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Capitalism, Cooperation and The Anthropocene Joshua Farley Community Development and Applied Economics Gund Institute for Ecological Economics University.

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Presentation on theme: "Capitalism, Cooperation and The Anthropocene Joshua Farley Community Development and Applied Economics Gund Institute for Ecological Economics University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Capitalism, Cooperation and The Anthropocene Joshua Farley Community Development and Applied Economics Gund Institute for Ecological Economics University of Vermont

2 Economies as Evolutionary Systems Hunter gatherer economies (pleistocene) Hunter gatherer economies (pleistocene) Accumulation = death Accumulation = death Agricultural economies (Holocene) Agricultural economies (Holocene) Property rights, division of labor, political hierarchy Property rights, division of labor, political hierarchy Population density, knowledge, and rate of change Population density, knowledge, and rate of change

3 Economies as Evolutionary Systems Industrial economics (Dawn of anthropocene) Industrial economics (Dawn of anthropocene) Fossil fuels, non-renewables Fossil fuels, non-renewables Competition Competition Growth Growth Financial economics (anthropocene) Financial economics (anthropocene) Profound change in our lifetimes Profound change in our lifetimes Price from negative to positive feedback loops Price from negative to positive feedback loops Redistribution Redistribution

4 Societal Challenges in the Anthropocene Just and sustainable degrowth

5 Societal Challenges in the Anthropocene Marginal market costs (Market supply curve) Poor people have no demand

6 Market Solutions Competition, self-interest and choice Competition, self-interest and choice Preference satisfaction Preference satisfaction Internalize externalities Internalize externalities Make prices reflect full costs Make prices reflect full costs Creates incentives for innovation and substitution Creates incentives for innovation and substitution Preferences weighted by purchasing power Preferences weighted by purchasing power Americans spend 6% of income on food for home consumption; ~1% on raw food Americans spend 6% of income on food for home consumption; ~1% on raw food Many Africans spend 75%; ~ 50% on raw food Many Africans spend 75%; ~ 50% on raw food What happens when prices double? What happens when prices double? Prioritize preferences or physiological need? Prioritize preferences or physiological need?

7 ‘Externalities’ and the Anthropocene ‘Externalities’ and the Anthropocene

8 Prisoner’s Dilemmas Global Climate Change Global Climate Change Natural resource depletion/biodiversity loss (finite raw material sources, finite services) Natural resource depletion/biodiversity loss (finite raw material sources, finite services) Innovation in the information age Innovation in the information age Cooperation is best solution Cooperation is best solution

9 Can People Cooperate? Stupid question Stupid question Are people good or evil? Are people good or evil? Characteristics of an evil person Characteristics of an evil person Characteristics of a good person Characteristics of a good person Economics, money and cooperation Bauman Y, Rose E. Selection or indoctrination: Why do economics students donate less than the rest? Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. 2011;79(3): ; Frank RH, Gilovich T, Regan DT. Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation? Journal of Economic Perspectives. 1993;7(2): ; Kirchgässner G. (Why) are economists different? European Journal of Political Economy. 2005;21(3): ; Vohs KD, Mead NL, Goode MR. The Psychological Consequences of Money. Science November 17, 2006;314(5802): Economics, money and cooperation Bauman Y, Rose E. Selection or indoctrination: Why do economics students donate less than the rest? Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. 2011;79(3): ; Frank RH, Gilovich T, Regan DT. Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation? Journal of Economic Perspectives. 1993;7(2): ; Kirchgässner G. (Why) are economists different? European Journal of Political Economy. 2005;21(3): ; Vohs KD, Mead NL, Goode MR. The Psychological Consequences of Money. Science November 17, 2006;314(5802):

10 Evolution of Cooperation Genetic Genetic Multi-level selection Multi-level selection Distribution of pro-social behavior Distribution of pro-social behavior Bacteria, slime-molds, insects, fish, humans (super cooperators) Bacteria, slime-molds, insects, fish, humans (super cooperators) Oxytocin Oxytocin Detecting cheaters Detecting cheaters Cultural Cultural Altruistic punishment Altruistic punishment Punishing non-punishers Punishing non-punishers Group identity Group identity

11 Economics of Cooperation Peak oil, food supply and pandemics Peak oil, food supply and pandemics Values maximized at price of zero Values maximized at price of zero Competitive markets create scarcity (production and consumption) Competitive markets create scarcity (production and consumption) “Energy transitions produce cultural transitions” “Energy transitions produce cultural transitions” Myxococcus xanthus, Dictyostelium discoideum and the human predicament Myxococcus xanthus, Dictyostelium discoideum and the human predicament “Struggle for energy causes violent conflict” “Struggle for energy causes violent conflict” Cooperation for energy ends violent conflict Cooperation for energy ends violent conflict

12 Institutions for Cooperation Institutions can make generous people act selfishly, or selfish people act generously Institutions can make generous people act selfishly, or selfish people act generously Reciprocity or payments? Reciprocity or payments? Social norms: glorify greed or punish it? Social norms: glorify greed or punish it?

13 Conclusions Markets emerged simultaneously with fossil fuels Markets emerged simultaneously with fossil fuels Nature of ‘scarce’ resources has changed from rival, excludable to non-rival and/or non-excludable Nature of ‘scarce’ resources has changed from rival, excludable to non-rival and/or non-excludable Cannot transform physical characteristics of resources to fit market model Cannot transform physical characteristics of resources to fit market model Must transform economic system to resource characteristics, human behavior Must transform economic system to resource characteristics, human behavior Prisoner’s dilemmas Prisoner’s dilemmas Physiological necessities Physiological necessities Cooperation and common ownership Cooperation and common ownership


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