Kenneth E. Boulding () was a British economist, educator, systems scientist and interdisciplinary philosopher. He graduated from. “Spaceship Earth”: Boulding, Kenneth E.(). Period of local pollution. Period of global ruin of human sustainability. The capability of nature to clean up by. Abstract. The work of Kenneth Boulding is sometimes cited as being foundational to the understanding of how the economy interacts with the.

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A few unusual spirits among the ancient Greeks perceived that the earth was a sphere. Increasingly, investors and insurers are requiring better quantitative assessments of environmental risks for investment portfolios —risks arising from climate change, natural resource scarcity, and pollution—and are incorporating these assessments in their long-term investment decisions.

Otherwise there would be no demand for variety in food, for variety in scene, as in travel, for variety in social contact, and so on. The G20 has also launched the Green Finance Study Group, co-chaired by China and the United Kingdom, to explore ways of mobilizing private capital for green investments. Housed within the sphere is a dark ride that serves to explore the history of communications and promote Epcot’s founding principles, “[a] belief and pride in man’s ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere.

The Ecological Economics of Boulding’s Spaceship Earth

Thc problems which thc spaceship earth is going to present, therefore, are not all in the future by any means, and a strong case can be made for paying much more attention to them in the present than we now do. Tile closed economy of the future might similarly be called the “spaceman” economy, in which the earth has become a single spaceship, without unlimited reservoirs of anything, either for extraction or for pollution, and in which, therefore, man must find his place in a cyclical ecological system which is capable of continuous reproduction of material form even though it cannot escape having inputs of energy.

I would argue strongly also that our obsession with production and consumption to the exclusion of the “state” aspects of human welfare distorts the process of technological change in a most undesirable way. If there are infinite reservoirs from which material can be obtained and into which effluvia can be deposited, then the throughput is at least a plausible measure of the success of the economy.

The essential measure of the success of the economy is not production and consumption at all, but the nature, extent, quality, and complexity of the total capital stock, including in this the state of the human bodies and minds included in the system.

From the human point of view, knowledge or information is by far the most important of the three systems. Now we must urgently tackle the next challenge, of fostering these new principles to accompany the vision. Does economic welfare involve having nice clothes, fine houses, good equipment, and so on, or is it to be measured by the depreciation and the wearing out of these things?


A machine, for instance, originated in the mind of man, and both its construction and its use involve information processes imposed on the material world by man himself.

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There are spzceship here which the economics profession has neglected with astonishing singlemindedness. Common international approaches are needed to evaluate environmental impacts and inform decisionmaking. No craft, no crew can travel safely with such vast contradictions. In such a system all outputs from consumption would constantly be recycled to become inputs for production, as for instance, nitrogen in the nitrogen cycle of the natural ecosystem.

By “knowledge” here I mean, of course, the whole cognitive structure, which includes valuations and motivations as well as images of the factual world. We can see this pre-eminence of knowledge very clearly in the experiences of countries where the material capital has been destroyed by a war, as in Japan and Germany. Is it, for instance, eating that is a good thing, or is it being well fed?

The earliest known use [1] is a passage in Henry George ‘s best known work, Progress and Poverty [2] Earty perhaps the most famous passage of the essay, Boulding describes the open economy of the past—with bouldin seemingly unlimited resources—and contrasts it with the closed economy of the future. The gross national product is a rough measure of this total throughput. The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth.

Aggregate reductions by these corporations will amount to million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent MtCO2e —or 2 percent of the world total. In regard to the energy system there is, unfortunately, no escape from the grim Second Law of Thermodynamics; and if there were no energy inputs into the earth, any evolutionary or developmental process would be impossible.

The concept of entropy, used in a somewhat loose sense, darth be applied to all three of these open systems.

In Adlai Stevenson made a famous speech to the UN in which he said:. Sony Corporation, for example, achieved its target of a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from to In the face of uncertainty about future policies to bouldinh climate change, companies are using internal carbon pricing in their strategic planning to manage regulatory risk and explore future scenarios for potential investments.

Oddly enough, it seems to be in pollution rather than in exhaustion that the problem is first becoming salient. First, as he emphasized in his opening sentence, transitioning to a more sustainable economy requires humankind to rethink its relationship with nature: The regenerative landscape Archived at the Wayback Machine.

The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth

Not to be confused with Earthship. He argues that the Earth of the future inwhich we could say is now the Earth of the present is more similar to a closed system: It is only in very recent times, of course, that the information coming in from the universe has been captured and coded into the form of a complex image of what the universe is like outside the earth; but even in primitive times, man’s perception of the heavenly bodies has always profoundly affected his image of earth and of himself.


The present world economy is open in regard to all three. In the spaceman economy, what we are primarily concerned with is stock maintenance, and any technological change which results in the maintenance of a given total stock with a lessened throughput that is, less production and consumption is clearly a gain. Here we have an interesting example eartg a system which seems to maintain itself by the self-generation of inputs, and in this sense is moving towards closure.

In this view, bouldkng and production are always good boulsing more the bestand success is measured by the amount of throughput of factors of production. The very existence of a positive rate of interest may be taken as at least strong supporting evidence of this hypothesis. In some bouleing, corporations are taking action on climate and energy issues absent government mandates. Thus the processes for fixation of nitrogen from the air, processes for the extraction of magnesium or other elements from the sea, and processes for the desalinization of sea water are anti-entropic ill the material sense, though the reduction of material entropy has to be paid for by inputs spaceshop energy and also inputs of information, or at least a stock bouoding information in the system.

On this view, similarly, we eat primarily to restore bodily homeostasis, that is, to maintain a condition of being well fed, and so on. I am inclined eqrth to regard the stock concept as most fundamental, that is, to think of being well fed as more important than eating, and to think even of so-called services as essentially involving the restoration of a depleting psychic capital.

We travel together, passengers on a little space ship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft.

Even now we are very far from esrth made the moral, political, and psychological adjustments which are implied in this transition from the illimitable plane to the closed sphere.