Friday, 6 March 2009

An Icelandic Saga

In "The Ecologist" this month is an interesting piece by Molly Scott Cato on the lessons of Iceland for the rest of the world. Iceland is a small crust on top of a lava vent, and prone to erupt now and again. In the period 1783-1785 we now realise that the Laki Eruption caused climatic and other disruption in Northern Europe. In 2007-2oo8 they capped this with a systemic financial collapse. Molly ends her piece with the following paragraph:
What can we learn from the Icelandic object lesson? It demonstrates the unsustainable nature of the globalised capitalist system that has come to dominate provisioning and trade over the past 40 years. The most important lesson is to cut your coat according to your cloth. Once you strip away the financial fluff, an economy is worth what it has in terms of resources: its people and its land. Losing sight of this basic fact has created overinflated currencies and excessive asset prices; the other side of the coin has been the devaluing of the resources that really matter: people and planet. Creating green jobs is all very well, but until we tackle the economic system’s underlying destructive logic, sustainability will always be out of reach.

Molly Scott Cato is a reader in green economics at the Cardiff School of Management

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