Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on Earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation... but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement.
A local company has more accountability.
What we are missing, utterly and completely, in this government is accountability.
Money and prices and markets don't give us exact information about how much our suburbs, freeways, and spandex cost. Instead, everything else is giving us accurate information: our beleaguered air and watersheds, our overworked soils, our decimated inner cities. All of these provide information our prices should be giving us but do not.
Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists.
Hindered by asthma since I was six weeks old, I had begun experimenting with my diet and discovered a disquieting correlation. When I stopped eating the normal American diet of sugar, fats, alcohol, chemicals, and additives, I felt better. I could breathe freely. When I tried to sneak in a hamburger and a Coke, my body rebelled.
I think an old style of addressing environmental problems is ebbing, but the rise of the so-called conservative, political movement in this country is not a trend towards the future but a reaction to this very broad shift that we are undergoing.
The United States prides itself on being the richest country in the world. Yet we can't balance the budget, pay for education, or take care of the aged and infirm.
The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them.
That appropriation of resources and the transformation of them into goods and services through the European production system characterized, and characterizes to this day, all industrial systems including the information age.
We're trained to see the world in terms of charismatic organizations and charismatic people. That's who we look to for leadership and change, for transformation. We're awaiting the next J.F.K., the next Martin Luther King, the next Gandhi, the next Nelson Mandela.
You can print money to bail out a bank, but you can't print life to bail out a planet.
Throughout the industrial era, economists considered manufactured capital - money, factories, etc. - the principal factor in industrial production, and perceived natural capital as a marginal contributor. The exclusion of natural capital from balance sheets was an understandable omission. There was so much of it, it didn't seem worth counting.
It is possible for the assembly-line worker consigned to tightening the bolts on the transmission and the office worker who processes medical insurance claims to work with pride and efficiency, but it's not easy to maintain that attitude.
Writing is my way of diving deep into an issue. My approach is to watch, read and listen - sometimes for years - in order to grasp the dynamics, resistance and patterns of thought that repeat and impede progress and breakthrough.
Real change occurs from the bottom up; it occurs person to person, and it almost always occurs in small groups and locales and then bubbles up and aggregates to larger vectors of change.
We need to revise our economic thinking to give full value to our natural resources. This revised economics will stabilize both the theory and the practice of free-market capitalism. It will provide business and public policy with a powerful new tool for economic development, profitability, and the promotion of the public good.
When cattle ranchers clear rain forests to raise beef to sell to fast-food chains that make hamburgers to sell to Americans, who have the highest rate of heart disease in the world (and spend the most money per GNP on health care), we can say easily that business is no longer developing the world. We have become its predator.
Interestingly, the oil companies know very well that in less than 30 years they will not only be charging very high prices, but that they will be uncompetitive with renewables.
Commercial institutions, proud of their achievements, do not see that healthy living systems - clean air and water, healthy soil, stable climates - are integral to a functioning economy. As our living systems deteriorate, traditional forecasting and business economics become the equivalent of house rules on a sinking cruise ship.