Yes, it is possible to maintain economic growth by displacing it from the consumption of one part of the commons to another – by burning gas instead or oil or by commoditizing human services or intellectual property instead of the cod fishery – but aggregated over the totality of the social, natural, cultural, and spiritual commons, the basic argument of Peak Oil remains valid. Instead of Peak Oil, we are facing Peak Everything.
-Charles Eisenstein, Sacred Economics, p 157
Ernst Friedrich Schumacher
E. F. Schumacher was a pioneering thinker, integrating economic, environmental, and cultural issues into what he called “Buddhist economics”. His 1973 book Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered names the two key pieces in his alternative economics to that of modernity and of our current globalizing world: first that the proper scale for economics is small and local; and second that the proper aim of economics should be the welfare of people rather than, for example, profits. In both respects this runs counter to dominant understandings of economics; not least, the emphasis on unlimited growth which has proven so ecologically and socially destructive. All of the other “alternative economics” presented here, while not necessarily in full agreement with Schumacher’s ideas, do agree on downscaling, localizing, “ecologizing”, and “humanizing” economics.
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[Note this page still under construction.]
Kate Raworth & Doughnut Economics
What on Earth is the Doughnut?…
Humanity’s 21st-century challenge is to meet the needs of all within the means of the planet. In other words, to ensure that no one falls short on life’s essentials (from food and housing to healthcare and political voice) while ensuring that collectively we do not overshoot our pressure on Earth’s life-supporting systems, on which we fundamentally depend – such as a stable climate, fertile soils, and a protective ozone layer. The Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries is a playfully serious approach to framing that challenge, and it acts as a compass for human progress this century.
The environmental ceiling consists of nine planetary boundaries, as set out by Rockstrom et al, beyond which lie unacceptable environmental degradation and potential tipping points in Earth systems. The twelve dimensions of the social foundation are derived from internationally agreed minimum social standards, as identified by the world’s governments in the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. Between social and planetary boundaries lies an environmentally safe and socially just space in which humanity can thrive.
Learn more about Kate Raworth
Helena Norberg-Hodge & The Economics of Happiness
Helena Norberg-Hodge is the founder and director of Local Futures/International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC) and The International Alliance for Localization (IAL). Based in the US and UK, with subsidiaries in Germany and Australia, Local Futures examines the root causes of our current social and environmental crises while promoting more sustainable and equitable patterns of living in both North and South. Its mission is to protect and renew well-being by promoting a systemic shift away from economic globalization toward localization. Norberg-Hodge is also the producer and co-director of the award-winning film The Economics of Happiness and the co-author of Bringing the Food Economy Home and From the Ground Up: Rethinking Industrial Agriculture.
Learn more about Helena Norbert-Hodge
Learn more about Samuel Alexander
Learn more about Rob Hopkins
Learn more about Degrowth
Learn more about Duane Elgin