Class 23 (04/04/2018): Developing Options: Safe-guarding the Earth's Life-Support System: Economy and Governance and Mitigating the Degradation of the Life-Support System

Class slides


A sustainable community is one that satisfies the needs of the present while safeguarding the Earth's life-support system (ELSS), on which the welfare of current and future generations depends (Griggs et al., 2013). Humanity is embedded in and dependent on the ELSS. For at least 200 years, almost all interactions, including the flow of material, energy, and information between society and the ELSS are economic in nature and controlled by ethical, social, and economic (ESE) rules, which in turn are impacted by the changes in the ELSS (Plag and Jules-Plag, 2017). To reach sustainability, safeguarding the ELSS has to be congenital to the economic rules. Although the vast majority of normative ethical accounts demand that the human population transitions to a fair, sustainable lifestyle, the economic rules that require perpetual growth are in tension with this moral requirement. In fact, the current rules are sustaining growth by accelerating the main mass and energy cycles in the ELSS leading to a cataclysmic degradation. Humanity has developed into the “anthropogenic cataclysmic virus” (ACV) in the ELSS (Plag, 2015). To reach sustainability, this virus is challenged with a transition into the healer.

Reading List

Boyce, 2013. See See

Greer, 2011.

Jackson, 2009.

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