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Economics 101 and Ecological Collapse

By: 
Edward Fullbrook

Today’s economics, especially Economics 101, is a major source of humankind’s denial of the possibility of the calamity of all calamities, which our economy is engineering. Annually, millions of students around the world are forced to study textbooks that indoctrinate them into thinking that there is no significant causal connection between our economy and the ecosphere. Once upon a time there wasn’t. Although from the first forest-clearing onwards, the economy has caused environmental damage and at an increasing rate, it was only in the 19th century – when the economy began the big switch away from muscle energy – that it began to acquire the means to cause lethal damage to the ecosphere.

It has now been over half a century since the natural sciences began to discover that the economy was causing fundamental and irreversible changes to the ecosphere by which we and the economy exist. Given that economics is the study of the economy, a more radical change in a science’s empirical realm is unimaginable.

In 50 years, what has economics done about it? Virtually nothing. Brilliant and intellectually brave economists have created “ecological economics”. But that work remains ignored by over 90 per cent of the profession and in nearly 100 per cent of its classrooms. In today’s teaching of economics, 19th Century theory continues to hold sway. Students are given a picture of the economy that blocks from view the fundamental facts about it that natural science has discovered. Let’s take a look at how this censorship is achieved