Ernst Friedrich Schumacher (16 August 1911 – 4 September 1977) was a German-British statistician and economist who is best known for his proposals for human-scale, decentralised and appropriate technologies. He served as Chief Economic Advisor to the British National Coal Board from 1950 to 1970, and founded the Intermediate Technology Development Group (now known as Practical Action) in 1966.
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A spirit of violence permeates the whole of our science, technology, economics. . . . It makes us think absurdities such as infinite growth in a finite environment were possible; that we could go on finding and burning as much oil every ten years as in all previous history; that science could cure the sickness of the environment; . . . that man's future was one of little work and endless leisure; that man has moved from the age of scarcity into the age of plenty. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I am not quite sure what the advantage is in having a few more dollars to spend if the air is too dirty to breathe, the water is too polluted to drink, the commuters are losing out in the struggle to get in and out of the city, the streets are filthy, the schools are so bad that the young perhaps wisely stay away, and the hoodlums roll citizens for some of the dollars they saved in the tax cut.
They gave him a seashell: "So you'll learn to love the water." They opened a cage and let a bird go free: "So you'll learn to love the air." They gave him a geranium: "So you'll learn to love the earth." And they gave him a little bottle sealed up tight. "Don't ever, ever open it. So you'll learn to love mystery.