chapter  2
19 Pages

Visioning the bioregional economy

Henry Ford coined the adage that best describes the ethic of the mass consumptionmass production era of the twentieth century: ‘Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black’. I think we can usefully adapt this pithy phrase to help us vision the economy of the future. In this case it can be as colourful as human creativity can make possible but it has one fundamental limit: the energy limit. To put an exact number on the reduction in energy that we are looking for is a fairly unscientific process, but we need to reduce our current demand by something between 70 and 90 per cent.1 So I might paraphrase Henry Ford by saying that you can have any economy you want so long as it is a low-energy economy and does not exceed the sorts of limits in terms of throughput of materials that have been identified by ecological economists. This book is about my vision of the most rewarding and satisfying economy we could create for the global human community while keeping within these planetary limits. Anybody is perfectly at liberty to create another vision, and in fact since Nature’s way is one of diversity we are likely to have a variety of different local economies within and between the present nation-states of the world to replace the stultifying uniformity of the globalised monoculture. Designing future economies, and devising the political pathway to follow to arrive at them, offers both a challenge and an opportunity.