Question Conventional Economists

Many professors of economics overlook the ecological consequences of the theories and policies they teach.  The trans-disciplinary field of ecological economics is gaining a foothold in universities, but mainstream, neoclassical economists control the vast majority of classrooms.  We encourage you to ask economists lots of questions — the point is to start discussions that will expose assumption-based doctrine and replace it with science-based facts. The questions below provide a solid “starter” list.

How is infinite economic growth possible on a finite planet?

Increasing consumption makes sense in cases where people aren’t consuming enough to meet their needs, but why is increasing consumption promoted even when it doesn’t add to well-being?

Why is GDP used by governments as the measure of economic progress, even though costs (such as defensive expenditures on crime, disease, and accidents) are not subtracted out of GDP figures?

Given evidence that the scale of the global economy is too large compared to the ecological capacity of the planet (e.g., ecological footprint and overshoot, species extinctions, pollution problems), why do economists overwhelmingly view increasing the volume of economic activity as desirable?

We learn that production ceases to make sense when marginal costs surpass marginal benefits. Given the laws of diminishing marginal utility and increasing marginal costs, it appears that marginal cost must catch up to marginal benefit at some point.  Why don’t macroeconomists apply these concepts to economic growth in the aggregate? Isn’t there an optimal size of the economy where the marginal benefit of growth is equal to the marginal cost?

Why is technological progress relied upon to reconcile the conflict between economic growth and environmental protection? Doesn’t that assume that markets and people will direct technology to the most appropriate ends, even though that has not been the case over history?

Why is control of the money supply granted to private banks — why are they allowed to loan money into existence as debt?

We face a profound economic dilemma.  Economic growth is not ecologically sustainable.  At the same time, failure to grow in the current structure results in unemployment and other serious social consequences.  Why are so few economists working on improving the macroeconomic framework so that we don’t require growth for prosperity?