Of Ecosystems and Economies: Re-connecting Economics with Reality

Spash, Clive L. and Smith, Tone (2019) Of Ecosystems and Economies: Re-connecting Economics with Reality. SRE - Discussion Papers, 2019/03. WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna.


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This discussion paper looks at the connections between economies and ecosystems, or more generally biophysical reality. The term "economies" is used, rather than "the economy", because of the prevalent false claim that there is only one type of economic system that is possible. We outline how the ecological crises is linked to the dominant drive for economic growth and the tendency to equate growth with progress and development; common even amongst those apparently critical of the need for continued growth in the materially rich countries. The unreality of mainstream economics is epitomised by the accolades given to those justifying mild reformist policy in response to human induced climate change in order to continue the pursuit of economic growth. We emphasise the structural aspects of economies as emergent from and dependent upon the structure and functioning of both society and ecology (energy and material flows). Finally, that the structure of the global economy must change to avoid social ecological collapse, poses the questions of how that can be achieved and what sort of economics is necessary? We explain the need for: (i) a structural change that addresses the currently dysfunctional relationships between economic, social and ecological systems, and (ii) an economics that is interdisciplinary and realist about its social and natural science relations.

Item Type: Paper
Keywords: growth, development, economics, ecosystems, thermodynamics, political economy, critical realism
Divisions: Departments > Sozioökonomie > Ecological Economics
Depositing User: Gertraud Novotny
Date Deposited: 02 Apr 2019 14:13
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2019 00:41
Related URLs:
URI: https://epub.wu.ac.at/id/eprint/6903


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