Tim Jackson and Peter Victor: Green economy at a community scale

Ecological economists Tim Jackson and Peter Victor have a new report out on the green economy at a community scale. You can download it here (PDF) or go to the website where it is located. Here is a brief description:

“Greening the economy at the local level will bring jobs, prosperity, and help us address the environmental challenges we’re facing. That is the finding of Green Economy at Community Scale, by Professors Tim Jackson and Peter Victor — two of the world’s top ecological economists and leading thinkers on issues of environmental sustainability and economic growth.

A green economy is not business as usual — with some clean technology added in. The transition is more fundamental and more exciting. It requires rethinking work and productivity, and developing a new vision of enterprise, investment, and a money economy that can support a shared and lasting prosperity.

For Jackson and Victor, prosperity is more than producing and consuming material stuff. It’s about providing the capabilities for people to flourish in their community — socially and psychologically — without destroying the ecological assets on which our future prosperity depends.

Green Economy at Community Scale is one of the first research-based explorations of the green economy at the local level. The report is drawn from the authors’ original analysis of the flow of natural and financial assets at the national level. It analyses conceptual foundations, and provides empirical evidence, for more sustainable community-based economic activities. The final section of the report draws together findings and identifies positive steps towards the creation of green local economies.”

Ecological economics: for and against

Historically, the logic of straw polls was that people care about the environment when the economy is doing well, not so much when it tanks. Remember those halcyon days of 2005 and how the environment fell off the map in 2008? Well, economics probably had something to do with it.

This makes the writings, lectures and debates about ecological economics of late very interesting. They are jostling for elbow room, you might say, as environmental and economic issues rise to prominence in public discourse at the same time. For instance, debates over pipelines are intertwined with debates over how to kickstart sluggish economies.

Last summer, Mark Sagoff (George Mason) wrote an interesting piece criticizing ecological economics as carrying over too many metaphysical assumptions about “Nature” into both ecology and economics. He also gave the interview below back in 2011 on the twin failures of ecological and environmental economics.

More recently, the Center for Humans and Nature has been running a series on ecological economics and scaling the economy to the biosphere. This series by the CHN focuses on resilience. Resilience, long a mainstay in ecology, is the new buzzword for economics after having gained significant momentum at the last Davos meeting. Anyways, I highly doubt the ‘resilient dynamism’ making the rounds over cocktails amongst the worlds richest folks resembled much of the ecological resilience pioneered by C.S. Holling in the early 1970s or now being carried on by the Resilience Alliance.

At any rate, here is the the lead off video from the Center for Humans and Nature from Peter Victor (York):