Molly Scott Cato has been working as a green economist for five years. Her approach to economics is to seek to replace capitalism with an economic system which is benign for people and the planet.
Why should economics have become of so much interest to people in the Green movement? Green are characterised by their concern for the planet, for people and animals. So the field of economics, with its abstract mathematical models and it concentration on concepts such as 'growth' and 'money' might seem alien territory; and so it has proved.
Yet for a long while now, many in the environmental and Green movements have realised that the heart of our problem lies not in the actions which destroy the environment, but in the economic system which causes them.
An observation of the functioning of the system of global production and exchange makes it obvious that it is best characterised by the adage 'Money talks'. And if money talks, then the language it uses is economics. If we are to change the economic system which is environmentally and socially destructive it is inevitable that we learn to speak this language. Hence the need for gaian economics.
It is an affront that our ability to raise happy children and to guarantee them the basic necessities of clean air to breathe and water to drink is being undermined by an economic system that is dominated by organisations and structures who pay little attention to the human consequences of their actions. The fact that many of these organisations are dominated by men explains the attempt in gaian economics, in contrast to environmental economics, to balance up the gender scales. This not only means encouraging contributions from women, but also allowing the style to move away from the hard-edged, objective and scientific discourse that men, and especially male academics, tend to favour. Emotion, subjectivity and intuition and are valued within green economics.
Green economics is a discipline in development. It does not follow the categories of the existing economics discipline since that would constrain our ability to find the novel solutions we need. We need to develop thinking in all areas where economics has something to say. We also need to ensure that the debate over the future of economics is accessible to all readers, not only those with advanced statistics degrees who frequently dominate economic discussions.
Green economics is a nascent discipline. As such it has very many interesting, and conflicting, ideas. It has not yet reached the stage of establishing a paradigm, which makes it a lively arena for discussion. Green economics is open to new ideas. Read through those provided in the links from this page and by the other contributors to the Gaian Economics website, and provide some of your own. If you have ideas of your own to contribute email us to display your own work on this website.
Everything I have learned about economics over the past ten years or so is in my book Market, Schmarket, which you can investigate on this page. If you want to find out more please email me.