The Search for a New Economic Model

With a highly dense and growing population on a finite Earth, we need a new economic model – one that addresses social inequality and brings balance and peace to people while honouring natural limits.

We need a simple and logical solution that involves new, green technologies. Even though these would aid in the betterment of the Earth, they are outwardly directed. Our technological progress won't create peace, balance and well-being for our Earth and the life it supports. Without a new understanding, we could create another type of division, and a new reallocation of wealth.

My search brought me to Tim Jackson's book Prosperity Without Growth. It is a fascinating book that breaks old fundamental approaches to our standard principle of ROI and other economic measures.

Economists can present information in different ways by using different principles of measurement. Statistics, though relevant, depend on assumptions. Tim talks about creating new types of values that aren't measured by ROI or the typical metrics of economic growth. Our population will “eat” itself out of resources – and the planet itself – by continuing our consumptive attitude. More is not better.

If we are to survive, the new economic structure will be measured by the well-being of people and Earth, as people's home. Starting with the basics, people need clean air, clean water, nutritious food, clothes and shelter. Once those fundamentals are addressed, we need the freedom to pursue spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual well-being.

With these basics as a starting point, economics needs to create new measurement indexes to show how our living contributes to addressing basic needs. Success should be measured by how much our existence contributes to addressing these needs and protecting Earth as our home.

We have to ask how we serve humanity and Earth. How do we measure our success rate as we do our best to integrate our spirits with Earth and overall well-being? Will these questions bring us to clean-tech or other new technologies?

Changing our perspective about what success means will fundamentally alter our approach to living on this Earth. Breaking out of the mindset of what do I feed my kids today, workplace issues and other mundane affairs is almost impossible. How do we shift to an attitude of concern for all of us having clean air, clean water, clean food and basic freedoms? Switching our daily thought process, which has developed over millions of years of evolution, can be overwhelming.

It takes a strong spirit to break through the ingrained societal thinking that bases success on accumulation, and not our collective survival. Will enough of us have that strength?