Scaling Down

How can we get our economy back on track while simultaneously making it more socially, environmentally and financially sustainable? The Resilience Imperative: Cooperative Transitions to a Steady-State Economy (New Society Publishers) addresses this question through a series of warnings and historical examples. Authors Michael Lewis and Pat Conaty, who specialize in integrative economic systems, advocate for the U.S. moving away from a large economy reliant on fossil fuels to small, local economies.

Lewis and Conaty warn readers about the current “era of volatility” caused by human impact on the environment and climate change and walk them through the links between fossil fuel consumption, climate change, the global economy and financial recessions.

“In part, what impedes our breaking out of the box is the conviction that economic growth and prosperity are synonymous—too many believe that we can’t have one without the other,” they write. They stress that prosperity is determined by quality of life and that the economy should be stabilized, not continue to grow

The authors offer as examples Sweden’s JAK, an interest-free lending system, and Community Land Trusts such as the Gramdan movement in India.

The cooperation between individuals and policymakers is vital to create a country that can sustain itself and its practices, they posit. “Without engagement, dialogue, and sometime fractious debate to determine what is most important, it is not possible to set strategy effectively or to learn from what works and what does not.”

They argue that with more integration and cooperation between businesses, governments and communities, a more sustainable economy is possible.