Bretton Woods II – For the Biosphere


In continuation of our series on New Economic Paradigm, the famed environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki points the an outdated financial system where the biosphere is treated as an externality to economic growth.

“When economists and politicians met in Bretton Woods, Maine, in 1944, they faced a world where war had devastated countrysides, cities, and economies. So they tried to devise solutions. They pegged currency to the American greenback and looked to the (terrible) twins, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to get economies going again.”

Whereas Bretton Woods (1) was tasked with rebuilding a war torn world, a new Financial Doctrine is needed to rebuild a war torn Biosphere. Economics as a discipline is based on the fundamental effects of selfishness and Bretton Woods demonstrated that we could in fact define “self” in terms of including the preservation of others. Now the task is to define “self” as including the Biosphere for which a new economic accord could certainly accommodate.

After all, the biosphere in an economic component. Like humans, it is selfish and will easily progress to a new “economic” state in response to economic inputs. In other words, don’t worry about destroying the World, it will take care of itself with or without humans.

Dr. Suzuki identifies two flaws in the current economic paradigm:


Flaw 1: Beyond its obvious value as the source of raw materials like fish, lumber, and food, nature performs all kinds of “services” that allow us to survive and flourish.

Flaw 2: To compound the problem, economists believe that because there are no limits to human creativity, there need be no limits to the economy.

These two points suggest that among all the great factories that define our great economy, we have left out the biggest one of them all. the Biosphere.

Maybe it’s time for an appropriately named Bretton Woods (2)

Dr. Suzuki’s original article can be found here – highly recommended for his compelling construction of the arguement for a new economic paradigm.

Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and chair of the David Suzuki Foundation and Dr. Faisal Moola is the Director of Science at the David Suzuki Foundation.

Take David Suzuki’s Nature Challenge and learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.

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