17 March 2009


It's two months now since I launched Green Economics in Oxford and I've finally got round to posting James's kind words at the launch:

I'm delighted to have been asked to say a few words at this launch of Molly's book. I'll start by thanking her for the appreciative references in it to my own work. I don't find it easy to ignore them in order to make an objective assessment of the book!

Let me just say briefly that I very much agree with what Caroline Lucas and Richard Douthwaite say about it on the back cover: it 'explains in clear terms the economic paradigm for the 21st century' ... it gives 'a vision of a just, sustainable and fulfilling economic life' ... it's 'an excellent introduction to a rapidly developing branch of political economics' ... 'the scope for debate is one of the things that makes this pioneering book so exciting'.

It organises clearly a very wide range of subject matter. The three Parts are on: Theory; Vision for the Future; and Policies. Chapter headings include: Work; Money; Green Business; Globalisation and Trade; Relocalising Economic Relationships; Green Taxation; Green Welfare; and Land and the Built Environment.

Chapter 5 on Money is particularly topical. It's an excellent 16-page summary of the background to the present financial shambles, and what should come after it. The final Chapter 13 - "Summary and Further Resources" - helpfully pulls the whole book together.

The book suggests very clearly the "cognitive dissonance" to which societies like ours are now exposed. That's the term used by social psychologists to describe being compelled by circumstances to believe, and act on, two contradictory beliefs at the same time. On the one hand our governments say they must take emergency action to induce us to live more lightly on the planet. On the other hand they are doing what they can to stampede us into returning to high consumption lifestyles in order to save the economy - at the cost of billions of money borrowed from ourselves as future taxpayers. This book will, I am sure, help to accelerate the inevitable and necessary resolution of this contradiction within the next 10 years or so.

I will end these few remarks, as I began, on a personal note. Molly has dedicated the book to me as 'the Grandfather of Green Economics'. Not being a grandfather myself, I decided to consult Google on the grandfather's role. I learned that:

"Grandfathers have lots of wisdom and life experience to draw from. They have seen events and changes come and go. .... As grandchildren grow, they make attempts to learn about their world, their family, relationships, and society. A grandfather's perspective, formed from years of experience, can help guide, inform, and influence the growth and development of his grandchildren."

Straightforward enough, though quite a challenge in this context. However, I have settled for being a less conventional grandfather than most - if only because I have no idea how many grandchildren there are in this case. The practical answer to that has to be, of course: 'the more the merrier'. So I hope we can help their numbers to grow unstoppably.

Green Economics will be an invaluable aid for that purpose, as well as for our own understanding. We must try to make sure it gets the attention it deserves in places of education, in the press and communications media, among environmental, social and economic NGOs, and among the politicians, officials, and other mainstream professionals who will be responsible for helping us to shape a greener future.

1 comment:

  1. How can you say, in this overpopulated world, that 'the more grandchildren the better'?? The amazing thing is that while the population problem is at least an aggravating factor in all our problems, it gets virtually no mention.