Ecological Economics: New Paradigms for Sustainability
Sustainability is the key to a survivable future on Earth: we must find ways to conserve our resources, reuse the materials we have extracted from the Earth, and turn to renewable resources for energy. Perpetual economic growth is physically impossible on a planet with finite resources.
The books in the section on Ecological Economics and Sustainability call upon us to create new paradigms other than untrammeled growth and ballooning consumerism. They suggest “radical simplicity,” creating a “green economy,” building “sustainable development,” reducing our “ecological footprint,” and adopting the paradigm of “small is beautiful,” first suggested by E. F. Schumacher over thirty years ago.
Perhaps we are reaching a tipping point – where enough people on the planet believe that the problem is serious enough to join together to make change possible.
American sensibilities have been shaped by the (seemingly) limitless continent full of vast resources that it is our “destiny” to enjoy. As the West is running out of water and gasoline prices are soaring, it’s starting to come home to us that we, too, must think about creating a sustainable economy. This economy must be grounded in the environmental realities of finite resources and the costs of environmental degradation.
We’ve been running our economy as if the future will never arrive; as if there is no downside to continuous expansion; as if there are no limits to the resources available to us. We’ve assumed that environmental damage has no long-range consequences on the health of our citizenry, or upon our economy.
The long-deferred bill is coming due as global population growth and diminishing resources create higher prices and a greater potential for regional and global conflicts.
The recommended books in the section on Ecological Economics and Sustainability take a hard look at the global economic realities of our current situation, and offer a variety of methods to address the challenge of creating a new paradigm for growth, one founded on sustainability of resources and protecting our environment for generations to come.