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Issue 275
November/December 2012
Pricing Nature

Welcome

The Economy of Nature
by
Green Leaf Circle © Martin Hill – Sustainability by Design www.martin-hill.com

Green Leaf Circle © Martin Hill – Sustainability by Design www.martin-hill.com

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The Economy of Nature

Why not create an economy that is self-renewing, self-managing and self-sustaining?

It is not rocket science to know that you cannot have unlimited economic growth on a finite planet, yet politicians, business leaders and policymakers appear unable to comprehend this simple fact.

We may now have to learn from Nature.

In Nature, everything moves in cycles: cycles of time, cycles of life and, of course, a cycle of seasons. Things begin, things grow, things decay and then begin again.

This simple and obvious reality must now be placed at the centre of our thinking. Rather than a growth economy, we have to think in terms of a cyclical economy.

Tony Juniper, in his article in this issue, questions the wisdom of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, who has been chanting the mantra of more and more economic growth with no hope of ever achieving it.

But who can tell the Chancellor he is chasing an unachievable goal?

Our manufacturing has been outsourced to China and our oil is running out, so the only realistic option Mr Osborne has left himself for creating continued growth is in the sector of infrastructure, and so he wants to build more airports, more roads, more office blocks, more houses, more railways… Build, build, build.

When the whole countryside has been consumed by buildings, road and railways, then what will he do?

How long can he go on pursuing this linear growth in GDP? What is his long-term vision for the British economy? Does he have any idea of an economy that is durable, stable and sustainable – not only for 100 or 1,000 years but for ever and ever?

Why not learn from the cyclical economy of Nature?

Why not create an economy that is self-renewing, self-managing and self-sustaining, just like the economy of Nature?

When politicians and businesspeople talk about ‘economic’ growth, they are misusing the word. They are actually talking about industrial and financial growth, which is not at all the same thing. Economy is based on land, labour and capital. The advocates of economic growth are not talking about the growth of land or of people. Perhaps they are talking about the growth of capital. But what good is there in having more and more capital but less and less land and more and more dissatisfied people?

We need to stop using the term ‘economic growth’ and call it what it truly is – industrial growth – and then ask ourselves, can we achieve unlimited, industrial growth for ever and ever?

The answer is obvious. No.

And so this is the thrust of the majority of articles in this issue. Resurgence & Ecologist stands in defence of Nature and in defence of a true economy. We believe that endless industrial growth can only further damage the economy and the integrity of our ecosystems, our biosphere and Nature itself.

Satish Kumar is Editor in Chief at Resurgence & Ecologist

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