Class 11: Deep Economy Sustainability EVSS 695: Fall 2012 Fisher
Main Pts to Open Book • New “happiness” research intersects with environmental realities concerning the limits of growth “growth is no longer making most people wealthier, but instead generating inequality and insecurity” (p1) • “More” and “Better” no longer go together (although it may for some in developing world) • We need a radical shift toward local economies • Not the end of capitalism or markets but markets are no longer to be worshipped as infallible, efficiency is no longer the highest goal • We have to change our orientation toward what constitutes progress. • Perspective is neither “liberal” nor “conservative” (more communitarian). • Broader Q: Is Communitarianism the answer to protecting ecosystems, our happiness and physical survival?
Communitarianism • A theory or system of social organization based on small self-governing communities. • An ideology that emphasizes the responsibility of the individual to the community and the social importance of the family unit. • Important element in building ‘social capital’ as the foundation for democracy and citizen participation
After Growth • Growth changed the economic (and social) philosophy post WWII – “a cult of growth” • Argues that capitalism didn’t have to become so “extreme” focus on more is better growth we need not think of things so deterministically.
3 Arguments against Growth • Political: growth as we now do it is creating more inequality and more insecurity • Why? Decline in unions, centralization of corps, trade agrs, tax cuts, etc. • Physics and Chemistry: end of oil and pollution • Peak Oil and declining fossil fuels • Costanza: real costs vs. externalities • Psychological: growth no longer makes us happy • Focus on “well being” • New kind of utilitarianism
Year of Eating Locally • 50 % of world’s expenditures are from the food system • Growing interest in local farming, and connecting urban space to farmland • Same time, huge food conglomerates taken over (seed to distribution) massive waste and insecurity of system • Heavily reliant on both Water but also Petroleum – advocates non-petroleum agriculture • Cuban Agriculture Cut off with Cold War, and became more self-sufficient (not sole exporter of sugar)
All for One, or One for All • Critique of the West’s & America’s hyper-individualism • Process of individual liberation Protestant Reformation Fossil fuel reliance With technology we are no longer free Divided us tolerate massive wealth inequality • alternative to hyper-individualism is not state-socialism, nor is it simply a liberal model of more growth more equitably distributed. NEED: individualism at the local level in building local economies
Wealth of Communities • Rethink our relationship to commodities, and community property • Local communication, local energy production, and renewed economic production (and local currency??) • Decentralizing governance and minimizing econ interference and subsidies • “could it be that this modernity, this hyper-individuality is a phase through which humans need to pass before they can figure out its limitations?”
The Durable Future • Comparison of China (unfettered growth) with other counter models. • Movement from rural spaces of relative autonomy to urban shanty towns • Can the world live like Americans and be built on China’s model for unfettered growth? • Europeans are more communitarian…use half US energy, live smaller scales and are generally happier. • Move to local economies, with local communications, and farmer’s markets
Video • McKibben: Deep Economy
Natural Capitalism: Problem - Solution • Problem: resource extraction/use, using nature as a limitless resource, and externalizing waste and pollution We have a “broken economic compass” (market is chalk full of distortions and perverse incentives) • Result: leads to environmental degradation and depletion of resource that ultimately negatively affects social/human systems • Solution: Reverse logic Nature is scarce, people are abundant (away from limitless nature and scarce labor) • How?: Change system of production to address production-consumption cycle (away from cradle to grave) and address waste at all stages of the process. Engage a “Whole Systems Approach.” Do this by mimicking ecological system. • Result: “Abundance by design” replenishing nature’s reserves
4 Central Ideas for Natural Capitalism 1. Increase resource productivity • “radically reduce the throughput in the system” 2. Biomimicry – mirror ecological systems in design • Change what is in the throughput (i.e. the materials themselves) 3. Shift away from production of goods to flow of service and value (using #1 and #2) • Key: synergistic incentives between production and consumption (not perverse) • Keep your stuff and sell the service 4. Reinvest in environment (natural capital streams)