The Environmental Endgame: Mainstream Economics, Ecological Disaster, and Human Survival

By Robert L. Nadeau | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

This book convincingly demonstrates that the crisis in the global envi- ronment is rapidly becoming a zero-sum endgame in which the winners or losers could be all of the humanity, but it also promises to reveal how this game can be won. Obviously, this discussion is not the final word on what will be required to resolve this crisis, and any author who claims to have answers to all of the complex issues involved is either hopelessly naïve or terribly misinformed. The intent here is not to provide those an- swers. It is to open a conversation predicated on two assumptions that must be foundational to any successful attempt to prevent an ecological disaster that, if not prevented, will make the terms of human survival very harsh indeed: (1) the international community must begin very soon to develop and implement institutional frameworks and processes capable of coordinating large-scale human activities in environmentally responsible ways on a global scale; and (2) this effort must be predicated on our best scientific understanding of how this can be accomplished in the most pru- dent and responsible manner in the least amount of time.

During the course of this discussion, it should become quite clear that the crisis in the global environment is menacingly real and must be re- solved with all deliberate speed. And it will also become very obvious that the success of this formidable enterprise will be entirely dependent on our willingness to hear what science has to say about the causes of this crisis and the manner in which it can be resolved. The first step in this direc- tion, as Edward O. Wilson puts it, is to stop referring to our best scien- tific understanding of the complex interactions between human systems and environmental systems as the “environmentalist view” and to start calling it the “real-world view.”1 Scientists have attempted to make this view real by disclosing the dynamics involved in the interactions between humans and the environment, interactions based on the best scientific the- ory and evidence. However, this real-world view is rarely communicated

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