Towards A Not-For-Profit World

I’ve often thought that the profit motive is one of the roots of our problems. That’s basically the statement behind the documentary The Corporation, which shows that the corporate model is, clinically speaking, a psychopath. When we are constantly chasing the “up and to the right” we are no longer striving for enough but more than enough. And the more than that. And still more than that. Profit motive drives the growth economy.

My wife’s been doing a lot of reading for a class about diseases around the world. One thing she commented on was regarding the “industrialization” of a lot of third world countries, namely those in Africa around the time AIDS appeared. These relatively flourishing countries had small, cyclical economies – that is, economics that produced enough for everyone involved. (Rob Hopkins talks about a similar economy in the intro to The Transition Handbook) These countries we not “developed” by western thought, but most everyone had a job and a stable home. Farmers produced enough food for their families and those in their community.

Then in come the western industrialists, saying “you can produce more than that and sell it to people in the next city/county/country to make more money!” And it was all down hill from there… Then the westerners leave the country pillaged, in ruins and aimless. No one benefited by the introduction of the growth concept in these examples except for the big company’s pocket books. And in order to feed that profit motive, in order to make even more money, these companies move on to the next unsuspecting country.

What if we were to change this line of thought? What if we were to introduce a cyclical line of thinking back into our corporate models? Instead of constantly “up and to the right” what if we said we need to maintain a certain level in order to sustain our employees, our country, our planet? What if we reinvented our way of living to serve our community and ourselves instead of just our bank accounts? Where is my rambling going? Well…

Donnie Maclurcan is a fellow Post Growther whom I’ve had the pleasure to work with a lot recently. (He also wrote a guest post a while back) He gave a TEDx Youth Talk a while back that is now available online. His concept is this: change the world to a not-for-profit model. Remove this destructive and unsustainable profit motive and focus on enough, on sufficiency instead of excess. I particularly love the story of the African village.

Check out the video:

Endangered Species Condoms?

Next month is the Global Population Speak Out Month – a whole month focused on raising awareness of a large (and growing) issue – population growth. We live on a finite planet, with only so many resources. Yet our population (and consumption, as I mentioned earlier) continues to grow. We’re over-stretching our carrying capacity, and it isn’t good for our species or other life on Earth either. What can we do?

The project I have been working on recently is involved with the coming documentary Hooked On Growth, which will be releasing later this year. Here’s a great video on the subject of population growth… and contraceptives.

Top Ten Steady State Posts of 2010

Another year under the belt, Steady State Revolution celebrated two years of publication in November! It seems only fitting on this, the first day of 2011, we take a moment to review the best articles of the last year. This is a list of the top ten posts in the last year, chosen by me but with influence from feedback and analytic tracking (oh, technology!) as well. For those of you that are new to this blog or haven’t checked out the archives yet I hope this list is helpful for you!

2010 Top Ten Posts

  1. Ten Things That Will Build The New Economy – Inspired by Yes! Magazine yet again, I decided to map out the things I think will construct our post-growth/steady-state/new-economy. It is an open thread, by all means, let’s work together to make that list long, thoughtful and inspiring to others!
  2. Decoupling Demystified – Tim Jackson’s work in Prosperity Without Growth tackles this subject very well in an entire chapter. This post was written to further this key argument against the growth paradigm, and to show how real-life science trumps the back-woods mysticism that is the current economic theory.
  3. The Limits of Efficiency – A follow-up piece to the “Decoupling Demystified” post, this topic is in my opinion the ultimately proof that growth everlasting is impossible – unless we find a way to re-write the laws of physics, of course. Initially the idea for this post never blossomed into a full article, but after some prodding from some of you wonderful readers I committed to it.
  4. Dear Dick Smith – 2010 presented a wonderful surprise – Australian businessman Dick Smith challenged the world to bring the debate to the main stream public. The prize? A cool million (in Aussie bucks). I know, there is some irony in it, but it still presents a great opportunity to get something moving, and then eventually funded by Mr. Smith. This post is my response to his announcement.
  5. The Opportunity of Limits – It is very easy in today’s constant news feeds full of climate catastrophes, apocalyptic prophecies, peak oil and the apparent lack of government action, to get run down. I have fallen into this downward trap a few times myself, but we must recognize that opportunity in our trails. Climate change and peak oil are frightening, yes,  but dwelling on the negative is akin to giving up. Meanwhile, the limits that we face on a finite planet actually give us the potential to create a better society, not a worse one. We just need to identify to the potential for good and act on that foundation, instead of the other alternative.
  6. Ethical Banking Systems – This isn’t the first time I’ve ranted about banking and monetary policy, because it’s pretty important people! Like the awful and cheese bumper sticker says, “if you aren’t mad, you aren’t paying attention,” we are mostly clueless of the injustices we allow the banking system to get away with on a daily basis. We definitely need a better system, so let’s make one!
  7. Resiliency & Peak Oil – This is a short post, but the topic is the main reason it made this list. In the next few years we will see more and more how resilient communities prevail in the rising costs of oil, as well as the rising impacts of climate change. The Transition Town movement was created to help foster that resiliency, and whether you buy-in to that specific movement or not it is still an extremely important concept for sustainability.
  8. Nothing Grows Forever – In May Mother Jones released a issue tackling some strong topics: population, consumption and the growth paradigm. This post was my review of their article on steady state economics. By far this is one of the largest media outlets to write a (mostly) good critique of ecological economics and the post growth movement. The ending left something to be desired, but I won’t hold it against them.
  9. Earth Overshoot & Natural Debt – This year I wrote three separate posts for this blog, Post Growth and a guest post on another blog: all focused on the very real fact that we’re using our planets resources faster than can be generated, we’re in overshoot. This is not a good place to be in, especially if you have any knowledge of biology and carrying capacities – typically those populations in overshoot have a mass die-off and collapse. However, we’re smart and motivated, with knowledge of our mortality, so hopefully we can find a way out of this spiral and into a sustainably scaled economy and society.
  10. Obama Announces Degrowth, Wins Republican Support – I couldn’t not include this great little post. I talked myself out of doing an April Fool’s day post last year, but in 2010 I was invigorated by a few other fool’s day posts and went for it. Surprisingly, it turned out to be a great post and was well received!

Happy New Year to you all! I think Two-Thousand Eleven has a lot of good in store for us all, and I’m excited to see how we move forward on these important issues facing humanity.

Attack of the Vampire Squid

The newest video from the new economics foundation (nef), titled “The Vampire Squid” takes the title from commentary on our banking system by Matt Taibbi, writing in Rolling Stone back in 2008, referring to Goldman Sachs as “a great vampire squid, wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

Watch the video here:

Also, check out the campaign website and briefing (pdf).

Two Years Later…

Two years ago I started blogging on a small blogger account, ranting about the economy and ecological limits. Since that time I’ve seen this blog blossom until a larger medium for discussion and broadcasting. I’ve really enjoyed the connections made, the on-going research and opening this topic up to others. You, my readers, have been a constant inspiration for me – the comments, emails, and feedback are always great! I am looking forward to the next two years, especially in light of the coming challenges (and opportunities) our world faces.

There are a few of us post-growth bloggers and activists that are working on a project. It isn’t out yet, so I can’t say much about it just yet. Between my work with that, having a wife in college and having a toddler who refuses to sleep through the night I am pretty burnt out right now. So, for the next week or so I will be taking a little mini-vacation from the blog world. I’ll be back (with a vengeance!) hopefully a week or two before the holidays.

In the meantime, please check out the work going on at The Daly News, Make Wealth History, Post Growth, Cruxcatalyst, Growthbusters and nef’s Blog. I hope these guys (and girls) can keep your sustainable economics hunger satisfied for the next few weeks. And to have something to look forward to here, these are some of the drafts I’ll be working on turning into upcoming posts:

  • How To Tell Your Growth Friend’s They’re Crazy (working title),
  • The Economic Hierarchy of Needs (economics through maslow’s viewpoint), and
  • The Universal Law of Diminishing Returns (no, really, think about it: this law applies to nearly everything!).

And, please feel free to comment, suggest/request on post topics. Lord knows sometimes I could use the motivation.

Have a good couple of weeks, my friends!

Points of Progress

This semi-regular report includes things happening in our world, policies, articles and practices in-line with the steady state economy or transitioning to it, that are worth some time to read about –  the good news, the promising results. They are all exciting things happening I just don’t have time to post about each in-depth.

Here are some cool things happening in the world:

Limits To Growth Compared To 30 Years of Reality

It’s a couple years old already, but I just found it and want to pass it on. A report published in June 2008 by CSIRO, an Australian science and researching body, compares the prophecies of the seminal Limits To Growth with the thirty years of data since its original publication. Turns out, the Meadows (et al) were not full of shit – we do live on a finite planet and will run out of resources quickly if we continue to follow growth instead of living within our means. In fact, as the CSIRO report points out, we’re on track for nature to force us to stop growing.

Read the whole report here (pdf).

California Maintains Climate Bill

While this mid-term election has been mixed (mostly bad news), the voters in California maintained their ground-breaking climate bill AB 32, defeating the oil-industry funded Proposition 23. There is a lot of speculation on why voters kept this bill in play, but I think the most realistic one is that they have seen the affects and like it! Californians have seen how a cap-and-trade bill can be good for their economy, promote a more sustainable society and protect the environment.

Let the Golden State help show us all there is still hope for progress in the battle against climate change.

Proposal To Extend Montreal Protocol Gaining Support

Along the same vein, this election has pretty much shown that action on climate by congress is no in the near future, if at all. There are lots of other things being done, by industry, by the administration, by community groups and transition towns. On an international level the climate talks, with the next meeting schedule for Cancun, are a political dead-end as well without action from the US Congress. Alas! There is some hope…

Another international treaty that combats pollution, the Montreal Protocol, has eliminated 97 per cent of the ozone-harming chemicals. From the sounds of it, the annual signatory meetings go smoothly and without much fuss. Better yet, there is a growing support to expand the Montreal Protocol to include HFCs, an ozone-harming and incredibly harmful greenhouse gas (1000 times worse than CO2).

The resolution has gained support from developed nations and includes a fast implementation to eliminate a type of greenhouse gas that could help push major climate destabilization off by years, even a decade, by eliminating up to 88 billion carbon-equivalent tons of greenhouse gasses. It’s not a complete climate agreement, but it’s something in the right direction.

Find A Cure

Dave Gardener and the good people over at Growthbusters are getting close to finishing the Hooked On Growth documentary. They just recently put together this great trailer/video:

This film is funded by gracious donations, so I would recommend if you’re looking to donate to a good cause: go to the Growthbusters’ donation page and help out! (tax deductible, too!)

2010 Washington State Voter’s Guide

This November offers up some serious measures and elections, as well as seriously confusing measures and initiatives. I’ve outlined why I’m voting for some and not others, as well as my picks for the state elections. Democracy in action: research and vote!

I don’t usually use this blog as a direct political outlet, but after opening up my mail-in ballet for the Washington State November Election I was inspired to write something. This election is important – not only because it represents a serious threat to progressive action on a national level (don’t vote in republicans!) but also here in Washington there are some important initiatives and elections. You can’t just read the ballet and understand the implications of these measures – especially since many of them include multiple changes to law, overlap in odd ways and are all the source of much campaigning by corporate interests.

I did a little research, as all members of a democracy should – be educated and involved. There are numerous sites out there, but you should at least look at your state voter’s guide to read about the measures before you vote. In the past I have used the local free newspaper, The Stranger, and the county/state guides to help me come to a decision. This year I did a little more research on these complicated measures, although I’ll admit I came to similar conclusions as The Stranger on most of them, it was of my own decision making skills.

Continue reading “2010 Washington State Voter’s Guide”