Title: [GreenYes] Re: Op Ed piece for local paper
On Jul 4, 12:14 am, "Eric Lombardi" <e...@no.address> wrote:
> I just wanted to share an Op Ed piece that my local paper ran last Sunday.
Great article Eric. Whilst thinking local we can also act global. This
piece was one of the handouts to government ministers at last week's
UN Annual Ministerial Review (http://amr.stakeholderforum.org/)
looking at MDG7 on environmental sustainability. A pdf version is
The first proposed tool would institute a zero waste economy
everywhere by switching the growth model from waste-making to resource-
making. So recession in the US and elsewhere is optional. The design
of the first two tools was published last month by the NATO Science
Programme after being developed in a Europe-wide Advanced Research
Workshop of sustainability professors (plus me). Happy to send the
published pdf paper to anyone interested.
A happy ending for the sustainability, peace and growth mystery?
By James Greyson, sustainability analyst at the UK think-tank
HYPERLINK "http://www.blindspot.org.uk" BlindSpot and member of the UK
Sustainable Development Panel. BlindSpot specialises in exploring
unseen opportunities for rapid sustainability.
Our global predicament is like the plot of a detective thriller, with
economic, ecological and social casualties piling up and a trail of
clues that hides as much as it reveals. The story over recent decades
has been exciting as a cast of the usual suspects were pursued in the
hope of making a difference. Now the plot is at its dramatic climax;
everything we value is in peril and time is running out to finally
resolve the mystery.
In the role of detective we can try working out how to turn things
around before it’s too late. Firstly, what has been missed so far? The
clues (such as rising emissions, wealth inequalities and unresolved
disputes) and the casualties (such as climate instability, food riots
and armed conflict) don’t come ready-labelled ‘a piece of a big
picture’. Problems appear separately and fool us into treating them as
separate issues. This is convenient for compartmentalised
organisations and specialist expertise. It’s also psychologically
appealing to imagine that problems can be tackled a bit at a time with
everyone doing what they can.
People try to frame problems to fit their habits of response rather
than framing responses to fit the problems. This reveals why
conventional policy-making hasn’t worked for global issues. So let’s
review the scene of this mystery, looking at world-wide issues as an
indivisible whole. A global security goal-set combining energy
security, sustainable development, economic growth, national security
and climate stability is paradoxically more achievable than any of
these goals pursued separately.
This is the moment in the human story when solutions on a new scale of
effectiveness are both necessary and possible. Curiously, this may be
easier to achieve in practice than it is to imagine in advance.
Suitable globally-applied small changes could trigger cascades of
benefits across a range of issues. The most exciting changes would
clear long-standing obstacles by switching situations from chronic
failure into rapid recovery. Such potential changes are best described
The three examples offered here were presented in the ECOSOC 2008
HYPERLINK "http://www.un.org/ecosoc/newfunct/amredis.shtml" Annual
Ministerial Review E-discussion and included in the HYPERLINK
final report. The first two proposals were developed through a
European Advanced Research Workshop and published by the HYPERLINK
"http://www.springerlink.com/content/u222304p3g1lvt67/" NATO Science
Programme. More information can be found in the BlindSpot Climate
Briefing at the HYPERLINK "http://www.climateneutral.unep.org/
cnn_members.aspx?m=195" UNEP Climate Neutral Network and at HYPERLINK
Old economic growth is ending - in with the new!
The essence of unsustainability is that it can’t go on. Any system
that runs on things that run out cannot expect a happy ending. A
glance at almost any newspaper shocks us with the way problems pile up
long before things actually run out. Commodity speculation, dry
credit markets, declining economic growth, the retreat of democracy,
weapons proliferation, unaffordable food, shrinking rainforests and
disappearing polar ice are among a multitude of symptoms. The
seriousness of the problems is so obvious everywhere that it is now
possible to discuss a historic switch of economic activity from
problem causing to problem solving.
Economic, ecological and social goals could be permanently aligned by
global adoption of the goal of 'circular economics', which is market
reform that allows material resources to meet people's needs without
accumulating as wastes in the air, land and waters. The practice of '
HYPERLINK "http://www.storyofstuff.com" linear economics' can be
phased out to avoid further undermining ecological, social and
financial stability. This switch is achievable with a simple market-
based (non-tax) instrument called HYPERLINK "http://
www.blindspot.org.uk/briefing.html" precycling insurance, which
obliges producers to insure against the risk of their product becoming
waste. Premiums would be invested in ecological, community and
industrial capacity to meet people's needs whilst joining up the
resource loop. These investments add to growth immediately and the
expanding capacities add to long-term growth.
Although circular economics is not designed as a climate change
policy, surprisingly it would do that task better than existing
climate policies. Attempting to limit the prevailing waste-based
economic model would limit economic growth and for the past 15 years
has made such policies self-limiting. Circular economics provides the
basis for continuing growth and recognises that climate change is not
just about energy or carbon, it’s about all human activity and all
resources. Circular economics is also essential for having any hope of
an adequate response to climate instability which requires not just
lower emissions but lower atmospheric concentrations of waste gases.
Take your pick - global security or massive weapons spending
If circular economics is implemented quickly then many of the current
threats to international security will fade. However investment in a
sustainable future would still be held back by massive and growing
global spending on weapons. This creates a cycle of ever stronger
cultural dependence upon armed force and ever weaker trust between
communities. However a simple macro-economic correction could quickly
inspire the global cooperation that has eluded 63 years of arms
control agreements. This could offer hope to populations living in
fear of violence and free up funds on a vast scale for productive
The national income statistics used to measure economic growth include
an unintended perverse incentive in favour of spending on weapons.
This can be reversed according to research published by HYPERLINK
"http://www.springerlink.com/content/u222304p3g1lvt67/" NATO. Gross
Domestic Product (GDP) currently includes weapons-related spending,
which gives nations with high dependence on military 'solutions'
higher economic growth and the illusion of greater economic success.
The international removal of weapons-related spending from GDP would
provide a powerful signal to politicians that lower military spending
is desirable. Nations could signal their peaceful intent by adopting
HYPERLINK "http://www.grosspeacefulproduct.org.uk" Gross Peaceful
Product and be rewarded for lower weapons spending with higher
economic growth. A cycle of less weapons spending and more cooperation
would be instituted just when it is most needed.
Reversing the global loss of nature
There remains a risk that some governments and land-owners could
destructively cash-in on the market value of natural resources or
land. An additional global action is vital to launch the era when
humanity learns to cooperate with nature. People need a renewed self-
image, not as masters of the planet but as guardians. As a rhetorical
gesture this is meaningless but as an international treaty it would be
profound. All land, sea and non-renewable resource ownership title
would be interpreted as a title of guardianship of the ecological
capital on behalf of future generations. All rights for access and use
of natural resources would be interpreted as applying only to the
renewable harvest, which diminishes neither biological diversity nor
Where ecological capital has been damaged, a suitable remedy would be
for access to transfer to a community-based trust (of landless
people). Since this reduces the land’s market value there is an
economic incentive for owners to protect ecological capital. A
further incentive could be provided for resource and land owners
without an interest in guardianship. They could bid for a proportion
of available investment flows (from the above two proposals) which
would compensate them for the transfer of title to a community-based
trust. This scheme could run as a Dutch auction with lowest bids
winning a share of funds. Such a bid has already been made by
startling-oil-proposal" Ecuador to keep their oil in the ground.