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Capitalism As If The World Matters

15 February 2006

CAITWM"Too many environmentalists see capitalism as the enemy. Jonathon Porritt grapples with its reality - a system capable of delivering sustainability and enhancing well being, but only if we think carefully about what form of capitalism we want. This book stimulates that thinking." - Adair Turner

In this fresh, politically charged analysis, Jonathon Porritt addresses the most pressing question of the 21st century: can capitalism, as the only real economic game in town, be retooled to deliver a sustainable future?

An Introduction: Why “Capitalism As If The Earth Matters”?

Reality One: There really isn’t much choice about learning to live sustainably on Planet Earth – if we don’t, ecological disaster looms.

Reality Two: Given that capitalism will remain the dominant economic system for the foreseeable future, we’ve got to make that journey to sustainability through a capitalist economy.

Jonathon_PorrittThis book is an exploration of that unavoidable challenge. First, it summarises why change is absolutely necessary (in terms of climate change, collapsing eco-systems, widening wealth disparities etc); then it shows how that change would substantially improve people’s quality of life and wellbeing; lastly, it highlights the fantastic opportunities for business in rising to this challenge.

A large number of case studies from business are used to show that a process of change is already under way. This process must now be dramatically accelerated by governments – through tax reform, an end to perverse, earth-destroying subsidies, incentivising more sustainable consumption and so on.

A brief model of what Capitalism As If The World Matters (ie genuinely sustainable capitalism) would look like is then presented, focussing on the five different kinds of capital (natural, social, human, manufactured and financial), each of which we have to learn to manage so much more effectively than we do today.


“Here’s a compelling book that should sound the trumpet for a whole new generation of engaged and optimistic young people, establishing once and for all that we still have choices – we don’t have to sleepwalk our way into the future.” - David Puttnam


This is a huge challenge. The author is critical both of conventional environmentalism and of the progressive Left – in both Europe and the United States. Most political parties are still mired in denial, and most businesses still get away with doing only what’s required even though it could be doing so much more.

But this is not another doom-laden eco-tract. There are solutions. Sustainable development and capitalism can be reconciled.


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» Porritt warns greens to mend negative ways - Observer Article - 6th November

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