Economism and the Econocene: a coevolutionary interpretation | Richard B. Norgaard | real-world economics review

We live in the era of Economism. Human consciousness is deeply etched by economistic beliefs in individualism, materialism, property, markets, economic growth, and freedom as consumer choice. These beliefs are necessary to sustain the system that supports us. But the economy we have is unlikely to support our grandchildren. Natural scientists argue that we are in a new geologic era, the Anthropocene, where people have become the major force in changing the geosphere: the atmosphere, oceans, and land. But it is the economistic beliefs that describe the cosmos of most people, bind people together, support their particular behavior, and sustain the economic system. Economism is altering the physical processes of the geosphere and collapsing the diversity of the biosphere. Econocene is a more appropriate term for the new geologic era. Fossil fuels and their technologies have transformed agricultural and industrial processes, the mobility of goods and people, and the geographies of cities and rural areas. People’s values, ways of understanding, and social organization have coevolved with fossil fuels and their technologies, but it is economism that binds people together and girds the economic system we have. We need a new “ism”, a new human consciousness, to support a new relationship with Earth and its other inhabitants.

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