnings, the word economy (from the Greek Oikos; “household,” “home,” or “place to live” and nomia, management or nomos, law) had a close semantic connection with the environment, the household, and even with ecology (Oikos and logos). Furthermore, we could see that an anthropocentric positioning still dominates, even for the development of (economic) degrowth strategies. Many of these strategies are adaptations of others that, under concepts such as green economy, circular economy, climate-smart agriculture, among others, more than questioning the current economic system, perpetuate it. In any case, the results are the same: dispossession and environmental degradation.”…
nature.com/ 12/5/2021 Nature-based solutions can help cool the planet – if we act now – Analysis suggests that to limit global temperature rise, we must slash emissions and invest now to protect, manage and restore ecosystems and land for the future. – by Cécile A. J. Girardin , Stuart Jenkins , Nathalie Seddon , Myles Allen , Simon L. Lewis , Charlotte E. Wheeler , Bronson W. Griscom , Yadvinder Malhi
theconversation.com 2019 What is ‘ecological economics’ and why do we need to talk about it? by Anitra Nelson and Brian Coffey – This article is part of a series on rebalancing the human–nature interactions that are central to the study and practice of ecological economics, which is the focus of the 2019 ANZSEE Conference in Melbourne later this month.
As environmental crises and the urgency to create ecological sustainability escalate, so does the importance of ecological economics. This applied, solutions-based field of studies is concerned with sustainability and development, rather than efficiency and growth. Also, given that cities account for 70-80% of global economic activity and associated resource use, emissions and waste, they are central to finding solutions to the challenge of sustainability.
Ecological economics recognises local to global environmental limits. It ranges from research for short-term policy and local challenges through to long-term visions of sustainable societies. Ecological economists also consider global issues such as carbon emissions, deforestation, overfishing and species extinctions.
inomics.com/blog 2019 The Case for Ecological Economics By James Matthew Alston
springer.come 2020 The Socio-economic Context that Ecological Aesthetics Produces by Fanren Zeng
journals.sagepub.com 2017 Ethics in the Anthropocene: A research agenda – Jeremy J Schmidt firstname.lastname@example.org, Peter G Brown, and Christopher J OrrView all authors and affiliations
Abstract – The quantitative evidence of human impacts on the Earth System has produced new calls for planetary stewardship. At the same time, numerous scholars reject modern social sciences by claiming that the Anthropocene fundamentally changes the human condition. However, we cannot simply dismiss all previous forms of cultural learning or transmission. Instead, this paper examines ethics in the Anthropocene, and specifically what it implies for: (1) reassessing our normative systems in view of human impacts on the Earth System; (2) identifying novel ethical problems in the Anthropocene; and (3) repositioning traditional issues concerning fairness and environmental ethics. It concludes by situating ethics within the challenge of connecting multiple social worlds to a shared view of human and Earth histories and calls for renewed engagement with ethics.
cup.columbia.press 2015 Ecological Economics for the Anthropocene – An Emerging Paradigm – Edited by Peter G. Brown and Peter Timmerman
Ecological Economics for the Anthropocene provides an urgently needed alternative to the long-dominant neoclassical economic paradigm of the free market, which has focused myopically—even fatally—on the boundless production and consumption of goods and services without heed to environmental consequences. The emerging paradigm for ecological economics championed in this new book recenters the field of economics on the fact of the Earth’s limitations, requiring a total reconfiguration of the goals of the economy, how we understand the fundamentals of human prosperity, and, ultimately, how we assess humanity’s place in the community of beings.
Each essay in this volume contributes to an emerging, revolutionary agenda based on the tenets of ecological economics and advances new conceptions of justice, liberty, and the meaning of an ethical life in the era of the Anthropocene. Essays highlight the need to create alternative signals to balance one-dimensional market-price measurements in judging the relationships between the economy and the Earth’s life-support systems. In a lively exchange, the authors question whether such ideas as “ecosystem health” and the environmental data that support them are robust enough to inform policy. Essays explain what a taking-it-slow or no-growth approach to economics looks like and explore how to generate the cultural and political will to implement this agenda. This collection represents one of the most sophisticated and realistic strategies for neutralizing the threat of our current economic order, envisioning an Earth-embedded society committed to the commonwealth of life and the security and true prosperity of human society.
FOREWORD – The Unfinished Journey of Ecological Economics – by JON D. ERICKSON
Ecological economics began with a rather audacious promise to change the world. It was a promise to ground the study and application of economics within the biophysical realities of a finite world and the moral obligations of a just society; a charge to search for truth across disciplines and begin to erase artificial boundaries between C. P. Snow’s “two cultures” of the sciences and humanities; and an agenda for political action emanating from the United Nation’s Earth Summit in 1992 that billed ecological economics as the science of sustainable development.
Ecological economics was initially framed as the study of the economy grounded in the principles of ecology—what Herman Daly called for in his 1968 essay “On Economics as a Life Science.” Today, I would argue, in practice and in perception, ecological economics has largely become the application of mainstream economics (economics as an orthodox social science) to the existing agenda of ecologists and environmentalists, thus in practice facilitating a growth agenda. Much of what gets published in our journal, presented at our conferences, and picked up by the press is what we called in graduate school “environmental economics”—a subdiscipline of economics applied to environmental problems. This book is first and foremost about re-embedding the study of the economy within the hard-won physical principles of natural science and through a discourse built more on ethical argument than mathematical formalism.
I fear that many who practice ecological economics have taken the road most traveled: to double-down on market efficiency as the primary goal of the economy through an exercise of “getting the prices right.”
The biological underpinnings of our decisions are as much a constraint to sustainability as the energy and ecological limits to growth. Much progress has been made on illuminating the proximate causes of economic choice through the neurosciences, addressing questions about how we make decisions. More work remains to be done on ultimate cause: questions about why we make the decisions we do.
INTRODUCTION – The Unfinished Journey of Ecological Economics – by PETER G. BROWN AND PETER TIMMERMAN
1 THE UNFINISHED JOURNEY
A specter is haunting the Earth—the living ghost of an economic theory that, no matter how much it is assaulted or how much damage it causes, refuses to die.
Apart from any other issues that these elements of economics may involve, they help protect it from proof or refutation. If the facts or dynamics of the actual system in operation are different, then either the facts are not yet captured by the ideal model or the human beings are being perverse or irrational, not living up to their designated role as rational agents. Among the attempts to bring down this toxic mix of quasi-science and social psychology, ecological economics is perhaps the best equipped. In its short history, the main strength of ecological economics has been its focus on the shortcomings of the quasi-scientific model upon which standard economics has been based.
The fundamental, original premise of ecological economics is to insist on seeing the human economy as embedded in and part of Earth’s biogeochemical systems. Energy, matter, entropy, and evolution, among others, have been neglected by standard economics.
As mentioned, standard economics, in spite of its pretensions to being value neutral, in fact contains a wealth (or illth) of ethical assumptions and implications drawn from its eighteenth- and nineteenth-century underpinnings in emergent Western individualistic capitalism. Ecological economics has operated with many of the same assumptions as the model from which it is trying to get away. This volume is an attempt to revisit, reconfigure, and challenge some of these assumptions. We begin with the working assumptions already in place in ecological economics concerning a more necessary and appropriate understanding of the relationships between economics and the earth’s biogeochemical processes. We use this as a beachhead in the unfolding battle for the heart and soul of Earth. Our particular point of entry is in developing the ethical, social, and normative foundations of ecological economics, which so far consist mainly of borrowings from the neoclassical dustbin.
In our view, ecological economics poses a simple but very broad question: what would economics entail if it rested on a worldview based on current science? Ecological economists have an existing agenda that requires making important adjustments to the frameworks of macroeconomics and public finance. These changes can be made while leaving the bulk of the frameworks of economics, in particular, and contemporary culture, in general, intact. This we call the explicit agenda.
fundamental, offering a clarion call for a thorough rethinking of the human relationship with life and the world. This is accomplished simply by asking the same questions of many other disciplines that make up the edifice of contemporary thought in addition to economics. These disciplines or frameworks include law, governance, finance, ethics, and religion; like economics, each offers norms of conduct—they tell us what we should do. As we will see, we are in a situation of “all fall down,” as in the nursery rhyme. Like a row of dominos, once one of these structures falls, so do the others. This we call the implicit agenda.
One could describe the explicit objectives of ecological economics as being concerned with three issues: scale, distribution, and efficiency. … Concerns with scale were important precursors in classical economics in the work of Thomas Malthus, and distribution is important in the works of David Ricardo and Karl Marx.
One of the forms this takes is the movement to assign monetary values to ecosystem services. This is, in a way, a turn back toward the neoclassical idea of internalizing externalities. It is thought by many, including these authors, to constitute a regrettable retreat to the subset of neoclassical economics known as environmental economics.
As Robert Nadeau (2006) has convincingly argued, neoclassical economics is intrinsically incapable of addressing the crises it has created; it urges acceleration toward the precipice. Seeing this, the founders of ecological economics have issued a clarion call: abandon the fantasies of the neoclassical vision and live in the world as it is currently understood. To be consistent and visionary, we must take advantage of the insights of the current scientific revolution. This is apparent not only for economics but also for other disciplines founded on dated and unrevised metaphysical and prescientific visions. They may be thought of as orphans whose intellectual parents have perished while they live on. Here is a preview of the sweep of the revolution: current conceptions of property, which assume boundaries and severability, underlie the law in many countries. Yet contemporary science emphasizes the interpenetrating character of Earth’s natural systems. The evolutionary worldview dethrones humanity and undercuts the presumption that human ownership is morally justified as a gift from God (Brown 2004; Cullinan 2011). “Ownership” is, at best, a diminished concept. Western liberal political systems rest on the idea that human actions can be independent of one another—an idea sharply at variance with the law of the conservation of matter and energy, which emphasizes that there are no actions that affect only the actor.
leading finance textbooks do not contain a single word about the relationships between money and the fate of these forests and their peoples or of the imbalances in the carbon, nitrogen, and hydrological cycles, which are massively perturbed by money (Bodie and Merton 1998). Mammon appears to have escaped this world. Our ethics are the residue of the crumbled foundations of metaphysics past.
Scientific understanding has advanced markedly in the twentieth century. It provides a broad evolutionary narrative that Thomas Berry coined as the “New Story” (1999). From this vantage point, a sweeping agenda emerges for informing and shaping the human prospect as we recognize that we have entered the Anthropocene. The narratives from which we currently take our bearings are simply not true to our circumstances. The idea of freeing ourselves from nature, myth, and “the primitive” runs strong and deep in Western culture. … The Greek tradition that forms the other main root of the Western tradition is a culture that, even before the time of Plato (424–348 bce), had wasted much of its own ecological base. … the Western tradition (in its main manifestation) now struggles with difficulty to formulate an ethic of respect and relationship with the nonhuman world.
…it turns out that the move to an ecological economics framework is fundamentally about justice and that accepting this implication will transform our relationship with life and the world. The project upon which this volume is based thus seeks to extend and enrich ecological economics in four main directions.
3. THE PIVOTAL SIGNIFICANCE OF ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS
“In for a penny, in for a pound” describes the situation of ecological economics. Once you insist that economics must be grounded in thermodynamics, you have ushered into the conversation the whole of contemporary science.
What this volume aims to do is to use this perspective to illuminate the ethical dimensions of ecological economics and to trace their implications for its theory and practice.
It will turn out that the move to an ecological economics framework is fundamentally about justice and that accepting this implication will transform our relationship with life and the world. The project upon which this volume is based thus seeks to extendextend and enrich ecological economics in four main directions.
First, it proposes an analysis of what the most appropriate ethics or ethical systems might be for ecological economics in general, given our deteriorating situation with regard to the physical systems within which we are deeply embedded and upon which we are fully dependent, as well as the new understanding of nature and natural processes characteristic of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries…
By “ethics,” we do not simply mean rules or norms for individual behavior; we include issues of environmental justice, ecological politics, and social concern more broadly. Three chapters make up this section.
The first, by Peter Timmerman, is a lively and quick-moving overview of the myriad ways in which cosmology, culture, ethics, and exchange differ and intertwine. It is meant to loosen up the mind to enable escape from the conceit, attributed to Margaret Thatcher, that “there is no alternative” to the current standard model of economics.
The second chapter, by Peter Brown, argues that the new understanding of the limits to knowledge and the nature of the embedded person requires an ethics grounded in respect and reciprocity.
The third, by Richard Janda and Richard Lehun, seeks to reposition the centrality of our own pursuit of freedom. It insists on wider justice considerations that bear upon both our stewardship of the conditions for the possibility of life itself and the incontrovertible contemporary reality that each of our free choices impinges upon every other being.
Second, the project proposes to develop credible indicators of an ecological economy. Despite decades of work and controversy on the adequacy of indicators such as gross domestic product, the standard model of economics continues to use them—thus legitimating and masking the process of civilizational self-liquidation that is gathering increasing momentum. Rather than joining this conversation, we offer four chapters on measurement. First, Mark Goldberg and Geoffrey Garver propose a methodological framework for the development of indicators relevant to ecological economics.
This consists of five elements: contextual considerations, considerations of scale and dimension, considerations of scope, considerations of commensurability, and considerations of interacting systems in order to identify and target paths leading to the indicator.
Second, Geoffrey Garver and Mark Goldberg address the ecological boundaries and related parameters of the space in which the human economy must function to avoid overshoot, injustice, and collapse in interdependent ecological, economic, and social systems. They set out the policy-oriented indicators that can accurately and reliably show the extent to which human enterprise respects those boundaries and parameters.
In the third chapter on measurement, Mark Goldberg, Geoffrey Garver, and Nancy Mayo point out the difficulties in using the metaphor of health in judging the success of an economic system by stressing the many difficulties in defining the seemingly familiar idea of human health. The fourth and final chapter of the section, by Qi Feng Lin and James Fyles, explores two related changes in our current thinking on the relationship between humans and the environment that are crucial to successful measurement.
The first is the idea of humans as being part of the ecosystem as opposed to the common assumption that humans are separate from it.
The second is a reinterpretation of the concept of ecosystem health in view of this humans-in-ecosystem perspective.
Third, we consider the implications of ethical measurement considerations for both microeconomics and macroeconomics. At the macro level, Peter Victor and Tim Jackson argue that we are missing a convincing ecological macroeconomics—that is, a conceptual framework within which macroeconomic stability is consistent with the ecological limits of a finite planet.
Despite promising developments in this direction (e.g., Jackson2009; Victor 2008), there is an urgent need for a much more fully developed ecological macroeconomics to avert immanent and massive disaster.
In the second chapter of this part, Richard Janda argues that an ecological-economics perspective requires the rethinking of individual behavior and corporate charters alike.
In the third chapter, Bruce Jennings critically scrutinizes received conceptions of liberty that are too individualistic and atomistic to realistically and rationally guide human norms and self-understanding in the coming era. He seeks to formulate an understanding of liberty that is consonant with the demands of the new era, the Anthropocene.
Finally, Janice Harvey draws on two theoretical perspectives on how change could be facilitated. From a critical perspective, discourse theory holds that the process of institutional-cultural change is discursive and dialectical (Fairclough, Mulderrig, and Wodak 2011; van Dijk 2011). World-systems theory, on the other hand, reminds us that such social constructions occur within a unique historical context that either constrains or propels but ultimately shapes systemic change (Wallerstein 1999, 2004).
The publication of this book is also a discursive event, but it occurs in a context of greater and greater appreciation that we are in a global crisis. While intended to help ecological economics on its journey, it aspires to change our relationship with life and the world by grounding our self-understanding in an evolutionary worldview. In this task, it joins an ever-expanding corpus of ecological discourse with similar aspirations. The objective of this chapter is to sketch how we could change course.
Last, the project discusses how we can fashion a way forward toward a more fruitful path than the one that lies along the current fateful trajectory.
Foreword JON D. ERICKSON
INTRODUCTION The Unfinished Journey of Ecological Economics PETER G. BROWN AND PETER TIMMERMAN
PART I Proposed Ethical Foundations of Ecological Economics Introduction and Chapter Summaries
CHAPTER ONE The Ethics of Re-Embedding Economics in the Real: Case Studies PETER TIMMERMAN
CHAPTER TWO Ethics for Economics in the Anthropocene PETER G. BROWN
CHAPTER THREE Justice Claims Underpinning Ecological Economics RICHARD JANDA AND RICHARD LEHUN
PART II Measurements: Understanding and Mapping Where We Are Introduction and Chapter Summaries
CHAPTER FOUR Measurement of Essential Indicators in Ecological Economics MARK S. GOLDBERG AND GEOFFREY GARVER
CHAPTER FIVE Boundaries and Indicators Conceptualizing and Measuring Progress Toward an Economy of Right Relationship Constrained by Global Ecological Limits GEOFFREY GARVER AND MARK S. GOLDBERG
CHAPTER SIX Revisiting the Metaphor of Human Health for Assessing Ecological Systems and Its Application to Ecological Economics MARK S. GOLDBERG, GEOFFREY GARVER, AND NANCY E. MAYO
CHAPTER SEVEN Following in Aldo Leopold’s Footsteps Humans-in-Ecosystem and Implications for Ecosystem Health QI FENG LIN AND JAMES W. FYLES
PART III Implications: Steps Toward Realizing an Ecological Economy Introduction and Chapter Summaries
CHAPTER EIGHT Toward an Ecological Macroeconomics PETER A. VICTOR AND TIM JACKSON
CHAPTER NINE New Corporations for an Ecological Economy: A Case Study RICHARD JANDA, PHILIP DUGUAY, AND RICHARD LEHUN
CHAPTER TEN Ecological Political Economy and Liberty BRUCE JENNINGS
CHAPTER ELEVEN A New Ethos, a New Discourse, a New Economy Change Dynamics Toward an Ecological Political Economy JANICE E. HARVEY
CONCLUSION Continuing the Journey of Ecological Economics Reorientation and Research Contributors Index
Berry, Thomas. 1999. The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future. New York: Three Rivers Press. Bodie, Zvi, and Robert C. Merton. 1998. Finance. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Brody, Hugh. 2000. The Other Side of Eden: Hunters, Farmers and the Shaping of the World. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre. Brown, Peter G. 2004. “Are There Any Natural Resources?” Politics and the Life Sciences 23 (1): 12–21. doi: 10.2307/4236728. Costanza, Robert, ed. 1991. Ecological Economics: The Science and Management of Sustainability. New York: Columbia University Press. Costanza, Robert. 2003. “Ecological Economics Is Post-Autistic.” Post-Autistic Economics Review 20 (June 3): 2. http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue20/Costanza20.htm. Cullinan, Cormac. 2011. Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice. 2nd ed. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing. Daly, Herman. 1977. Steady-State Economics: The Economics of Biophysical Equilibrium and Moral Growth. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman. Daly, Herman E. 2005. “Economics in a Full World.” Scientific American 293: 100–107. De Marchi, Neil, ed. 1993. Non-Natural Social Science: Reflecting on the Enterprise of More Heat Than Light. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Fairclough, N., H. Mulderrig, and R. Wodak. 2011. “Critical Discourse Analysis.” In Discourse Studies: A Multidisciplinary Introduction, edited by Teun Adrianus van Dijk, 357–378. London: Sage Publications. Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas. 1971. The Entropy Law and the Economic Process. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas. 1986. “The Entropy Law and the Economic Process in Retrospect.” Eastern Economic Journal 12 (1): 3–25. doi: 10.2307/40357380. Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor W. Adorno. 2002. Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments. Edited by Gunzelin Schmid Noerr. Translated by Edmund Jephcott. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Jackson, Tim. 2009. Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet. London: Earthscan. Kahn, Peter H., and Stephen R. Kellert. 2002. Children and Nature: Psychological, Sociocultural, and Evolutionary Investigations. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Kauffman, Stuart A. 1995. At Home in the Universe: The Search for Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Louv, Richard. 2005. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. Meadows, Donella H., Dennis L. Meadows, Jørgen Randers, and William W. Behrens. 1972. The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind. New York: Universe Books. Merchant, Carolyn. 2013. Reinventing Eden: The Fate of Nature in Western Culture. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge. Mirowski, Philip. 1989. More Heat Than Light: Economics as Social Physics, Physics as Nature’s Economics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Mirowski, Philip, ed. 1994. Natural Images in Economic Thought: “Markets Read in Tooth and Claw.” Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Müller, Frank G. 2007. “Ecological Economics as a Basis for Distributive Justice.” In Frontiers in Ecological Economic Theory and Application, edited by Jon D. Erickson and John M. Gowdy, 72–90. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. Musgrave, Richard. 1959. The Theory of Public Finance: A Study in Public Economy. New York: McGraw-Hill. Nadeau, Robert. 2006. The Environmental Endgame: Mainstream Economics, Ecological Disaster, and Human Survival. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Pagden, Anthony. 2001. Peoples and Empires: A Short History of European Migration, Exploration, and Conquest, from Greece to the Present. New York: Modern Library. Schweitzer, Albert. (1949) 1987. The Philosophy of Civilization. Translated by C. T. Campion. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books. Thomas, Keith. 1996. Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500–1800. New York: Oxford University Press. van Dijk, Teun Adrianus, ed. 2011. Discourse Studies: A Multidisciplinary Introduction. 2nd ed. London: Sage Publications. Victor, Peter A. 2008. Managing without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. Wallerstein, Immanuel Maurice. 1999. The End of the World as We Know It: Social Science for the Twenty-First Century. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Wallerstein, Immanuel Maurice. 2004. World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Wilson, Edward O. 1984. Biophilia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. World Commission on Environment and Development. 1987. Our Common Future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
escholarship.org 2017 Ecological Economics for the Athropocene, – book review by Laszlo Zsolnai
The book describes an ambitious vision for reorienting ecological eco-nomics as we know it. Peter G. Brown (McGill University Montreal), PeterTimmerman (York University Toronto) and their team put forward a newethical foundation for redirecting and reformulating ecological economicsin response to the rapid decline of the richness of life processes on Earth.They believe that the original premise of ecological economics is valid;namely, that the human economy should be considered as embedded inand part of natural ecology. However, they also think that the harsh reality of the Anthropocene—the significant worsening of the status ofecosystems due to Earth-Human interactions—calls for a radically newethics, such as that advocated by philosophers like Hans Jonas and Wil-liam Berry.Hans Jonas’ ontological imperative states that there“ought”to be acontinuation of“is”; that is,“nothing should be done to threaten thecontinuedflourishing of life on Earth”(p. 16). Thomas Berry says,“From here on, the primary judgment of all human institutions, professions, and programs and activities will be determined by the extent towhich they inhabit, ignore or foster a mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship”(p. 66).The authors of the book propose that the following ethical postulates areaccepted as the foundations of ecological economics: (1) membership–humans are not masters but members of the community of life; (2)householding–the Earth and the living systems on and in it has intrinsicvalue, they are worthy of respect and care for their own right; and (3) en-tropic thrift–low entropy sources and capacities that undergird the possi-bility andflourishing of life must be used with care and shared fairly (p. 16).Mainstream economics is in irresolvable conflict with these postulatesas it is philosophically grounded on the principle of granting economicagents free will to appropriate and deplete the entirety of the capacity ofliving systems. It denies the intrinsic value of nature and considers theEarth and living systems merely“natural resources”usable for humanpurposes. Finally, it disregard the limitations of low-entropy sources andcapacity in relation to economic activities. The authors emphasize thatthis approach is a clear recipe for humanity’s own destruction.The book suggests that the main goal of the human economy is noless than promoting theflourishing of life on Earth (including human,non-human, and future life). Accepting this perspective involves radi-cally shifting away from the conventional approach to pursuing eco-nomic goals such as maximizing material welfare or happiness. Thequestion arises how realistic is this claim in the context of today’s glob-alized market-driven economy. The future will answer this question,but the authors of the book advance a position of hope that is character-ized by the saying“be realistic: demand the (almost) impossible”.The book analyses the underlying philosophical, political, legal, andcultural issues relevant to the turnabout that is required in ecologicaleconomics. These book chapters contain novel and deep insights, espe-cially Justice Claims Underpinning Ecological Economics by R. Janda andR. Lehun, Following in Aldo Leopold’s Footsteps by Qi Feng Lin and J. M.Fyles, and Ecological Political Economy and Liberty by B. Jennings.However, the fact that the book pays little attention to the complexproblematic of markets, business andfinance is a major shortcoming.The authors do not expound their opinion about the role of markets intheir vision of an ecological economy that serves to promote theflourishing of all life forms. Today’s markets are the dominantcoordinating form of economic activities worldwide and rely exclusivelyon the concept of the price mechanism. The authors of the book forcefullyargue that‘price’is not the ideal indicator (or“metric”) for evaluating eco-nomic activities and policies, and suggest that other non-monetary met-rics (e.g. planetary boundary indicators) are employed. Also, the authorsargue that to capture the complex, multifaceted reality of ecosystems mul-tiple perspectives should be employed that require a rational-technicalmode of thinking that is supplemented with input from the arts and hu-manities (p. 124). This implies that there exists no single, optimal“para-metric”solution to socio-ecological decision problems. Can markets be“mindful”of multiple (monetary and non-monetary) signals? Do complexevaluations of economic options require the development of new (non-market based) institutional arrangements? The book is silent about thiscrucial issue. The otherwise excellent chapter Ecological Macroeconomicsby P.A. Victor and T. Jackson does not touch on the issue at all.Also, only a little space is allocated to addressing business andfinance-related problems. The tragic reality of the Anthropocene has been mainlycaused by the activities of mainstream business andfinance. Accordingly,the ecological transformation of business andfinance would seem to bethe single most important issue of our time. R. Janda, F. Duguay and R.Lehun’s chapter describes the benefit corporation as a potential form ofecologically conscious business. However, the problem goes much deeper.Not only is the present form of the corporation inappropriate for promot-ing pro-ecological and ethical business behavior, but unincorporated busi-nesses create their own ecological and ethical“deficits”too. Theunderlying business models on which mainstream commercial andfinan-cial organizations are premised are fundamentally incompatible with theflourishing of life on Earth. Today’s exclusively materialistic, one-dimen-sional and self-centered way of conducting economic activities shouldbe questioned from the perspective of nature, future generations andsociety at large. If business andfinance cannotfind more appropriate(i.e. ecologically sound and ethically sensitive) models of doing business,it may lose its role in the economy of the future.Peter G. Brown, Peter Timmerman and their contributors have devel-oped a new and engaging vision and research program for ecological eco-nomics. Tones of work must still be done, but the ethical foundation theypropose is robust. In fact, it is key to creating a more livable and peacefulfuture for humanity and the millions of other species on the Earth.
Also by Laszlo Zsolnai
laszlo-zsolnai.com 2021 Caring-Management-in-the-New-Economy-Socially-Responsible-Behaviour-Through-Spirituality-conclusion.pdf