Category Archives: environment

Towards a stable economy

After hearing an NPR interview with one of the founders of Ecological Economics, Herman Daly, I started reading more into the subject.Hump the rainbow album cover

I like the idea of the economy being within an environmental system. Businesses can easily run up big ecological (and social) debt by misusing resources and not accounting for externalities that damage or remove environmental services. Furthermore, an economic model of constant growth doesn’t make sense from an evolutionary standpoint, because it doesn’t seem tp follow the idea of a dynamic balance. Efficiency instead of growth should be our new economic mantra, and “the scarce use of resources” should replace “the use of scarce resources.”

Arne Naess, the philosophy credited with founding Deep Ecology says that ecosophy is “an evolving but consistent philosophy of being, thinking and acting in the world, that embodies ecological wisdom and harmony.” Daly furthers Naess’s ideas and says “Current economic growth has uncoupled itself from the world and has become irrelevant. Worse, it has become a blind guide.”

image from New Scientist: How Our Economy is Killing the Earth

Unfortunately, changing course could be difficult. Gus Speth, an attorney and co-founder of NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) says in an interview in the New Scientist, “…we’re trying to do environmental policy and activism within a system that is simply too powerful. It’s today’s capitalism, with its overwhelming commitment to growth at all costs, its devolution of tremendous power into the corporate sector, and its blind faith in a market riddled with externalities. And it is also our own pathetic capitulation to consumerism.”

Now that scores of investment bankers and other practitioners are out of work, they should put down their crossword puzzles and crapachinos and start taking a fresh look at the way they expect to do business in the future– in light of the intrinsic link between their business world and die grosse Welt.

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Food packaging… new spin on same old thing.

So today’s NYT article entitled “Solution or Mess? A Milk Jug for a Green Earth” starts to address some of the questions I and others have raised. The food industry is going for more efficient containers to ship, but they have not addressed the plastic jug, cardboard palette, cellophane wrapping, etc. all that gets recycled after a single use… and the reason for the efficient containers is to improve long distance transport of milk, which in-and-of itself is dubious.

Fair warning for these seemingly good ideas, but they are still working within the conventional system. No time is spent on real alternatives like local daries with their glass jugs and short supply chains, or changing neighborhood zoning laws to allow egg laying chickens and milk cows. My great grandparents used to have both types of animals in suburban Knoxville, TN just 80 yrs ago.

Check out The Urban Chicken for animal husbandry laws in your town.