Ecological Economics and Sustainable Development

Building a sustainable and desirable economy-in-society-in-nature

Authored by: Robert Costanza , Gar Alperovitz , Herman E. Daly , Joshua Farley , Carol Franco , Tim Jackson , Ida Kubiszewski , Juliet Schor , Peter Victor

Routledge International Handbook of Sustainable Development

Print publication date:  March  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415838429
eBook ISBN: 9780203785300
Adobe ISBN: 9781135040727


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The current mainstream model of the global economy is based on a number of assumptions about the way the world works, what the economy is, and what the economy is for (Table 18.1). These assumptions arose in an earlier period, when the world was relatively empty of humans and their artifacts. In this context, built capital was the limiting factor, while natural capital was abundant. It made sense not to worry too much about environmental “externalities,” since they could be assumed to be relatively small and ultimately solvable. It also made sense to focus on the growth of the market economy, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), as the primary means to improve human welfare. And it made sense to think of the economy as only marketed goods and services and to think of the goal as increasing the amount of these goods and services produced and consumed.

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