imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Economics for a Shrinking Planet

by Frank Rotering Wednesday, Sep. 15, 2004 at 2:12 PM

The expansion of humanity's ecological impact on the planet cannot continue much longer without violating natural thresholds. To survive, we must develop a new way of thinking about our economic activities. This article briefly describes the author's approach to such a new mode of thought.

Humankind has arrived at an unprecedented point in its history. After centuries of ramping up our economic production and increasing our ecological impact on the planet, we are now compelled to reverse course. Although skeptics remain, it has become clear that the expansion of our environmental impact cannot continue much longer.

This was brought home forcefully to many people in early 2004, when a Pentagon study on the security implications of climate change was made public. Although initial newspaper accounts were overblown, the study's contents were sobering. The authors concluded that the earth's carrying capacity was under serious threat. After considering an extreme but plausible climate change scenario, they projected a sharp drop in this carrying capacity, resulting in military confrontations over energy, food, and water.

At critical times like the current one, we need a new set of concepts to comprehend the novel situation. Samuel P. Huntington, for example, has offered a fresh way to look at global politics in his book "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order." His thesis is that, in the post-Cold War world, the most useful way to view the international landscape is through the lens of contending civilizations, such as the Western, Islamic, and Chinese.

Huntington has been badly misinterpreted, and he may or may not be right, but he illustrates how a historical shift can spawn an alternative set of concepts for organizing our thoughts and strategizing our actions.

The end of the Cold War, however, was a mere historical shudder compared to the end of physical economic expansion. Consider that world population is projected to increase until about 2050, when over nine billion of us will inhabit the planet. Providing houses, refrigerators, and automobiles for everyone will surely not be feasible for ecological reasons, while expecting much of the globe to live in poverty is surely unethical.

If the transition to a post-expansionary world is to be achieved without collapse and chaos, we must begin by finding a new way to think about our economic activities. The question is: where is the "Huntington" of economics? Where is the conceptual framework that allows us to think about production and consumption in a way that encourages moderation, respects limits, and points the way to ethical distribution?

I have been searching for such a framework for over a decade. The bad news is that I haven't found it. The frightening news is that, to the best of my knowledge, no-one within the economics profession is even working on it. Unless this intellectual landscape changes soon, humankind will move into a perilous future without effective conceptual guidance.

Why have economists not risen to this challenge? The main reason, I think, is that their discipline is more difficult than the others. It is not more complex, subtle, or mathematical than physics or biology, but its subject matter is wealth-creation, a social realm suffused by class and power. An economist seeking to serve humankind must not only be a competent analyst, he or she must escape the intellectual restrictions imposed by ideology. This combination is rare.

Over the course of its history, mainstream economics has become tightly coupled with the needs of capitalists. Those needs have been both analytical (how do we maximize revenues in the market?) and ideological (how do we justify profits to workers?).

This co-evolution is understandable and perhaps justified. Capitalism has permitted humankind to sharply increase its well-being and to explore its potential. Mainstream economics has played a central role in this process.

But significant problems arise when historical circumstances change, as they are changing now. Economic concepts that were useful when the planet was clean and resource-rich are becoming obsolete. Alignment with the powerful becomes a detriment when the interests of rich and poor diverge, as they must in a world of constrained economic growth.

Let me suggest a way out of this quandary.

First, we must reject an erroneous assumption: that economic thought has focused on humankind, thereby ignoring nature. It is much more accurate to state that economic thought has focused on capital, thereby ignoring both humankind and nature.

The proper response is to put humankind at the center of economics. Because humankind and nature are tightly interconnected, as environmentalists correctly assert, concern for humankind entails concern for nature. By analogy, if you care for a pet fish you will automatically clean its tank. A "tank-centric" approach to fish ownership is unnecessary.

Second, we should listen to Narendar Pani, Senior Editor of The Economic Times in Bangalore. In his book, "Inclusive Economics," Pani makes the case that we have a sufficient number of theories to analyze what is actually happening in an economy. Our problem is deciding what should happen - that is, to establish an economy's legitimate goals.

The way forward is thus for economists, after surmounting the ideological hurdles, to develop a goal-oriented conceptual framework with humankind at its core. This would permit the public, economists, and policy-makers to set broad objectives for an economy and to evaluate its outcomes. Existing economic theories would be retained, but their value would be assessed according to their contributions to these objectives. The overall aim would be to move the global economy rapidly towards equity and ecological stability.

In his book, Huntington warned that frameworks are indispensable for rational thought and action: "... we may deny the need for such guides and assume that we will act only in terms of specific 'objective' facts, dealing with each case 'on its merits.' If we assume this, however, we delude ourselves. For in the back of our minds are hidden assumptions, biases, and prejudices that determine how we perceive reality, what facts to look at, and how we judge their importance and merits."

Huntington was addressing the habits of thought accumulated over the 45 years of the Cold War. His observations apply with much greater force to a new economic framework, which must re-orient the habits of thought accumulated over centuries of lusty expansion.

Report this post as:

Local News

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 7:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 8:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 9:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 10:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 9:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 8:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 8:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 11:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 8:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A27 5:37AM


lausd whistle blower A11 6:58AM

Website Upgrade A10 10:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 8:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 6:58PM

Change Links April 2018 A01 6:27PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Why Choose Nut Milk Over Cows' Milk S21 1:01AM

Antrhopocène, le grand effondrement S19 9:53AM

Creative Destruction Hack Diamonds Windows/iOS/Android - Creative Destruction Generator S19 12:51AM

Abolir l'économie S18 11:18AM

The Dictatorship of Corporations S17 5:26PM

18 Lethal Consequences Of Hunting S17 3:13PM

Paraphysique de l'outplacement déontologue S15 6:51AM

Creative Destruction Hack Mod Generator S15 3:49AM

Shopping du bashing S14 8:42AM

After Lehman Brothers, Experts Say Global Financial Crisis Can Happen Again S13 8:28PM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen S12 9:30PM

Probabilités de fin d'humanité S12 6:49AM

Florida Area of Migrant Farmworkers Denied Right to Construct Health Clinic near NaplesCIW S11 2:57AM

Propagande de virus, virus de propagande S10 7:34AM

Steer clear of work morality! S09 12:10PM

Sweatshop Lodge Ceremony Continues in US Fed Prisons Led by Inmates S08 6:17PM

Paraphysique de l'origami S08 7:11AM

The Shortwave Report 09/07/18 Listen Globally! S06 11:23PM

August 2018 Honduras Coup update S06 12:28PM

Du réussissement putréfié S06 10:55AM

Brett Kavanaugh Filled The 5th Circuit With Execution Judges S06 6:14AM

Log S06 4:25AM

Augusta Georgia Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Writing About Russians Crime Acts S05 8:29AM

Paraphysique de contextualité S05 8:29AM

Crisis Regulation in Global Capitalism S03 3:39PM

Ex-voto de réification S03 10:24AM

Please Oppose Warmonger, Execution and Torture Supporting Bush Operative Brett Kavanaugh A31 10:45PM

Paraphysique d'exploitation occultation A31 10:24PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy