Toward the Integration of Economic Science:
Economic Requirements for Ecological Sustainability

Economic Requirements for
Ecological Sustainability

Completing the Keynesian and monetarist revolutions
by integration of concepts and national accounts
in a dynamic money-flow perspective
John Atlee, 4/10/90

 back to  Towards the Integration of Economic Science  main page 

1. Maintain a full-employment economic environment

People's work largely determines their sense of self-worth and integration with society. It will be more difficult to achieve environmental and other social objectives as long as people perceive a threat of potential conflict between these objectives and their current livelihood and economic security.

2. End the population explosion

The world is already too crowded for optimum livability and access to such limited natural resources as ocean beaches, lakeshores, wilderness, forests, aquifers, natural fisheries, petroleum reserves, etc. The longer the population explosion continues the more resources will have to be devoted to protecting the advantages of the already rich from the demands of the disadvantaged, and the more the rich will become effectively imprisoned by this defensive environment. Thus, the sooner the world reaches zero population growth the better will be future generations' standard of life.

3. Conservation as the "moral equivalent of war'

Emphasize conservation on a "moral equivalent of war' basis. This includes more efficient use and recycling of all kinds of resources, replenishment of renewable resources (fish, timber), and maximum use of solar and related forms of energy. Many kinds of conservation are cost-effective even today. But in other cases differential value-added tax rates should be used to reflect present social costs and predictable future real costs of production. Some conservation measures undoubtedly tend to increase the costs of production and thus to reduce the growth of output.

4. Redefine our concept of "standard of living"

Redefine our concept of "standard of living" to minimize competitive pretentiousness and emphasize social values and leisure-time activities. This will require basic changes in advertising and marketing. But it will reduce production and distribution costs and permit continued growth of real GNP with minimum environmental impact. This will also make possible shortening the hours of labor -- and thus reducing the escalating GNP use of resources -- without reducing the "standard of life."

5. Decentralize production

Decentralize production, with emphasis on discovering the minimum rather than maximum size for optimum efficiency. This will tend to reduce the huge waste of commuting time and transportation costs, the concentration of economic power, and the difference between highest and lowest salaries.

Written: April 10, 1990
Last revised: May 1998
To IEA home page