Economics Forever: Building Sustainability into Economic Policy
March 1, 2000
Panos Media Briefings
Abstract: Natural disasters are increasing: the floods in Venezuela and Mozambique and the cyclone in Orissa, India, are just a few recent examples. Many of these disasters may well have been intensified by human activities such as deforestation and by global warming. At the same time, the protest demonstrations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in Seattle in December 1999 highlighted worldwide concern that economic growth based on free trade is having negative impacts on society and the environment, especially in poorer countries. These very different events show how urgently people around the world are trying to address questions that have been asked since the 1960s: is economic growth destroying the planet? And if so, what must be done to change our destructive course? How can we slow down the rate at which we exploit the earth, while still providing a decent standard of living for all the world’s present and future people? The questions are still hotly disputed, but the relatively new discipline of ‘green’ economics is seeking to find some answers. The analysis provided by green or environmental economists demonstrates that positive economic growth is sometimes in fact negative growth when environmental damage caused by industralisation is added to the economic equation – in developing as well as in developed countries.
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