The Economics of Sustainability
by John Dillon
Humans, and indeed all life forms, depend on the Earth’s ecosystem to sustain life. Without clean air, water, food, shelter and energy we cannot survive. This simple truth is so self-evident that it sounds trite to repeat it. Yet mainstream economic theory ignores the dependence of the human economy on the broader ecosystem.
To achieve sustainability in its broadest sense we must challenge the dominant model of development based on neoclassical economic doctrines and adopt a new model based on ecological economics.
Most mainstream economists take the natural world for granted. They believe in limitless growth based on the exploitation of natural resources and disposal of wastes into the air, ground and bodies of water. They say that price increases will signal any impending shortages and prompt remedial actions. They trust that technological advances will find substitutes for depleting resources…