Economics must take environment into account

  • October 26, 2007
{mosimage}TORONTO  - We need to stop an attitude aiming at maximum economic growth and instead make economic choices toward responsible development, said Dr. Bob Goudzwaard.

Goudzwaard gave a public lecture at Toronto’s Wycliffe College Oct. 16, summarizing ideas from his new book Hope in Troubled Times: A New Vision for Confronting Global Crisis. The University of St. Michael’s College Christianity and Culture program was among the event sponsors.

“More material growth will bring more happiness — it’s no longer true,” said Goudzwaard, professor emeritus of economics and social philosophy at the Free University of Amsterdam.

Industrial growth in rich countries is one of the main reasons for the rapid speed globalization, which feeds global warming and climate change, said Goudzwaard.  

He proposed reducing greenhouse gases through the use of alternative energy sources like wind, water and renewable organic matter instead of nuclear and fossil fuels and diminish energy use either directly by government restrictions or indirectly by imposing taxes or raising prices.

“Working and consuming less will do us better than working and consuming more,” he said.  

{amazon id='0801032482' align='right'}Audience members questioned the practicality of taking a step back from economic growth. Goudzwaard said he wasn’t advocating for a zero-growth strategy. But he said “people need to make a national covenant by saying we need to save our world for our children.”     

“The need for humility both within and without Christianity” is the message evening facilitator Dr. Stephen Scharper took from the talk.

“To what extent have Christians made an idol of the global marketplace,” said Scharper, associate professor for the University of Toronto’s Centre for Environment.

“We must be critical of the well-meaning attempts to bring other faiths and cultures in line with our world view.”

Scharper also said the lecture reminded him that Christians need to be compassionate and not be pointing fingers.  

“We’ve got to soul search and express a compassionate outrage,” said Scharper.

“We need to love ourselves and our adversaries into a new relationship with nature and the economy.”

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