The article below was written by David Haenke in 1996 and has not just historical but more importantly conceptual and practical significance to the growing impulse of bioregional regeneration around the world. In a recent interview with David I spontaneously offered to ‘host’ three of his most important pieces of writing on my Medium blog as a means for him to share them more widely with an interested audience. Enjoy! — Daniel Wahl
Bioregionalism and Ecological Economics
by David Haenke (1996)
Gaia, Economics, Money, and Wealth
According to scientist James Lovelock’s Gaia Theory, the earth is a single living organism, one vast self-regulating, self-organizing, self-healing ecological body. This understanding underlies the necessary reconfiguration of all human systems, particularly economics. More than “Gaia Theory”, I submit that this is “Gaia Reality,” Earth reality.
Earth reality mandates this: All human systems — towns and cities, transport, technologies, agriculture, manufacture, energy, housing, production, distribution, consumption — must be designed to be ecologically resonant and responsible. The best place to find the necessary design principles and patterns is in close observation of the function of intact natural ecosystems, i.e., nature’s economy. The ecological designs of nature’s economy are perfected over billions of years, unmatched in intricacy and efficiency by anything we have yet created. Earth’s proven ecological designs run systems which are powered entirely by renewable energy, recycle materials at a 100% level and there- by waste nothing, produce no debilitating levels of pollution or toxics, self-regulate, and are phenomenally abundant. Given our present terminal situation, is this not something to emulate?
The true source and measure of value and wealth is not money or any kind of human currency. Rather, it is the resources and ecological integrity of the Earth. At the same time, whatever (derivative) value and measure of wealth that money carries is backed solely by earth’s ecological integrity, and comes fully and directly from the earth and the resources of its ecosystems. This is the most radical and universally ignored economic truth. Money, and all of economics, has no function, no reality outside of ecological reality.
Ecology and economics come from the same root word. Hopefully before it’s too late, humanity will see that good economics must be also good ecology: ECO-ECONOMICS. This is the “unified field theory” and practice for economics.
After 250 years, an answer to the central question
Two hundred-fifty years ago the industrial revolution — along with the acceleration of the enclosure of the commons and the rising of the power of the nation state — began to tear apart the fabric of all human societies and the natural world, a process that continues to this day.
The result was social upheaval, forcible eviction from the land of the peasant populations to be driven to the cities and towns to work in wage slavery in the mills, horrific working conditions, child labor exploitation, the swelling of foul slums in the cities… This list is long and familiar. At the same time, dominant new classes endowed with previously unheard of material wealth and power were created. The combined political-economic power of capitalism, technology, and the state became a monster running rampant. The great question: how to control it.
Powerful new ideas and movements rose to address and combat these forces. Chief among them was Marxism. Marx, and those who followed him, for all their brilliant analysis, and for all the revolutionary upheaval they caused, provided the wrong answers. For one thing, their alternatives encompassed too many of the evils of the systems they opposed. They embraced industrialism, and centralization, combined with of the political-economic power of the state. Their main quarrel was with who owned and controlled these forces and institutions, and less by what principles they were run. They did not question the basic nature of the forces themselves. They also failed to discern the most important factor of all, the mandates of nature, of ecology. Of course hardly anyone prominent in the industrializing West — capitalist or otherwise — was paying much attention to nature in Marx’s time, except to come up with ways to conquer and overcome the natural world.
On the other side of the great question, Adam Smith proposed that the “invisible hand” of the market system would serve to perfect it and bring land, labor, and capital into a functional equilibrium. Unfortunately he was unable to identify the true “invisible hand, “just as all classical and neo-classical economists have failed to do since. Smith and his descendants predicated the successful functioning of the market mechanism on an unlimited store of goods and services from nature’s cornucopic warehouses. Again, the root of all, nature’s finite economy, the true “invisible hand” was ignored.
For two hundred-fifty years, the economists of the left, right, and center, and all those in the positions of power who listen to them have presided over a world on fire. They have failed to answer the central burning question: how to regulate and control the forces created by the interlinking of capitalism, industrialism, technology, and the nation state.
In ecological economics we finally have the answer. Ecology regulates capitalism. Indeed, it is the ultimate regulator of all economic enterprises and systems in any world (and as economics is the real root of politics), whether they refer to themselves as “left,” “right,” or “center.”
One of the major reasons that socialism fails is that it is unable to determine and allocate real costs. Market economics and capitalism as presently functioning have been better at determining prices at the gross monetary level, but their time of reckoning has arrived as they fail to assess and pay true ecological costs, which are the real costs.
When we make ecological principles, practices, and values central to the market system, and we have the new economics of Earth: eco-economics, the true prerequisite for sustainability.
Ecological economics gives business and the market the tools for internal self-evaluation and self-regulation. Based on true cost accounting, what is best for both the social and the ecosystemic community is best for the long term viability of any given economic enterprise. The need for governmental and other external control is diminished. The market system can operate as it was meant to. The primary tool for internal self-evaluation and regulation is the ecological audit (described later).
The economics of cancer / the cancer of economics
The Earth is sick — suffering from accelerated entropy — from the activities of human beings living out of ecological balance. The primary agent of the sickness is conventional human economics. The biological roots of ecological economics give us potent ways to understand the forces that afflict us and our planet. Cancer in metastasis is the best way that we can adequately describe what our interest and speculative investment-driven industrial economic systems are now doing to life on Earth. Both cancer and our economic systems grow primarily for the sake of growing, while they busily disorder, toxify, and finally destroy their host body. It is startling and incredible that virtually every nation and corporation on Earth continues to hysterically promote unlimited and undifferentiated economic growth at any cost in the face of its clearly cancerous consequences.
Everywhere we look we can see the living fabric of life, prairies, forests, savannas, estuaries and swamps — the healthy tissue of the Earth’s body — being replaced by trash development, buildings, stores, parking lots, factories, the power lines, sewer lines, and roads. These systemic extensions of the economic cancer grow into the afflicted ecosystem, sucking nutrients and spewing poison like the mal-formed vascular and other tissue networks created by cancers in the human body.
When you watch a road being built you are literally watching the Earth cancer at work, growing an extension of its deadly vascular system, a new pathway for its metastasizing, entropy-spewing killer cells, the automobiles.
The bare cultivated fields are, as described by Wes Jackson, “lesions”, as are the mange-like sore spots of clear-cut forests, as seen from the air. From space or high altitude the cities look like tumors, as often described by astronauts, and they see the vast fires of the rainforests burning. On the highways of the United States, 200 to 500 million animals are run over and killed each years, dwarfing in number the tens of thousands of humans killed. These animals are literally the diminishing healthy cells and tissues of GAIA, as are the lung-like forests, devastated and diminished. From the bare fields of cancer agriculture the eroded soil runs like blood. The affliction reaches out to afflict the ozone. The air is poisoned. Each industrial factory is a concentrated, potent tumor, as are the largest cities. Each industrial accident, explosion, fire, leakage of toxic chemicals, is part of the pandemic toxification, and the poison-spewing death process of the cancer tumors themselves. This will increase radically as time passes and nothing is seriously done to bring our economic systems into a condition of ecological responsibility.
The simultaneous ethnocide and ecocide of indigenous peoples and the lands where they live is an action of the mega-cancer to kill another crucial part of the fabric and spirit of the Earth. Within the indigenous peoples and the land they are woven into is the living spirit and reflective intelligence of nature, the last people on Earth who really know how to live sustainably and can by their example tell the rest of us.
Holistic ways to prevent and deal with cancer in the human body can be extrapolated to economic cancer and the Earth. Ecological economics is such a healing strategy.
The ecological dysfunctions of interest
Income from interest and all money realized from speculatively playing stock and futures markets is ecologically and thermo- dynamically indefensible, a major factor in the of the Earth’s disease. This kind of “income” constitutes a demand that the Earth yield up whatever energy and resource-related goods and services the bearer asks for when this illusory money is presented for redemption. Such money is at work ransacking the planet, fueling the unrestrained growth demanded by governments and corporations, in order to create more illusory money and “wealth”. This shell game is directed from the stock markets, boardrooms, and capitols of the world, where the money flows to and from. Demand becomes insatiable, as interest/speculation money increasingly self-creates, demanding more fruits of the Earth, which must be further exploited to produce them. The interest and inflation rates, the Dow Jones, the Nikke, and the other industrial stock market averages are the fever charts of the Earth.
Using eco-auditing as its prime evaluative tool, ecological economics regulates interest, and speculative stock and futures market income, and works to phase out all aspects of economic growth economy which are ecologically and socially undifferentiated.
The dysfunctions of subsidy
Viewed ecologically, the dominant economic order of the nations and transnational corporations is inherently contradictory and non-sustainable, nowhere more so than with regard to subsidies.
The national- and transnational-scale industrial operations of corporations and governments derive their profitability and “viability” through massive subsidies of many kinds. These entities skim off profits or surpluses gained primarily through the great volume of their subsidized activity, growing through feeding off undervalued resources and labor. It is the inefficiency and destructiveness of their use of such enormous quantities of these resources — often for unnecessary or even trivial purposes — that is the prime agent of human-caused entropy, or “economic cancer,” resulting from the generation of vast amounts of pollution and toxic waste, as well as general social and ecological disintegration.
What if we were to do an ecological audit of whole economic systems, of socialism, capitalism and the “free market”, of the global economy, of the United States? The results would be startling, shaking the very foundations of the nations and the global trading system.
Ecological cost evaluation — ecological auditing — of the international economy will show a system that is thoroughly unsustainable. Our fragile and finite planet’s resources and ability to absorb wastes cannot continue to support the massive scale of fossil fuel driven production and transport of physical goods all over the planet.
Despite the increasingly desperate, depleted state of societies and ecosystems all over the world, international prices — both relative and real — for labor and many key types of primary resources and raw materials needed for large scale industrial activity continue to fall or remain steady. This is occurring in the face of escalating social and ecological costs.
How can this be happening? It is because the financial machinery of the dominant market nations and the transnational corporations is geared towards driving down global prices of labor, natural resources, and basic commodities: a goal of “Free Trade”. Every laborer, independent farmer, and small business in the world is forced to compete in selling their labor and production against the buying and selling power of multinational corporations and the hourly wage of the most desperate of sweatshop workers in Asia, Africa, or Latin America.
The economic leverage needed by governments and national- and transnational -scale corporations to enable this global price distortion is provided by government subsidies: varied, massive, pervasive, often hidden. Primary among these subsidies are broad (often planetary) access to natural resources, labor, and capital at radically undervalued prices, these prices supported by tax- payers’ money; also included are cheap land leases, tax incentives, resource depletion allowances, loan guarantees, regulatory favoritism, contract preference, and outright government grants for product and marketing research and development. Both taxpayers and mother nature unwittingly underwrite corporate costs and profits, while absorbing and paying for the pollutants and their cleanup. Not only that, the publics of the world’s nations end up servicing the gargantuan debts run up by the international corporate trading and banking systems. For example, the 1980’s S & L scandal in the U.S. was strongly connected to international corporate resource speculation, particularly in oil.
With all this, along with the great volume and scale of production and distribution, it’s not hard to see where the profit margins come from. As Herman Daly has pointed out, in this international system, benefits are privatized, costs socialized. Or to put it more succinctly, the essence of the present maco-economy is : “Privatize profits; socialize costs”. (Daly and Cobb, For The Common Good, 1989, p. 231).
If the majority of the world’s larger economic enterprises and national economies were made to pay their way in terms of full ecologically-audited costs of their raw materials, labor, production-distribution operations, waste, and pollution, most of them would go bankrupt in a very short time, along with the governments that support and subsidize them.
It is this kind of economics of profit subsidy for the largest, most powerful, and most centralized economic entities that most thoroughly fails an ecological audit and most compromises a future for human beings and other species on this planet. Ecological economics clearly establishes that these kinds of enterprises will eventually fall. They violate most ecological principles, and many moral ones, as well as making a mockery of the “free enterprise” market system that they claim to represent. The biggest question is: how much will they take with them when they go down. The kind of politico-economics that combines the least functional aspects of capitalism with those of socialism I call “special interest socialism”, or “corporate socialism”.
Profit and acceptable rate of growth
Since most economic rhetoric of both the socialist and capitalist varieties is now meaningless and confusing, much of it must be dispensed with, or subjected to basic re-definition through ecology. “Profit” and “growth” are in particular need of re-evaluation.
Ecologically, all of nature works on a “profit” basis, where the “profit” — solar surplus — comes from organisms and ecosystems creating new biological wealth by taking in some form of solar-derived energy or matter, and using this gain for their benefit, which they then return to the Earth for redistribution when they die. Similarly, all human economic enterprises, whether they be state, private, and all forms in between, also must create some margin of surplus (which may or may not be called “profit,” and which always comes from biological solar surplus or other Earth resources) in order to survive.
From the working principles of ecology, we must translate a new description of the solar-based surplus that is created by any viable economic enterprise (or any living thing, for that matter) and how that process fits into the ecosystems in which the enterprise is based. For the purpose of discussion, I suggest that one percent would be a sustainable profit margin and growth rate for any economic enterprise, corporation, or aggregate economy complying reasonably to an ecological audit. One percent is the rate of efficiency by which the process of photosynthesis can fix solar energy and convert it to biomass. The capacity of photosynthetic fixation and transformation of solar energy into utilizable biomass is the basic enabling process of life, and therefore of all natural and human economies. I suggest that a directly solar-driven one percent is a rate of growth and “profit” that is sustainable on Earth.
Of course over time even 1% could get out of hand, and thus this contingency needs be addressed as ecological rules currently require that all entities on Earth must have reasonable life spans, give up what they have accumulated in their lifetimes, and this includes corporations. The legal fiction of corporate immortality has got to be ended. Corporations must have a reasonable chartered life span, at the end of which, in order to be re-chartered, they must pass an ecological audit to justify their continued existence appropriate to whatever current ecological/social contexts obtain at that time relative to the consensus of what constitutes a healthy equilibrium.
The ecological audit
The cornerstone and most powerful tool of ecological economics is the “ecological audit.” The science, theory, and practice of the ecological audit is rapidly being developed, though it has a long way to go.
We know about financial audits. We have heard of the energy audit. More fundamental and significant is the ecological audit of an enterprise, or any given product or service. It goes far beyond the “environmental audits” now being employed by some industries.
Some of the factors that the ecological audit would consider: (note: whenever the term “full cost” is used. it means the ecologically audited cost.)
Waste, pollution, toxics (at any stage or level of business process)
* Amount and kind of waste control
* Amount, kind and full cost of pollution or toxics created
* The impact and full cost to the environment of dealing with waste
* Degree and manner of waste recycling
* Manner and impact of final disposal of wastes
* Level of reuse of waste.
* Form of energy inputs
* Efficiency of energy use
* Full cost of using energy sources.
Production — Resource Inputs
* Whole impact of production on environment, ecological systems, species
* Level and kind of resource use
* Where the resource comes from
* Method and full costs of resource extraction
* Mode and cost of transportation of resource to point of use.
* Distances from production point that products are marketed, related to:
* Full energy and resource cost of transportation to markets, type of transportation
* Whole (ecologically audited) cost of packaging
* Full cost of packaging
* Full cost of advertising
Monetary and other capital inputs
* Source, and nature of the source of investment money
* Full cost of investment money
* Whether the business is locally owned and operated
* Source and nature of business capitalization
* Where profits go and eventually end up
* Where profits and assets are invested
* What happens to money invested
* The level, nature and source of business subsidies, such as: cheap access to natural financial resources, public tax money, regulatory breaks, tax breaks; below-cost access to physical resources; incentives; regulatory favors; concessions; inside information; depletion allowances; below market cost access to financial resources
* Source of labor
* Salary and wage paid to labor relative to averages for the same kind of work in other places
* How well the enterprise integrates, not only into the local human community, but also into the existing natural communities
* Cost of not conforming to community and governmental standards and regulations
* The amount of business resources put into enhancement of the health of the local community and ecological health
* Degree and kind of social responsibility (end of ecological audit criteria)
Hopefully the time will come soon when these factors and dozens more will be quantified, and the numbers rigorously run and available.
As soon as possible human societies must begin to understand the true cost or viability of anything or any enterprise can only be determined by the ecological audit. Passing the test of the ecological audit will determine both the long term financial viability of any given business, as well as its acceptability in the community.
At the same time, eco-auditing will provide a powerful tool for economic enterprises to evaluate their real profitability, as well as determine the best methods for them to self-regulate themselves in ways not determined by government or the arbitrary, ecologically and socially destructive forces of the money and investment-driven marketplace.
Eco-economics and the market system
Ecological principles, internalized into businesses and production enterprises, in any nation, can offer viability with ecological integrity, while removing or substantially mitigating social and ecological destructiveness from market and production activity.
When ecological principles are applied to economics, a number of otherwise intractable problems are illumined and made soluble. These include: the rationale and methodology for internal self-regulation for economic enterprises (with- out relying on government); the nature and criteria for appropriate, responsible growth (which sectors of a given economy should shrink, and which should expand); resource depletion; optimal scales of production and distribution.
It is obvious that the market systems around the world are going to have to undergo a basic greening. It is in the interest of corporate leaders to look as far ahead as possible now, not only for the good of their companies, but for the nations and the critically threatened ecologies that make possible their very existence. Now that market economics has, globally, become virtually “the only game in town,” the necessity for effective, responsible corporate leadership and stewardship is imperative.
Towards the ecological corporation:
I identify the following trends that will increasingly affect corporations in major ways:
* More litigation by health-affected workers and the public.
* Better profit potentials for energy and resource efficiency, by-products re-use and recycling, and on-site reduction and treatment of toxics and pollutants.
* More pro-environment financial pressure from stockholders and investors, particularly through the socially and ecologically responsible investment movement.
* Increasingly positive consumer response to corporations adjudged to be “clean.”
* A greater degree of social and ecological responsibility.
I suggest that this leads not just to a climate favorable to producing and selling some “green” products, but to the necessity of the creation of truly ecological corporations and businesses.
The evolution into a true eco-corporation has these implications:
* The corporation is re-structured, from the ground up, on principles, policies, practices, efficiencies that are ecologically determined, selling only ecologically benign products. These modalities are built into the articles of incorporation, the bylaws, the standard operating policies, the manufacturing practices, the advertising, marketing, and distribution strategies, and the public face.
* Full protection for the environment, workers, and the public in at all areas and levels of production and distribution is a given.
* Physical production plants and processes are ecologically designed, constructed, and integrated. Operations are oriented towards resource and energy efficiency, on-site reduction, re-use, recycling or re-manufacture of by-products into new products.
* Physical decentralization of production, marketing and distribution.
* The “ecological audit” will become the basic guideline for determining profitability and viability.
What does this eco-corporation strategy accomplish? It effectively deals with the problems and opportunities inherent in the trends mentioned above. Ecological self-regulation, internalized, becomes a profit strategy. The need for government regulation is minimized. “Externalities” are internalized, becoming efficiency indicators and profit enhancers. This must be the company of the future.
Transforming the mega-corporation
During the time of transition into an ecological economy (functioning at true cost, with subsidies substantially diminished or eliminated), “mega-corporations” (both national and trans-national) may still be able to continue to provide functions and services which their host societies have not yet learned to do without. This can be true even after the first stage of their transformation, which is the decentralization and deconcentration of their physical operations into ecologically-scaled local and regional units. These units would be pushed towards producing and distributing goods regionally. Increasingly, they would use regionally available raw materials, energy sources, and labor for production. Activities within the structure of a given corporation would then be limited chiefly to the flow of information and capital. Shipment of physical resources and products over long distances must be minimized.
Bioregions and bioregionalism
Throughout this paper, we have emphasized that if humanity to survive, there is no question that our economies and systems of production and distribution of vital physical goods must come under a new regime of ecological decentralism. I am positing that the ultimate locus of ecological economics is the “bioregion”, and its practice is “bioregionalism”.
A bioregion is a geographical area whose boundaries are determined by nature and not solely by humans. One bioregion is distinguished from another by characteristics of flora, fauna, water, climate, rocks, soils, landforms, and the human settlements and cultures these characteristics have given rise to.
Bioregionalism is a comprehensive “new” way of defining and understanding the place where we live, and of living there sustainably and respectfully. In truth, what Bioregionalism represents is only new for people who come out of the Western industrial-technological heritage. Its essence has been reality and common sense for native people living close to the land for thousands of years, and remains so. At the same time, bioregional concepts are rigorously defensible in terms of science, technology, economics, politics, and other fields of “civilized” human endeavor.
Using ecology as the discriminator, Bioregionalism takes the best and most presently relevant of the old, and synthesizes it with most appropriate of the new. Bioregionalism is the most ecological of systems of social organization, excepting the life ways of native and indigenous peoples who still live traditionally in intact ecosystems. It is a complete and all-inclusive way of life, comprising the whole range of human thought and endeavor. Bioregionalism offers a comprehensive restructuring of most human systems using ecological design principles.
A prescription for health: bioregional ecological economics
I have characterized our present economic modalities as the prime cause of kind of sickness — cancerous in nature — inflicting the Earth and all its life with what is, on our present course, terminal entropy. Below I will describe what I characterize as a “prescription for health”: bioregional ecological economics.
“Eco-economics” means bioregionally-scaled economies designed on the basis of ecological principles. It means running an economy the way nature runs a forest. Ecological principles mandate decentralization, deconcentration, and regionalization of our economic systems. As much as possible, there must be local production, consumption, and full-scale recycling, drawing from local resources. It further mandates that no economic activity be allowed that is destructive or compromising to the ecological integrity of the region within which it takes place
Under bioregional economics,” capital and resources are cycled within the region. As little as possible is allowed to “leak out.” Presently macro-economic activity creates a continual hemorrhaging from localities, which are bled dry of capital, energy, resources, people, etc. This is true in every country on Earth, even within the first world nations.
Under bioregional economics, the consumer society must become the producer-conserver society, where the real work for people becomes economic and political empowerment through each home, family, community, and region producing as many of its own basic requirements, using ecological technologies, as possible. This considerably disintermediates the need for money, effectively beginning the necessary demonetization of human life.
Instead of working a meaningless job to get the money to buy necessities, part of our real work becomes the efficient production or more direct involvement (such as through working membership in cooperatives) in procurement of these things ourselves. This bypasses the circuitous, wasteful, and entropic formation, procurement, and expenditure of capital to do the same thing. Thus the formal “work week” wherein we labor for money can drop considerably, perhaps to 20 hours or less. Of course for some significant part of the rest of the working week we would be laboring to more directly produce some of what we formerly used money to buy.
This eco-economy runs as much as possible on solar energy, just as ecosystems run entirely on solar gain. We make judicious use of “capital” resources such as fossil fuels, which are used according to their most efficient application, as in the “soft energy path” ideas of Amory Lovins.
Eco-economics means bringing the economy home, and embedding it cooperatively in the web of life of our bioregions.
To summarize, the basic bioregional economic prescription is, to the greatest extent possible:
* Participants in, invest in, and support local, ecologically responsible production, by locally owned, operated, and controlled enterprises.
* Buy, trade, consume locally and bioregionally-produced goods and services.
* Work to strengthen the local and bioregional economy.
* Keep resources, capital, energy at home: plug leaks.
* Use solar energy, and other “renewable” energies and resources.
* Radically efficient use of non-renewables.
* Intense conservation and efficiency in all sectors.
* Full scale — 90–100 percent recycling done by local and bioregional enterprises.
* Pay true, ecologically-audited costs: internalize “externalities.”
* (Work toward) formal or informal local and bioregional trading system or currency.
* Support a humane and socially responsible economy.
* Don’t support business that pollute or destroy the ecology.
* Conversely, whenever possible, avoid buying from national or multinational-scale corporations, their subsidiaries, or state-owned enterprises. Each locality, region, bioregion, or state would establish an up-to-date database identifying what is being sold, and the ownership is of the company selling a given product in their territory. This information would be furnished to the public so that they can choose the local and regional alternative where possible. Ongoing development of economic alternatives to nationals and transnationals would be a focus of each bioregion.
Ecological economics and the ownership and treatment of land: the Earth Trust
I realize that what I have said thus far about a new overall praxis of economics does not include the fundamental question of ownership of the land as presently defined in the capitalist and socialist models. It is an abomination for any system to carry on the belief that ownership, either by individuals, corporations, or the state, includes the right to despoil any part of the Earth.
My personal belief on ownership and enterprise is that neither individuals nor the state can truly hold title to anything, but that the whole Earth and everything on it is a commons which belongs to no one but the Earth, GAIA. I here acknowledge its implicit existence and call it into being simply by naming it: The Earth Trust.
Any human activity needs to be seen as carried out under an implicit ecological lease covenant from the Earth, which expires with our personal, collective, or corporate life. (No more “immortal” personal or corporate holdings.) This of course is a heterodox view in the “civilized” world, and is recognized by few, First Peoples, Bioregionalists, and some Greens.
No matter what we believe about ownership, the best we can do now is stick to the ecological evaluation and modality of economic activity and ownership. There is no evidence to support that either ownership by individuals, or the state, will protect and adequately care for the land in any given political-economic system with any degree of consistency or certainty. Using ecological economics as best we can under the present dysfunctional systems we will just have to do the best we can in mitigating the damage caused by present nations’ concepts of ownership rights.
Something to hold in mind and work for through the generations: Establish the Earth Trust under the Ecological Covenant of Earth.
(This writing is a composite of two papers: One submitted for the International Society for Ecological Economics — ISEE — conference, “The Ecological Economics of Sustainability: Making Local and Short-Term Goals Consistant with Global and Long-Term Goals”, held May 21–23, 1990 at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.
The second written for the “Conferencia International Sobre Nuevos Paradigmas de la Ciencia”, the University of Guadalajara, November 14–18, 1994.)
Author of this guest post: David Haenke
Here are two conversations I had with David in February 2021:
Teaser photo credit: Bend in the Buffalo River from an overlook on the Buffalo River Trail near Steel Creek in the Ozark Mountains. By Jasari – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4398293