He seems to be saying, "we can know what to do, but we don't seem to be able to do it". Doing anything significant means harming a few established politically connected interests, ranging from the sugar farmers and their billions in benefits (tariffs and quotas) to resource-extracting oil companies and government employee unions with their 55 retirement ages at 90%.
To achieve Prosperity, some existing interests or "stakeholders" must lose power, prestige or money for the greater good of the society. In China, the party hack bureaucrats who used to control all the agricultural planning and production lost power and prestige: the citizens prospered and became well fed. In India, the power and prestige of the "License Raj" bureaucrats was decreased: the country prospered.
In the US, we are increasing our "License Raj". We are increasing regulations, and these increased regulations interact with existing regulations, resulting in a combinatorial increase in complexity. Consequently, the required times to reach the point where most projects that hire the median worker (a HS graduate with no college) are delayed for years, while educated professionals (with a very low unemployment rate) and bureaucrats live the good life and prosper. They spend years discussing the project, and the median worker remains unemployed.
With no market for "externalities", all the speculation about their value is just speculation. Life cycle analysis (LCA) doesn't sum into a single value for dollar accounting (water, energy, CO2, NH3, NO2, PO4, etc. are apples and oranges).
The resources necessary for the future of man (sustainability) are energy combined with innovation and human creativity. All other "resources" can be made from those. For example, given energy you can make H2 and NH3 from water and air and then use the H2 and NH3 to grow bacteria to make fish food, which then crates your fish fillets for dinner (all steps have been proven).
Using fast reactor technology, like traveling wave reactors, the U238 (depleted uranium) already mined and sitting above ground in storage areas in the US can be converted into a 700 or so year energy supply, which producing far less radioactive waste than our existing nuclear reactors.
"Sustainability" is a very slippery concept that seems to be more political and emotional than useful.
With known detrimental taxes like payroll taxes in most countries, you could do revenue neutral tax shifts from these know detrimental taxes to less detrimental taxes on things like oil and carbon (a tax on oil/carbon does less economic damage/$ of tax than payroll taxes) and obtain an economic stimulus. The decrease in externalities would be a free byproduct and there is no need to know the value of the externalities.
The Paradise that never existed. Back in the "good old days" when a minority of employees had well paying union factory jobs, there was a large rural sector that were loosing their jobs. What happened to the stable boys? They were the uncounted "majority of drones and unemployables" that we are still worried about.
With modern work being so dependent upon education and the failure of our unionized education system in the last half century has made the problem appears more acute. The internet at least has provided possible options to solving that education issue.
1- How can banks have proprietary trading in derivatives for "hedging" and risk minimization objectives be defined as a "profit center"? Hedging like an airline buying fuel futures to cover tickets they have already sold is viewed by the company as a "cost", like insurance, to minimize economic risk. It is a zero sum game (actually negative sum with transaction costs), by definition, and the only way the banks can make it a "profit center" is the cheat.
2- How can you create real assets that the banks can loan money on with real assets as collateral, when our regulatory system creates years to decades long delays in any real physical project building anything like a new factory, new offshore aquaculture facilities or even a desalinization plant in water short S. California.
3- Why is credit so important to the economy when none of our most innovative and creative companies were created with credit from banks? Banks won't loan against great innovative ideas. However, they will loan against derivatives of derivatives that are even more opaque to understanding than someone with an idea about a new startup.
4- With high debt loads and associated high fixed cost making our society more economically fragile, why are the governments of the world subsidizing debt and punishing savings (negative real interest rates-- less than inflation)? With interest on everything from home mortgages to corporate bonds being tax deductible, but dividends not deductible, increases our economic fragility. Beyond giving power to Wall street cronies and the political class, leverage (debt) decreases stability.
Who is the median? In the US, we have about 30% who don't graduate high school and of those that do, at least 30% are effectively illiterate and innumerate. We are now up to that statistical "median", an uneducated person in a world demanding high education. He is a renter without a lot of debt (in absolute terms) with a "pre-owned" car.
Any discussions of statistical "inequality" must include the reality of economic demands in the modern information age.