4th February 2016
What cloud-cuckoo-land do economists inhabit? Larry Elliott’s article, Ready for another revolution? (29 January) is just the emperor pretending he’s not wearing the same old nakedness. His Industrial Revolution 4.0 – based on driverless cars, 3D printing, smart robotics – ignores the fact that untrammelled industrial and technological growth are not only primary drivers of climate change and environmental devastation, but are cannibalising and debauching our entire planetary life-support system.
Earth’s wellbeing, hence our own, depends on the resilience of an intricate web of interlocking, inter-active ecosystems; healthy freshwater and marine environments, abundant native forests, robust phosphorus and nitrogen cycles, rich biodiversity, ozone health, pollination, climate equilibrium, clean air, rich soil. At least four of these systems – climate, biodiversity (the sixth great extinction is grievously underway), nitrogen and oceans – are already tipping into irreversible, anthropogenic damage. The others are radically frayed and eroding.
Ecology is the study, economy is the law, of the household. The real revolution would be the marriage of these currently opposing poles, the creation of an economic paradigm – ecozoic, ecocratic? – rooted in moral, social and ecological accountability, and mandated with bequeathing a fecund, thriving, exquisitely beautiful planet to our children; to all our children – whale calves, spawning tadpoles, sapling oaks, human babies, fledgling eagles. Amen
Peace be doughtily with you all