Complete Society

Ideas and strategies for a sustainable world

What does natural capitalism have to do with politics?

(We’re currently reading Natural Capitalism in one of my Presidio classes)

Natural Capitalism makes a great, rational case for what’s possible. With example after example, it shows that sustainable society can exist if the world system is designed and encouraged to thrive based on some fundamental principles.

As I read each chapter, I keep coming back to the idea that we can’t achieve what’s possible without the government providing the right ground for it to grow.   And that ground needs to rest on systems thinking founded in reason, fact, and science.

Chap. 10 – Agriculture – showed how critical a scientific approach is to growing sustainability
Chap. 11 – Water – could be summed up with the inescapable logic of the bathtub analogy
Chap. 12 – Climate – declared this theme as a section title “In God we Trust; All others bring Data”

So, essentially, we can’t hope to achieve the next Industrial Revolution without a government that makes intelligent, rational decisions for the overall, long term good of the system.

As I’ve said elsewhere, this then becomes a major criterion for choosing who leads the government.  Has a candidate for President shown himself to be a pragmatic, reasonable man who carefully examines the science/facts of a decision and can handle complex, nuanced issues?

The fact that we haven’t had such a leader for 8 years may go a long way in explaining why much of what Natural Capitalism said was possible hasn’t been achieved.

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September 24, 2008 - Posted by | Politics and Governance, Uncategorized |

1 Comment »

  1. Ted, I love the idea of transitioning our economic system to one that values nature and mimics its systems and processes, however, it is an inherent impossibility given several factors.

    1. A capitalist free-market system requires perpetual growth as capital seeks ever-increasing rates of return. Just switch on CNBC for 5 minutes and you’ll likely hear the need for “growth,” and turn on CNN and listen to a politician speak and you’ll here them talk about creating job and growing the economy. If you watch any videos on youtube regarding population expansion, which is based on the excess amount of energy (allowing an explosion in food production available due to free-flowing capital) you will see what looks like a CANCER spreading across the globe leaving absolute destruction in its wake.

    2. While leaders of industry would like to believe otherwise, humans are merely PART OF a complex web of natural systems, not IN CHARGE or CONTROL of such.

    3. Given that natural systems are FINITE, such INFINITE GROWTH IS IMPOSSIBLE.

    4. The fundamental goal of a capitalist economy is to create wealth from production which involves three key ingredients…a)raw materials (i.e. nature) b) energy (i.e. hydrocarbons) and c) ingenuity backed by capital (i.e. VC). Supposedly the system is open to everyone (American Dream) but in reality each unit of additional growth accrues primarily to the wealthy class and does not trickle down to the middle and lower classes, especially during the past 25 years. This disparity will inevitably lead to civil unrest and a totalitarian government system put in place under the guise of “protecting” the people from some external threat (terrorism, boogie man, you pick your poison).

    So, as well-intended as the “green movement” may be, it will be wholly inadequate to stem the tide of the devastation inevitably associated with a growth-based system of ever-expanding exploitation of creatures, both human and non-human and the natural support systems upon which all parties depend to survive.

    Please pass this along to your gang at Presidio. Peace….

    Comment by William Barnes | January 2, 2009 | Reply


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