Imagining an economy that restores and heals

The dominant economic paradigm of our times is capitalist consumerism.

Capitalist consumerism assumes that resources are endless, and that the Earth’s capacity for garbage and waste is also endless.

Both of these assumptions are false.

The climate crisis and the advent of the Sixth Great Extinction challenge the very core of this economic model.

The fact is that if we continue with capitalist consumerism, humanity will accelerate both the coming climate breakdown and the Sixth Great Extinction.

The fact is that practicing capitalist consumerism for much longer will literally wipe out humanity in a few short centuries, if not sooner.

So what do we do?

We need to implement a totally different economic paradigm: an economy that heals and restores. Here is what I mean:

(i) We need an economic model that will heal and restore the natural environment. The Earth will become increasingly inhospitable to human life over the next 50 to 100 years, perhaps sooner.

We need to immediately implement a social and economic system that replaces consumerism in favor of models that heal and restore.

We must create the companies that will re-wild so much of the planet, restore natural ecosystems, and clean-up plastic and other waste products that have now accumulated for at least 100 years.

(ii) We need an economic model that heals and restores our societies. We need to create and sustain an economy that prioritizes and maximizes health care, education, housing and other social protections as basic human rights.

This is a priority, as these types of social rights are necessary to preserve and sustain human dignity, culture and decency — all of which will be under tremendous strain in the dark days ahead.

(iii) We must create the new infrastructure that heals and restores human relationships. Human relationships everywhere are broken. Brother fights brother, children fight their parents.

Our economies are bringing out the worst in us.

We need to create the social infrastructure and mental health innovations that will help bring people together. We need our economies to prioritize holidays, celebrations, childrearing and jubilees.

And we need these same economies to also prepare for the rapid and coming Great Migration -- the climate-induced people movement that will dwarf every other people movement in history.

These are the grand values that must shape the economy of the future. Only this type of economy will weather the climate crisis and will prepare the way for a human renaissance: a Golden Age.