Green economics is a discipline in development. It does not follow the categories of the existing economics discipline since that would constrain our ability to find the novel solutions we need. It calls for pluralism in the teaching and study of economics. We also need to ensure that the debate over the future of economics is accessible to all readers, not only those with advanced statistics degrees who frequently dominate economic discussions. Other voices, from women, from the global South, and even of other species, needed to be included in the debate about our economic future.
Three slogans can help to explain what green economics is all about. The first is ‘economics for people and the planet’. It seems fairly glib but makes it clear that green economists are just as concerned with social justice as they are with protecting the planet. The second is ‘beyond supply and demand to meeting people’s needs’, a phrase which I used as the title of a book in 1999. Conventional economics will provide a graph with two straight lines representing ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ and then apply this to the complex relationships which are entailed by the production and exchange of goods. Green economics calls for a richer and deeper understanding of people, their relationships, and how they behave and are motivated. The ‘needs’ we are concerned about are not merely physical needs but also psychological and spiritual needs. The third slogan is ‘what goes around comes around’, which many people seem to find meaningless (it isn’t very rational or logical) but I think sums up a lot of what is important about recognising that we live in an abundant, but none the less closed, system.
Green economics is a nascent discipline. As such it has very many interesting, and conflicting, ideas. It has not yet reached the stage of establishing a paradigm, which makes it a lively arena for discussion. Green economics is open to new ideas. I hope you will join us and share yours.
If you would like to read a more complex introduction to green economics you can read something I have written which is an Academic paper defining green economics (pdf, 756 K)here
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