In order to change something you need to see how it is from the start. We identify 21 vital flows in the system representing economic transactions and relationships to natural capital. The three main types of flow are:
Material flows, for example minerals, products, waste
Flows of money representing economic transactions
Work – selling of citizens’ time to firms and authorities
This is not really about the Bible story of Noah, but it takes the story as its starting point. I can’t help but think that in old stories there are nuggets of wisdom that get lost as the story gets told and re-told by different people. The thing that got my attention in the Noah story was that before the flood came, the earth was corrupt. Apologies in advance to those who take the Old Testament as absolute truth.
In the west we live in a world of bold ideas. One dominating idea is that firms can take care of most things. When there is poor societal performance – high unemployment for example – this is seen as a failure of the market and politicians rush to do something about it.
This powerpoint presentation explains a bit about how market based instruments – a favourite tool of left and right politicians for “nudging” markets to do the right thing – can be applied to the circular economy.
The behavior of complex systems such as the global environment, economy,and society are notoriously difficult to predict, especially when relying solely upon human cognition. Experts always see things from their perspective and can rarely factor in the whole picture. One organisation is looking to by-pass this human cognitive bias with AI. International AI firm SparkBeyond has set itself the task of saving the world by proposing ways forward post-Covid. Spark Beyond’s ideation Machine integrates the world’s largest collection of algorithms, and bypasses human cognitive bias to produce millions of hypotheses in minutes. It expands the scope of unique insights by auto-augmenting data with a rich network of data sources, including – but not limited to – news sources, scientific research, patents, and clinical trials, as well as geographic, census and financial data.
Corona has exposed many weaknesses, including our lack of health care system capability. It has also opened up some possibilities for permanent changes for example as people start to appreciate the reduction in noise, how the air is better, etc.
Covid has shown us that we are all in this together. It is as a whole we can progress, to quote the Sustanable Development Goals , no one left behind. The current system is fundamentally flawed at a basic level because its very construction leaves people behind and obfuscates how people – including the organisations we have created -really are in this all together.
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 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.
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.