Sander Leeuw, Yongsheng Zhang

Paper #: 14-11-044

This paper takes a distant, holistic look at the various crises that we are currently encountering worldwide, and argues that these are all part of one and the same phenomenon. The difference in dimensionality between our societies' cognitive capacities and the sphere that is affected by their interventions in the environment is such that each and every intervention causes numerous unintended consequences. As known, frequent risks are dealt with, unknown longer-term risks accumulate. Our world is unable to deal with the multiplicity of unintended consequences of its own earlier actions that are currently emerging. To deal with this, we need to invert the 'resource-to-waste' economy that is limited to our current 'value space' by stimulating the development of non-western values, and to change the current sustainability discussions from 'burden sharing' to 'opportunity creation'. The current ICT revolution offers a unique opportunity to do so. But this requires non-equilibrium economic models that enable the modeling of transitions. Maybe infra-marginal economics offers a way forward.