Money and Sustainability - Foreword
MONEY AND SUSTAINABILITY: THE MISSING LINK
From the Foreword by Professor Dennis Meadows
(co-author of the 1972 Club of Rome Report: The Limits to Growth)
We will never create sustainability while immersed in the present financial system. There is no tax, or interest rate, or disclosure requirement that can overcome the many ways the current money system blocks sustainability.
I useddid not use to think this. Indeed, I did not think about the money system at all. I took it for granted as a neutral and inevitable aspect of human society. But since beginning to read Bernard’s analyses I have a very different view….
I now understand, as proven clearly in this text, that the prevailing financial system is incompatible with sustainability in five ways:
· it causes boom and bust cycles in the economy
· it produces short-term thinking
· it requires unending growth
· it concentrates wealth, and
· it destroys social capital.
Any one of these is probably enough to derail the most carefully considered plan for a transition to sustainability. Together they are a prescription for disaster, which is precisely what they are giving us. The instability of the financial system should be enough to cause alarm, as the authors point out:
“According to the IMF, between 1970 and 2010 there were 145 banking crises,208 monetary crashes and 72 sovereign-debt crises-in other words, a staggering total of 425 systemic crises. An average of more than 10 per year! These crises have hit more than three-quarters of the 180 countries that are members of the IMF, many of them being hit several times.”
Informed observers of the 2008 crisis, by far the most serious so far, believe that the causes of instability have not been changed. Indeed many of them have grown worse. There will certainly be another global financial disaster.
…We are going to have to go through an awkward period, experimenting with new currency systems, if we are to have any chance ofthat our efforts will leading to sustainability. Viable complementary currency systems are not alone sufficient to halt our headlong drive towards disaster. But we have no chance of avoiding collapse without them.
This text is a rich source of information. It has…
· a devastating critique of traditional economic thinking
· an excellent discussion of the mechanisms through which money is created within modern society
· a description of the many problems we may expect from climate change and future collapses of the financial system
· proposals for nine different pragmatic monetary complements to the current financial system.
Our earliest ancestors finally did manage to develop a technology based on fire. But they had to emerge from the ocean to do it. Our descendants will no doubt develop a technology based on sustainability. But they will have to emerge from the current financial system to do it. This book gives the motivation and some preliminary directions for doing that.
Emeritus Prof. Dennis Meadows
New Hampshire, February 2012
Money and Sustainability: The Missing Link by Bernard Lietaer, Christian Arnsperger, Sally Goerner and Stefan Brunnhuber was published by Triarchy Press in 2012. Visit:
More about the book:
The Eurozone Crisis
People Money: The Promise of Regional Currencies