Shaping an Economy to Sustain Our Future

Excerpt from the book Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth, including shaping an economy and environmentally friendly ways of doing business.

| April/May 2002

  • As damage to the ecosystem compounds across the planet, creating a sustainable economy takes on a new urgency. Creating such an economy in the time available requires rapid systemic change throughout the world.
    As damage to the ecosystem compounds across the planet, creating a sustainable economy takes on a new urgency. Creating such an economy in the time available requires rapid systemic change throughout the world.
    ILLUSTRATION: COURTESY EARTH POLICY INSTITUTE
  • Author Lester R. Brown. As damage to the ecosystem compounds across the planet, creating a sustainable economy takes on a new urgency. Creating such an economy in the time available requires rapid systemic change throughout the world.
    Author Lester R. Brown. As damage to the ecosystem compounds across the planet, creating a sustainable economy takes on a new urgency. Creating such an economy in the time available requires rapid systemic change throughout the world.
    COURTESY EARTH POLICY INSTITUTE
  • These solar panels are being installed next to Staples Center in Los Angeles. Continuing refinement and breakthroughs will make solar technology increasingly attractive.
    These solar panels are being installed next to Staples Center in Los Angeles. Continuing refinement and breakthroughs will make solar technology increasingly attractive.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • The Blue Lagoon spa in Grindavik, Iceland, was created in the 1970's when communities in Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula harnessed by geothermal forces.
    The Blue Lagoon spa in Grindavik, Iceland, was created in the 1970's when communities in Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula harnessed by geothermal forces.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Restructuring the economy will create new industries and will re-energize some established ones. Recycling centers like this will be commonplace in an economy in which nothing is wasted.
    Restructuring the economy will create new industries and will re-energize some established ones. Recycling centers like this will be commonplace in an economy in which nothing is wasted.
    CORBIS

  • As damage to the ecosystem compounds across the planet, creating a sustainable economy takes on a new urgency. Creating such an economy in the time available requires rapid systemic change throughout the world.
  • Author Lester R. Brown. As damage to the ecosystem compounds across the planet, creating a sustainable economy takes on a new urgency. Creating such an economy in the time available requires rapid systemic change throughout the world.
  • These solar panels are being installed next to Staples Center in Los Angeles. Continuing refinement and breakthroughs will make solar technology increasingly attractive.
  • The Blue Lagoon spa in Grindavik, Iceland, was created in the 1970's when communities in Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula harnessed by geothermal forces.
  • Restructuring the economy will create new industries and will re-energize some established ones. Recycling centers like this will be commonplace in an economy in which nothing is wasted.

As damage to the ecosystem compounds across the planet, creating a sustainable economy takes on a new urgency, shaping an economy in the time available requires rapid systemic change throughout the world.

Opportunity abounds in the new way of doing business

An economy is sustainable only if it respects the principles of ecology. These principles are as real as those of aerodynamics. If an aircraft is to fly, it has to satisfy certain principles of thrust and lift. So, too, if an economy is to sustain progress, it must satisfy the basic principles of ecology. If it does not, it will decline and eventually collapse. There is no middle ground. An economy is either sustainable or it is not.

Today's global economy has been shaped by market forces, not by the principles of ecology. By failing to reflect the full costs of goods and services, the market provides misleading information to economic decision makers at all levels. This has created a distorted economy out of sync with the Earth's ecosystem — an economy that is destroying its natural support systems. (See "The Economy & the Earth," February/March 2002.)



An eco-economy is one that satisfies our present needs without jeopardizing the prospects of future generations; one that sees the economy as a subset of the environment, not the other way around.

Building a sustainable economy in the time available requires rapid systemic change throughout the world. The good news is the eco-economy offers a future full of promise, one that will boost some existing industries, will call entire new career fields into existence and will offer enormous investment opportunity.






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