What in the world are these things?
Environmental Economics : Environmental economics is an area of economics that studies the financial impact of environmental policies. It can also been seen as application of the principles of economics to the study of how environmental and natural resources are developed and managed.
Buddhist Economics : An economy minimising the negative externalities and maximising positive externalities, keeping all social and not only economic factors in account by interpreting Buddhist texts – can be termed as a Buddhist economy.
What do they suggest?
They suggest Buddhism and environmental economics overlap in a beautiful way. Knowing that I have not read absolutely every Buddhist text on the planet, or even half of the massive collection. I’m quite unsure if every word of all the texts is absorbable by anybody. But the essence of any Buddhist text remains the same. The idea is to live a life close to the main tenets of mindful-ness, non-violence, lack of defilements, and this list could go on.
The essence of Buddha’s teaching would always direct a more sustainable life for humans. It does not necessarily suggest that we must give up our lives of luxury and live as ascetics. It does not ask us to do nothing but meditate. But it does ask us to meditate on the effect of our creations. The externalities caused by creations is what we must ponder upon.
The creations of human society may or may not be for profit. Either ways, they in themselves can be checked for the effects on our environment. Let us imagine, a company making paper bags, and recycling plastic and waste. It could earn revenues, as the demand for eco-friendly products is increasing. At the same time it can be benefitting the planet. Buddhist economics, or environmental economics will not question a company which is for profit. It will only question the actions that cause anti-environmental effects.
So we can understand that Buddhist economics will always be in line with environmental economics. We must note here that any idea of ‘Buddhist economics’, would have something making it Buddhist in nature. May that be a reference to a Buddhist text or idea. Therefore, all environmental economic ideas may not be Buddhist economic ideas, since they do not have any Buddhist referencing.
There is only so much that the Buddhist scriptures can assist with, when it comes to today’s pollution. No text in Buddhism will ask you to make the most of e-waste recycling since there was no ‘e’ (electronic) to begin with, during that era. However, Buddhist economic ideas will always be environmental economic ideas. Both schools of thought care about nature dearly. Buddhism’s reason is the impermanence of the universe. Environmental economics’ reason is the long term and irreparable loss that economies do (and will) face due to ecological damage.
Buddhist economics may be a vague term, and environmental economics a constantly evolving one, but the purpose of both is to make life more live-able. And possibly, use our economic resources, for the rarest resource we have i.e. one earth.