II. The Reorientation of Today's Economies
to Chapter 3
Chapter II, Section headings:
Reflection on the state of the environment as experienced and reported today reveals two key changes in reality:
First, the world that was relatively empty has become one relatively full in terms of its capacity to absorb the consequences of human activity in the global economy as currently organized. Signs of this include: pollution of the air from the emission of carbon dioxide from motor cars and widespread burning of fossil fuels; huge (often increasing) population pressure on natural resources in various parts of the world; the exponential growth of mega-cities projected into the next century.
Second, the foundations of the earth as known and used for centuries, and once considered indestructible, are literally being destroyed. Signs of this include the hole in the ozone layer, continued soil erosion, acid rain, global warming, and threats to the existence of the rain forests and the diverse species they shelter.
These two fundamental shifts in reality limit the previous vision that societies can solve some basic economic problems, such as poverty and unemployment, by means of economic growth and expansion. They force recognition of a third basic reality: that the poverty endured by millions of people is itself in part a manifestation of the lack of sustainability due to misuse of the finite resources of the planet.
A number of consequences flow from this new way of seeing the world and its economy. This new approach, often called a paradigm shift, implies a number of things:
Transformation must begin with seeing the world in a new way, i.e., with the paradigm shift, and studying the consequences that flow from this view. This is not easy. And what follows is even more difficult, as a whole set of ideas and questions need further pursuit. This agenda for debate and clarification draws on the considerable work already done by others. The issues below constitute a good starting point for people in the churches and elsewhere who wish to participate in the process of thinking through what needs to be done.