What is Economics?
Humanity has a problem with understanding what is economics. Challenged as to how the current economic prerogatives are negatively affecting our environment, other species and our lives.
How has the recent idea ( created since 1930’s) of GDP got so out of hand? Widening the inequality gap whilst rushing us over the cliff of growth at any cost and no return. We can not just stop our economies for they are based on and addicted to growth. However, there are ways to think like a 21st-century economist.
Now is the time to change GDP to Doughnut Economics. If we fail in this then suffering, hardship and increasing inequality will join forces with the environmental degradation and systems collapse on this planet.
Mother earth, this blue planet, is not concerned with economic prosperity. This man-made belief in economic orthodoxy is having a direct negative effect on our environment and biosphere. Mother earth ignores us. Whether you agree or not current scientific consensus considers:
Current Scientific Consensus
1. We have a climate change problem.
2. That we are irreplaceably altering the levels of the pollutant gases in our environment. Leading to glacial melt and thinning of ice in the Arctic and Antarctica. Leading to rising sea levels, extreme weather patterns, irreparable damage and impact on our ecosystems and biodiversity.
3. We are losing to extinction forever species of insect, birds, animals and fishes.
4. Economic decisions are driving and re-inforcing these situations.
5. when we learn what is economics and how the current version and interpretation is threatening our very existence then may be we will do things differently.
Just to illustrate the degree of biodiversity loss we’re facing, let’s take you through one scientific analysis…
- The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.
- These experts calculate that between 0.01 and 0.1% of all species will become extinct each year.
- If the low estimate of the number of species out there is true – i.e. that there are around 2 million different species on our planet – then that means between 200 and 2,000 extinctions occur every year.
- But if the upper estimate of species numbers is true – that there are 100 million different species co-existing with us on our planet – then between 10,000 and 100,000 species are becoming extinct each year.
5. Remember that each species is not an isolated item in the world but a fully interconnected part of the whole of life on earth. Each supports the other, lives off and with the other and has evolved over millions of years to support and contribute to the dynamic balance we call biodiversity and nature.
Lose one species and everything will begin to collapse. Lose a 1000 and the equilibrium is altered forever and the whole system will break down irreverseably.
Economic collapse is nothing compared to ecological collapse. We can come back from an economic collapse, there is no return from the ecological and biodiversity collapse. Once it has gone it will never be replaced.
Unlike the mass extinction events of geological history, the current extinction challenge is one for which a single species – ours – appears to be almost wholly responsible.
Over time the earth has seen and undergone major ecological disasters and five major mass extinctions (Mass extinctions where more than 75% of the species disappears!) has happened to planet earth in over 444 million years. The truth is this. Our planet is safe, Mother Earth has a tremendously long life and incredible resilience and creativity to renew and replace species which end up extinct.
The fossil record tells us that life on Earth has lasted at least 3.5 billion years. In that time it has survived being frozen, clobbered by rocks from space, mass poisoning, and even lethal radiation.
End Ordovician, 444 million years ago, 86% of species lost –
Late Devonian, 375 million years ago, 75% of species lost –
Permian, 251 million years ago, 96% of species lost –
Triassic, 200 million years ago, 80% of species lost
Cretaceous, 66 million years ago, 76% of all species lost
Planet Earth, depending on any unexpected or random catastrophes, could be around for the next 3 to 4 billion years, When Maybe the core will freeze over. Homo Sapiens, on the other hand, is not looking so lucky.
Economic impact on us all
Most of us will live for between 70-95 yrs on the planet earth, some of us less some of us more. Yet what we are collectively doing is managing to make this little blue planet increasing fragile towards our prospective long term residential tenure.
We have in a way built and are living a house directly in the projected pathway of our own designed 4 lane highway, and we are looking out of the window complaining about the noise of the oncoming bulldozers which we have contracted to do the work. We have no one else to blame. Our blind compliance to the dictates of the economic order is quite simply going to see the end of Homo Sapiens as we know it.
The roots of our current civilisation is maybe 12-15000 years old. The Mesopotamia civilisation going back approx12,000 years. This may seem ancient however in the larger scheme of things it is pretty much a drop in the ocean. HomoSapiens complete CV is only credited in originating in East Africa sometime between 80,000 to 120,000 years ago. whichever way you look at it we are very much new on the block.
So what’s all the fuss, we are going to have another mass extinction in the next couple of hundred years called the Anthropocene epoch. where mankind will have altered the ecology, biodiversity and the environment to such an extent that life as we know it will cease to exist.
It is not all over yet
Ah but you see here is the rub. we dont have to do it, not just yet.
It is not as if a huge meteorite is about to collide with us, or a volcanic ice age freezing us.No. It is all because we want to keep the current economic calculus working. So that we can have continued economic growth and wealth. So that we can… er we can be happy and contented, well-fed and healthy and have a better standard of living.
In doing this we are going to dramatically change the planetary environment and ecosystem. Ensuring that we will have mass extinction of life as we know it, including us humans.
I dont know about you but it does seem to be pretty damn stupid way to find happiness and health and well being. Consider, if we were a virus then we would not be a very successful virus. For the first rule of a virus is to keep the host alive as long as possible to ensure your own and your descendant’s survival.
what’s driving all this? where is the rationale behind the movement to attain, mass extinction and oblivion for our not so distant descendants?
Changing the economic paradigm
Sadly, it is a simple yet complex cocktail of a selfish desire not to die or suffer, of creativity, of ingenuity, and the deep belief in what we think up is true and therefore we should keep on doing it.
This is where economics comes into it all. We need desperately to refocus our economic paradigm to understand that all of the human activity is held within the bounds of our environment and ecology.
Herman E Daly said: There are 3 conditions for human sustainability on this planet.
1. Extract Earth’s renewable resources no faster than the Earth can regenerate them.
2. Dump pollution and waste into the seas no faster than Earth can assimilate them and make them harmless.
3. Use non renewable resources no faster than we can find substitutes.
If we collectively, honestly and diligently adhere to these three tenets then there is not only hope but a positive way forward. We will learn what is economics and how we can change its formatting so that it delivers not only to the wealthy but also to the rest of humanity and to planet earth. Then we can herald in Eco-Economics
please see next blog post Doughnut Economics