This E-book, produced from earlier writings, attempts to explain how Real Capital – a cornerstone of the means of production – gets depleted by the current system. Rather the creating a platform for future prosperity, the system is removing the very things that coming generations need to be able to provide for themselves.
The hope is that this short paper will clarify for policy makers where systemic changes need to be made, and where the changes need to be put in place to drive an industry-led transition to the circular economy.
Ten years ago, Humboldt, Kansas, was a lot like thousands of small towns across the United States. Economic and social shifts had left the once-booming downtown feeling eerily abandoned. Walmart stores had opened up to the north and south of town, “sucking the life out,” as one local man put it. A highway bypass had been built. And, because of mechanization, the many farms in the area required fewer workers. As a result, many storefronts were empty and the town population was dwindling.
But the residents of this town of 1900 people didn’t give up. The area economy was actually quite sound. There were three successful industries—farming, a cement plant, and a fast-growing trailer hitch company. It was the downtown and the sense of wellbeing that needed a shot of adrenaline. That boost is now being provided by Joe Works, the founder and CEO of B&W Trailer Hitches, and a group of young people, mostly made up of his children, who launched an initiative called A Bolder Humboldt aimed at making the town a vibrant place to live and visit. “Why should people have to move elsewhere to enjoy the nicer things in life? Why can’t they have all those things in a small town in the Midwest?” says Joe.
Sweden, like many countries, is pursuing the circular economy as a path to decarbonization, to the bio-economy and to ensure their economy has enough material resources. Apart from the climate emergency, pressure from population increases and rising standards are about to create inevitable material shortages. Still developing, the idea of circular economy begs us to envision a circular home, a circular neighbourhood and circular municipality. This article explores what a circular economy neighbourhood might look like, and how a cooperative model might help accelerate the transition in Sweden. The ideas may, of course, apply to other countries.
Whilst we are longing for the sustainable future we are flooded with visions fashioned from concrete and steel, albeit covered with green. In these visions people seem to be doing nothing and going nowhere. Can we conjure forth a vision so attractive, cool and magnetic it just pulls us into that future?
Thought for #COP26. The graph shows CO2 hovering around 275 ppm throughout the time weather patterns allowed agriculture. And 180 – 280ppm all the time humans have been on Earth. What evidence is there we are in a safe zone and can continue?
If there is no evidence that we are safe, surely a mitigation and restabilization plan is needed?
As circular economy thinking takes hold among policy makers, civil servants and scientists, policy is tending towards circular as a strategy to reach environmental objectives. Hopes are that production systems will continue to deliver and indeed grow economically, but with far less material and fossil energy intensity. The Swedish Government formed its own Circular Economy Delegation last year and recently announced its national strategy for the Circular Economy and 100 measures to transition to circularity.
Policy needs to align, but this raises questions. The economy is a complex adaptive system, and any intervention may cause the opposite of the intended effects. This article explores my own very personal reflections based on earlier work together with my recent work with the local university.
Released today, the report, which summarises scientists’ understanding of what is happening with climate change, warns that Earth will unavoidably hit the critical threshold of 1.5°C warming due to climate change within the next 20 years. This is a combination of natural processes and human emissions. This is regardless of how radically global governments cut greenhouse gas emissions. This article urgently proposes a new framing approach: a pivot.
On January the 21 st John Kerry, now the special presidential envoy for climate, presented a new direction for the US climate strategy. All friends of sustainability will be heartened by his comments that the US will move forward with humility and ambition. What he didn’t talk about is perhaps less heartening.
THREAD FROM TWITTER: Johan Rockström’s Performance lecture at the Swedish National Theatre (in Swedish, English Subtitles) and what it tells activists and Scientists alike. Watch it now or read my review 1/n
My interpretation of what a pivot is: a cap on resource withdrawal followed by a rapid reduction. A pivot can happen before or after the breach of capacity. When the pivot happens greatly affects how much resources will be needed to rectify the situation, as well as the costs of the negative impacts of overshoot. This article lays out the basic concepts of pivot.
Anyone growing up when times just get worse will expect that they will continue to get worse. Growing up in a time when things just get better you will expect them to continue to get better. The worst are when things have been getting better but you know they are going to get a lot worse. That is where we are. It’s uncomfortable to say the least.
We are waking up the realisation that progress since the 1950s has actually been at the expense of earth systems and natural resources. The carrying capacity of earth systems has been eroded to such an extent, and populations and their material uses have grown to such a magnitude, we now find ourselves in overshoot.