Some Insight from an Evolutionary Perspective

A joint Griffith University - Global Change Institute event (Thursday and Friday 22-23 October 2015)

John Foster presenting his paper "Lock-in and uncertainty in complex economic systems: developing an alternative to conventional economics analysis" at the workshop. 

The following EEMG people attended the workshop: John Foster, Phillip Wild, William Bell, Liam Wagner and Minoli Amarasinghe.  The workshop provided interdisciplinary perspectives informing the transition to a sustainable economy and highlighted issues frustrating the transition.  The following list includes some of the perspectives and frustrations:

  • The Environmental Kuznets Curve indicates that as economies become more wealthy they produce fewer emission but this relationship appears ill-founded and may result in policy inaction. 
  • Traditional economics uses constrained optimisation in climate change analysis but constrained optimisation ignores lock-ins that induce uncertainty. 
  • The requirement to help people develop self-awareness and self-control over their life choices and to design policy that accommodates a diversity of lifestyle choices.  This contrasts with utility optimisation found in traditional economics with policy designed around forming the correct price signals.
  • The requirement to evaluate and accept the physical limitations to economic growth and to priorotise the economic outputs within a sustainable economy.  In contrast, traditional economics focuses on continued economic growth.
  • The fossil fuel industry deliberately undermining the efforts to address climate change by confusing the public over the scientific consensus on climate change.

The Griffith University and GCI websites provide a fuller account of the workshop content.