Toward Buddhist economics, building on E. F. Schumacher

Colin D. Butler

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review


Skyscrapers, Cockatoos, and Buddhist Science There is a joke concerning economists and ecologists that I used to think was fairly well known, at least within ecological circles. Recently, however, I have found that many people have not heard it, reflecting not only my growing age but perhaps a time where people are more deferential to economists, even though the evidence surely cannot justify reverence toward the dismal science. I first heard it in 1989, told by Paul Ehrlich already famous, though not yet widely scorned, as he was to become during the 1990s for his writing on impending global catastrophe, such as in his 1968 book The Population Bomb (Ehrlich 1968). Ehrlich was delivering the Richard Jones Memorial Lecture at the University of Tasmania, Australia (http:// The joke goes like this: “An ecologist and an economist have fallen from a tall building. As they careen toward the pavement, the ecologist is panicking. The economist remains calm. “Don’t worry,” he says. “Demand will create a parachute.” The idea behind the joke summarizes much of this chapter. If you see the point and think it is funny, then you may be encouraged to read further. The chapter will provide details, arguments, and references that might be of use to you, especially if you feel driven to try to communicate similar ideas to environmental skeptics and mainstream, conventional economists who continue to dominate the global political and economic systems. This is despite the deepening global financial crisis, most recently in Europe, but perhaps soon also in China. But if you are a conventionally minded economist or economics student, you might decide to read no further.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCulture and Civilization
Subtitle of host publicationCosmopolitanism and the Global Polity
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages42
ISBN (Electronic)9780203794166
ISBN (Print)9781412849739, 9781138521797
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2018


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