Theodoros P. Lianos is an Emeritus Professor and former Rector of the Athens University of Economics and Business. His books – some scientific popularity – are mainly circulated by the Kastaniotis, Papazisis and Gutenberg publications Theodoros P. Lianos, a professor at the University of Davis, California, and a professor of political economics at the Athens University of Economics and Business, does not sound the alarm of mankind today. It warns us that we are already a few phases after this impact. In the book, with scientific rigor, but which is not afraid to use the pure, pure and effusive reason of everyday circumstances, four forms of wealth are examined: the material, the spiritual, the physical and the experiences. Material wealth is defined as the total of material goods that are sources of utility for their owner. It is the wealth that produces income and is produced by the “collaboration” of man with nature. But this collaboration has been at the expense of nature for many years, and if it continues in the same way, that will mean the end of both nature and material wealth. A nice fairytale The economist writer, contrary to the perceptions of most of the colleagues of economists, argues that material wealth can not be produced forever if current growth rates continue. “Continuous growth is a nice fairy tale, a sweet lullaby that has no effect on the real world” (p. 128). The growth that we are now watching is a loan from the future. Its continuation makes the life of this future smaller. But does this continuous development reduce inequalities? Neither does this achieve, it increases them. Spiritual wealth is all the knowledge a man has, but also the capacity with which he perceives the world. This wealth maintains a two-way relationship with the material. Nature is the wealth that nature gives us without the interference of people, and finally the wealth of experience is the sum of human actions. Here I will insist on the point where the author points out the reasons why he considers good deeds to be wealth, to conclude that “the feelings of satisfaction and pride that the virtuous person accumulates in his soul is a real psychic wealth” (p 116). These three categories, unlike that of wealth, are unlimited in their size. The study by the author of the so-called “ecological balance” introduces us to the core of this book. The ecological balance is the difference of the ecological footprint (demand for natural resources) from bio-capacity (supply). The author observes that after 1970, where the balance of the ecological balance was in place, the deficit is steadily rising. And on the basis of concrete evidence that depicts reality (see Table 6.2), it points out that “the material wealth of mankind has exceeded the upper limit that the resources of the Earth determine. Further development, if any, will be possible at the expense of the planet’s natural environment “(p. 139). Overconsumption is the first risk bell.
Overpopulation the second. Here it is mentioned – without fully endorsing the time limit, but not the course to there – to the “prophecy” of the microbiologist Professor Frank Fenner. According to her, in the next 100 years the human species will disappear because of the over-consumption of the rich and the overpopulation of the poor. Impressive is here the element that Lianos quotes. If we want mankind to survive, the Earth’s population will have to be reduced to half that of today (to 3.6 billion, from 7.5 billion now) or else to halve consumption ( to $ 4,800 from 10,000 today). The transition Are there ways to deal with these two enemies of the continuation of the human species? The author proposes the transition from the growth model to that of a stable economy. The idea of a stable economy is far too old, but what the writer would call it today is the need for total output (GDP) to remain stable and to the extent that it absorbs the available natural resources without causing environmental problems . On the other hand, this stable economy to be implemented must – as much as it appears to violate well-established human rights – impose birth control policies. The suggestions here of the author, and in particular that of an “international stock exchange of rights”, are, in my opinion, the weak link of a book firmly kept in the scientific and not just reality. But the underdevelopment of the economist professor should not lead some to rushing conclusions about the book. This is not part of a series of destructive books, but a condensation of the thinking of a man who in his scientific career as well as in his most frequent public interventions never hesitated to see problems where others saw solutions.