But I find this comment submission from Tidal which I probably didn’t give its due at the time well worth highlighting:
This will be a bit of core dump, but I wanted to engage this discussion.
Even “mainstream” economics is struggling with it’s evident shortcomings:
Robert Solow: Economic History and Economics
“modern economics has an ambition and style rather different from those I have been advocating. My impression is that the best and brightest in the profession proceed as if economics is the physics of society. There is a single universally valid model of the world. It only needs to be applied. You could drop a modern economist from a time machine-a helicopter, maybe, like the one that drops the money-at any time, in any place, along with his or her personal computer; he or she could set up in business without even bothering to ask what time and which place… We are socialized to the belief that there is one true model and that it can be discovered or imposed if only you will make the proper assumptions and impute validity to econometric results that are transparently lacking in power…. Of course there are holdouts against this routine, bless their hearts… Let me recapitulate. If the project of turning economics into a hard science could succeed, it would surely be worth doing. No doubt some of us should keep trying… There are, however, some reasons for pessimism about the project. Hard sciences dealing with complex systems-but possibly less complex than the U.S. economy-like the hydrogen atom or the optic nerve seem to succeed because they can isolate, they can experiment, and they can make repeated observations under controlled conditions. Other sciences, like astronomy, succeed because they can make long series of observations under natural but essentially stationary conditions, and because the forces being studied are not swamped by noise. Neither of these roads to success is open to economists. In that case, we need a different approach.”
Or Joseph Stiglitz: There is no invisible hand “Adam Smith’s invisible hand – the idea that free markets lead to efficiency as if guided by unseen forces – is invisible, at least in part, because it is not there…. That such models prevailed, especially in America’s graduate schools, despite evidence to the contrary, bears testimony to a triumph of ideology over science. Unfortunately, students of these graduate programmes now act as policymakers in many countries, and are trying to implement programmes based on the ideas that have come to be called market fundamentalism… Good science recognises its limitations, but the prophets of rational expectations have usually shown no such modesty.”
Two branches of the “holdouts”, as Solow refers to them, would include “ecological economists” (Daly, Costanza, Ayres, Farley… I recommend Michael Common’s text
More radically, you have the Post-Autistic Economics folks.
Nevertheless, this stuff is so radical compared to today’s social memes, etc., it’s hard to imagine their broad adoption on the timescales required… Part three of Climate Code Red posits that until we start acknowledging the “problem” as an emergencychallenge we are not likely to get much traction in changing our institutions/policies… Some of Ian Dunlop’s quotes are particularly good: “we have created a political and capitalist system which has proved incapable of recognising that the most important factor for its own survival is the preservation of a global biosphere fit for human habitation. Our institutions are totally short-term focused; politically due to the electoral cycle and corporately due to perverse incentives. Thus we are uniquely ill-equipped to handle these major problems, which are all long-term.
Our ideological preoccupation with a market economy based on short-run profit maximisation is rapidly leading towards an uninhabitable planet. As inconvenient as it may be politically and corporately, conventional economic growth and rampant consumerism cannot continue. Markets are important, but they operate within rules. Henceforth, the rules must change to ensure long-run sustainability.
Nationalism and short-term vested interests have so far prevented the development of a global governance framework capable of handling this “Tragedy of the Commons”. However, the issue of global sustainability is now much bigger than any nation state. Global warming, in particular, is moving far faster than the scientists had predicted, to the point where we are already in the danger zone.
The stark fact is that we face a global sustainability emergency. But it is impossible to design realistic solutions unless we first understand and accept the size of the problem. We know those solutions; what is lacking is the political will, firstly to honestly articulate the problem and secondly to implement those solutions.”
The first two sections of that report (which were previously published separately last year as “The Big Melt” and “Target Practice”) make the case that we are already in emergency mode. And it discusses how reticent most of us are to adopt this position for fear of being seen as “alarmist” or “crazy” or “not practical”… I can certainly relate to those feelings… But the case they make for the status quo continuing unless we collectively frame this as an “emergency” is persuasive… Unfortunately, I have trouble imagining the “Pearl Harbour” that will trigger that mindset shift “in time”… if the Arctic melt in ’07, or Katrina ’05 aren’t enough, what will be?
But on that point, much of the third part of “Code Red” uses military metaphors… one quote is from Admiral Stockdale, a “Hanoi Hilton” POW: “you must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be”
Well, like I said, a core dump… But I really think that this is the next big issue… The “science” has done its part… Now it is up to society to implement policies to deal with the crisis… The question is whether we can do so within the current economic and institutional paradigms, or do we have to fix both issues at the same time? I certainly hope the existing paradigms are up to the challenge, because that would reduce the overall challenge… but I fear that they are not…