When will the worker be free of the whip?

"No great man lives in vain. The history of the world is but the biography of
great men."

Thomas Carlyle.

"Just as every act in an industrial society leads to environmental degradation, regardless of intention, we must design a system where the opposite is true, where doing good is like falling off a log, where the natural everyday acts of work and life accumulate into a better world as a matter of course, not as a matter of conscious altruism."

Paul Hawken - The Ecology of Commerce:

"I have come to believe that we in America and in the rest of the Industrialized West do not know what business is really is, or, therefore, what it can become. Perhaps, this is a strange remark, given that free market capitalism is now largely unchallenged as the economic and social credo of just about every society on earth, but I believe it's correct. Despite our management schools, despite the thousands of books written about business, despite the legions of economists who tinker with the trimtabs of the $21 trillion world economy, despite and maybe because of the victory of free-market capitalism over socialism worldwide, our understanding of business--what makes for healthy commerce, what the role of such commerce should be within society as a whole--is stuck at a primitive level.

The ultimate purpose of business is not, or should not be, simply to make money. Nor is it merely a system of making and selling things. The promise of business is to increase the general well-being of humankind through service, a creative invention and ethical philosophy. Making money is, on its own terms, totally meaningless, an insufficient pursuit for the complex and decaying world we live in. We have reached an unsettling and portentous turning point in industrial civilization. It is emblematic that the second animal ever to be "patented" is a mouse with no immune system that will be used to research diseases of the future, and that mother's milk would be banned by the food safety laws of industrialized nations if it were sold as a packaged good. What's in the milk besides milk and what's suppressing our immune system is literally industry--its by-products,wastes, and toxins. Facts like this lead to an inevitable conclusion: Businesspeople must either dedicate themselves to transforming commerce to a restorative undertaking, or march society to the undertaker.

I believe business is on the verge of such a transformation, a change brought on by social and biological forces that can no longer be ignored or put aside, a change so thorough and sweeping that in the decades to come business will be unrecognizable when compared to the commercial institutions of today. We have the capacity and ability to create a remarkably different economy, one that can restore ecosystems and protect the environment while bringing forth innovation, prosperity, meaningful work, and true security. As long as we continue to ignore the evolutionary thrust and potential of the existing economy, the world of commerce will continue to be in a state of disorder and constant restructuring. This is not because the worldwide recession has been so deep and long, but because there is a widening gap between the rapid rate at which society and the natural world are decaying and the agonizingly slow rate at which business is effecting any truly fundamental change.

This turbulent, transformative period we now face might be thought of as a system shedding its skin; it signals the first attempts by commerce to adapt to a new era. Many people in business, the media, and politics do not perceive this evolutionary step, while others who do understand fight it. Standing in the way of change are corporations who want to continue worldwide deforestation and build coal-fired power plants, who see the storage or dumping of billions of tons of waste as a plausible strategy for the future, who imagine a world of industrial farms sustained by chemical feed-stocks. They can slow the process down, make it more difficult, but they will not stop it. Like a sunset effect, the glories of the industrial economy may mask the fact that it is poised at a declining horizon of options and possibilities. Just as internal contradictions brought down the Marxist and socialist economies, so do a different set of social and biological forces signal our own possible demise. Those forces can no longer be ignored or put aside.

That the title of this book, The Ecology of Commerce, reads today as an oxymoron speaks to the gap between how the earth lives and how we now conduct our commercial lives. We don't usually think of ecology and commerce as compatible subjects. While much of our current environmental policy seeks a "balance" between the needs of business and the needs of the environment, common sense says there is only one critical balance and one set of needs: the dynamic, ever-changing interplay of the forces of life. The restorative economy envisioned and described in this book respects this fact. It unites ecology and commerce into one sustainable act of production and distribution that mimics and enhances natural processes. It proposes a newborn literacy of enterprise that acknowledges that we are all here together, at once, at the service of and at the mercy of nature, each other, and our daily acts.

A hundred years ago, even fifty years ago, it did not seem urgent that we understand the relationship between business and a healthy environment, because natural resources seemed unlimited. But on the verge of a new millennium we know that we have decimated ninety-seven percent of the ancient forests in North America; every day our farmers and ranchers draw out 20 billion more gallons of water from the ground than are replaced by rainfall; the Ogalala Aquifer, an underwater river beneath the Great Plains larger than any body of fresh water on earth, will dry up within thirty to forty years at present rates of extraction; globally we lose 25 billion tons of fertile topsoil every year, the equivalent of all the wheatfields in Australia. These critical losses are occurring while the world population is increasing at the rate of 90 million people per year. Quite simply, our business practices are destroying life on earth. Given current corporate practices, not one wildlife reserve, wilderness, or indigenous culture will survive the global market economy. We know that every natural system on the planet is disintegrating. The land, water, air, and sea have been functionally transformed from life-supporting systems into repositories for waste. There is no polite way to say that business is destroying the world.

Having served on the boards of several environmental organizations, I thought I understood the nature and extent of the problems we face. But as I prepared to write this book, I reviewed much of the new literature in the field and discovered that the more I researched the issues, the more disquieting I found the information. The rate and extent of environmental degradation is far in excess of anything I had previously imagined. The situation was like the textbook illusion in which the viewer is presented with a jumble of halftone dots that reveals the image of Abraham Lincoln only when seen from a distance. Each of the sources I worked with was one such dot, not meaningless in itself, but only a part of the picture. The problem we face is far greater than anything portrayed by the media. I came to understand well the despair of one epidemiologist who, after reviewing the work in her field and convening a conference to examine the effects of chlorinated compounds on embryonic development, went into a quiet mourning for six months. The implications of that conference were worse than any single participant could have anticipated: The immune system of every unborn child in the world may soon be adversely and irrevocably affected by the persistent toxins in our food, air, and water.

A subtler but similarly disquieting development was reported bythe New York Times in 1992 in an article entitled "The Silence of the Frogs." At an international conference on herpetology (the study of amphibians and reptiles), while 1,300 participants gave hundreds of official papers on specialized subjects, none had focused on the total picture. Pieced together informally in the hallways and in the lunch lines at the conference was the fact that frogs are disappearing from the face of the earth at an inexplicably rapid rate. Even more disturbing was the conclusion that these populations are crashing not merely in regions where there are known industrial toxins, but also in pristine wilderness areas where there is abundant food and no known sources of pollution. The implications of such a die-off go beyond frogs. The human endocrine system is remarkably similar to that of fish, birds, and wildlife; it is, from an evolutionary point of view, an ancient system. If endocrine and immune systems are failing and breaking down at lower levels of the animal kingdom, we may be similarly vulnerable. The reason we may not yet be experiencing the same types of breakdown seen in other species is because we gestate and breed comparatively rather slowly. On complex biological levels such as ours, bad news travels unhurriedly, but it eventually arrives. In other words, something unusual and inauspicious may be occurring globally at all levels of biological development: a fundamental decline that we are only beginning to comprehend and that our efforts at "environmentalism" have failed to address."



"Capitalism arose from industrialism without any particular framework or values. It was sometimes given lofty virtues by observers, much as conservatives do to this day, but social and environmental values were never intrinsic. Capitalism simply emerged. No one said, wouldn't it be cool to have a juggernaut economy of unprecedented productive capacity that destroys the capacity of every living system on Earth, where over 90 percent of the world's wealth would be concentrated in the hands of 2 percent of the people, and the other 98 percent wouldn't mind because they were being anesthesized by shopping or the eventual prospect of having more material goods. My comment that capitalism might be a good idea is a rhetorical jab at the extreme internal contradictions of the present system. It is, in Hazel Henderson's words, a system where the divine rights of kings have been replaced by the divine rights of capital (money).

The global industrial system is both megalithic and fragile. I suppose I see it in a Dickensian way, with both the best and worst becoming more manifest. The worst we hardly need to talk about. As to the best, worldwide, there are tens of thousands of NGOs that are addressing the issue of sustainability in its broadest and most complete sense. Domestically, my guess is that there are some 30,000 groups. They address a broad array of issues including environmental justice, ecological literacy, public policy, conservation, women's rights and health, population, renewable energy, corporate reform, labor issues, climate change, trade issues, ethical investing, ecological tax reform, water, and much more. These groups conform to both of Gandhi's imperatives: Some resist while the others create new structures, patterns, and means.
The groups tend to be local, marginal, poorly funded and overworked. It is hard for most groups not to feel that they could perish in a twinkling, and a palpable sense of anxiety is there. At the same time, there is a deeper pattern that is extraordinary. Around the world, organizations working on sustainability are creating conventions, declarations, lists of principles and frameworks that are remarkably in accord. These include the CERES Principles, The Natural Step, Agenda 21, the UN Charter on Human Rights, the Cairo Conference, The Siena Declaration, and thousands more. Never before in history have independent groups from around the world derived frameworks of knowledge that are utterly consonant and in agreement. It is not that they are the same, it is that they do not conflict. This hasn't happened in politics, not in religion, not in psychology, not ever. As external conditions continue to change and worsen socially, environmentally, and politically, organizations working towards sustainability increase, deepen, and multiply. Some day, these dots are going to be connected.
Business reform and restorative economics is only a part of this broader movement towards change. But it is critical.
It is frustrating to see the juggernaut of corporatism continue to concentrate ownership in the media, energy, transportation, publishing, apparel, and so much more and not feel like power is being swept away and sequestered into the hands of the few. Although the rate of corporate change is accelerating now, sometimes you have to bite your lip when you see what passes for change. Is an institution making a legitimate effort to transform its culture and direction or are they just standing on the first rung of the ladder for a better view? Sometimes, even they don't know it is all so new and bewildering. When you get an organization like Monsanto completely prostituting the concept of sustainability, that understandably raises the level of cynicism as other corporations announce that they are moving in that direction.
We are talking about some very entrenched and highly reinforced paradigms that have been drilled into the head of every MBA in America, not to mention overseas. It isn't easy to change. Even CEOs who do understand sustainability extraordinarily well, like Ray Anderson, say that they have a difficult time being understood by other CEOs. Those barriers permeate the organization, not just top management. Nevertheless, it is the executive suite that poses the greatest barrier. Short attention spans, gnawing stress, compensation incentives (which are all essentially short term), ecological and biological illiteracy, investor demands, peer pressure, glass ceilings and gender bias (we are talking about a profoundly male view of the world), political conservatism, all create a formidable wall of resistance.
I agree with David's view that we are goal-less. What are the goals of corporate America? Strip away the platitudes and what do you have left?
One of the most humorous aspects of teaching The Natural Step in corporations is when you come to the Fourth System Condition, the part that says that without social justice and fair and equitable distribution of resources, there can be no such thing as sustainability. Businesspeople go ballistic. They think it is socialist, communist, the nose of the leftist camel slipping under the tent. Literally, some are repulsed by it. We are in a country that was founded on "liberty and justice for all" and if you raise that issue in the business community, some executives will fall off their chairs. Sometimes, I have asked business people who reject the notion of social justice whether they believe in injustice, inequality, lack of opportunity for women, and unfairness. They protest just as vehemently. So then I ask them what do they believe? What do we believe? What are our goals? It seems to me that our goals have been money – period. We got it. Not very well distributed, but goodness there is a lot of money moving around. So the good news is that when Americans set a goal, they usually achieve it. The problem is that we have such insignificant and petty goals. I am going on too long here, but maybe a story will suffice. In one of these monolithic and highly resistant corporations which shall remain nameless (but let's just say that I doubt if the readers of YES! use one single product from this $9 billion behemoth), a friend was giving a one-day workshop to middle management on sustainability. Now this group had already rejected the Fourth System Condition about social justice and resource equity. They were given an exercise that we do in some of our workshops. Their task was to break into five groups, with each group designing a spaceship (size and propulsion were not issues, and it could receive sunlight from the outside) that would leave the Earth and bring its inhabitants back, alive, happy, and healthy 100 years later. Being engineers, they loved the challenge. At the end, they would vote on which spaceship they would want to travel on, and that would be the winning group.
The winning spaceship was brilliantly designed. Now bear in mind, this company, amongst many other things, makes pesticides and herbicides. Things that kill life, i.e. biocides. On the winning spaceship, they decided that they needed insects so they decided that they would take no pesticides. They knew that photosynthesis was key to their survival. They also decided that weeds were important in a healthy ecosystem and banned herbicides on board. Their food system, in other words, was totally organic. This group of engineers and MBAs also decided that as a crew, they needed lots of singers, dancers, artists, and storytellers, because the CDs and videos would get old and boring fast, and engineers alone did not a village make. There were many more aspects, but two were most interesting. One, they decided that virtually none of the products they were making on Earth would be useful on this spaceship. And, at the end, they were asked if it was OK if 20 percent of the people on the spaceship controlled 80 percent of the resources on board. They immediately and vociferously rejected that notion as unworkable, unjust, and unfair. And then they realized what they had said. In other words, in small groups with appropriate goals and challenges, we know the right things to do. As a society within the world of capitalism, we are not very bright."

Paul Hawken

We need - according to John Ruskin: "examples of people who, leaving Heaven to decide whether they are to rise in the world, decide for themselves that they will be happy in it, and have resolved to seek, not greater wealth, but simpler pleasures; not higher fortune, but deeper felicity; making the first of possessions self-possession, and honouring themselves in the harmless pride and calm pursuits of peace."

"Therefore, when we build, let us think that we build for ever."
-- The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849). John Ruskin

"[Architects] ought not to live in our cities; there is that in their miserable walls which bricks up to death men's imaginations. ... An architect should live as little in cities as a painter. Send him to our hills, and let him study there what nature understands by a buttress, and what by a dome."
-- The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849)

" … one of the worst diseases to which the human creature is liable is its disease of thinking. If it would only just look at a thing instead of thinking what it must be like … we should all get on far better."
-- A Joy For Ever (1857}

"… every nation's vice, or virtue, was written in its art: the soldiership of early Greece; the sensuality of late Italy; the visionary religion of Tuscany; the splendid human energy of Venice."
-- Traffic (1864)

"Every increased possession loads us with a new weariness."
-- The Eagle's Nest (1872)

"The real reason of it is this -- that for more than a couple of centuries we have been studiously surrounding ourselves with every form of vapidness and monotony in architecture. It has been our aim to make all our houses and churches, alike; we have squared our windows -- smoothed our walls; straightened our roofs -- put away nearly all ornament, inequality, evidence of effort, and ambiguity, and all variety of colour. It has been our aim to make every house look as if it had been built yesterday; and to make all the parts of it symmetrical, similar and colourless. ... All this is done directly in opposition to the laws of nature and truth."
-- Bodleian Library notebooks

"We are always in these days endeavoring to separate the two; we want one man to be always thinking, and another to be always working, as we call one a gentleman, and the other an operative; whereas the workman ought often to be thinking, and the thinker often to be working, and both should be gentlemen, in the best sense."

John Ruskin

"In addition to these general attitudes that horrified many of his contemporaries, Ruskin advanced specific political programmes that they found equally radical and equally disturbing. He urged, for example, that the government should establish "training schools for youth" and that "every child born in the country should, at the parent's wish, be permitted (and, in certain cases, be under penalty required) to pass through them" (17.21), He also proposed that the government not only should take care of all old and indigent but also should establish factories to employ those in need of work. These factories, which would set standards of quality for British manufacturing by example, would also ensure that people on all economic levels could obtain pure, unadulterated food and other necessities."

"Of all Ruskin's proposals, however, few struck many contemporaries as more outrageous than the one exhorting them to disregard Malthusian doctrine and pay workers a living wage. To the economists who stated that raising wages would lead the worker either to overproduce his class or to drink himself to death, Ruskin replies: "Suppose it were your own son of whom you spoke, declaring to me that you dared not take him into your firm, nor even give him his just labourer's wages, because if you did he would die of drunkenness, and leave half a score of children to the parish. "Who gave your son these dispositions?" - I should enquire - Has he them by inheritance or by education!""

- from:http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/ruskin/pm/3.html

And it is the same, he insists, with the poor. Ruskin, later a proponent of a classless society, points out that either members of the lower classes have essentially the same nature as the rich and hence are capable of education or they "are of a race essentially different from ours, and[63/64] unredeemable (which, however often implied, I have heard none yet openly say)" (17.106). Ruskin, who applied his skill at biblical and pictorial interpretation to the language of political economy, was particularly astute at finding the claims of self and class interest lurking within supposedly objective explanations.

Indeed, Ruskin particularly embarrassed and outraged many readers - just as he inspired others, such as Morris and Gandhi -- when he pointed out that the cruellest treatment of the poor by the rich appears not in poor wages and working conditions but in the way they are kept down by mental and spiritual impoverishment. "Alas! it is not meat of which the refusal is cruellest, or to which the claim is validest. The life is more than the meat. The rich not only refuse food to the poor; they refuse wisdom; they refuse virtue; they refuse salvation" (17.106-7). In Time and Tide (1867) and Fors Clavigera (1871-8, 1880-4) he continues to advance a series of specific proposals based upon his hierarchical, co-operative, familial social vision -- namely, that all should work and all do some physical labour, that wages should be fixed by custom, as he believed they were in the professions, and not set by any law of supply and demand; that the nation and not individuals should own natural resources; and that government should take responsibility for education, which he took to be that factor most productive of true wealth.

"Among the delusions which at different periods have possessed themselves of the minds of large masses of the human race, perhaps the most curious - certainly the least creditable - is the modern soi-disant science of political economy, based on the idea that an advantageous code of social action may be determined irrespectively of the influence of social affection" (17.25). Granting that "as in the instances of alchemy, astrology, witchcraft, and other such popular creeds, political economy has a plausible idea at the root of it" (17.25), Ruskin argues that the economists err disastrously by "considering the human being merely as a covetous machine" (17.25). Although he readily agrees that one should attempt to eliminate inconstant variables when trying to determine guiding laws for any area of knowledge, he points out that economists have failed to perceive that 'the disturbing elements' in the problem they have tried to eliminate from their theories are not the same as the constant elements since "they alter the essence of the creature under examination the moment they are added; they operate, not mathematically, but chemically, introducing conditions which render all our previous knowledge unavailable" (17.26). Drawing upon his knowledge of chemistry, a true science, for an analogy, Ruskin then points out how dangerous such false conclusions can be: "We made learned experiments upon pure nitrogen, and have convinced ourselves that it is a very manageable gas: but, behold! the thing which we have practically to deal with is its chloride; and this,[69/70] the moment we touch it on our established principles, sends us and our apparatus through the ceiling" (17.26). Immediately after introducing his satiric analogy, which takes the form of a rudimentary, abbreviated narrative, Ruskin next employs a wonderfully bizarre symbolical grotesque:

Observe, I neither impugn nor doubt the conclusion of the science if its terms are accepted. I am simply uninterested in them, as I should be in those of a science of gymnastics which assumed that men had no skeletons. It might be shown, on that supposition, that it would be advantageous to roll the students up into pellets, flatten them into cakes, or stretch them into cables; and that when these results were effected, the re-insertion of the skeleton would be attended with various inconveniences to their constitution. The reasoning might be admirable, the conclusions true, and the science deficient only in applicability. Modern political economy stands on a precisely similar basis. (17.26)

According to Ruskin, who is arguing that this supposedly practical science is in fact decidedly impractical and impracticable, modem political economy had the same advantages and disadvantages as does his invented pseudoscience of gymnastics-without-skeletons: its inventors and practitioners have sacrificed usefulness, relevance, and applicability to theoretical elegance and ease. In making such a charge, Ruskin immediately demonstrates that although he might at first appear the wild-eyed impractical theorist, his ideas have more value than commonly accepted ones.

Ruskin's invented symbolical grotesques are particularly useful in summing up the flaws in opposing positions. These analogies and little satiric narratives of course owe much to Neoclassical satirists, particularly Swift, whose Tale of a Tub and Gulliver's Travels make extensive use of both to cast an opposing view in a poor light. When Ruskin argues in "Traffic" against those who claim that they cannot afford to create[70/71] beautiful surroundings for human life, he employs a characteristic parable to reduce such protests to absurdity. Suppose, he instructs his listeners, that he had been sent for "by some private gentleman, living in a suburban house, with his garden separated only by a fruit wall from his next door neighbour's" (18.438) to advise him how to furnish his drawing room -- Finding the walls bare, Ruskin suggests rich furnishings, say, fresco-painted ceilings, elegant wallpaper, and damask curtains, and his client complains of the expense, which he cannot afford. Pointing out that his client is supposed to be a wealthy man, he is told:

"Ah yes," says my friend, "but do you know, at present I am obliged to spend it nearly all on steel-traps?" "Steel-traps! for whom?" "Why, for that fellow on the other side of the wall, you know: We're very good friends, capital friends; but we are obliged to keep our traps set on both sides of the wall; we could not possibly keep on friendly terms without them, and our spring guns. The worst of it is, we are both clever fellows enough; and there's never a day passes that we don't find out a new trap, or a new gun-barrel, or something." (18.438-9)

Fifteen million a year, his client tells Ruskin, the two good neighbours spend on such traps, and he doesn't see how they could do with less and so Ruskin the room decorator must understand why he has so little available capital to beautify his client's environment. Turning to his audience, Ruskin abandons the pose of the naïf and comments in the tones of the Old Testament prophet: "A highly comic state of life for two private gentlemen! but for two nations, it seems to me, not wholly comic." Bedlam might be comic, he supposes, if it had only one madman, and Christmas pantomines are comic with one clown, "but when the whole world turns clown, and paints itself red with its own heart's blood instead of vermilion, it is something else than comic, I think" (18.439). Having first mocked with his satiric parable the intellectual seriousness of[71/72] his listeners' self-justifications for failing to spend money on beautifying their environments, Ruskin next moves from mocking to damning them as he reveals, once again, that competition is a law of death and that it destroys art, beauty, and the conditions of healthy, full existence.

In the manner of the Old Testament prophet he demonstrates that the actions of his contemporaries reveal that they have abandoned the ways of God, Ruskin's symbolical grotesques provide a particularly appropriate device for such social criticism, because they emphasize both the symbolical and the grotesque qualities in-contemporary life which desperately need correction. These set pieces, which combine Ruskin's gifts for interpretative and satirical virtuosity, replace word-painting as his characteristic stylistic technique in the later writing and prove essential to his enterprise as a sage, for they serve to focus his interpretations of society while providing an attractive, interesting, and often witty means of conveying his ideas.[72/73]

"Among the delusions which at different periods have possessed themselves of the minds of large masses of the human race, perhaps the most curious - certainly the least creditable - is the modern soi-disant science of political economy, based on the idea that an advantageous code of social action may be determined irrespectively of the influence of social affection" (17.25). Granting that "as in the instances of alchemy, astrology, witchcraft, and other such popular creeds, political economy has a plausible idea at the root of it" (17.25), Ruskin argues that the economists err disastrously by "considering the human being merely as a covetous machine" (17.25). Although he readily agrees that one should attempt to eliminate inconstant variables when trying to determine guiding laws for any area of knowledge, he points out that economists have failed to perceive that 'the disturbing elements' in the problem they have tried to eliminate from their theories are not the same as the constant elements since "they alter the essence of the creature under examination the moment they are added; they operate, not mathematically, but chemically, introducing conditions which render all our previous knowledge unavailable" (17.26). Drawing upon his knowledge of chemistry, a true science, for an analogy, Ruskin then points out how dangerous such false conclusions can be: "We made learned experiments upon pure nitrogen, and have convinced ourselves that it is a very manageable gas: but, behold! the thing which we have practically to deal with is its chloride; and this,[69/70] the moment we touch it on our established principles, sends us and our apparatus through the ceiling" (17.26). Immediately after introducing his satiric analogy, which takes the form of a rudimentary, abbreviated narrative, Ruskin next employs a wonderfully bizarre symbolical grotesque:

Observe, I neither impugn nor doubt the conclusion of the science if its terms are accepted. I am simply uninterested in them, as I should be in those of a science of gymnastics which assumed that men had no skeletons. It might be shown, on that supposition, that it would be advantageous to roll the students up into pellets, flatten them into cakes, or stretch them into cables; and that when these results were effected, the re-insertion of the skeleton would be attended with various inconveniences to their constitution. The reasoning might be admirable, the conclusions true, and the science deficient only in applicability. Modern political economy stands on a precisely similar basis. (17.26)

According to Ruskin, who is arguing that this supposedly practical science is in fact decidedly impractical and impracticable, modem political economy had the same advantages and disadvantages as does his invented pseudoscience of gymnastics-without-skeletons: its inventors and practitioners have sacrificed usefulness, relevance, and applicability to theoretical elegance and ease. In making such a charge, Ruskin immediately demonstrates that although he might at first appear the wild-eyed impractical theorist, his ideas have more value than commonly accepted ones.

Ruskin's invented symbolical grotesques are particularly useful in summing up the flaws in opposing positions. These analogies and little satiric narratives of course owe much to Neoclassical satirists, particularly Swift, whose Tale of a Tub and Gulliver's Travels make extensive use of both to cast an opposing view in a poor light. When Ruskin argues in "Traffic" against those who claim that they cannot afford to create[70/71] beautiful surroundings for human life, he employs a characteristic parable to reduce such protests to absurdity. Suppose, he instructs his listeners, that he had been sent for "by some private gentleman, living in a suburban house, with his garden separated only by a fruit wall from his next door neighbour's" (18.438) to advise him how to furnish his drawing room -- Finding the walls bare, Ruskin suggests rich furnishings, say, fresco-painted ceilings, elegant wallpaper, and damask curtains, and his client complains of the expense, which he cannot afford. Pointing out that his client is supposed to be a wealthy man, he is told:

"Ah yes," says my friend, "but do you know, at present I am obliged to spend it nearly all on steel-traps?" "Steel-traps! for whom?" "Why, for that fellow on the other side of the wall, you know: We're very good friends, capital friends; but we are obliged to keep our traps set on both sides of the wall; we could not possibly keep on friendly terms without them, and our spring guns. The worst of it is, we are both clever fellows enough; and there's never a day passes that we don't find out a new trap, or a new gun-barrel, or something." (18.438-9)

Fifteen million a year, his client tells Ruskin, the two good neighbours spend on such traps, and he doesn't see how they could do with less and so Ruskin the room decorator must understand why he has so little available capital to beautify his client's environment. Turning to his audience, Ruskin abandons the pose of the naïf and comments in the tones of the Old Testament prophet: "A highly comic state of life for two private gentlemen! but for two nations, it seems to me, not wholly comic." Bedlam might be comic, he supposes, if it had only one madman, and Christmas pantomines are comic with one clown, "but when the whole world turns clown, and paints itself red with its own heart's blood instead of vermilion, it is something else than comic, I think" (18.439). Having first mocked with his satiric parable the intellectual seriousness of[71/72] his listeners' self-justifications for failing to spend money on beautifying their environments, Ruskin next moves from mocking to damning them as he reveals, once again, that competition is a law of death and that it destroys art, beauty, and the conditions of healthy, full existence.

In the manner of the Old Testament prophet he demonstrates that the actions of his contemporaries reveal that they have abandoned the ways of God, Ruskin's symbolical grotesques provide a particularly appropriate device for such social criticism, because they emphasize both the symbolical and the grotesque qualities in-contemporary life which desperately need correction. These set pieces, which combine Ruskin's gifts for interpretative and satirical virtuosity, replace word-painting as his characteristic stylistic technique in the later writing and prove essential to his enterprise as a sage, for they serve to focus his interpretations of society while providing an attractive, interesting, and often witty means of conveying his ideas.[72/73]

Rebelling against the aesthetically numbing and socially debasing effects of the Industrial Revolution, Ruskin put forth the theory that art, which is essentially spiritual, reached its zenith in the Gothic art of the late Middle Ages, which was inspired by religious and moral zeal.

"I guess what gives me great foreboding is the prospect that we may in fact be in the middle of what Peter Schwartz calls "The Long Boom" in which economic growth will continue to rocket for years to come, fortunes be piled upon fortunes, where 35-year-old entrepreneurs have a personal net worth of $5 billion because they figured out a way to auction off used Pez dispensers and howitzers on the net, and sage pundits call this the "new economy." Already, a nouveau monetary class is crowding the airwaves and newsstands with the kind of apolitical libertarianism you see in Wired, a world in which it will be very hard to discern values of any kind. It is a world where we can become just too clever and hip and cool and find ourselves at the edge of nowhere, dressed to kill, talking on our cell phones, irritatedly waiting for something even newer than what was new yesterday because novelty is the only thing left by which we define ourselves. It doesn't bother me that these things exist, but what keeps me up at night is how growth, money, polarization of income, concentration of power, corporatization of media, and other forces in play will vanquish the breathing space human beings need for discourse, debate, reflection, and democracy."
What is most hopeful in the world today is what is least visible. With the exception of Ray Anderson and a handful of others, I don't see a lot in the corporate arena that is hopeful. I say that just as many companies are becoming more transparent, agreeing to redesign products, embracing sustainability, and more. But there is a powerful dilution of the vision of sustainability that is occurring, and as yet, the incapacity to accept responsibility -- in some cases, even culpability -- for what we have before us.
What I find hopeful is the work of activists; small, local and bioregional NGOs; environmental educators; the men and women who steward our parks and wild refuges; the newly awakened citizens who finally realize that they are downwind and downriver. I find hope in the steadfastness of spirit that can be seen in the indigenous communities. I see vibrancy in a broad array of citizen movements here and around the world. I see hope in what many think is a pessimistic assessment, that change will not and cannot occur from the center, from Washington, from Wall Street.
I believe we are undergoing a far greater evolution than what is being paid lip service to. I believe we are only seeing the very rudiments and beginnings of that change. I do not expect many of our institutions will exist 100 years from now. I don't say that apocalyptically, only in that I believe they will be abandoned and replaced as people vote with their hearts and feet. The university, the church, and the government have all failed to provide the knowledge, inspiration, and leadership people need to move coherently as a society to a social good.
I have done three things to try to address the damage businesses do. I wrote and talked extensively about the Ecology of Commerce, I brought to this country The Natural Step and helped establish it, and have co-authored Natural Capital(ism)with Amory and Hunter Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute. For me, that may be enough. I want to work with people who do not use money to measure anything, especially their life. I want to work where there is more heart and less greed; more laughter and less pride; more options and no stock options."


Paul Hawken is a founder of The Natural Step - US, the author of The Ecology of Commerce, co-author of the forthcoming book Natural Capitalism


Can you expand on the ideas in your book that outline new market mechanisms?


Oh, there are many. The one that has come up in California is the idea that you buy insurance at the gas pump. Twenty-five percent of all drivers in California are uninsured, so you could add 80 cents a gallon and everyone would be insured -- it would cost less, [though] problem drivers with bad records would have to pay a premium, as would people with oversize vehicles. But other than that you pay for insurance as you drive. It would be fair, raise the price of gas, engender conservation, lower costs to consumers, and provide an incentive to drive more fuel-efficient vehicles. Everybody benefits except for the insurance and oil companies, which is why they spent so much money to defeat this initiative.

Yeah, that may not go over so well. So what are some other ideas?


It does go over well when people understand it, extremely well.


An automobile "fee-bate" is another example. Let's say the average fleet mileage for cars and light trucks in the United States is 23 miles per gallon. You get a credit for every mile per gallon that your car gets above that average and you pay something for every mile a gallon under. You can even do it on a scale, so you get $100 for the first mile per gallon and $300 for the next and $500 for the next and $1,000 and so on. So that if [your car] got 60 miles per gallon, you'd get a $5,000 or $8,000 credit. If you buy a Humvee you're paying $20,000 more. You don't tell Detroit what to do. The market sorts itself out. There's no mandate, there's no regulation. There's no CAFE [corporate average fuel economy] standard. But the result would be a dramatic increase in fleet mileage. And what happens is that the equilibrating effect of starting the fee-bate at the average mileage means that fleet mileage goes up every year for decades. Very elegant.


Interesting. That would surely do away with the car companies' concerns that consumers don't want to buy the efficient cars they put on the road.


Absolutely. What it would mean is a Toyota Prius would cost consumers $10,000, maybe less. And they are already on back order. What it requires is a larger objective: the realization that we don't want to double-glaze the planet.

What are some companies that you think are successfully forging new, sustainable corporate practices?


Hmm ... uh, well ... there aren't too many, and people don't know them so well. Hartmann in Denmark, they do molded-fiber packaging. Uh, let's see. Natura in Brazil is a cosmetic company that works very closely with indigenous people and farmers in Brazil. It works with poor people to develop cash crops that are productive and sustainable for their cultures. Novo Nordisk, they do a lot of work with enzymes that save energy and eliminate chemical use. There's Plambeck in Germany that does great wind parks. STMicroelectronics is a company doing very interesting stuff with a new solar photovoltaic technology that could make solar energy cheaper than all other forms of electricity. Svenska Cellulosa is doing some great things with respect to sustainable forestry. Vestas, the big wind company in Denmark. Easto, a large organic produce company in Europe which does a lot of biodynamic stuff. And of course there is ShoreBank, the enterprise work that Ecotrust is doing, Patagonia, Cooperative Bank in England, and more.

So it doesn't sound like there are many companies in America that you're excited about. Can you compare some of these European companies to American companies? For instance, can you elaborate on why, say, Whole Foods doesn't strike you as an example of a good company?


Whole Foods dismantles local food webs and doesn't foster what the organic movement is about. The organic and natural-food movement that I helped kick off in the late '60s was the beginning of recreating regional food webs. Local stores started all around the country and they began to source locally, and whatever they couldn't get locally they got regionally, and whatever they couldn't get regionally they got nationally. In terms of produce and bakery goods and other food items, there was a huge diversity of suppliers in the United States because there was a huge diversity of stores. Whole Foods went in and bought out the bigger, more successful stores and then rebranded them and did centralized purchasing for produce, which now comes from Chile and New Zealand and places like that. In the process, many local organic producers went out of business. Massive scale and centralization of power and capital is the antithesis of what we had in mind when we started the natural and organic-food business in the U.S.

But does that totally discredit the positive things they are doing?


Good deeds don't erase bad outcomes. But let's talk about the positive things they are doing.


Well, let's say they use recycled packaging and keep pesticides out of the soil. Isn't large-scale organic farming better than non-organic factory farms?


Yes, but still it's large-scale agribusiness.


But they're better than Safeway.


They are guided by profit. So are small companies. So far so good. But when a company gets large and dominant, the same instincts to survive and prosper can become unintentionally harmful. The natural-food movement is being bought up by Phillip Morris and H.J. Heinz and Jimmy Dean. That dog won't hunt. It leads to a lowering of standards, and emphasis on price as opposed to cost. It leads to uniformity, power, concentration, and control. Luckily, there's a slow food movement in the U.S. and lots of things happening that counter that.



Now that's fresh fruit.
Photo: USDA.
And I guess what's more troubling is that Whole Foods can get away with it more easily than Safeway because everybody thinks of them as green. The branding is so powerful that nobody thinks to question it.


To me the company that is exemplary is the New Seasons Market in Portland, Ore. They buy everything they can locally. These are real community food stores with wonderful food and fresh produce and fish. They know the purveyors, they talk about them. They really feed and enhance the local food web of Oregon and southern Washington and Northern California. They are to me your model of what a grocery store can do to help farmers and citizens and communities. And they're price-competitive. I asked them why they didn't come to the Bay area [where I live] and they said, "No! We're local!"


So how could we push this model nationally? Can we introduce federal-level incentives?


Not really -- it's about culture and community. Anyone can do a New Seasons if they are in a community that wants it. And the people who started it -- they have the DNA, they understand what it means to be socially and culturally responsible.


Can you talk about your own DNA in this regard. How you came to understand the meaning of sustainability?


That's another interview.


Come on. Wasn't there some watershed moment when you began to see the web of life or something?


Well, there were many. But my revelations were more the other way around -- I began to realize how bizarre and poorly organized business is. That was what surprised me -- how our basic value systems were lost in commerce. I was always curious to know why civility wasn't a part of that world.


As kids, you learn that when a plate of cookies is passed out you don't reach out first and grab them all and stuff them into your pockets. You wait until they are put in front of you, take one, and say thank you. But the environmental value system in the Bush era is about grabbing everything you can that's on the table. It still shocks me to see that we have ghettoized and walled off a part of ourselves as a society -- our civility -- and then permitted greed to not just exist, but to express itself on a daily basis in our media, our politics, and our advertising. From our Clear Channels to our Wal-Marts to our Monsantos, McDonald's, and Cokes -- we're not just talking about cookies anymore. These are people who gross billions of dollars a year and destroy local communities, jobs, and children.

Economists and apologists say live and let live, the market will sort itself out. We accept the fact that there are these predator corporations that don't give a damn about the fate of America, its people, land, or culture. So for me, there wasn't so much a revelation about doing good. The surprise has always been the ability of people in corporations to collectively ignore the good.


Could there be a rebirth of localization and a shift away from centralization?


There was a quote in The New York Times that said there are two superpowers in the world: One is the U.S. and the other is [world public opinion, or] civil society. Part of a best-case scenario is that the 120,000 groups in the world that comprise civil society's effort to create a socially just and sustainable world are recognized as the true power in the world. [They are] comprised of people addressing the world's needs in nonviolent and constructive ways. And this is the most untold story on Earth right now. This movement is growing -- it's an uprising, it's the biggest movement in the world -- and nothing can ultimately stop it despite the efforts of corporations, the military, and politicians to ignore and suppress it. Best-case scenario is that civil society continues to grow and develop. It's the best case because it is non-ideological. It doesn't concentrate power, it decentralizes it. It takes a lot of conversation and dialogue and patience, but ethically and morally it's clean.


Time is speeding up beyond the point of any one person or any one government's ability to comprehend the rate of change. No one knows what's going on in the world. The rate of change is overwhelming us. How we come out the other end is going to be determined by what we do in our daily lives in small ways, how each of us contributes to the uprising and continues to engage locally, support good business, and value our community. It's tempting to say our fate is going to be determined by Iraq and armies and terrorism and stuff, but it's not. We have to be careful not to think that power is the ability to destroy. That is powerlessness. As my friend says, "Power is the capacity to implement reasoned intention." And that power just does not exist in Washington, D.C.

Natural Capitalism

Chapter One

The Next Industrial Revolution

Emerging possibilities—A new type of industrialism—The loss of living systems—Valuing natural capital—The industrial mind-set— The emerging pattern of scarcity—Four strategies of natural capitalism —Radical resource productivity—Putting the couch potato of industrialism on a diet—An economy of steady service and flow— Restoring the basis of life and commerce


IMAGINE FOR A MOMENT A WORLD WHERE CITIES HAVE BECOME PEACEFUL and serene because cars and buses are whisper quiet, vehicles exhaust only water vapor, and parks and greenways have replaced unneeded urban freeways. OPEC has ceased to function because the price of oil has fallen to five dollars a barrel, but there are few buyers for it because cheaper and better ways now exist to get the services people once turned to oil to provide. Living standards for all people have dramatically improved, particularly for the poor and those in developing countries. Involuntary unemployment no longer exists, and income taxes have largely been eliminated. Houses, even low-income housing units, can pay part of their mortgage costs by the energy they produce; there are few if any active landfills; worldwide forest cover is increasing; dams are being dismantled; atmospheric CO 2 levels are decreasing for the first time in two hundred years; and effluent water leaving factories is cleaner than the water coming into them. Industrialized countries have reduced resource use by 80 percent while improving the quality of life.Among these technological changes, there are important social changes. The frayed social nets of Western countries have been repaired. With the explosion of family-wage jobs, welfare demand has fallen. A progressive and active union movement has taken the lead to work with business, environmentalists, and government to create "just transitions" for workers as society phases out coal, nuclear energy, and oil. In communities and towns, churches, corporations, and labor groups pro-mote a new living-wage social contract as the least expensive way to ensure the growth and preservation of valuable social capital. Is this the vision of a utopia? In fact, the changes described here could come about in the decades to come as the result of economic and technological trends already in place.

This book is about these and many other possibilities.

It is about the possibilities that will arise from the birth of a new type of industrialism, one that differs in its philosophy, goals, and fundamental processes from the industrial system that is the standard today. In the next century, as human population doubles and the resources available per person drop by one-half to three-fourths, a remarkable transformation of industry and commerce can occur. Through this transformation, society will be able to create a vital economy that uses radically less material and energy. This economy can free up resources, reduce taxes on personal income, increase per-capita spending on social ills (while simultaneously reducing those ills), and begin to restore the damaged environment of the earth. These necessary changes done properly can promote economic efficiency, ecological conservation, and social equity.

The industrial revolution that gave rise to modern capitalism greatly expanded the possibilities for the material development of human-kind. It continues to do so today, but at a severe price. Since the mid-eighteenth century, more of nature has been destroyed than in all prior history. While industrial systems have reached pinnacles of success, able to muster and accumulate human-made capital on vast levels, natural capital, on which civilization depends to create economic prosperity, is rapidly declining, and the rate of loss is increasing proportionate to gains in material well-being. Natural capital includes all the familiar resources used by humankind: water, minerals, oil, trees, fish, soil, air, et cetera. But it also encompasses living systems, which include grass-lands, savannas, wetlands, estuaries, oceans, coral reefs, riparian corridors, tundras, and rainforests. These are deteriorating worldwide at an unprecedented rate. Within these ecological communities are the fungi, ponds, mammals, humus, amphibians, bacteria, trees, flagellates, insects, songbirds, ferns, starfish, and flowers that make life possible and worth living on this planet.

As more people and businesses place greater strain on living systems, limits to prosperity are coming to be determined by natural capital rather than industrial prowess. This is not to say that the world is running out of commodities in the near future. The prices for most raw materials are at a twenty-eight-year low and are still falling. Supplies are cheap and appear to be abundant, due to a number of reasons: the collapse of the Asian economies, globalization of trade, cheaper transport costs, imbalances in market power that enable commodity traders and middlemen to squeeze producers, and in large measure the success of powerful new extractive technologies, whose correspondingly extensive damage to ecosystems is seldom given a monetary value. After richer ores are exhausted, skilled mining companies can now level and grind up whole mountains of poorer-quality ores to extract the metals desired. But while technology keeps ahead of depletion, providing what appear to be ever-cheaper metals, they only appear cheap, because the stripped rainforest and the mountain of toxic tailings spilling into rivers, the impoverished villages and eroded indigenous cultures—all the consequences they leave in their wake—are not factored into the cost of production.

It is not the supplies of oil or copper that are beginning to limit our development but life itself. Today, our continuing progress is restricted not by the number of fishing boats but by the decreasing numbers of fish; not by the power of pumps but by the depletion of aquifers; not by the number of chainsaws but by the disappearance of primary forests. While living systems are the source of such desired materials as wood, fish, or food, of utmost importance are the services that they offer, services that are far more critical to human prosperity than are nonrenew-able resources. A forest provides not only the resource of wood but also the services of water storage and flood management. A healthy environment automatically supplies not only clean air and water, rainfall, ocean productivity, fertile soil, and watershed resilience but also such less-appreciated functions as waste processing (both natural and indus-trial), buffering against the extremes of weather, and regeneration of the atmosphere.

Humankind has inherited a 3.8-billion-year store of natural capital. At present rates of use and degradation, there will be little left by the end of the next century. This is not only a matter of aesthetics and morality, it is of the utmost practical concern to society and all people. Despite reams of press about the state of the environment and rafts of laws attempting to prevent further loss, the stock of natural capital is plummeting and the vital life-giving services that flow from it are critical to our prosperity.

Natural capitalism recognizes the critical interdependency between the production and use of human-made capital and the maintenance NATURAL CAPITALISM and supply of natural capital. The traditional definition of capital is accumulated wealth in the form of investments, factories, and equipment. Actually, an economy needs four types of capital to function properly:


human capital, in the form of labor and intelligence, culture, and organization
financial capital, consisting of cash, investments, and monetary instruments
manufactured capital, including infrastructure, machines, tools, and factories
natural capital, made up of resources, living systems, and ecosystem services



The industrial system uses the first three forms of capital to transform natural capital into the stuff of our daily lives: cars, highways, cities, bridges, houses, food, medicine, hospitals, and schools.

The climate debate is a public issue in which the assets at risk are not specific resources, like oil, fish, or timber, but a life-supporting system. One of nature's most critical cycles is the continual exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen among plants and animals. This "recycling service" is provided by nature free of charge. But today carbon dioxide is building up in the atmosphere, due in part to combustion of fossil fuels. In effect, the capacity of the natural system to recycle carbon dioxide has been exceeded, just as overfishing can exceed the capacity of a fishery to replenish stocks. But what is especially important to realize is that there is no known alternative to nature's carbon cycle service.

Besides climate, the changes in the biosphere are widespread. In the past half century, the world has a lost a fourth of its topsoil and a third of its forest cover. At present rates of destruction, we will lose 70 percent of the world's coral reefs in our lifetime, host to 25 percent of marine life. In the past three decades, one-third of the planet's resources, its "natural wealth," has been consumed. We are losing freshwater ecosystems at the rate of 6 percent a year, marine ecosystems by 4 percent a year. There is no longer any serious scientific dispute that the decline in every living system in the world is reaching such levels that an increasing number of them are starting to lose, often at a pace accelerated by the interactions of their decline, their assured ability to sustain the continuity of the life process. We have reached an extraordinary threshold.

Recognition of this shadow side of the success of industrial production has triggered the second of the two great intellectual shifts of the late twentieth century. The end of the Cold War and the fall of communism was the first such shift; the second, now quietly emerging, is the end of the war against life on earth, and the eventual ascendance of what we call natural capitalism.

Capitalism, as practiced, is a financially profitable, nonsustainable aberration in human development. What might be called "industrial capitalism" does not fully conform to its own accounting principles. It liquidates its capital and calls it income. It neglects to assign any value to the largest stocks of capital it employs—the natural resources and living systems, as well as the social and cultural systems that are the basis of human capital.

But this deficiency in business operations cannot be corrected simply by assigning monetary values to natural capital, for three reasons. First, many of the services we receive from living systems have no known substitutes at any price; for example, oxygen production by green plants. This was demonstrated memorably in 1991?93 when the scientists operating the $200 million Biosphere 2 experiment in Arizona discovered that it was unable to maintain life-supporting oxygen levels for the eight people living inside. Biosphere 1, a.k.a. Planet Earth, performs this task daily at no charge for 6 billion people.

Second, valuing natural capital is a difficult and imprecise exercise at best. Nonetheless, several recent assessments have estimated that bio-logical services flowing directly into society from the stock of natural capital are worth at least $36 trillion annually. That figure is close to the annual gross world product of approximately $39 trillion—a striking measure of the value of natural capital to the economy. If natural capital stocks were given a monetary value, assuming the assets yielded "interest" of $36 trillion annually, the world's natural capital would be valued at somewhere between $400 and $500 trillion—tens of thousands of dollars for every person on the planet. That is undoubtedly a conservative figure given the fact that anything we can't live without and can't replace at any price could be said to have an infinite value.

Additionally, just as technology cannot replace the planet's life-support systems, so, too, are machines unable to provide a substitute for human intelligence, knowledge, wisdom, organizational abilities, and culture. The World Bank's 1995 Wealth Index found the sum value of human capital to be three times greater than all the financial and manufactured capital reflected on global balance sheets. This, too, appears to be a conservative estimate, since it counts only the market value of human employment, not uncompensated effort or cultural resources.

It is not the aim of this book to assess how to determine value for such unaccounted-for forms of capital. It is clear, however, that behaving as though they are valueless has brought us to the verge of disaster. But if it is in practice difficult to tabulate the value of natural and human capital on balance sheets, how can governments and conscientious businesspersons make decisions about the responsible use of earth's living systems?


CONVENTIONAL CAPITALISM

Following Einstein's dictum that problems can't be solved within the mind-set that created them, the first step toward any comprehensive economic and ecological change is to understand the mental model that forms the basis of present economic thinking. The mind-set of the present capitalist system might be summarized as follows:


Economic progress can best occur in free-market systems of production and distribution where reinvested profits make labor and capital increasingly productive.

Competitive advantage is gained when bigger, more efficient plants manufacture more products for sale to expanding markets.

Growth in total output (GDP) maximizes human well-being.

Any resource shortages that do occur will elicit the development of substitutes.

Concerns for a healthy environment are important but must be balanced against the requirements of economic growth, if a high standard of living is to be maintained.

Free enterprise and market forces will allocate people and resources to their highest and best uses.


The origins of this worldview go back centuries, but it took the industrial revolution to establish it as the primary economic ideology. This sudden, almost violent, change in the means of production and distribution of goods, in sector after economic sector, introduced a new element that redefined the basic formula for the creation of material products: Machines powered by water, wood, charcoal, coal, oil, and eventually electricity accelerated or accomplished some or all of the work formerly performed by laborers. Human productive capabilities began to grow exponentially. What took two hundred workers in 1770 could be done by a single spinner in the British textile industry by 1812. With such astonishingly improved productivity, the labor force was able to manufacture a vastly larger volume of basic necessities like cloth at greatly reduced cost. This in turn rapidly raised standards of living and real wages, increasing demand for other products in other industries. Further technological breakthroughs proliferated, and as industry after industry became mechanized, leading to even lower prices and higher incomes, all of these factors fueled a self-sustaining and increasing demand for transportation, housing, education, clothing, and other goods, creating the foundation of modern commerce.

The past two hundred years of massive growth in prosperity and manufactured capital have been accompanied by a prodigious body of economic theory analyzing it, all based on the fallacy that natural and human capital have little value as compared to final output. In the standard industrial model, the creation of value is portrayed as a linear sequence of extraction, production, and distribution: Raw materials are introduced. (Enter nature, stage left.) Labor uses technologies to transform these resources into products, which are sold to create profits. The wastes from production processes, and soon the products themselves, are somehow disposed of somewhere else. (Exit waste, stage right.) The "somewheres" in this scenario are not the concern of classical economics: Enough money can buy enough resources, so the theory goes, and enough "elsewheres" to dispose of them afterward.

This conventional view of value creation is not without its critics. Viewing the economic process as a disembodied, circular flow of value between production and consumption, argues economist Herman Daly, is like trying to understand an animal only in terms of its circulatory system, without taking into account the fact it also has a digestive tract that ties it firmly to its environment at both ends. But there is an even more fundamental critique to be applied here, and it is one based on simple logic. The evidence of our senses is sufficient to tell us that all economic activity—all that human beings are, all that they can ever accomplish—is embedded within the workings of a particular planet. That planet is not growing, so the somewheres and elsewheres are always with us. The increasing removal of resources, their transport and use, and their replacement with waste steadily erodes our stock of natural capital.

With nearly ten thousand new people arriving on earth every hour, a new and unfamiliar pattern of scarcity is now emerging. At the beginning of the industrial revolution, labor was overworked and relatively scarce (the population was about one-tenth of current totals), while global stocks of natural capital were abundant and unexploited. But today the situation has been reversed: After two centuries of rises in labor productivity, the liquidation of natural resources at their extraction cost rather than their replacement value, and the exploitation of living systems as if they were free, infinite, and in perpetual renewal, it is people who have become an abundant resource, while nature is becoming disturbingly scarce.

Applying the same economic logic that drove the industrial revolution to this newly emerging pattern of scarcity implies that, if there is to be prosperity in the future, society must make its use of resources vastly more productive—deriving four, ten, or even a hundred times as much benefit from each unit of energy, water, materials, or anything else borrowed from the planet and consumed. Achieving this degree of efficiency may not be as difficult as it might seem because from a materials and energy perspective, the economy is massively inefficient. In the United States, the materials used by the metabolism of industry amount to more than twenty times every citizen's weight per day— more than one million pounds per American per year. The global flow of matter, some 500 billion tons per year, most of it wasted, is largely invisible. Yet obtaining, moving, using, and disposing of it is steadily undermining the health of the planet, which is showing ever greater signs of stress, even of biological breakdown. Human beings already use over half the world's accessible surface freshwater, have transformed one-third to one-half of its land surface, fix more nitrogen than do all natural systems on land, and appropriate more than two-fifths of the planet's entire land-based primary biological productivity. The doubling of these burdens with rising population will displace many of the millions of other species, undermining the very web of life.

The resulting ecological strains are also causing or exacerbating many forms of social distress and conflict. For example, grinding poverty, hunger, malnutrition, and rampant disease affect one-third of the world and are growing in absolute numbers; not surprisingly, crime, corruption, lawlessness, and anarchy are also on the rise (the fastest-growing industry in the world is security and private police protection); fleeing refugee populations have increased throughout the nineties to about a hundred million; over a billion people in the world who need to work cannot find jobs, or toil at such menial work that they cannot support themselves or their families; meanwhile, the loss of forests, topsoil, fisheries, and freshwater is, in some cases, exacerbating regional and national conflicts.

What would our economy look like if it fully valued all forms of capital, including human and natural capital? What if our economy were organized not around the lifeless abstractions of neoclassical economics and accountancy but around the biological realities of nature? What if Generally Accepted Accounting Practice booked natural and human capital not as a free amenity in putative inexhaustible supply but as a finite and integrally valuable factor of production? What if, in the absence of a rigorous way to practice such accounting, companies started to act as if such principles were in force? This choice is possible and such an economy would offer a stunning new set of opportunities for all of society, amounting to no less than the next industrial revolution.


CAPITALISM AS IF LIVING SYSTEMS MATTERED

Natural capitalism and the possibility of a new industrial system are based on a very different mind-set and set of values than conventional capitalism. Its fundamental assumptions include the following:


The environment is not a minor factor of production but rather is "an envelope containing, provisioning, and sustaining the entire economy."

The limiting factor to future economic development is the availability and functionality of natural capital, in particular, life-supporting services that have no substitutes and currently have no market value.

Misconceived or badly designed business systems, population growth, and wasteful patterns of consumption are the primary causes of the loss of natural capital, and all three must be addressed to achieve a sustainable economy.

Future economic progress can best take place in democratic, market-based systems of production and distribution in which all forms of capital are fully valued, including human, manufactured, financial, and natural capital.

One of the keys to the most beneficial employment of people, money, and the environment is radical increases in resource productivity.

Human welfare is best served by improving the quality and flow of desired services delivered, rather than by merely increasing the total dollar flow.

Economic and environmental sustainability depends on redressing global inequities of income and material well-being.

The best long-term environment for commerce is provided by true democratic systems of governance that are based on the needs of people rather than business.


This book introduces four central strategies of natural capitalism that are a means to enable countries, companies, and communities to operate by behaving as if all forms of capital were valued. Ensuring a perpetual annuity of valuable social and natural processes to serve a growing population is not just a prudent investment but a critical need in the coming decades. Doing so can avert scarcity, perpetuate abundance, and provide a solid basis for social development; it is the basis of responsible stewardship and prosperity for the next century and beyond.

1. RADICAL RESOURCE PRODUCTIVITY. Radically increased resource productivity is the cornerstone of natural capitalism because using resources more effectively has three significant benefits: It slows resource depletion at one end of the value chain, lowers pollution at the other end, and provides a basis to increase worldwide employment with meaningful jobs. The result can be lower costs for business and society, which no longer has to pay for the chief causes of ecosystem and social disruption. Nearly all environmental and social harm is an artifact of the uneconomically wasteful use of human and natural resources, but radical resource productivity strategies can nearly halt the degradation of the biosphere, make it more profitable to employ people, and thus safe-guard against the loss of vital living systems and social cohesion.

2. BIOMIMICRY. Reducing the wasteful throughput of materials— indeed, eliminating the very idea of waste—can be accomplished by redesigning industrial systems on biological lines that change the nature of industrial processes and materials, enabling the constant reuse of materials in continuous closed cycles, and often the elimination of toxicity.

3. SERVICE AND FLOW ECONOMY. This calls for a fundamental change in the relationship between producer and consumer, a shift from an economy of goods and purchases to one of service and flow. In essence, an economy that is based on a flow of economic services can better protect the ecosystem services upon which it depends. This will entail a new perception of value, a shift from the acquisition of goods as a measure of affluence to an economy where the continuous receipt of quality, utility, and performance promotes well-being. This concept offers incentives to put into practice the first two innovations of natural capitalism by restructuring the economy to focus on relationships that better meet customers' changing value needs and to reward automatically both resource productivity and closed-loop cycles of materials use.

4. INVESTING IN NATURAL CAPITAL. This works toward reversing world-wide planetary destruction through reinvestments in sustaining, restoring, and expanding stocks of natural capital, so that the biosphere can produce more abundant ecosystem services and natural resources.

All four changes are interrelated and interdependent; all four generate numerous benefits and opportunities in markets, finance, materials, distribution, and employment. Together, they can reduce environmental harm, create economic growth, and increase meaningful employment.


RESOURCE PRODUCTIVITY

Imagine giving a speech to Parliament in 1750 predicting that within seventy years human productivity would rise to the point that one per-son could do the work of two hundred. The speaker would have been branded as daft or worse. Imagine a similar scene today. Experts are testifying in Congress, predicting that we will increase the productivity of our resources in the next seventy years by a factor of four, ten, even one hundred. Just as it was impossible 250 years ago to conceive of an individual's doing two hundred times more work, it is equally difficult for us today to imagine a kilowatt-hour or board foot being ten or a hundred times more productive than it is now.

Although the movement toward radical resource productivity has been under way for decades, its clarion call came in the fall of 1994, when a group of sixteen scientists, economists, government officials, and business people convened and, sponsored by Friedrich Schmidt-Bleek of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, and Energy in Germany, published the "Carnoules Declaration." Participants had come from Europe, the United States, Japan, England, Canada, and India to the French village of Carnoules to discuss their belief that human activities were at risk from the ecological and social impact of materials and energy use. The Factor Ten Club, as the group came to call itself, called for a leap in resource productivity to reverse the growing damage. The declaration began with these prophetic words: "Within one generation, nations can achieve a ten-fold increase in the efficiency with which they use energy, natural resources and other materials."

In the years since, Factor Ten (a 90 percent reduction in energy and materials intensity) and Factor Four (a 75 percent reduction) have entered the vocabulary of government officials, planners, academics, and business people throughout the world. The governments of Austria, the Netherlands, and Norway have publicly committed to pursuing Factor Four efficiencies. The same approach has been endorsed by the European Union as the new paradigm for sustainable development. Austria, Sweden, and OECD environment ministers have urged the adoption of Factor Ten goals, as have the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the United Nations Environment Pro-gram (UNEP). The concept is not only common parlance for most environmental ministers in the world, but such leading corporations as Dow Europe and Mitsubishi Electric see it as a powerful strategy to gain a competitive advantage. Among all major industrial nations, the United States probably has the least familiarity with and understanding of these ideas.

At its simplest, increasing resource productivity means obtaining the same amount of utility or work from a product or process while using less material and energy. In manufacturing, transportation, forestry, construction, energy, and other industrial sectors, mounting empirical evidence suggests that radical improvements in resource productivity are both practical and cost-effective, even in the most modern industries. Companies and designers are developing ways to make natural resources—energy, metals, water, and forests—work five, ten, even one hundred times harder than they do today. These efficiencies transcend the marginal gains in performance that industry constantly seeks as part of its evolution. Instead, revolutionary leaps in design and technology will alter industry itself as demonstrated in the following chapters. Investments in the productivity revolution are not only repaid over time by the saved resources but in many cases can reduce initial capital investments.

When engineers speak of "efficiency," they refer to the amount of output a process provides per unit of input. Higher efficiency thus means doing more with less, measuring both factors in physical terms. When economists refer to efficiency, however, their definition differs in two ways. First, they usually measure a process or outcome in terms of expenditure of money—how the market value of what was produced compares to the market cost of the labor and other inputs used to create it. Second, "economic efficiency" typically refers to how fully and perfectly market mechanisms are being harnessed to minimize the monetary total factor cost of production. Of course it's important to harness economically efficient market mechanisms, and we share economists' devotion to that goal. But to avoid confusion, when we suggest using market tools to achieve "resource productivity" and "resource efficiency," we use those terms in the engineering sense.

Resource productivity doesn't just save resources and money; it can also improve the quality of life. Listen to the din of daily existence— the city and freeway traffic, the airplanes, the garbage trucks outside urban windows—and consider this: The waste and the noise are signs of inefficiency, and they represent money being thrown away. They will disappear as surely as did manure from the nineteenth-century streets of London and New York. Inevitably, industry will redesign everything it makes and does, in order to participate in the coming productivity revolution. We will be able to see better with resource-efficient lighting systems, produce higher-quality goods in efficient factories, travel more safely and comfortably in efficient vehicles, feel more comfortable (and do substantially more and better work) in efficient buildings, and be better nourished by efficiently grown food. An air-conditioning system that uses 90 percent less energy or a building so efficient that it needs no air-conditioning at all may not fascinate the average citizen, but the fact that they are quiet and produce greater comfort while reducing energy costs should appeal even to technophobes. That such options save money should interest everyone.

As subsequent chapters will show, the unexpectedly large improvements to be gained by resource productivity offer an entirely new terrain for business invention, growth, and development. Its advantages can also dispel the long-held belief that core business values and environmental responsibility are incompatible or at odds. In fact, the massive inefficiencies that are causing environmental degradation almost always cost more than the measures that would reverse them.

But even as Factor Ten goals are driving reductions in materials and energy flows, some governments are continuing to create and administer laws, policies, taxes, and subsidies that have quite the opposite effect. Hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayers' money are annually diverted to promote inefficient and unproductive material and energy use. These include subsidies to mining, oil, coal, fishing, and forest industries as well as agricultural practices that degrade soil fertility and use wasteful amounts of water and chemicals. Many of these subsidies are vestigial, some dating as far back as the eighteenth century, when European powers provided entrepreneurs with incentives to find and exploit colonial resources. Taxes extracted from labor subsidize pat-terns of resource use that in turn displace workers, an ironic situation that is becoming increasingly apparent and unacceptable, particularly in Europe, where there is chronically high unemployment. Already, tax reforms aimed at increasing employment by shifting taxes away from people to the use of resources have started to be instituted in the Netherlands, Germany, Britain, Sweden, and Denmark, and are being seriously proposed across Europe.

In less developed countries, people need realistic and achievable means to better their lives. The world's growing population cannot attain a Western standard of living by following traditional industrial paths to development, for the resources required are too vast, too expensive, and too damaging to local and global systems. Instead, radical improvements in resource productivity expand their possibilities for growth, and can help to ameliorate the polarization of wealth between rich and poor segments of the globe. When the world's nations met in Brazil at the Earth Summit in 1992 to discuss the environment and human development, some treaties and proposals proved to be highly divisive because it appeared that they put a lid on the ability of nonindustrialized countries to pursue development. Natural capitalism provides a practical agenda for development wherein the actions of both developed and developing nations are mutually supportive.


BIOMIMICRY

To appreciate the potential of radical resource productivity, it is helpful to recognize that the present industrial system is, practically speaking, a couch potato: It eats too much junk food and gets insufficient exercise. In its late maturity, industrial society runs on life-support systems that require enormous heat and pressure, are petrochemically dependent and materials-intensive, and require large flows of toxic and hazardous chemicals. These industrial "empty calories" end up as pollution, acid rain, and greenhouse gases, harming environmental, social, and financial systems. Even though all the reengineering and downsizing trends of the past decade were supposed to sweep away corporate inefficiency, the U.S. economy remains astoundingly inefficient: It has been estimated that only 6 percent of its vast flows of materials actually end up in products. Overall, the ratio of waste to the durable products that constitute material wealth may be closer to one hundred to one. The whole economy is less than 10 percent—probably only a few percent—as energy-efficient as the laws of physics permit.

This waste is currently rewarded by deliberate distortions in the marketplace, in the form of policies like subsidies to industries that extract raw materials from the earth and damage the biosphere. As long as that damage goes unaccounted for, as long as virgin resource prices are maintained at artificially low levels, it makes sense to continue to use virgin materials rather than reuse resources discarded from previous products. As long as it is assumed that there are "free goods" in the world—pure water, clean air, hydrocarbon combustion, virgin forests, veins of minerals—large-scale, energy- and materials-intensive manufacturing methods will dominate, and labor will be increasingly marginalized. In contrast, if the subsidies distorting resource prices were removed or reversed, it would be advantageous to employ more people and use fewer virgin materials.

Even without the removal of subsidies, the economics of resource productivity are already encouraging industry to reinvent itself to be more in accord with biological systems. Growing competitive pressures to save resources are opening up exciting frontiers for chemists, physicists, process engineers, biologists, and industrial designers. They are reexamining the energy, materials, and manufacturing systems required to provide the specific qualities (strength, warmth, structure, protection, function, speed, tension, motion, skin) required by products and end users and are turning away from mechanical systems requiring heavy metals, combustion, and petroleum to seek solutions that use minimal inputs, lower temperatures, and enzymatic reactions. Business is switching to imitating biological and ecosystem processes replicating natural methods of production and engineering to manufacture chemicals, materials, and compounds, and soon maybe even microprocessors. Some of the most exciting developments have resulted from emulating nature's life-temperature, low-pressure, solar-powered assembly techniques, whose products rival anything human-made. Science writer Janine Benyus points out that spiders make silk, strong as Kevlar but much tougher, from digested crickets and flies, without needing boiling sulfuric acid and high-temperature extruders. The abalone generates an inner shell twice as tough as our best ceramics, and diatoms make glass, both processes employing seawater with no furnaces. Trees turn sunlight, water, and air into cellulose, a sugar stiffer and stronger than nylon, and bind it into wood, a natural composite with a higher bending strength and stiffness than concrete or steel. We may never grow as skillful as spiders, abalone, diatoms, or trees, but smart designers are apprenticing themselves to nature to learn the benign chemistry of its processes.

Pharmaceutical companies are becoming microbial ranchers man-aging herds of enzymes. Biological farming manages soil ecosystems in order to increase the amount of biota and life per acre by keen knowledge of food chains, species interactions, and nutrient flows, minimizing crop losses and maximizing yields by fostering diversity. Meta-industrial engineers are creating "zero-emission" industrial parks whose tenants will constitute an industrial ecosystem in which one company will feed upon the nontoxic and useful wastes of another. Architects and builders are creating structures that process their own wastewater, capture light, create energy, and provide habitat for wildlife and wealth for the community, all the while improving worker productivity, morale, and health. High-temperature, centralized power plants are starting to be replaced by smaller-scale, renewable power generation. In chemistry, we can look forward to the end of the witches' brew of dangerous sub-stances invented this century, from DDT, PCB, CFCs, and Thalidomide to Dieldrin and xeno-estrogens. The eighty thousand different chemicals now manufactured end up everywhere, as Donella Meadows remarks, from our "stratosphere to our sperm." They were created to accomplish functions that can now be carried out far more efficiently with biode-gradable and naturally occurring compounds.


SERVICE AND FLOW

Beginning in the mid-1980s, Swiss industry analyst Walter Stahel and German chemist Michael Braungart independently proposed a new industrial model that is now gradually taking shape. Rather than an economy in which goods are made and sold, these visionaries imagined a service economy wherein consumers obtain services by leasing or renting goods rather than buying them outright. (Their plan should not be confused with the conventional definition of a service economy, in which burger-flippers outnumber steelworkers.) Manufacturers cease thinking of themselves as sellers of products and become, instead, deliverers of service, provided by long-lasting, upgradeable durables. Their goal is selling results rather than equipment, performance and satisfaction rather than motors, fans, plastics, or condensers.

The system can be demonstrated by a familiar example. Instead of purchasing a washing machine, consumers could pay a monthly fee to obtain the service of having their clothes cleaned. The washer would have a counter on it, just like an office photocopier, and would be maintained by the manufacturer on a regular basis, much the way main-frame computers are. If the machine ceased to provide its specific service, the manufacturer would be responsible for replacing or repairing it at no charge to the customer, because the washing machine would remain the property of the manufacturer. The concept could likewise be applied to computers, cars, VCRs, refrigerators, and almost every other durable that people now buy, use up, and ultimately throw away. Because products would be returned to the manufacturer for continuous repair, reuse, and remanufacturing, Stahel called the process "cradle-to-cradle."

Many companies are adopting Stahel's principles. Agfa Gaevert pioneered the leasing of copier services, which spread to the entire industry. The Carrier Corporation, a division of United Technologies, is creating a program to sell coolth (the opposite of warmth) to companies while retaining ownership of the air-conditioning equipment. The Interface Corporation is beginning to lease the warmth, beauty, and comfort of its floor-covering services rather than selling carpets.

Braungart's model of a service economy focuses on the nature of material cycles. In this perspective, if a given product lasts a long time but its waste materials cannot be reincorporated into new manufacturing or biological cycles, then the producer must accept responsibility for the waste with all its attendant problems of toxicity, resource over-use, worker safety, and environmental damage. Braungart views the world as a series of metabolisms in which the creations of human beings, like the creations of nature, become "food" for interdependent systems, returning to either an industrial or a biological cycle after their useful life is completed. To some, especially frugal Scots and New Englanders, this might not sound a novel concept at all. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Nothing in nature is exhausted in its first use. When a thing has served an end to the uttermost, it is wholly new for an ulterior service." In simpler times, such proverbial wisdom had highly practical applications. Today, the complexity of modern materials makes this almost impossible. Thus, Braungart proposed an Intelligent Product System whereby those products that do not degrade back into natural nutrient cycles be designed so that they can be deconstructed and completely reincorporated into technical nutrient cycles of industry.


Another way to conceive of this method is to imagine an industrial system that has no provision for landfills, outfalls, or smokestacks. If a company knew that nothing that came into its factory could be thrown away, and that everything it produced would eventually return, how would it design its components and products? The question is more than a theoretical construct, because the earth works under precisely these strictures.

In a service economy, the product is a means, not an end. The manufacturer's leasing and ultimate recovery of the product means that the product remains an asset. The minimization of materials use, the maximization of product durability, and enhanced ease of maintenance not only improve the customer's experience and value but also protect the manufacturer's investment and hence its bottom line. Both producer and customer have an incentive for continuously improving resource productivity, which in turn further protects ecosystems. Under this shared incentive, both parties form a relationship that continuously anticipates and meets the customer's evolving value needs—and mean-while rewards both parties for reducing the burdens on the planet.

The service paradigm has other benefits as well: It increases employment, because when products are designed to be reincorporated into manufacturing cycles, waste declines, and demand for labor increases. In manufacturing, about one-fourth of the labor force is engaged in the fabrication of basic raw materials such as steel, glass, cement, silicon, and resins, while three-quarters are in the production phase. The reverse is true for energy inputs: Three times as much energy is used to extract virgin or primary materials as is used to manufacture products from those materials. Substituting reused or more durable manufactured goods for primary materials therefore uses less energy but provides more jobs.

An economy based on a service-and-flow model could also help stabilize the business cycle, because customers would be purchasing flows of services, which they need continuously, rather than durable equipment that's affordable only in good years. Service providers would have an incentive to keep their assets productive for as long as possible, rather than prematurely scrapping them in order to sell replacements. Over- and undercapacity would largely disappear, as business would no longer have to be concerned about delivery or backlogs if it is contracting from a service provider. Gone would be end-of-year rebates to move excess automobile inventory, built for customers who never ordered them because managerial production quotas were increased in order to amortize expensive capital equipment that was never needed in the first place. As it stands now, durables manufacturers have a love-hate relationship with durability. But when they become service providers, their long- and short-term incentives become perfectly attuned to what customers want, the environment deserves, labor needs, and the economy can support.


INVESTING IN NATURAL CAPITAL

When a manufacturer realizes that a supplier of key components is overextended and running behind on deliveries, it takes immediate action lest its own production lines come to a halt. Living systems are a supplier of key components for the life of the planet, and they are now falling behind on their orders. Until recently, business could ignore such shortages because they didn't affect production and didn't increase costs. That situation may be changing, however, as rising weather-related claims come to burden insurance companies and world agricul-ture. (In 1998, violent weather caused upward of $90 billion worth of damage worldwide, a figure that represented more weather-related losses than were accounted for through the entire decade of the 1980s. The losses were greatly compounded by deforestation and climate change, factors that increase the frequency and severity of disasters. In human terms, 300 million people were permanently or temporarily displaced from their homes; this figure includes the dislocations caused by Hurricane Mitch, the deadliest Atlantic storm in two centuries.) If the flow of services from industrial systems is to be sustained or increased in the future for a growing population, the vital flow of life-supporting services from living systems will have to be maintained and increased. For this to be possible will require investments in natural capital.

As both globalization and Balkanization proceed, and as the per-capita availability of water, arable land, and fish continue to decline (as they have done since 1980), the world faces the danger of being torn apart by regional conflicts instigated at least in part by resource short-ages or imbalances and associated income polarization. Whether it involves oil or water, cobalt or fish, access to resources is playing an ever more prominent role in generating conflict. In addition, many social instabilities and refugee populations—twelve million refugees now wander the world—are created or worsened by ecological destruction, from Haiti to Somalia to Jordan. On April 9, 1996, Secretary of State Warren Christopher gave perhaps the first speech by an American cabinet officer that linked global security with the environment. His words may become prophetic for future foreign policy decisions: ". . . [E]nvironmental forces transcend borders and oceans to threaten directly the health, prosperity and jobs of American citizens....[A]ddressing natural resource issues is frequently critical to achieving political and economic stability, and to pursuing our strategic goals around the world."

Societies need to adopt shared goals that enhance social welfare but that are not the prerogatives of specific value or belief systems. Natural capitalism is one such objective. It is neither conservative nor liberal in its ideology, but appeals to both constituencies. Since it is a means, and not an end, it doesn't advocate a particular social outcome but rather makes possible many different ends. Therefore, whatever the various visions different parties or factions espouse, society can work toward resource productivity now, without waiting to resolve disputes about policy.

The chapters that follow describe an array of opportunities and possibilities that are real, practical, measured, and documented. Engineers have already designed hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered cars to be plug-in electric generators that may become the power plants of the future. Buildings already exist that make oxygen, solar power, and drinking water and can help pay the mortgage while their tenants work inside them. Deprintable and reprintable papers and inks, together with other innovative ways to use fiber, could enable the world's supply of lumber and pulp to be grown in an area about the size of Iowa. Weeds can yield potent pharmaceuticals; cellulose-based plastics have been shown to be strong, reusable, and compostable; and luxurious carpets can be made from landfilled scrap. Roofs and windows, even roads, can do double duty as solar-electric collectors, and efficient car-free cities are being designed so that men and women no longer spend their days driving to obtain the goods and services of daily life. These are among the thousands of innovations that are resulting from natural capitalism.

This book is both an overview of the remarkable technologies that are already in practice and a call to action. Many of the techniques and methods described here can be used by individuals and small businesses. Other approaches are more suitable for corporations, even whole industrial sectors; still others better suit local or central governments. Collectively, these techniques offer a powerful menu of new ways to make resource productivity the foundation of a lasting and prosperous economy—from Main Street to Wall Street, from your house to the White House, and from the village to the globe.

Although there is an overwhelming emphasis in this book on what we do with our machines, manufacturing processes, and materials, its purpose is to support the human community and all life-support systems. There is a large body of literature that addresses the nature of specific living systems, from coral reefs to estuarine systems to worldwide topsoil formation. Our focus is to bring about those changes in the human side of the economy that can help preserve and reconstitute these systems, to try and show for now and all time to come that there is no true separation between how we support life economically and ecologically.

Paul Hawken

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Mind is the closest thing to our Reality...Be careful how you use it. Businessman, yogi, teacher, addicted to laughing...