Eurocentric history portrays the West as advanced, rational, scientific, and democratic, while the East is superstitious, unscientific, autocratic, and backwards. This poisonous philosophy enabled the incredibly brutal and ruthless violence required for the conquest of the globe, and continues to sustain extremely exploitative economic systems. A partial antidote is World Systems theory which portrays all human beings, nations, and cultures, as joint participants in weaving the rich fabric of human history. Ecological economics goes further to take the entire humanity as one element of the biosphere and geosphere of our planet. All of the biological species have their “economics” where they consume and produce, directly or indirectly affecting other species. All of these economies are closely interlinked. Viewed in this light, the environment crisis is easily seen as being due to human beings’ predatory consumption of vast proportions of the biosphere and the geosphere, without any compensatory productive replenishment.
Conventional economics assumes that ever-increasing GDP is desirable, possible, and that everyone benefits, because it does not take into account costs inflicted on the biosphere and geosphere, which will ultimately be borne by human beings as well. For a more detailed discussion, see Evaluating the Costs of Growth. Ecological economics takes a broader perspective and recognizes that there are more things that contribute to human well-being than just the amount of stuff, such as health and education (human capital), friends and family (social capital) and the contribution of the earth and its biological and physical systems (natural capital). Its goal is to develop a deeper scientific understanding of the complex linkages between human and natural systems, and to use that understanding to develop effective policies that will lead to a world which is ecologically sustainable, has a fair distribution of resources (both between groups and generations of humans and between humans and other species) The related field of Green Economics is in general a more politically applied form of the subject.
Doughnut economics is a visual framework for sustainable development – shaped like a doughnut – combining the concept of planetary boundaries with the complementary concept of social boundaries. The framework was proposed to regard the performance of an economy by the extent to which the needs of people are met without overshooting Earth’s ecological ceiling. The name derives from the shape of the diagram, i.e. a disc with a hole in the middle. The centre hole of the model depicts the proportion of people that lack access to life’s essentials (healthcare, education, equity and so on) while the crust represents the ecological ceilings (planetary boundaries) that life depends on and must not be overshot. Consequently, an economy is considered prosperous when all twelve social foundations are met without overshooting any of the nine ecological ceilings. This situation is represented by the area between the two rings, namely the safe and just space for humanity. The diagram was developed by Oxford economist Kate Raworth in the Oxfam paper A Safe and Just Space for Humanity and elaborated upon in her book Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist.