Economic/Ecologic Recovery Plan
Our Lost Wealth: People + Natural Resources = Real Wealth
THE UNITED STATES WASTES MORE THAN $2 TRILLION ANNUALLY
“Our Lost Wealth” is excerpted from Paul Hawken’s “Natural Capitalism,” the cover
story of Mother Jones magazine’s April ‘97 issue. Hawken argues that business’ focus
on “using more resources to make fewer people more productive” has the perverse effect
of eliminating jobs when labor is plentiful while depleting our limited natural resources.
The result: immense resource waste and incalculable social waste stemming from a
growing population of un- and underemployed people. Look for Mother Jones on your
local newsstand or call 1-800- GET-MOJO to request a trial issue. Paul Hawken is
an internationally known businessman and author.
The United States prides itself on being the richest country in the world. yet we
can’t balance the budget, pay for education, or take care of the aged and infirm.
How is it that we can have both a growing economy and a growing underclass?
In politics, they say “follow the money.” What you find is that the waste in resources
and people shows up in our overall gross domestic product (GDP). Of the $7 trillion
spent every year in the United States, we waste at least $2 trillion. What is meant
by waste? Money spent where the buyer gets no value.
GET OUT YOUR CALCULATORS
The World Resources Institute has found that roadway congestion costs $100 billion
per year in lost productivity, not counting gasoline, accident and maintenance costs.
Highway accidents cost $358 billion per year, including $228 billion in pain and
suffering and $40 billion in property damage. We spend another $85 billion indirectly
subsidizing free parking at shopping malls and workplaces. The hidden social costs
of driving - hidden because they are not paid by motorists directly - also include
disease and damage to crops and forests caused by auto exhaust. these charges total
We spend $50 billion a year to guard sea-lanes and to protect oil sources we would
not need if President Reagan had not gutted emission standards in 1986. We spend
nearly $200 billion a year in supplementary energy costs because we do not employ
the same energy efficiency standards for our businesses and homes as do the Japanese.
We waste around $65 billion on non-essential or fraudulent medical tests and, by
some estimates, $250 billion on inflated overhead generated by the current health
insurance system. We spend $52 billion on substance abuse, $69 billion on obesity
treatments, $125 billion on heart disease, and, some estimate, as much as $100 billion
on health problems related to air pollution.
Legal, accounting, audit, bookkeeping and record-keeping expenditures to comply with
an unnecessarily complex and unenforceable tax code cost citizens at least $250 billion
a year; what Americans fail to pay the IRS adds up to another $150 billion.
Crime costs taxpayers $450 billion a year; lawsuits, $300 billion. These figures
don’t include disbursements for Superfund sites, monies to clean up nuclear weapons
facilities (estimated to be as high as $500 billion), the annual cost of 25 billion
tons of material waste, subsidies to environmentally damaging industries, loss of
fisheries, damage from overgrazing, water pollution, topsoil loss, government waste,
gambling, or the social costs of unemployment. Conceivably, half the GDP is spent
If we could shift a portion of these expenditures to more productive uses, we would
have the money to balance our budget, take care of those who cannot care for themselves,
raise wonderfully educated and responsible children, restore degraded environments,
and help developing countries. If, for example, we had simply adopted stricter energy
standards in 1974 - standards in use by Japan - and had applied the savings to the
national debt, we would not have a national deficit today.
(Reprint, Earth Times, May, 1997 edition)
The International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE) is concerned with extending
and integrating the study of management of “Nature’s household” (ecology) and “humanity’s
household” (economics). This integration is necessary because conceptual and professional
isolation have led to economic and environmental policies that are mutually destructive
rather than reinforcing in the long term.
...IN THE END, A HEALTHY ECONOMY CAN ONLY EXIST
IN SYMBIOSIS WITH A HEALTHY ECOLOGICAL SYSTEM....
An increasing awareness that our global ecological life-support system is endangered
is forcing us to realize that decisions made on the basis of local, narrow, short-term
criteria can produce disastrous results globally and in the long run. There is also
a growing acknowledgement that traditional economic and ecological models and concepts
fall short in their ability to deal with global ecological problems.
Ecological Economics is a transdisciplinary field of study that addresses the relationship
between ecosystems and economic systems in the broadest sense.
Ecological Economics goes beyond the normal conceptions of scientific disciplines
and attempts to integrate and synthesize many different disciplinary perspectives
in order to achieve an ecologically and economically sustainable world.
Innovative research aimed at articulating the mechanisms by which human populations
can strike a dynamic balance between economic development and the ecological constraints
they face constitutes the foundation on which the future will be built. Critically
important research is needed to facilitate the transition to sustainable global production
systems. To be effective, this research must be integrated into environmental and
economic policy at the local, regional, and international level.
Primary topics of ecological economics research include:
Sustainability: What do we mean by - and how do we quantify - health and sustainability
in ecological and economic systems? How do we maintain a sustainable life-support
system? What are the relationships between ecological, economic, and cultural sustainability?
Natural Resource Valuation: What are the most sensible ways of assigning value to
natural resources and natural capital? What is the role and value of biodiversity?
System Accounting: Conventional measures of economic performance do not factor resource
depletion or environmental degradation into economic trends, thus presenting an incomplete
and skewed picture of economic welfare. How can we create better accounting systems
that integrate resource depletion and ecological impacts into national and international
Ecological and Economic Modeling: Preserving and protecting threatened ecosystems
requires an understanding of the direct and indirect effects of human activities
on large geographical areas over time. How can we create an integrated, multiscale,
pluralistic approach to quantitative ecological economic modeling while developing
new ways to effectively deal with the inherent uncertainty involved in modeling complex
Institutions for Sustainable Governance: What regulatory and/or incentive-based instruments
are most appropriate for assuring sustainability? How can governmental and other
institutions be modified to better account for and respond to the environmental impacts
of economic development?
The International Society for Ecological Economics
P.O. Box 1589, Solomons, MD 20688
TEL: (410) 326-0794 - FAX: (410) 326-7354
All The Power That Ever Was Or Will
Be, Is Here Now...
We support a rapid transition from a fossil fuel’fission econmy into a sustainable
,global solar/hydrogen/hemp based economy through the creation of The Gaia/Solaris
Consortium,a national corporation which invests in non-polluting energy technologies
such as cold fusion ,fuel cells, photovoltaics, wind energy biomass, ocean thermal
energy conversion and superconductors...This Corporation will be funded by the public
/private sector via investment credits, donations, the Tobin Tax (tobintax.org) and
various Green Taxes... Through Conscious Capitalism we will solve global warming,
create millions of new jobs, dramatically reduce our dependence on middle-eastern
oil , and initiate a Golden Age of clean unlimited energy for the Global Family...
INFINITE ENERGY = INFINITE PROSPERITY = INFINITE FREEDOM
The Strenght Of Our Nation Is Directly Proportional To The Health of The People...The
Strenght Of Our People Is Directly Proportional To The Health Of Our Soil..Healthy
Soil Creates Healthy Plants...Healthy Plants Creates Healthy People....