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second prize 2015

Amina Abbas-Nazari
Schumacher's Legacy
Why even now, over 40 since the 1973 oil crisis have we still not managed a substantial shift to utilising renewable energies despite this being in the best interest of the planet and the human population?
 
In the same year British economist E.F. Schumacher published his book ‘Small is Beautiful,’ which offered a poignant critique of Western economics and emerging globalisation. Schumacher argued that the economy was unsustainable. He believed natural resources, like fossil fuels, treated as expendable income, should be managed as capital, since they are not renewable, and will face eventual depletion. He further argued that nature’s resistance to pollution is limited and that government effort must be concentrated on sustainable development. 
 
Perhaps our ongoing resistance to employ sustainable energy is the result of its inability to fit intuitively into our prevailing capitalist system. Since green energies are renewable and sustainable, by their nature they cannot accumulate value, and therefore wealth for those involved in its sale and production, unlike oil. The result is little motivation to integrate them seriously into our economy and provide the investment needed to evolve them to meet our requirements.
 
In this speculative scenario Schumacher’s utopian economic vision was never fully realised but a compromise was found when fragments of his ideology collided with capitalism to produce this counteracting organisation, as a kind of free market environmentalism. Trading not the commodity but betting on the odds of predicted weather exploited the ingrained behaviours of our deep-rooted capitalist system to force the up-take and development of green energies to finally contend with petroleum production.