Friday, April 29, 2016

Moving Towards a Regenerative Economy

The world as a whole must move beyond our current economic structure to avoid a catastrophic environmental, economic and social collapse.  Our structure of capitalism and socialism needs to be replaced by the principles of a regenerative economy.  Regenerative economics is based on a concept of "holism" meaning that everything is organized into systems that are interlinked and function together; when these pieces function together they form a larger pattern.  This form of holism is something that we have observed in everything.  The universe is organized into systems.  These systems are so incredibly broad they can be applied to the sacred geometries of the ancient Greeks to the study of ecosystems and social media today.  The way that regenerative economics differs from the current approach to sustainability is that instead of using the reductionist logic to solve the problems, it aims directly at building healthy human networks, by using these universal principles and patterns.



Monday, April 25, 2016

Changing our values

The regenerative economic system places the health and maintenance of the earth in front of profits. In order words, it changes our values. These priorities force companies to consider the impact their practices have on the environment. While working to regenerate capital assets, this economic system could offer benefits that extend to areas like social health and awareness. Under pure capitalism, children are taught to value things like wealth, success, and fame. For the rest of their lives, cost-benefit analyses are made in respect to those values, usually at the expense of something or someone. The cost is money, and the benefit is money. This profit driven mindset is demonstrably damaging to the environment and society. For example, hydraulic fracturing causes ground water contamination, methane emissions, and air pollution.




              The solution is a change in societal values. Once environmental sustainability is valued higher than profits, a radical shift should occur. People would still make cost-benefit analyses, but now, the cost is the environment, and the benefit is the environment. This kind of thinking will spark new industries to emerge, providing more employment opportunities and expansions. Income inequality could also be reduced, as rich corporate executives would lose profits, while the working class would benefit from the opportunities of a new industry. When greed isn’t the main driving force for the economy, many of the human rights and environmental violations by companies will be eradicated, hopefully opening the door for a more cooperative, and inclusive system of economics that will sustain our world to the end. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The True Value of Our Earth

Understanding Regenerative Economics
AND 
Understanding the true value of our planet!





Regenerative economics is all about understanding the substantial amount of capital that our Earth contains. If not used properly, as many practices that we currently employ.

Ecological Limits to Human Activity

“reconciling our aspirations for the good life with the constraints of a finite planet.” 
-Tim Jackson

As a society we must learn how to operate within our planets means, this of course leads to the need for individuals to take a step back and consider what natural resources they consume everyday that are becoming more and more limited on our planet, as well as being some of the catalysts to the deterioration of our planet. This leads me directly to another area for consideration: Resources that we continue to use as commodities that have lead to resource scarcity and lasting impacts on our planet, the most obvious of which is Climate change.

1.     Oil
2.     “Strategic Minerals”
-Which includes, (copper, tin, silver, chromium, zinc and many others)





Sources


Jackson, Tim. Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet. London: Earthscan, 2009. Print.

The Realities of a Carbon Tax

As we become more educated and focused on sustainability in economic practices, we tend to seek out one or two simple solutions that would be able to preside over what are very complex problems.  If we are to reach a point of peak regenerative economics, industrial entities must act in ways that not only preserve their resources, but also actively repopulate them.  The primary resource being the Earth itself, whether or not companies directly rely on it for their products.  A large problem currently facing the majority of the industrialized world is that of pollution resulting from the industrial process.  One solution that has been proposed is a carbon tax that would command that companies are taxed relative to their pollution rates.  The idea being that this tax would force companies to sharpen their policies on pollution and reduce it in an effort to benefit them economically.  Simply, apply a new standard to the market and the market will control itself.

In theory a carbon tax is a great idea and one that could certainly make at the very least a respectable impact on the problem of pollution in economic practices.  However, it is important to take into account all aspects of a carbon tax and how these aspects transfer to reality in order to reach the determination that it is not a catch-all solution. 

First: Those most entrenched in working towards desired levels of sustainability often thoroughly endorse government control and regulation.  A carbon tax may seem like the perfect marriage between conservative and liberal ideologies (appealing to the left by reducing pollution and to the right by limiting government interference in the market), but in reality a simple carbon tax would likely not be effective enough to move the needle substantially in the direction of desired levels of sustainability.  The belief that the market will be able to sort out pollution problems through different structure tweaks by itself grows less and less likely by the day.

Second: Say we apply a carbon tax to the market and it makes a significant impact in the field of reducing carbon pollution. Great. Now what about the litany of other pollution problems that face the industrialized world?  There are numerous sectors of the market that deal with their own specific pollution problems and require their own specific pollution solutions.  “Believing a single tool will accomplish everything requires seeing the economy as a frictionless machine, a spreadsheet, not what it is: a path-dependent accretion of past decisions and sunk costs, to be tweaked and unwound (Putting a price on carbon is a fine idea. It’s not the end-all be-all).”

Third: Let’s return to the previous scenario wherein we apply a carbon tax and it makes a positive impact.  Is this a victory for proponents of sustainability?  Yes.  But instead of it being the single victory we’ve been waiting for to wash away all of our pollution problems, it’s more like a tiny grain of sand on a vast shoreline.  Think of it this way; we need to win enough games to make the playoffs.  Then we need to win the series of rounds one and two.  Then we need to win our conference championship.  Then we need to win the World Series.  If a carbon tax is effective it’s akin to us hitting a double in the first game of the season.  This is the gap between the improvements a carbon tax could make and the improvements that we have to make.  The goal is to reduce carbon emissions to as close to zero as we can, as fast as we can.  We must transition to a new foundation of industry that constantly works towards the interests of the market and sustainability within it.  Condensing that idea into a single sentence and typing it was work, now think about actually implementing everything that goes with the idea it presents.

A carbon tax is certainly a positive idea and possibly one that can make some modicum of change.  The takeaway here is that it will take many, many positive ideas enacted to make the change necessary in a way that benefits all parties involved.  Be enthusiastic about the cause, but refrain from pouring your entire belief system into one idea that presents itself as a solution to one-hundred problems.

For a more detailed analysis of the information provided please visit the source article: http://www.vox.com/2016/4/22/11446232/price-on-carbon-fine

Friday, April 22, 2016


Seven Generations
It is only now that we have reached the seventh generation of people living in North America since the time of European colonization. Native people of North America respected the land and gave it more than monetary value; instead the Earth was a living breathing part of human existence. Since the start of colonization in North America the earth has been treated as slave to capitalistic values, land ownership, the ownership of the minerals located well within the belly of "the mother" (Mother Nature), stripping away at the organs of this earth, in an effort to gain money and power; without regard to future generations. The indigenous peoples of this land we now call The United States of America and its neighbors to the north and south believed that the adults were borrowing the Earth from their children and their children's children; borrowing the earth today but acknowledging that choices made today would affect the next seven generations. The "simple savages" that were nearly  exterminated over a 100 year period had no desire to dig holes deep underground for profit, had no desire to impede the waters that flowed from high mountains to valleys and then back to the sea; they knew fish,  plants and all other living things would suffer from trying to change the processes "the Mother" had decided were necessary well before our time on this planet.
 We need to start repairing and remembering how the fish once ran so thick upstream during spawning season that it was believed on could walk across the great Columbia River on the backs of spawning salmon. Conceding to "Its always been that way" or "There is nothing I can do about it", or one of my all time favorites ;"It's only natural". And NO it is not too late nor are we powerless against big business/ government. Regenerative Economics takes a multi-generational approach that looks to replenish while still allowing for companies to have profit.

Joanne Bauer may have described it best when she said "The problem with an approach that lets business define corporate responsibility is that it is not grounded in a set of principles about what it means to be a responsible business. Corporate social responsibility (CSR)is whatever companies want it to be, and often, what is most convenient."  For many years, corporate profits were higher even with the paying of fines from the EPA and others, than they were had the companies been following not just the law, but a "caretaker" attitude. CSR has had its share of criticism; some of which is valid, but I think the concept is great. CSR is based on Andrew Carnegie's, idea that "Carnegie believed that the goal of businessmen should be ‘to do well in order to do good’.  He maintained that it was up to the more fortunate members of society to aid the less fortunate – that the wealthy ought to be stewards of their property, holding their money ‘in trust’ for the rest of society. As trustees they are entitled to do with it only what society deemed legitimate." Read More@ corporate-social-responsibility. Bauer views as too little too late, I believe it is the individuals that look to "save face" who ruin the practice of responsibilities of others. The greed of capital both monetary and social have clouded the responsibilities we have as human beings and caretakers.
Other great reads







Thursday, April 21, 2016

Green Building and its Regenerative Effects

The problem with the population boom is our ability to keep up with and maintain our economic status quo. If we don't make changes we will be faced with ecological disasters and possibly worse. The economy must be transformed so it can be sustained in the long run. 

One way we can help solve this problem is by finding and using renewal resources for building structures wether it is a commercial building or housing developments. Green building is not a simple development trend, it is an approach to building suited to the demands of its time, whose relevance and importance will only continue to increase. The benefits to green building can be categorized in three fronts environmental, economic, and social. But we will focus on the economic and environmental benefits.

A common impression about green building is that the green premium is too expensive to be considered economically feasible. However, studies have shown that the costs of green buildings are not substantially higher than regular development projects.  Higher construction costs can generally be avoided by the inclusion of green design from the outset of the project.  Additionally, green buildings provide an assortment of economic advantages.

•  Energy and Water Savings. The resource efficiency provided by green design and technology leads to drastic reductions in operation costs that quickly recoup any additional project costs and continue to offer dramatic long-term savings (see statistics). Money previously directed toward utility costs may be used for other purposes.
•  Decreased Infrastructure Strain. Efficient buildings exert less demand on the local power grid and water supply, stretching the capacity of local infrastructure.
•  Improved Employee Attendance. Green design emphasizes increased natural lighting and control of ventilation and temperature-attributes that improve employee health and prevent absences. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports major reductions in health care costs and work losses resulting from commonly recommended improvements to indoor environments (see statistics).
•  Increased Employee Productivity. Employee productivity has been positively correlated to indoor environmental conditions, and shows improvements where green principles have been applied (see statistics).
•  Sales Improvements. Studies show better sales in stores that utilize natural light. Retailers are increasingly using daylighting in an effort to harvest the associated sales benefits.
 
Environmental Benefits 

•  Emissions Reduction. Pollutants released by fossil fuel fired electricity contribute to global climate change, cause air quality issues such as acid rain and smog, and pose risks to human health.  Green building techniques like solar powering, daylighting, and facilitation of public transport increase energy efficiency and reduce harmful emissions.
•  Water Conservation. Recycling rainwater and greywater for purposes like urinal flow and irrigation can preserve potable water and yield significant water savings.
•  Stormwater Management. Stormwater runoff can cause waterway erosion, flooding, and carry pollutants into water sources. Harvesting and redirecting stormwater, building surfaces with permeable materials, and using green roofs can control and utilize overflow.
•  Temperature Moderation. The heat retention properties of tall buildings and urban materials such as concrete and asphalt are the primary causes of urban heat island effect. These conditions may be offset by conscientious building design and site selection, as well as planting trees to accompany new developments.
•  Waste Reduction. Construction and demolition generates a huge portion of solid waste in the United States. Building deconstruction as an alternative to full-scale demolition results in massive decreases of waste production. 

If we could get more investment incentives and home buying incentives in the US for buying and building then we could get jump start on regenerative economics in the building industry.



Glossary:

DAYLIGHTING- The use of natural light to provide interior illumination.
DECONSTRUCTION- The dismantlement of a building with the intention of salvaging and recycling materials while reducing waste generation, used as an alternative to full scale demolition.
GREYWATER- Wastewater generated in buildings from sources like dishwashers, laundry machines, and toilets.
GREEN ROOF- A building roof covered fully or partially by vegetation, preventing stormwater runoff and absorbing carbon dioxide from the air.
GREEN PREMIUM- An increase in project costs associated with the inclusion of green features.
STORMWATER RUNOFF- Precipitation water that flows off of non-permeable surfaces rather than being absorbed into the ground.
URBAN HEAT ISLAND EFFECT- The tendency of an urban area to be hotter than its surroundings.








"Building Momentum: National Trends and Prospects for High-Performance Green Buildings," Prepared for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Environmental and Public Works by the U.S. Green Building Council, November 2002. Available at: http://www.usgbc.org/Docs/Resources/043003_hpgb_whitepaper.pdf

The National Association of Homebuilders projects that 20 million tons of debris could be diverted from landfills if only one quarter of the buildings demolished every year were deconstructed. National Association of Home Builders, "Deconstruction: Building Disassembly and Material Salvage," 1998

.A study comparing the costs of 33 green buildings across the United States to those of same buildings using conventional design found an average cost increase of just under 2% for the green buildings. Kats, Gregory H. "Green Building Costs and Financial Benefits." Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. 2003. Available at: http://www.cap-e.com/ewebeditpro/items/O59F3481.pdf

"Managing the Cost of Green Building," KEMA, 2003. Available at: http://www.ciwmb.ca.gov/greenbuilding/Design/ManagingCost.pdf


Energy and water savings allow an average green premium recovery period of 3-5 years. "Making the Business Case for High Performance Green Building," U.S. Green Building Council, 2003. Available at http://www.wgba.org/artman/uploads/making_the_business_case-cd.pdf

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Greenwashing - What is it?


Regenerative economics remains a rising topic as companies come under spotlight for their unsustainable practices. Environmental cost should be factored into overall profit. Businesses will be increasingly penalized as time goes on if practices remain environmentally unsound. These realizations lead to the topic of Greenwashing. Forbes.com describes this practice as merging the concepts of, “’green’ (environmentally sound), and ‘whitewashing’ (to gloss over wrongdoing) to describe the deceptive use of green marketing which promotes a misleading perception that a company’s policies, practices, products or services are environmentally friendly”. Who are the culprits? Coca-Cola was recently a sponsor of the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Sunstainablebrands.com posted an article in 2013 detailing Coke’s updated sustainable practices including 52% beverage water replenishment and recyclable packing – but what kind of impact is this actually having? Coke also owns the water bottling company Dasani, and has been known to “borrow” water from very needy areas. Two years later, in 2015, the Desert Sun reported that, “Dasani and other bottled water companies like Crystal Geyser, Arrowhead, and Aquafina were tapping aquifers and bottling stream water in some of the most drought-ridden parts of the state (California). This took place during one of the worst dry spells in recent California history. Some companies were even taking the water from national forests”. PR stunts make it hard for the public to really know what these companies are up to. What can we do about it? The Huffington Post lists tips to beat Greenwashing: don’t succumb to pretty labels – read the ingredients, don’t buy something because a celebrity endorses it, and know who owns your favorite natural brands. As always, do your research! If you hear of a large corporation implementing newly sustainable practices, this can on the surface seem to be “earth friendly”, however until you closely examine their true consumption, this should be taken with a grain of salt. Ask for more information, and “follow the money”.

Sources:



http://thehustle.co/the-culprit-companies-greenwashing-climate-change






Saturday, April 16, 2016

Using our Resources to their Full Potential

Regenerative Economics revolves around the topic of being sustainable, while replenishing resources used. To do this you would need to find alternative solutions and materials. There is also a big focus on the earth and sun, and what it provides for us.

A quote from a blog stated, “Regenerative Capitalism is not about ending capitalism, but evolving it to produce the inclusive, broadly shared vitality and prosperity its founders envisioned.” It isn’t that the old ways doesn’t work, it’s that it won’t continue to work in the future if we use materials and resources in the way we do today. We need to evolve from our old ways and more forward with a more sustainable solution.

An article on FoodTank, link here, talks about how farming in the future and the problem with food waste. “Producing food is one of the most important and pressing issues for sustainability and human wellbeing.” We waste about 30% of our food, while others have no food around the world.


Another article on Huffington Post talks about wasting our resources, link here. We fail to realize that a lot of our products can be recycled or used again, losing the benefits they first had. “To fully understand the problems with waste we currently have on this planet, it is first critical to note that waste as we know it is a uniquely human invention. In nature, there is no waste. It is a regenerative system where all outputs inevitably become useful inputs to another component of that system: a fallen tree becomes food for termites or a home to other organisms; a decomposing flower adds nutrients to the surrounding soil; and the remains of a lion’s recent hunt become a meal to scavengers.” If we create a system that revolves around Regenerative Economics more, we might be able to solve some this problems that nature just seems to get. We currently don’t use our resources to their full potential.