Center for Economic Ecology

The Economic Ecology Center within Foundation Earth is devoted to inspiring a new macro-economic model that takes as its basis ecological principles and laws.

“Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.” Kenneth Boulding

Standard economic models and practices are largely divorced from ecological principles and instead are designed to protect the growth of capital and profit thereby encouraging over-exploitation of natural resources and ignoring environmental constraints – carrying capacity. Pollution costs are externalized to maximize short-term profits.

This approach has proven not only ruinous to the natural world but also inadequate to ensure the economic well-being of the vast majority of people living on the planet. To address the ecological and economic crises we find ourselves in, a new economic model is urgently needed. In creating the new economic model the Economic Ecology Center will use an interdisciplinary approach working with economists, ecologists, academic scholars, indigenous peoples, social justice leaders, and others. The concept is not to design an ecological economics where ecology is merely one element of economic theory, but rather an economic ecology where human economy is fully integrated into the ecology of the planet. A special emphasis in this work will be to learn lessons from the “economies” of natural systems, whether photosynthesis in trees or the life cycle of the salmon to garner and amplify economic principles embedded in these natural economies such as redistribution, reciprocation, localization, gift giving and recycling that will be critical components of the new economic model. The economic model for the long-term will foster a locally focused economy. An initial workplan follows the five “Center” descriptions.

The SEC Disclosure Project addresses the urgent need to restructure the economy’s rules toward a True Cost Economy as a key step to a cleaner planet and a healthier economy. Specifically we propose that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should require companies to disclose their pollution externalities in annual public filings. This will provide critical environmental information to the public, leading to responsible changes in the economy. Hope best emanates from bold, comprehensive, credible, and achievable plans, commensurate with the scale of the problem. With the vision of a True Cost Economy and better disclosure rules, a well-informed public can take corrective steps.