Smart economy

The economy we all grew up with is ending and we all know it.  With vision and perseverance, the future economy will be cleaner, more efficient and more nurturing and we should embrace it enthusiastically.

The Problem

We’ve cut down most of the planet’s forests, fished out most of the planet’s fish, depleted ancient aquifers that watered our ancestors for centuries and were still growing just a century ago.  We’ve turned productive agricultural lands to dustbowls, killed rivers and lakes and filled the air we breathe with persistent toxins.  And that’s what we’ve done with theoretically renewable resources.

More importantly, we’ve become addicted to fossil fuels which now release 1000 times more energy than humans put into work.  Coal, oil and natural gas are now the lifeblood of our economy.  Without them we could not stay warm in winter, get to work, eat, drink or clothe ourselves.  And cheap fossil fuels are ending.  We’re left with increasingly expensive, increasingly dangerous and increasingly nasty sources the longer we feed our addiction.

Eventually, these sources will all decline in turn.  If we do not transition in time to more reasonable alternatives, we’ll be squabbling over the dirtiest, most expensive fossil fuels of all in a decaying world.  And they will end anyway.

The Promise

We cannot promise that a Green economy will grow faster, at least not immediately.  We cannot promise solar powered swimming pools in every yard and biofuel jets for tropical vacations.  But we can promise some things.

A Green economy will lead to independence from increasingly unreliable energy sources.  It will make us less vulnerable to political upheavals on the other side of the globe.  It will deliver a secure food supply.  A Green economy will reduce health expenses and lost work time by clearing the air, cleaning our lakes and rivers and revitalizing our soils so that we can get nutritious food, safe drinking water and fresh air.  A Green economy uses gains in productivity to give us more time with family and friends, rather than more and more stuff we didn’t even know we wanted.

And in the medium to long term, a smart economy will be more robust and more resilient.  There is no future in gas-guzzling cars, poorly insulated homes and inefficient gadgets.  The big growth industries are green – renewable energy, energy efficiency and green construction.  We can still be leaders in a smart economy if we act quickly.

It’s time to stop treating our air, our soils, our lakes and our rivers like a sewer.  It’s time to invest in the growth industries related to good, clean, efficient living.  It’s time to fully embrace the idea of living within our means.

It’s time to vote Green.

One response to “Smart economy”

  1. Charlie Halpern-Hamu writes:

    See also Elizabeth May’s article “Ten Ways to Fix the Economy: Economics as if anything mattered”:

    Looking toward Canada’s 150 year mark, we know what kind of society we want — healthy, fair, and diverse. We know what kind of citizens we want — engaged, empowered, fulfilled. We know what kind of world we want — sustainable, secure, and peaceful.

    Underlying all those things we want is a whole lot of assumptions about the kind of economy that delivers the “goods.” But what if our economic assumptions deliver the opposite? What if our unquestioned addiction to consumerism and unlimited economic growth delivers a lot of “bads”?   Read more »

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