At the outset of this blog, I wrote that we not only need to name the problems in our society and world, but we need to offer visionary solutions that are proactive and concrete. One of the massive problems we face today is a global economic system that produces vast inequalities and destroys the environment. My good friend Justin Kemerling is a big fan of "natural capitalism," a set of ideas put forth by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins. At their website, they write:
Most businesses still operate according to a world view that hasn't changed since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Then, natural resources were abundant and labor was the limiting factor of production. But now, there's a surplus of labor, while natural capital - natural resources and the ecological systems that provide the vital life-support services - is in decline and relatively expensive. The next Industrial Revolution, like the first one, will be a repsonse to changing patterns of scarcity. it will create upheaval, but more importantly, it will create opportunities. Business must adjust to these new realities. Innovative companies are already doing just that. They're profiting and gaining decisive competitive advantage - and their leaders and employees are feeling better about what they do, too. They're the vanguard of a new business model: "natural capitalism"
Here is their website:
Here is an article from Mother Jones:
Mother Jones article
A more comprehensive report on "natural capitalism" from the Harvard Business Review can be found in pdf format at the Wikipedia site on the subject:
Harvard Business Review article
Natural capitalism has its critics, particularly among progressives and environmentalists. For example, a reviewer in FEASTA Review, a journal of economic sustainability, writes,
Perhaps the most widely discussed recent book on the transition from a wasteful, unsustainable economic system to a more sustainable one is Natural Capitalism.. Unfortunately, the book is deeply flawed because, like most US books of its type, it pretends that the transition will be so highly profitable that the market alone will bring it about and that government regulation and legislation are unnecessary. Surprisingly, it maintains this position despite an excellent chapter on the ways in which markets can fail.
Here is the whole review:
FEASTA Review review
Here is another review by William Greider, a brilliant progressive economic journalist:
Can, as the authors of Natural Capitalism claim, "business strategies built around the radically more productive use of natural resources... solve many environmental problems at a profit"? Or, is this wishful thinking, having our cake and eating it, too?
What do you think? Is this the best viable alternative to the current version of global capitalism? Or, is it a utopian pipe dream as some critics suggest?