Global economics of Nature and the Kingdom of God
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The Guardian report of Prof Partha Dasgupta’s massive report, (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/feb/02/economics-of-biodiversity-review-what-are-the-recommendations) gave me a momentary vision sense of our standing at the threshold of a world really possible to us, if economics changes so as to do justice to nature, rather than taking nature for granted as a free gift, unconditionally available for careless exploitation.
GDP measures the flow of money, not the stock of national assets, including natural capital. GDP does not deal with vital gifts the Earth gives us, without our making, though struggling against our impedance. So nations should be paid to protect global goods, like the Amazon ecosystem. Those who exploit the high seas should pay for their use. Governments should stop paying people more to exploit nature than to protect it. Present levels of consumption require 1.6 Earths – so the Earth speaks Micawber’s wisdom, to those who have ears to hear and like Balaam’s Ass (Numbers 22). We are at present living in a world becoming impossible, not only for humanity, but for all inhabitants of the Bio-Diversity.
The service of economics is to chart, measure, and trace the roots of this impossible earth. But Dasgupta also argues that a sustainable path is there for us to choose: it ‘will require transformative change, underpinned by levels of ambition, coordination and political will akin to, or even greater than, those of the Marshall Plan’. These words invite us to step over it, while also telling us that, for the moment, we are still dragging our feet, in the impossible world.
There is a deep kinship, though not identity, between this picture of the present Earthly Opportunity, and Jesus’ call to the Kingdom of God. Jesus said the Kingdom of God is near-coming. People were not already in the Kingdom, it is a pressing invitation. So we are torn uncomfortably between daring to step over the threshold, and preferring to stay in our easy deadly habit outside. We may, like the rich young ruler, ‘turn away, grieving’, still holding on to his riches, which Jesus had told him to give to the poor. He missed the Kingdom of God because he didn’t get his economics right.
Too much of our Christianity tells us that we are already comfortably in the Kingdom of God. Are we trying to have Christianity without sound global economics, and without Jesus?
See also, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcosc.2020.615419/full
For a less optimistic assessment
Written by Haddon Willmer
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