Wednesday, November 29, 2006


There is a deeply held belief that environmentalism and a strong economy are diametrically opposed.

We live in a global economy in which business is in the business of making a profit. The result of making a profit, so the reasoning goes, is the advancement of society, strong standard of living and so on. If business needs to dump toxic waste into the air and water causing serious illness in communities, if it needs to drive down wages or relocate its factory to a country with substandard wages and environmental standards, if it needs to commoditize living creatures thereby subjugating them to inhumane treatment, if it needs to undermine true marketplace competition or work out trade deals that dump goods in poorer nations disenabling them to compete – if it needs to do these things to make a profit for the advancement of society, what’s wrong with this picture?

The current economy is not working. It’s not working because it does not truly help the majority and it simply cannot last. Pure mathematics works against it.

62% The decline in world forests since pre-Industrial Revolution.
30% The decline in world top soil by 2050. Agribusiness does not engage in soil enriching processes such as crop rotation, crop residues, and animal manure.
27% The increase in human population by 2050, barring any major pandemic or mass starvation.
40% The percentage of people on this planet who by 2025 will live in areas of water stress or scarcity.
662 The number of gallons of water needed for $1 worth of fruits and vegetables.
2,500 The number of gallons of water needed for every pound of beef.
45% The percentage of food ready for harvest that never gets eaten.
0 The world fish industry by 2045 if over fishing and climate change are not addressed.
2-5 Barrels. The amount of water used by the oil industry to produce one barrel of oil.
76 Million. The barrels of oil the world consumes daily.
1971 The year oil peaked in the USA.
2010 The year predicted that oil will peak worldwide.
60% The reduction of greenhouse gases by 2030 that the world body of climatologist (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says is needed to offset runaway climate change.
20% The reduction in the artic ice since the 1970s.
40% The number of all threatened species.
7 Trillion. The economic cost of not dealing with climate change.

= Mass starvation and migration, economic depression and chaos, mass species extinction, collapse of the agricultural industry to name a few consequences within the next two hundred years.

Who will be the one to chop down the last remaining forest? Or drain the last bit of ground water? What corporation do you think will enjoy that dubious distinction? Does it have to come to that?

TO Think About This Week

Common sense tells us that unsustainable practice is bad, rotten, not to mention just plain stinky business. And that’s the economy we’ve got right now. To war with nature is to lose. Why? Nature works. It works incredibly well.

There is an economic movement that looks to nature for inspiration. It is the sustainable movement or the restorative economy. If you like to learn more, I encourage you to read Paul Hawken.

Some hallmarks of the restorative economy (as inspired by ecology):

  • The marketplace is truly diverse.
  • Waste is food. All waste recycles into product or energy to be used purposefully. Waste is gain. There are no landfills.
  • Companies are responsible for the damage they create.
  • The market place produces items of true value based on true demand.
  • The market place is local and collaborative.
  • The markets operate beneficently only when they reflect real costs. This promotes efficiency in manufacturing. If oil and gas prices were priced correctly in North America, cars produced here would be far more efficient and competitive with Asian and European models. Now Ford and GM are laying off workers in their struggle to compete.
  • Business is in the business of serving its communities. It must make a profit in order to be sustainable but it doesn’t need to be the monster that ate entire continents.

Last week I challenged us to look at companies that are leaders in sustainability as investment opportunities. Next week I start to look at some of these companies. Think there are no solutions to our ecological crisis? Think again.

Stop Global Warming
More than 532,000 to date have signed up to stop global warming. Join us!

In the News

Ms. May almost went to Ottawa
Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, gave all major parties a run for their money in London during the November 27 By-Election, winning 25.9% of the vote – a record for the Green Party. Not bad for a two week campaign. The Liberals won the seat with 32% of the vote with the Green Party coming second.

Global Warming Case Reaches the US Supreme Court
12 States, 3 Cities and 13 Environment Organizations vs. the Environmental Protection Agency.

Other News

Green Bloggers


Grist Magazine

Tree Hugger

Alternative Energy Blog

No comments: