Sustainability will boost the economy

Spring is a season of renewal and from my window, as I write these words, I can see new leaves and flowers.

Unfortunately for humanity, all is not as it seems according to a report produced by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The global assessment summary for policy makers, which it released on the 7th May, warns of unprecedented species extinction rates that are linked to our economic activities. The growing amount of science based data questioning the way that we obtain the energy people use for sustaining the lifestyle pursued in what are considered to be the wealthier nations and aspired to by others has led to some, who want this issue to be addressed, taking direct political action to encourage policymakers to make changes.

Whether you believe that this is the way to encourage the governments of this world to restructure their economies or not, this certainly is being presented as a choice between future life or death and therefore should be considered an urgent matter. Nonetheless, here in Britain it is the result of the referendum held in 2016 about our membership of the European Union that remains the principal concern of our government and parliament. Other nations and states also have local issues that seem to take precedence over any serious consideration of the sustainability of our current behaviour and devising alternative plans. One oft repeated claim that is used to delay decision making is that sustainability will damage ‘the economy’.

As someone who has academic and practical knowledge of economic and sustainable development, I see this argument as misleading. The problem is how to explain this to people who have not got an appropriate scientific background and have genuine concerns about the future wellbeing of themselves and their loved ones. This website is one of the tools I use.

In March I was fortunate to attend a talk given by a physicist who has specialised in thermodynamics and had used his knowledge to make his own calculations about the natural energy available to humans and all life on earth. He concluded that the problem we have created for ourselves is due to using fossil fuels, which moves energy from the crust and cause climate change. However, he also calculated that there should be no difficulty relying on renewable energy sources instead because we are only using a small fraction of the energy available to us. He also explained why using hydrogen as the prime energy source for transport is not only much more efficient than the fossil fuels that we currently use but also eliminated the short-term pollution and longer-term climate change problems.

Having been responsible for calculating National Income statistics in the past, I can say with confidence that investment in the economy to make the switch towards renewables combined with hydrogen usage and recycling should create employment and will boost the economy monetarily, not diminish it, as well as making it more sustainable.

In recent months, I have been refreshing my understanding of physics and this will lead to some of the papers on this website being updated over time, hopefully to make it easier for readers to make an informed choice about actions they can take. In the meanwhile, I have added three new papers: ‘How can you be here when you are everywhere?’; ‘A Grace’; and ‘The Parable of the Treasure Chest’. I hope you enjoy reading them.

Paul Newman

About Paul Newman

Paul Newman BSc (Sociology), DMS, MA (Sustainable Development) worked for the Government for thirty years mostly on projects seeking to develop the UK Economy and has also been employed as a part-time lecturer, invigilator, events organiser and as a consultant on sustainable development projects. He became a member of the voluntary group Sustainable Staffordshire in 1997 and subsequently served as first a Vice-Chair then Chair for a four year term, during this time he also became a volunteer and then a trustee of the Community Council of Staffordshire, which he continued to support as a member of its Board of Directors until its closure in 2018. He has also served three terms as a Councillor for Swynnterton Parish, been a trustee of Hanchurch Village Hall and member of Trentham PCC.
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