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

By Robert L. Nadeau | Go to book overview

9
THE END GAME
Resolving the Crisis in
the Global Environment

Humanity’s dominance of Earth means that we cannot escape responsibility
for managing the planet. Our activities are causing rapid, novel, and substan-
tial changes in the Earth’s ecosystems. Maintaining populations, species, and
ecosystems in the face of these changes, and maintaining the flow of goods and
services they provide humanity, will require active management for the fore-
seeable future.

PETER VITOUSEK

The business-as-usual approach to resolving the environmental crisis is predicated on the following list of now familiar assumptions: (1) the lawful or lawlike dynamics of free-market systems can resolve virtually all environ- mental problems; (2) these dynamics will necessarily result in technologi- cal solutions; (3) governments should deal only with those environmental problems that cannot be resolved in these terms; (4) any actions taken by government must be commensurate with the understanding of the dynam- ics of free-market systems in the neoclassical economic paradigm; (5) the sole source of political power in dealing with environmental problems is the sovereign nation-state; (6) the sovereign nation-state exists, like all forms of government, in a domain of reality separate and distinct from the domain of economic reality; (7) the international system of govern- ment does not in itself have any political power; and (8) any attempts by this government to resolve environmental problems that might interfere with the growth and expansion of national economies and the global mar- ket system must be resisted by the governments of sovereign nation-states.

If the natural laws of economics and the sovereign nation-state were sacredly ordained aspects of a cosmic scheme or plan, business as usual could be very good business indeed. But since these constructs exist only

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