Opinion: reporting hides what is going on with finite resources

One thing you need to understand: the production apparatus (capitalism) has been battling for ultimate control over resources since the industrial revolution has begun. It has used its money to influence politics, rule making and everything else. It has won and it is a total disaster.

Stephen Hinton 2016, photo Maj-Lis Koivisto

One thing you need to understand: the production apparatus (capitalism) has been battling for ultimate control over resources since the industrial revolution has begun. It has used its money to influence politics, rule making and everything else. It has won. This is disastrous for them and for us as workers and citizens. of the Earth. To understand why, you need to look into their materiality .

Materiality: having relevant capability to do something

(like not exceeding thresholds)

Materiality means having relevant capability to do something. Of course the production apparatus DOES have materiality when it comes to resource depletion, allocation and real capital degradation. But it has seen to it, through influencing the system, that it has high materiality and low responsibility. That is to say they could do something but they are not going to.

For example: a real estate company states their stock equals a certain % of the total needed to house everyone in the country. Or a supermarket supplies % of the food needed by local citizens. Were they to report like this it would not look good because it would be transparent that they are using a large % of allocation for very few people or little effect. In Sweden 63% of all oil is burned to propel private cars. A large % of fish caught (exceeding thresholds for depletion) is fed to animals or other fish.

Or the fossil fuel company that talks about the number of barrels of oil they have found in the ground and are ready to extract. How much of the carbon budget is that?

Yet these figures are never put against actual companies. They are hiding.

And they are protected. Limited liability and legal personhood, among other things, protects corporations.

How do corporations get to use so many resources to make so much money but produce so little useful service to citizens. Well, allocation is through a market system where money buys resources. So all you have to do is amass the money in the first place to acquire or ring-fence resources and off you go.

The legal sleight of hand has been going on so long that people grow up thinking that’s the way it has to be.

It’s unfortunate to say the least. We unleash the production apparatus in the form of capitalism, and capital acts to maximise the money it takes out of the system using everything it can. It has won that fight.

It made itself invisible. All private citizens see is unconnected reports – lists of stock prices, news items about sales increasing (applause!) or sales turning downward (commiseration!) or people going hungry (silence).

So, there is no sign of the kind of reporting yet that we as as voting, purchasing, and working citizens need to access. The question is very simple: How much of the resources we can safely extract are we using for what to meet what % of needs?

Kudos to Reporting 3.0 who are addressing this issue at a sustainability reporting level.

The diagram below comes from the article above, which shows that very few companies report in terms of ecological limits.

Figure 1: Sustainability Context Gap (Source: Bjørn et al 2017)[6]

I urge all sustainability twitter users to look further into this – truth must out, the divine clandestine right of corporations to material – real capital – where money is the same as power – must end.

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