In 2007 I self-published a book that presented an economic theory called the Economics of Needs and Limits, or ENL. As my economic thought evolved over the years I released several updates. The most recent of these is now available at Amazon’s Kindle Store under the title, The Economics of Needs and Limits: A theory for sustainable well-being. The book is available in paperback form, and it can also be downloaded as a free PDF. For an overview of ENL itself, click here.
An economic theory such as ENL is now necessary for our ecological survival. As today’s environmental disasters horrifically demonstrate, capitalism’s relentless expansion is destroying the biosphere. The shift to a sustainable economy is therefore an urgent imperative. ENL was developed to guide this transition as well as the resulting post-capitalist economy.
Three recent events indicate that ENL’s time may have arrived. A study titled Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene, authored by sixteen climate scientists, asserted that “the present dominant socioeconomic system” (i.e., capitalism) is based on “high-carbon economic growth” and cannot effectively address the GHG crisis. In a contribution to a future UN document, six Finnish biophysicists emphasized the need for “new economic thinking” and “… state-led economic governance oriented toward self-sustained, low-emission production and consumption …”. In France, environment minister Nicolas Hulot abruptly resigned during a radio interview because, “I don’t want to lie to myself anymore” about the government’s inadequate response to the GHG crisis. He stated that the crisis requires us to “… change our scale, change our scope, change our paradigm.” He also said, “The planet is becoming an oven, our natural resources are draining, biodiversity is vanishing. And we stubbornly try to revive an economic model that is the cause of all this mess.”
Based on these and similar events, it appears that the taboo against exposing capitalism as an ecocidal system is eroding. It is therefore possible that the need for a sustainable economic theory such as ENL will soon be acknowledged in scientific and political circles.
The Economics of Needs and Limits is moderately technical. The book includes numerous graphs to illustrate concepts and some basic formulas to permit rigorous expression. It should therefore be suitable for a college- or university-level course that introduces students to a sustainable mode of economic thought. It may also interest those who have examined ecological economics and concluded that a more radical approach is required to tackle humankind’s existential crisis.
August 31, 2018