Serv it up! Stir it up!
The economy needs to move away from the resource depletion idea.
It should focus more on being productive in getting well-being from the resources and allowing all people to prosper rather than getting more and more things from the resources. As mentioned efficient/productive in labour, capital and resources has only led to more resources being consumed and it can really be question if our economy is efficient.
Of the three factors of productions the focus has been on the pricier labour and capital, creating unemployment when demand cannot keep up with efficiency, but as Robert Ayres says
“Our historical emphasis on the use of fossil fuels to increase labor and capital productivity is no longer appropriate. We must concentrate, in the future, on increasing resource productivity. In effect, goods must be converted as much as possible into services, and services must be delivered with the minimum possible requirement for material and energy inputs.”
Achieving this will require that we start value the resources and the things they are transformed into by offering them as services, with a life time guarantee, with materials being recovered, repaired, reused, remanufactured and last resort recycled. A word of caution is that an economy more built on providing resource efficient services will never be entirely material free, it will require a lot of renewable energy and there are limits to the service circle as well. We humans are still dissipative structure as our economy.
However by recognizing the value of ecosystems, the resources that they generate and the value stored in the things they are transformed into and by creating a spaceship economy more focused on providing services that try to close the loops and distribute well-being for all within the limits, we will have a bigger chance of prolonging of our human stay here on spacehip earth, and a decent one too.
References and quotes