Pitch

Shift economics from growth to steady-state, build an Earth jurisprudence into national constitutions, begin reconnecting and relocalizing.

Description

Summary

To be effective, global actions must emerge from globally shared values. These needn’t be lowest common denominator values, but can and should be based on values—such as creativity and compassion—that support our highest aspirations as humans. The Earth Charter shows that this is possible. The values that support sustainability must be maximized in order to mitigate global warming.

 * Change the economic paradigm from growth to a steady-state (ecological economics). This includes moving beyond planned obsolescence and the marketing propaganda that creates overconsumption as an addictive substitute for natural fulfillment.

 * Build the principles of an Earth jurisprudence into national constitutions. Bioregions and ecosystems must take priority over political boundaries, and privatization of the commons must be recognized as a mistake.

 * Shift the cultural focus toward reconnecting with nature and relocalizing our lifestyles and communities. This will overturn the myth of rugged individualism while clarifying that individuation and diversity are the source of our strength.

 These all require a fundamental change from dominator control hierarchies to self-organizing networks of mutual support. Since this just happens to be the way life on Earth works, it requires less energy than we're currently using while improving quality of life (not to be confused with standard of living.)

None of this is rocket science. We have all the tools, technologies, and knowledge to begin the transition toward a sustainable future. The main problem is that it doesn't support the elite’s pathological sense of entitlement. Techno-fetishists probably won't like it either. But, if you're actually serious about addressing global warming instead of slapping Band-Aids on the symptoms known as climate change, the response must be as systemic as the paradigm responsible for our rapidly converging global crises.

 

Category of the Action

Integrated action plan for the world as a whole

What actions do you propose?

The core actions are reconnecting with all that is natural and naturally fulfilling (including our own inner nature) and relocalizing our lives, communities, and economies. These are based, with modifications and additions, on what the academic world and activist community know as applied ecopsychology and the Transition Initiative movement. Bioregionalism, for example, is a concept that has major aspects of both (and vice versa), as do Local Living Economies, Post-Carbon Cities, and a few dozen other related and congruent examples from around the globe.

My proposal is not merely academic, it's already in process. What is missing is a coherent and cohesive framework to hold it all together. This is supplied through the application of natural systems principles. These core principles are 1) mutual support and reciprocity, 2) no waste, 3) no greed, and 4) increasing diversity.

The physical actions must include shutting down the Industrial Growth Society and its penchant for economic cannibalism and replacing it with a paradigm that is in balance with a living world, instead of opposed to it with the mistaken thinking that we can control nature and ignore the laws of thermodynamics. This mindset is often articulated as thinking of Earth as both an endless supply of resources and a bottomless pit for wastes. This is known as cornucopianism. As Confucius said around 500 BC, "The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right name."

Thus, the first action is adopting an ecologically sound and legally defensible definition of sustainability. This is a foundational step toward implementing an Earth jurisprudence.

Sustainability:

 1) The integration of human social and economic lives into the environment in ways that tend to enhance or maintain rather than degrade or destroy the environment;

 2) A moral imperative to pass on our natural inheritance, not necessarily unchanged, but undiminished in its ability to meet the needs of future generations;

 3) Determines, and stays within, the balance point among population, consumption and waste assimilation so bioregions, watersheds and ecosystems can maintain their ability to recharge, replenish and regenerate.

The other major action is the development of multi-issue coalitions of mutual support. The worldview and ethics of sustainability—ecological integrity, social justice, economic equity, and participatory democracy—are fully congruent with the Earth Charter, the international people's declaration of interdependence. Our greatest commonality is that we come from the Earth. This commonality is also our greatest hope for the necessary change in the rapidly dwindling window of opportunity climate scientists tell us we have left.

The natural systems framework provides a foundation for creating the multi-issue coalitions that will be necessary to begin the transition into a sustainable future. The framework includes a historical analysis of how we got to this point in Western industrial civilization, scientific evidence for what we can do differently and why we can rationally expect success, and a set of tools and actions that can be deployed by global citizens. While that won’t all fit into this 5000 character box, I do have a 400 page manuscript which goes into detail on all of the above.

Where will these actions be taken?

Everywhere. Although much more in the global North.

Who will take these actions?

Everyone except sociopaths.

Well, that’s the flippant, but totally accurate, answer. The actions get taken across all existing sectors—personal, community (school, church, social services, etc), jurisprudence, productivity (jobs and industry), governance, and economy (banking and finance). And pretty much in that order of importance.

The natural systems framework provides a basis for multi-issue coalition development. This is how the critical mass is built to institute these changes. And according to theories of social change, we don’t actually need everyone—20% will do just fine.

We can quickly start building this 20% through an initial coalition of internationally recognized organizations such as Greenpeace, Sierra Club, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy, World Wide Fund for Nature, World Social Forum, Amnesty International, Earth Jurisprudence Network, Evangelical Environmental Network, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Organic Consumer’s Association, etc.

 

What are key benefits?

The key benefit is stopping ecocide. A secondary benefit is ending inequality. It will also take us off the path of Empire. Many will see the latter as the key benefit.

Here's the way it works: True justice is not possible without sustainability, and without justice there will never be peace. The scope of global warming requires digging its cause (domination and disconnection; Industrialism is just a manifestation which must be stopped post haste) up by the roots and implementing an alternative that is every bit as systemic and actually stands a chance of meeting the goal of a sustainable future.

 

What are the proposal’s costs?

What is the cost of life? What will be the cost of not taking serious action? It's long past time to stop thinking that power and profit are more important than people and planet. A major aspect of the current rapidly converging global crises (peak oil, global warming, and corporatism) is monetizing everything.

I think it's important that we put this in perspective. The latest Stern report has gone from projecting a 5-20% decrease in global GDP to one that is two-thirds lower than the IPCC projections for GDP under the business as usual scenario.

I would think it would be much more important, from a modeling perspective for a truly global plan to address global warming, to show how we could reverse the downward trend in measures such as GPI (Genuine Progress Indicator) that we've been experiencing since the 1950s.

Unless, of course, we're insistent that decreasing inequality and improving environmental resiliency is a negative side effect—which appears to be the sub-text of this section.

Time line

It starts with local, state, and national governments adopting the definition of sustainability as a yardstick for further action. Systemic change is a dynamic process. We must keep the goal of a sustainable future in mind as we fine tune and refine the overall project.

The natural systems framework can be adopted immediately by grassroots movements in ecological integrity, social justice, economic equity, and participatory democracy. These are all integral to sustainability, and provide the commonality necessary for multi-issue coalitions that can begin implementing the necessary changes to address global warming on a global basis.

Sub-proposals

I found no sub-proposals dealing with powering down, steady-state economics, an Earth jurisprudence, ecopsychology, Ecocity development, the transition movement, bioregionalism, stopping economic growth, or replacing Industrialism. Search results on the CoLab site found one reference to the transition movement. That was it.

For existing proposals to make sense in a global plan, they must be analyzed from the perspective of natural systems and their support of, or need in, a sustainable future.

A sub-goal of the Global Plan contest is to test collective problem-solving. But it can only be collective intelligence if the pieces are all accounted for (that's the collective part) and then display intelligence themselves based on what we know about biospheric degradation and the effects of positive feedback loops on environmental tipping points.

Random actions can’t be slapped together willy-nilly and expected to work together if the goal is systemic global change. The only rational response to the problem of global warming is to address the root cause—Industrialism based on disconnection and domination. Core attributes of Industrialism include infinite economic growth and compound interest which lead to financial speculation and Mammonism. The current global warming manifestations include climate change, ocean acidification, deforestation, topsoil loss, urban sprawl, biodiversity loss (no food chain means no food, and I'm still waiting for someone to present an adaptation strategy for that), dwindling freshwater supplies, and habitat loss—for starters.

In the energy sector, for example, my proposal envisions a 75% reduction from current use through decentralized co-generation of clean renewable energy sources, removing waste and planned obsolescence from manufacturing, and implementing neighborhood level sharing co-ops. This means fossil fuels and nuclear energy can both be completely retired today. The offered modeling tools won't allow for that type of input either.

How do these sub-proposals fit together?

Well, I guess there actually are a number of sub-proposals, it’s just that none of them have ever been submitted to the MIT Climate CoLab. The references I’ve included contain a number of them, and these references are less than 25% of the references I include in the manuscript I mentioned above in the actions section.

Explanation of model inputs

I chose from the limited and biased variables allowed for input with the En-ROADS model. After clicking on the run model button it apparently didn’t do anything. No results, no error messages. So much for that.

The Stanford energy model is based on at least two erroneous assumptions; that GDP is the only way to measure economic health and wealth (though even orthodox growth economists realize it wasn't designed to do either), and that anything that doesn't contribute to GDP growth (which requires concurrent growth in the energy sector) is a catastrophic failure that must be guarded against at all costs.

In neither model is rationality an option. The limiting constraint is political feasibility within the prevailing paradigm.

From looking at the claims of the En-ROADS model, its purpose seems to be to convince funders of how greenly we can abuse our life support system. It won't allow for a population size within planetary carrying capacity, it won't allow for negative GDP, etc. My proposal doesn't use subsidies, it prices externalities and natural systems services (although I’m not fond of the utilitarian aspect of this wording). The actual price of carbon has been estimated at about $900/ton, but En-ROADS won't allow you to enter a price higher that $100/ton, and it tries to push one toward the more politically feasible price of $30-$50/ton. It would be nice if the model were useful for anything other than supporting the status quo, i.e. proposals that support the economic system at the root of our rapidly converging global crises.

The impact to the current economic system from my proposal is its complete replacement. But I thought the idea behind the Global Plan contest was to find a combination of actions and policies, which at least implies a systemic set of relationships, that stand a chance of success in the real world of mitigating global warming and transitioning into a sustainable future.

References

Andrus, Van, Christopher Plant, Judith Plant and Eleanor Wright (Eds). (1990.) Home!: A Bioregional Reader. Gabriola Island, BC. New Society Publishers.

Bateson, Gregory. (2000.) Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology. University of Chicago Press.

Capra, Fritjof. (2002.) The Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living. New York. Anchor.

Clinebell, Howard. (1996.) Ecotherapy: Healing Ourselves, Healing the Earth. New York. Haworth Press.

Cohen, Michael J. (1998.) Reconnecting With Nature: Finding Wellness through Restoring Your Bond with the Earth. Corvalis, OR. Ecopress.

Coleman, Daniel A. (1994.) Ecopolitics: Building a Green Society. New Brunswick, NJ. Rutgers University Press.

Conn, Sarah A. (Spring 1991.) The Self-world Connection: Implications for Mental Health and Psychotherapy. Women of Power 20. pp 71-77.

Daly, Herman E. (1996.) Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development. Boston. Beacon Press.

Eisler, Riane. (1987.) The Chalice and The Blade: Our History, Our Future. New York. HarperCollins.

Greco, Thomas H. Jr. (2008.) The End of Money and the Future of Civilization. White River Junction, VT. Chelsea Green.

Hopkin, Rob. (2008.) The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Reslience. Foxhole, UK. Green Books.

Laszlo, Ervin. (1972.) The Systems View of the World. New York. George Braziller.

Liedloff, Jean. (1975.) The Continuum Concept. Reading, MA. Addison-Wesley.

Macy, Joanna, and Molly Young Brown. (1998.) Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World. Gabriola Island, B.C. New Society Publishers.

McKibben, Bill. (2007.) Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. New York. Henry Holt.

Metzner, Ralph. (1993.) The Split Between Spirit and Nature in European Consciousness. The Trumpeter, Vol. 10, no. 1.

Nollman, Jim. (1990.) Spiritual Ecology: A Guide to Reconnecting with Nature. Bantam.

Prigogine, Ilya & Stengers, Isabelle. (1984.) Order Out of Chaos: Man’s New Dialog with Nature. New York. Bantam.

Ray, Paul H., and Sherry Ruth Anderson. (2000.) The Cultural Creatives. New York. Harmony Books.

Rifkin, Jeremy. (1991.) Biosphere Politics: A Cultural Odyssey from the Middle Ages to the New Age. San Francisco. Harper.

Rogers, Heather. (2010.) Green Gone Wrong: How Our Economy Is Undermining the Environmental Revolution. New York. Scribner.

Roszak, Theodore, Mary E. Gomes and Allen D. Kanner (Eds). (1995.) Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind. San Francisco. Sierra Club Books.

Shuman, Michael. (1998.) Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age. Free Press.

Von Bertalanffy, Ludwig. (1967.) Robots, Men, and Mind: Psychology in the Modern World. New York. George Braziller.

Wheatley, Margaret J. (2005.) Finding Our Way: Leadership For an Uncertain Time. San Francisco. Berrett-Koehler.

Young, Jon, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown. (2008.) Coyote’s Guide to Connecting With Nature. Shelton, WA. Owlink Media.

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Proposal Summary
Using Natural Systems Principles to Transition toward a Sustainable Future
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By:  dewoldt
Contest: Global plan 2014
What combination of actions can be taken in the world as a whole to address climate change?