Environment & the World

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Natural Capitalism, Chp. 1: Cathy’s comments

Filed under: Reading Group — kwolfgan @ 4:34 pm

A very interesting first chapter. Although any serious discussion of social change and how to implement it is conspicuously absent, I don’t think the aim of the authors was to provide a manual for how to change the economic system, but only to provide a wake-up call to the possibilities that exist. As Amir says, they do an excellent job of describing the flaws of the current industrial model, which basically boils down to the fact that it is a linear system (taking resource, producing waste and products) operating on a finite world. However, I am not sure that some of the solutions they propose will have the transformative benefits that H&L suggest; for example, I am not convinced that the service economy they propose would create more jobs. While it definitely sounds good from an environmental perspective, given the amount of money and time spent every year in convincing people to throw out their old products and buy new products, I am not sure that a switch to producing and recycling long-lasting goods would necessarily lead to more jobs. Another critique is that they seem to propose a bunch of solutions as though they could all happen tomorrow; some of them, such as a switch to a service economy, could be relatively fast changes. But others, such as the bio-mimicry technologies that they discuss, are still in the early research stages and probably not commercial for decades, if ever. However, I am willing to reserve judgment since this is only the introduction. H&L certainly promise quite a lot in this book, and I am looking forward to reading more.

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