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GEOG 352: Day 3. Resilience. Housekeeping Items. The Geography Department is having a welcome back social in the map library/ lounge (next door) at 10:30 tomorrow. Please come out and meet faculty and your fellow students. Another example of social capital…

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Geog 352 day 3

GEOG 352: Day 3


Housekeeping items
Housekeeping Items

  • The Geography Department is having a welcome back social in the map library/ lounge (next door) at 10:30 tomorrow. Please come out and meet faculty and your fellow students.

  • Another example of social capital…

  • We will be having a field trip on October 7thto Nanaimo Foodshare.

  • I want to start assigning reading presentations. There is also a web site I want to let you know about where you can sign up to receive and vote on a number 90 second videos about co-ops that are being nominated to receive a major grant from Co-operators Insurance. The link in I received was from one of the contenders, but it will get you there anyways:

Housekeeping items1
Housekeeping Items

  • Please put two checkmarks per week.

  • We need to start signing people up for specific discussion topics and dates.

  • I put the instructions for the major assignment on the web site today, but I will walk you through it today.

  • If you think it would be worthwhile to have a research librarian come in and talk about resources available through the Library for your projects, I can do that.

  • Any other questions or concerns?

Introduction to resilience
Introduction to Resilience

  • The authors start off with a nice quote: “Our job is to make hope more concrete and despair less convincing.”

  • The paradigm of Western society, capitalist (and former communist) for the past two hundred years is that growth is the greatest good, as reflected (more recently in the GDP). Only a few voices – amongst them John Stuart Mill, John Maynard Keynes, and Kenneth Boulding– have been able to conceive of a no-growth economy.

Introduction to resilience1
Introduction to Resilience

  • The human race has gone through numerous challenges to its existence through its history – surviving against predators who were bigger or stronger, coping with the Pleistocene Ice Age, making the transition from hunting and gathering in many parts of the world to agriculture and, from there, to industrialism.

  • Today we face a transition which is every bit or more challenging: the transition to a sustainable society.

Key stages in human evolution
Key Stages in Human Evolution

Still exists in some places

Hunting & gathering

8000-10,000 years ago to present

Agricultural Revolution

Evolution of homo sapiens approx. 400,000 years ago

Late 1700s to present; coincides with use of fossil fuels

Industrial Revolution

Will make it or not in the 21st century

Sustainable Revolution?

Specific challenges
Specific Challenges

  • Climate change (carbon dioxide now above 400 ppm)

  • Peak oil and rising costs of fossil fuels

  • Population growth

  • Decline in biodiversity

  • Overfishing of the oceans and degradation in general

  • Decline in availability of and competition for freshwater

  • Erosion and degradation of soil, increasingly widespread drought, and potential threats from herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, and GMOs.

  • Volatility of the global economy

  • Other??

Specific challenges1
Specific Challenges

  • Has anyone seen the film, “The Inside Job”? It explains how the widespread defaults on housing mortgages occurred as a result of the invention of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) on Wall Street, and how the proliferation of these financial instruments led to a domino effect that had huge impacts on the global economy, bringing it dangerously close to a second Great Depression. The economy has still not fully recovered.

  • The authors cite statistics that the speculative financial economy is surpassing the economy of good and services production as the motor of the economy and the source of its profits.

Specific challenges2
Specific Challenges

  • The book suggests that, unless we change course, demand for fossil fuels will increase by 22% and carbon emissions will increase by 40% in the next 20 years. And yet the media doesn’t alert people to the dire consequences of the status quo.


Specific challenges3
Specific Challenges

  • Can we have “Prosperity Without Growth,” as Tim Jackson and others argue? Jackson redefines prosperity as “our ability to flourish as human beings – within the ecological limits of a finite planet.”

  • This relates back to the distinction mentioned last week between growth, throughput, and development.

  • To achieve an economy where growth is not the goal will involve a revolution as profound as the Copernican – of no longer believing that the cosmos revolves around the Earth. Our whole economy, social system, political institutions, cultural expectations, and dominant ideology are all based on continuing growth.

Specific challenges4
Specific Challenges

  • Is such a society possible? If so, how? If not, why not?

  • What would it look like? What would be different?

  • What are your thoughts?


GDP/ energy use

Specific challenges5
Specific Challenges

  • The definition of resilience cited by the authors is “the amount of change a system can absorb (its capacity to absorb disturbance) and essentially retain the same functions, structure and feedbacks.” One of the originators of the concept is a former university professor from UBC (Buzz Holling) who now lives in Nanaimo.

  • What does this concept mean in the real world? What are some examples and what can it be applied to?







  • The authors offer seven resilience principles:

  • Diversity (biological, landscape, social, cultural and economic). This is a variant of the old axiom: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” What would be some examples?

  • Modularity- The ability of systems to function somewhat independently of others. Why would this be desirable?

  • Innovation- Encouraging learning, experimentation, local models, and being open to change. Examples?

  • Overlap- Encouraging redundancy (i.e. some duplication of function). Why would this be desirable?

  • Tight feedback loops- How does this contrast with what we have now and what other principle is it linked to?


  • The authors offer seven resilience principles (cont’d):

  • Ecosystem services- Making sure a full-cost accounting occurs for such services and the economy does not disregard them. Efforts have been made to put dollar values on them.

  • In 1997, ecological economist, Robert Constanza, and his colleagues estimated the annual value of ecosystem services at $33 trillion dollars, almost twice the value of global GNP ($18 trillion).

    As is indicated by the illustration on p. 21, the seven principles reinforce one another.

Supporting services: ecosystem services "that are necessary for the production of all other ecosystem services"

• nutrient dispersal and cycling

• seed dispersal

• primary production (role of plants in supporting food chains)

Provisioning services: "products obtained from ecosystems"

• food (including seafood and game), crops, wild foods, and spices

• water

• minerals (including diatomite)

• pharmaceuticals, biochemicals, and industrial products

• energy (hydropower, biomass fuels)

Regulating services: "benefits obtained from the regulation of ecosystem processes"

• carbon sequestration and climate regulation

• waste decomposition and detoxification

• purification of water and air

• crop pollination

• pest and disease control

Cultural services: "non-material benefits people obtain from ecosystems throughspiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation, and aesthetic experiences"

• cultural, intellectual and spiritual inspiration

• recreational experiences (including ecotourism)

• scientific discovery

Source: Wikipedia

Internalizing the externalities full cost pricing
Internalizing the Externalities(Full-Cost Pricing)

  • “The cheap plastic junk you buy at big-box stores is cheap only because the externalities have not been priced in…” – Thomas Friedman.

  • He insists that radical revisions in prices are the key to changing individuals’ and societies’ behaviours, but will people go for that?

  • Throughput concept is central to ecological economics:

Raw material extraction/ pollution manufacturing/pollution consumption waste

Reclaiming the commons
Reclaiming the Commons

  • “Humans arguing over private property rights is like two fleas arguing over who owns the dog.” – Crocodile Dundee

  • The authors argue that private property and commercial markets are quite recent in origin, or at least played a marginal role. Part of why settlers and indigenous people got into conflict in North America and Australia was because the natives thought they were agreeing to share the land base – the commons – not hand it over as private property.

  • Any ideas as to when and why private property and markets arose?

  • Garrett Hardin, in his famous essay, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” argued that commons will always be overexploited because of personal greed. Ayn Rand thought greed was in the collective interest. This is similar to Adam Smith’s notion of “the invisible hand.”

Reclaiming the commons1
Reclaiming the Commons

  • The case of the Pakistani fisheries shows that declining fisheries may not be explained by the ‘tragedy of the commons’ notion (see pp. 22-23). Some would argue that the high seas are an open access resource system, in contrast with the coastal fishery which was a commons enclosed by government and corporations.

  • Co-operative resource management institutions (see example of Chilean fishery on p. 23) often seem to work well. We will likely have a speaker in to address this issue in a Canadian context.

  • Some say what has been occurring for the past several hundred years, and is still occurring today, is “the enclosure of the commons.” What does the term mean and can you think of contemporary examples?

Reclaiming the commons2
Reclaiming the Commons

  • The authors raise the issue of whether there can be true political democracy without economic democracy.

  • Are there examples of where the lack of one seems to inhibit the other?

  • Goldman Sachs executives were Secretaries of the Treasury under both Bush and Obama, a Sachs man recently became the U.S. ambassador to Canada, a Sachs man took over the prime minister’s office of Italy for a time, and the company has been heavily involved in the Greek financial crisis and in helping to run the European Central Bank.

  • What would economic democracy look like?

Reclaiming the commons3
Reclaiming the Commons

  • Healthy societies have often had a strong civil society (or third) sector, with rich social capital.

  • In some countries, the private and public sectors are balanced effectively by the civil society sector, creating a synergistic relationship, where no one sector predominates. Examples?

  • See detailed charts on pp.

    30-31, with the third system

    economy consisting of social

    enterprises, voluntary org-

    anizations, and the family

    economy. Such societies

    often have different values.

Reclaiming the commons4
Reclaiming the Commons

  • From “cowboy economy” to “spaceship Earth” and the “spaceman economy” (Kenneth Boulding).

  • From seeing the economy as autonomous to seeing it as embedded in the yolk of society and the white and shell of the biosphere.

  • Achieving ecological, social, and economic sustainability.

  • Major barriers?

  • One way to smooth the transition is through Victor and Jackson’s hypothesized scenarios – particularly #3 (see pp. 36-37)

  • Capitalism has been dominant for 5-600 years. What are its strengths and weaknesses? What kind of future does it have? Any viable alternatives?