Two of our favorite sustainability writers, Simran Sethi (co-author of Ethical Markets) and Van Jones (author of The Green Collar Economy [HarperOne, 2008]), had a lively onstage discussion at Bioneers by the Bay 2008. The two discussed the false opposition of economic growth vs. environmental stewardship (We can’t have both? Of course we can!), growing the renewable energy industry, and how to rescue the US economy.
Van Jones: This breakdown is horrible. Awful. Frightening. And inevitable. And inevitable. Because we got sold a bill of goods in this country. For the past thirty years, we tried to run our economy based on consumption, not production; based on debt, not smart savings and thrift, like our grandparents; and based on environmental and ecological destruction, not ecological restoration. Well, that is, by definition, not sustainable. You cannot build an economy up on credit cards. That’s what we have been trying to do. So US consumption became the center of the world economy, not US production. Now we have this horrible breakdown. But it represents a possibility of a breakthrough, back to an economy that makes sense. We’ve got to stop borrowing from overseas and start building again here at home. We’ve got to stop relying on credit from overseas and start relying on our creativity here at home. That is the pathway to a sustainable future.