Crisis, Innovation and Sustainable Development
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Crisis, Innovation and Sustainable Development

The Ecological Opportunity

Edited by Blandine Laperche, Nadine Levratto and Dimitri Uzunidis

This unique and informative book highlights the relationship between crisis, innovation, and sustainable development, and discusses the necessary conditions required to seize the ecological opportunity. The authors study the strength of change for building a new society, and the theoretical origins and political aspects of environmental concerns. They also sketch the outlines of a global governance system seeking to promote sustainable development.
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Chapter 5: Re-greening the Earth While Making Our Economies More Peaceful and Fair

Willem Hoogendyk


Willem Hoogendyk1 INTRODUCTION In nature, young ecosystems start off with a spurt of quantitative growth. In time, they reach maturity; after this point their growth is mainly qualitative. Back in 1848, the philosopher John Stuart Mill argued that a similar kind of growth should be pursued by human communities and nations. Mature economies, he thought, should seek a ‘stationary state’ to prevent the Earth being stripped of its last remaining beauty. In other words, there would be no further growth of population, nor of physical capital stock (roads, industrial equipment, buildings), but there would still be steady improvements in technology, culture and ethics. The ‘art of getting on’ (getting ahead) would then give way to the ‘art of living’. This is entirely in line with today’s calls for sustainability and for rich nations to reduce their ecological footprint. By 1991 the notion of a ‘steady-state’ economy had already been elaborated by US economist Herman Daly (1974). In rich countries, however, quantitative-growth-as-usual is still very much the rule. It’s perhaps a little greener here and there, and with a few other adjustments, but still with the same old mantra of continued growth. To abandon it, we are assured, would spell disaster. To remain where we are would throw us into immediate reversal. We would be booted out of the global casino. There would be mass unemployment, dwindling national treasuries, poverty all around, and chaos and confusion would reign. Let us listen for a moment to a wise fisherman, whose tribe on...

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