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03 boulding


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Kenneth Boulding was among the first to recognise limits to growth due to natural resource depletion. He pointed out that the Earth is not limitless, and everything we use comes from this Earth, and all our wastes have to remain on this Planet. Hence he asked (in 1966) to control consumption and production, otherwise we would run out of natural resources, while fouling our own nest.

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03 boulding

  2. 2. Concept of the Earth • Earlier people thought that the Earth was without limit. • It could supply natural resources infinitely. • Earth was “Open Access” – i.e. – Anyone can use the natural resources. – No problems of disposal of wastes. – Natural resources can be exploited without limits, as they were infinitely available. 17-Oct-13 Prabha Panth 2
  3. 3. Cowboy Economy • Kenneth Boulding calls this as the “Cowboy Economy”. • Humans were exploitative and destructive. • After using and wasting an area, they would move to new areas to exploit. • They did not bother about natural resources depletion, because new areas are always available. • They did not bother about pollution, for when one area is polluted, they can move to a new place 17-Oct-13 Prabha Panth 3
  4. 4. Cowboy Economy • More and more Consumption is regarded as a good thing • So also more and more production. • Assuming that natural resources are available infinitely, then this is possible. • Also it is assumed that the Earth can dispose of the wastes created by production and consumption. 17-Oct-13 Prabha Panth 4
  5. 5. Boulding’s criticism • Boulding pointed out that the Earth is limited. – The total stock of natural resources on this Earth is finite. – All economically available areas on Earth are occupied. – No new areas to conquer and exploit. – Not possible to have the “Cowboy” type of economy – of using and discarding land and resources. 17-Oct-13 Prabha Panth 5
  6. 6. Closed System •Therefore the Earth is a closed system. • In a closed system, all inputs and outputs are interconnected. – Nothing comes from outside, except sunshine. – Nothing can be thrown outside the Earth into Space. – The economies of the Earth should sustain themselves with the available resources of the Earth. – The wastes also have to be retained on this Earth. 17-Oct-13 Prabha Panth 6
  7. 7. Econo-sphere • The world economy can be thought of as an "Econo-sphere" – It is a subset of the Global system. – Inputs: production adds to stock of economic goods, – Outputs: consumption which subtracts from it, – Natural resources flow into the economic system, – And wastes flow out, but do not enter the economic system. 17-Oct-13 Prabha Panth 7
  8. 8. Space Ship Earth • Boulding points out that the Earth is a closed system, circulating in space. • It is like a SPACE SHIP. • It is completely self reliant. • Only solar energy comes from outside. • Humans cannot dispose off their wastes outside. • There is no “outside”. 17-Oct-13 Prabha Panth 8
  9. 9. Space ship Economy • All natural resources have to be recycled to sustain the economies. • Stock of natural resources should be kept constant not wasted. • All wastes created have also to be kept within the Earth. • Necessary to reduce output • And reduce consumption. • Minimisation not maximisation 17-Oct-13 Prabha Panth 9
  10. 10. In a Space Ship Economy: • Technological change should aim at the maintenance of a given total stock of output. • Reduce output (that is, less production and consumption) • Reduce depreciation and obsolescence. • Develop technology that can recycle wastes. 17-Oct-13 Prabha Panth 10