Ecological economics for humanity’s plague phase

| November 17, 2019 | Leave a Comment


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Media Type: Article - Recent

Year of Publication: 2020

Author(s): William Rees

Journal: Elsevier

Categories: , ,

The human enterprise is in potentially disastrous ‘overshoot’, exploiting the ecosphere beyond ecosystems’ regenerative capacity and filling natural waste sinks to overflowing. Economic behavior that was once ‘rational’ has become maladaptive. This situation is the inevitable outcome of humanity’s natural expansionist tendencies reinforced by ecologically vacuous growth-oriented ‘neoliberal’ economic theory. The world needs a more ecologically-informed economics yet, despite its self-description, contemporary ‘ecological economics’ does not adequately reflect key elements of human evolutionary and behavioral ecology. How should the discipline develop? This paper briefly considers some of the missing pieces that are particularly relevant to humanity’s econoecological predicament: competitive displacement of non-human species through habitat and resource appropriation; humans as exemplars of the maximum power principle; the implications of ‘far-from-equilibrium’ thermodynamics; and evidence that H. sapiens is in the plague phase of a global population cycle. I then describe some of motivational and cognitive roots of crisis denial that extend even into the 2015 Paris climate accord. The paper concludes with: a) a list of principles for ecological economics consistent with the analysis and; b) a minimal set of policy actions necessary for the global community to achieve a more equitable steady-state economy and stable population within the biocapacity of nature.

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  • stevenearlsalmony

    Dear MAHB Admin and our esteemed colleague,Jason Brent,

    As you know already, extant ecological science of human population dynamics explains in clear and remarkably simple terms how and why it is that Homo sapiens has become a plague species. Your comments on the uncontested science from Hopfenberg and Pimentel, along with comments from Bill Rees, Andrew Gaines, Geoffrey Holland, Guy McPherson, Derrick Jensen, Michael Mann, Joan Diamond, Greeley and other experts would be most appreciated.

    All objects of Creation are routinely seen as being within the purview of science. Homo sapiens is an integral species within the web of life and ubiquitously regarded as creatures of Earth. Please consider the growth of absolute global human population numbers as a matter of a distinctly biological nature, just as the uncontested ecological science of human population dynamics indicates that it is. Note too, how human population dynamics is essentially similar to the population dynamics of other species which are also integrated members of the web of life of Earth.

    How on this good Earth can human beings with feet of clay be sensibly expected to stabilize much less reduce the uninterrupted, patently unsustainable growth of absolute global human population numbers when the root cause of unbridled human population growth is everywhere avoided and denied by the very experts who recognize the dire ecological consequences of that growth? Where are the scientists who will answer one question: Why is the human population continuing to grow worldwide, despite declining total fertility rates in so many Nation-States on Earth?


  • Jason G. Brent

    The only possible action that will prevent the collapse of civilization and the deaths of billions before the year 2100 is coercive population control. And by coercive control I mean a bullet in the back of the head for anyone having more than one child. And even that may lower the human population in time to prevent the collapse of civilization

    • Dear Jason,

      Population stabilization and reduction is the goal. I believe we agree on this objective. But our challenge is to choose a humane way of achieving control of human population growth that is absolutely necessary. Executing people cannot ever be an answer. We must find and implement plans of action to place limits on population and economic growth that are consonant with universally shared, humane values.

      • Jason G. Brent

        Dear Steve: I am not a monster. However, no other action will prevent the collapse of civilization in the very near future. Read the book “Blip” written by Chris Clugston now available on Amazon and see the comment by Jarrad Diamond. The collapse of civilization will result in wars with Atomic weapons. Your granddaughter will be ganged raped to death over a piece of moldy bread and your grandson will die horribly by radiation poisoning. Everyone on the planet hates my essays and the conclusion I have reached. However, no one has found any errors in the math, facts and logic of those essays. If errors cannot be found, then the conclusion must be accepted. Also read my book “Humans, an endangered Species” that is available from Amazon. All attempts to prevent the exploding population from causing the collapse of civilization will fail due to the demands of all religions relating to sex, birth control and the production of children. Time is of the essence. Humanity must have birth control and not family planning. We are cowards and idiots for refusing to use the correct words. Jason

        • stevenearlsalmony

          Dear Jason, There is nothing in what you report that leads me to think of you as a monster. You are most stridently trying to make a point to which other people will respond more forcefully. Such a response by the humanity community is desperately needed because the problem presented to us by exploding human numbers is a global problem requiring “all hands on deck.” Your clarion call to action is appreciated. But, let me say again, that another method of gaining control of rapidly rising global human population numbers must be found and implemented humanely. All the best, Steve