Field of Science

Ecologically we're all living a Ponzi scheme

In terms of sustainability, David Barash, a psychologist at U. Washington, argues that we're all Bernard Madoffs. Ecologically "you simply cannot keep moving and growing and developing and mining your capital, assuming infinitely available resources and a natural environment of such unfailing elasticity that it will swallow our effluent forever and continue to provide a steady supply of resources into the bargain." And it's true. Yes, old Malthus was right, and yet an economist at our university expressed surprise that biologists still believed in Malthus because he'd been so thoroughly disproven. And that may be part of the problem, economists don't want to deal with ecoogical reality. A story circulated a few years ago about an interdisciplinary conference on energy, and after one of the economists got done speaking, a physicist said, "that won't work because it violates the laws of physics." And the economist said, "Well, who knows what the laws of physics will be in 50 years." But it will be a challenge to live sustainably because our economic system has been built on exploitation of resources and people.

Let the Phactor know what you think.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree. And I'm sorry--but not surprised--by the pigheaded determination to see the current crisis in strictly economic terms, as if this could be separated from the environment in which we live.