Reconnecting with the social-political and ecological-economic reality

Environmental Values 33 (2):103-121 (2024)
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Abstract

This article critically reflects on the research portfolio by the ecological economist Clive Spash who has helped pinpoint specific and systemic blindspots in a political-economic system that prioritises myopic development trajectories divorced from ecological reality. Drawing on his published work and collaborations it seeks to make sense of the slow, or absent, progress in averting global warming and ecological destruction. Three strands of key concern and influence are identified and discussed with reference to their orientation and explicit expression regarding Ontology, Epistemology and Axiology. Some complementary points about indeterminacy and holism are presented to further strengthen the arguments for a transition towards a social-ecological economic system that puts values and principles back into focus. While Clive Spash's work has made a strong case within the economic community and appealing to ecology professionals, the value-myopia or value-vacuum has to be tackled across all disciplines, politics and society for a meaningful and urgently required transformation in decision making. Hence, the article finishes with some suggestions for the (higher) education system, and highlights the importance of simplicity and sufficiency, as well as strong sustainability-driven citizen and community action as necessary catalysts of change in this social-ecological transformation.

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