The rapid infection wave sweeping across the globe is a stark reminder of that which I suppose most of us, or at least readers of this blog, have realised: our current system lacks resilience and is performing badly to expections.
Now is not the time to get into theoretical discussions and fight about socialism verses capitalism. The situation has gone too far. We need to save what we can.
A team at the Swedish think-tank TSSEF.se is working on a proposal to add some functions to a national economy to at least give it a minimum level of resilience.
The idea is based on the concept of control engineering: a mechanical system that is not performing to expectations can be improved by adding smart components and an additional layer of digital control: feedback sensors connected to a computer connected to actuators that control the system.
Readers of this blog are invited to read and comment the first unofficial version by downloading it here.
These video lessons take you through a systemic approach to sustainability using as an example the challenge of nitrogen cycle destabilisation and the systems analysis tool KUMU. You should be able to carry out your own analyses after this.
Gail Tveberg’s latest article on the Corona Virus Convid19 lays out its likely effects on not just health but on our way of life. We are likely to see the complete failure of health services, the economy, our just-in-time production systems, welfare, education and food production.
The globalised economy, relying on specialization, optimization, financialization and all the other wonders of the 20 th century are actually ways of creating scarcity and vulnerability not to mention imbalances in equality. This understanding emerged over twelve years ago as thinkers like Gail started to consider the possibility that oil production would peak and this energy-dependent way of life would be unable to adapt to lower energy inputs.
We do not need to be pessimistic however. This is a great chance to put right what was wrong with the extractive industry approach of the 20th century and create something better. We created the problem and so we can fix it.
We need to call an emergency and start to work our way out of it. Not only do we need to limit travel and put people in quarantine as necessary but we also need to re-engineer the economy to take care of people’s real needs first.
There are many ideas out there how to do this. Basic Income/Services is one. If we do not respond, however, the risk is multiple failures including bread-basket failure.
The recent article on Regenerative Economics got a lot of reads (for this blog at least). It raised a lot of interesting questions, some of which I will address below. First, I need to re-iterate a few things. The first is the big take-away I was aiming for:
for the capability of a nation to provide basic needs to everyone, a measure of the state of real capital and the performance of the aggregate of the organisations employing that capital are essential for informing policy.
not all economy can come under this measurement. Definitely not the art market.
the essence of the regenerative economy is to put in place measures, track and respond to the state of the Real Capital that is employed to provide the security of the basics.
the focus must always be on stewarding and regenerating the capital needed to provide basic services.
The Baltic-one of the most polluted waters on Earth is in fact a treasure trove of easy-to -retrieve minerals, metals and composting material. If you remove the sediment that contains the legacy of hundreds of years of latrine and chemical farming you restore the waters and get pristine raw materials.
The restauration of the Baltic would be a gigantic win for the circular economy. It might require a shift. Either we pay little for our food and sewage and a lot (via taxes) for restoration or we pay more for food and sewage and much less to restore our nature.
Great to see how the Swedish Trafikverket are thinking. In an earlier post I pointed out the problems with coming by rail from Sweden to the UK or even other parts of Europe: that you need to either overnight in Hamburg in a hotel or train-jump through the night in Germany to get to Paris/Brussels and then on by Eurostar. Either way it takes a long time. Or you get a night with little sleep.
Imagine. You buy an orange from the store and trigger a whole chain of positive reactions. Staff get paid, public infrastructure gets repaired, rebuilt and improved, the land the oranges grow on gets fertilised and new orange trees get planted. It is not such a stretch of the imagination as you might think, because that is the way nature operates. By feeding, creatures actually steward and improve the eco-system. You could say their feeding, moving through and manuring nature regenerates the capability of the eco-system.
Let’s take a look back to the year where circular economy took centre stage; involving our consulting service and seeing the launch of the Academy of Investors in Peace and their online circular economy courses.
UBI means Universal Basic Income and guarantees people who are not in work a basic income level. About UBI people have a lot of different opinions – some say it frees up people and their entrepreneur spirit – others say it makes people lazy. How are we going to pay for it? is another objection.
We designed and built this downloadable single player/small group version so you could try out ideas around UBI for yourself.