Farmers' markets, coops and repair shops will seed the new economy
26th January, 2010
It's called the 'Cinderella economy'. You know it as the local, sustainable businesses that don't make the GDP figures soar, but do provide jobs and glue communities together...
Society is faced with a profound dilemma. To resist growth is to risk economic and social collapse. To pursue it relentlessly is to endanger the ecosystems on which we depend for long-term survival.
For the most part, this dilemma goes unrecognised in mainstream policy. It’s only marginally more visible as a public debate. When reality begins to impinge on the collective consciousness, the best suggestion to hand is that we can somehow ‘decouple’ growth from its material impacts. And continue to do so while the economy expands exponentially.
The sheer scale of action implied by this is daunting. In a world of 9 billion people all aspiring to western lifestyles, the carbon intensity of every dollar of output must be at least 130 times lower in 2050 than it is today. By the end of the century, economic activity will need to be taking carbon out of the atmosphere not adding to it.
Never mind that noone knows what such an economy looks like. Never mind that decoupling isn’t happening at anything like that scale. Never mind that all our institutions and incentive structures continually point in the wrong direction. The dilemma, once recognised, looms so dangerously over...
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