Our current economic and civilizational model is based on a false conception pseudo-abundance in the natural world, thereby creating an engine of infinite material world in a finite natural world. And it is also based on a false conception of pseudo-scarcity, which aims to create scarcities in the immaterial world, where the costs of reproduction are near zero. A sustainable economy demands that this duality is simply reversed. We must recognize the limits of the natural world, and create a free culture of exchange in the world of immaterial value: culture, intellect, spirit.
- The Radical Implications of a Zero Growth Economy. Ted Trainer, real-world economics review, issue no. 57, 6 September 2011, pp. 71-82, a must-read to set the stage of the human predicament.
- The Role of Technology in Current Ecological Problems. Interview of Alf Hornborg interviewed by Adam Robbert & JP Hayes.
- Why is Open Hardware Inherently Sustainable? Michel Bauwens
- Towards planetary, peer to peer, and green consciousness. Dale Carrico.
- Madronna Holden on the Agency of Nature and the Partnership View
- In this article on Use Communities, Alex Steffen argues that sharing infrastructures are vital for sustainability
- Herman Daly: The Thermodynamic Roots of Economics
- The Environment as Our Common Heritage. James K. Boyce
- The History of Humanity's Relationship with Nature: Taken from a four-part essay by Ross Wolfe
- Managing without growth, towards economics of flow of matter/energy: Interview with Peter Victor
Open Hardware is energy smart: see Dominic Muren on the Ecological Advantages of Open Hardware Manufacturing
The Facts about the Biosphere: The Ecological Overshoot problem
1. Ted Trainer:
"The following points drive home the magnitude of the overshoot:
- If the 9 billion people we will have on earth within about 50 years were to use resources at the per capita rate of the rich countries, annual resource production would have to be about 8 times as great as it is now.
- If 9 billion people were to have a North American diet we would need about 4.5 billion ha of cropland, but there are only 1.4 billion ha of cropland on the planet.
- Water resources are scarce and dwindling. What will the situation be if 9 billion people try to use water as we in rich countries do, while the greenhouse problem reduces water resources.
- The world’s fisheries are in serious trouble now, most of them overfished and in decline. What happens if 9 billion people try to eat fish at the rate Australian’s do now?
- Several mineral and other resources are likely to be very scarce soon, including gallium, indium, helium, and there are worries about copper, zinc, silver and phosphorous.
- Oil and gas are likely to be in decline soon, and largely unavailable in the second half of the century. If 9 billion were to consume oil at the Australian per capita rate, world demand would be about 5 times as great as it is now. The seriousness of this is extreme, given the heavy dependence of our society on liquid fuels.
- Recent 'Footprint' analysis indicates that it takes 8 ha of productive land to provide water, energy, settlement area and food for one person living in Australia. (World Wildlife Fund, 2009.) So if 9 billion people were to live as we do about 72 billion ha of productive land would be needed. But that is about 10 times all the available productive land on the planet.
- The most disturbing argument is to do with the greenhouse problem. It is very likely that in order to stop the carbon content of the atmosphere rising to dangerous levels CO2 emissions will have to be totally eliminated by 2050 (Hansen says 2030). (Hansen, 2009, Meinschausen et al., 2009.) Geo-sequestration can’t enable this, if only because it can only capture about 85% of the 50% of emissions that come from stationary sources like power stations."
- Up to 270 species are driven extinct every day (73.000 per year & 2.336.000 in my lifetime). This extinction rate is between 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural background rate. (Harvard biologist, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Dr. E. O. Wilson in his book ”The future of life”)
- Almost no multi-year ice remains around the North Pole and the average ice thickness is down to 90cm. (www.thearcticinstitute.org)
- There´s 6x more plastic than phytoplankton in some part of the oceans. 600,000 tonnes only in the North Sea! (www.greenpeace.org)
- More than 12 million hectares of productive land are lost due to desertification every year. ~Size of South Africa every decade. (UNCCD – United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification)
- 6 million hectares of primary forest are lost every year due to deforestation and modification through selective logging and other human interventions. –> At this speed by 2030 only 10% of all tropical forests will remain globally. (UNEP – United Nations Environment Program)
- Carbon dioxide:
o Preindustrial concentration of CO2 was ~280ppm (parts per million). In 2010 392ppm. o It must be kept beneath 350ppm to avoid “irreversible catastrophic effects”. To reach 350ppm would need a phase-out of existing coal emissions by 2030. o Estimation for 2100: 541 – 970ppm! (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many others)
- ~40 percent of deaths worldwide are caused by water, air and soil pollution. That´s 63.000 per day. (Prof. David Pimentel, Cornell University)
"Within resilient communities, we will see the establishment of platforms that make it easier to grow/sell food, produce/share/sell energy, trade, share ideas/methods (social software), produce products (fab labs), collect/share/sell water and much more."
- John Robb on the Energy Trap: there is no replacing of fossil fuels by renewables under the current economic models
- Jeff Vail on the Energy Trap: a detailed investigation
- Ran Prieur: Sustainability as Complexity without Growth
- Book by David Holmgren on Energy Scenarios
Mutualizing Physical Resources
- Ecological Effects of Carsharing. Beth Buczynski: An online survey of over 9,500 individuals living in Canada and the United States revealed that car sharing programs have the power to significantly reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions in North America.
- Bill McKibben on Why We Need a P2P Energy Grid; Jeremy Rifkin on the InterGrid
- Towards a World Wide Web of Electricity. Michael Powers.
Let's not forget:
- The Case against Nuclear Energy and for Renewables. By Conrad Miller.
Key book: Greening Through IT: Information Technology for Environmental Sustainability. by Bill Tomlinson. The MIT Press, Cambridge, London, USA, UK, 2010
- The Energy Effiency Fallacy
- ICTs in the home account for almost 50% of energy use
- IT to consume 40% of world's electricity by 2030
- Report: Smart 2020, enabling the low carbon economy in the information age
- The monster footprint of digital technology: The power consumption of our high-tech machines and devices is hugely underestimated. Here are the statistics to give insight in the true ecological cost of our digital infrastructures. Also:  ;  ; 
The Natural Commons
- Herman Daly: A Steady State Economy: A failed growth economy and a steady-state economy are not the same thing; they are the very different alternatives we face.
- Powerdown Scenarios. Three scenarios for the Post Peak-Oil world, by Richard Heinberg
- The Kick It Over Real World Curriculum: a book of readings to rethink economics
- Sustainable Shrinkage: Envisioning a Smaller, Stronger Economy. By Ernest Callenbach. Volume 2 | Issue 4 | Page 10-15 | Aug 2011 
- Heterodox economics for sustainability:
- Redefining Progress ;
- National Accounts of Well-Being ;
- About Earth's Ecological Economics ;
- Earth Economics;
- Post-Autistics Economics Network;
- Degrowth ;
- New Economics Foundation ;
- International Society for Ecological Economics ;
- Footprint Network ;
- Cambridge Trust for New Thinking in Economics ;
-  ;
- Toxic Textbooks
- On harnessing collective intelligence for climate change. Thomas Malone.
- Alex Steffen: To achieve zero emissions by 2050, we have to start NOW!!
- Michael Ben-Eli on the Five Core Principles of Sustainability
- A Critique of the Stern Report. Ted Trainer argues that global warming cannot be solved at little cost, as implied by the Stern report.
- Herman Daly's 10 Policy Principles for the Steady-State Economy
- Cap and Trade Policy Primer
- Measures for Relocalization and Reruralization, 2 times four essential policy principles, as proposed by Mariarosa Dalla Costa
- Five Policy Solutions to the Climate and Energy Crisis. By Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute
- The "centralized" $420b Solar Grand Plan of Scientific American.
- Peter Barnes commons-based proposal: Why We Need a Cap and Dividend based Skytrust to solve Global Warming
- Understand the genius ofthe Cap and Share proposal through this five minute video introduction
- Thermoeconomics]: scientific pathways to solar energy
Specifics: Green Computing
Proposals for Green Computing, by Bill St. Arnaud:
- Free Fiber to the Home
- Green Grid
- Green Broadband
- Follow the Energy Computing Grids
- Bits for Carbon Trading
- Virtualization as strategy for green computing
- ICT and Global Warming. Bill St. Arnaud
Specifics: Green Finance
- Hazel Henderson on Green Finance: Great intro to developments in sustainable and socially responsible investing, green sustainability metrics, and the necessary overhaul of finance and business education.
"When birds fall from the sky and the animals are dying, a new tribe of people ...shall come unto the earth from many colors, classes, creeds, who by their actions and deeds shall make the earth green again. They will be known as the Warriors of the Rainbow." —Hopi Prophecy.. we are this tribe.. we are these people..now is the time!
William D. Ruckelshaus on why the transformation needs to be fully conscious
"Can we move nations and people in the direction of sustainability? Such a move would be a modification of society comparable in scale to only two other changes: the Agricultural Revolution of the late Neolithic and the Industrial Revolution of the past two centuries. Those revolutions were gradual, spontaneous, and largely unconscious. This one will have to be a fully conscious operation... If we actually do it, the undertaking will be absolutely unique in humanity's stay on the Earth." (http://blog.interdependencedesign.com/2009/11/15/the-fourth-phase-is-calling.aspx)
Joanna Macy on the Great Turning
"A revolution is underway because people are realizing that our needs can be met without destroying our world. We have the technical knowledge, the communication tools, and material resources to grow enough food, ensure clean air and water, and meet rational energy needs. Future generations, if there is a liveable world for them, will look back at the epochal transition we are making to a life-sustaining society. And they may well call this the time of the Great Turning. It is happening now." (http://www.joannamacy.net/html/greatturning/persguide.html)
Kevin Carson on Internet and Energy
"To the extent that the P2P model facilitates economic relocalization by substituting the movement of information for movement of goods (i.e., the movement of information on how to produce goods locally for the movement of centrally produced goods), Peak Oil and the increased cost of moving goods may provide strong market incentives to economic models based primarily on the movement of information. In that case, the expansion of information movement capabilities as an alternative to investment in long-distance transportation and overseas production facilities (the Ponoko/100kGarages model using local shops), and as an alternative to the movement of people (teleconferencing and telecommuting), may actually be a powerful multiplier of energy efficiency. If the money and resources devoted to Internet infrastructure results in a corresponding tenfold reduction in the money spent on containerships and trucks, it’s pretty much a no-brainer." (http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/p2p-peak-oil-and-the-degrowth-scenario/2010/05/22)
"Digital technology and the network revolution are at the heart of what’s creating the potential for a low-impact, less resource-intensive economy. Green and high-tech are allies against mass production and the mountains of deliberately obsolete goods piling up in our landfills, and against the globalist economic model of truck/containership warehouses linking points of production and points of consumption thousands of miles apart. If any single thing reduces the need for fuel, it will be shifting wherever feasible from the movement of material to the movement of information."
Herman Daly on the Steady-State Economy
"The closer the economy approaches the scale of the whole Earth the more it will have to conform to the physical behavior mode of the Earth. That behavior mode is a steady state—a system that permits qualitative development but not aggregate quantitative growth. Growth is more of the same stuff; development is the same amount of better stuff (or at least different stuff)." (http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3941)
Paul Hawken on Sustainability
Paul Hawken on the emergence of the sustainability movement:
""I now believe there are over one million organizations working toward ecological sustainability and social justice. Maybe two.
By conventional definition, this is not a movement. Movements have leaders and ideologies. You join movements, study tracts, and identify yourself with a group. You read the biography of the founder(s) or listen to them perorate on tape or in person. Movements have followers, but this movement doesn¹t work that way. It is dispersed, inchoate, and fiercely independent. There is no manifesto or doctrine, no authority to check with.
I sought a name for it, but there isn't one." (from his book Blessed Unrest, cited by http://thenetworkedbook.blogspot.com/2007/05/networked-book-adhocracies-turning.html)
Paul Hawken on redesigning markets for sustainability:
The Creation of Waste: "We need a different kind of growth, one that reduces and changes the inputs of raw materials and energy, and simultaneously eliminates the outputs of waste."
The False Efficiency of the Free Market: "Markets are superb at setting prices, but incapable of recognizing costs."
Markets Ruling Nature: "The sheer size of the largest corporations tends to grant them the political and economic power to externalize costs that should properly be absorbed by the company and therefore be factored into the price it sets for its product."
The Hollowness of Corporate Culture: "The growing power of corporations has not been accompanied by any comprehensive philosophy, any ethical construct, other than the accumulation of wealth as an end of itself."
Altering Incentives through Green Taxes: "We must design a marketplace that obviates acts of environmental destruction by making them extremely expensive, and rewards restorative acts by bringing them within our means." (from his book The Ecology of Commerce, cited at http://www.strategyandcompetitionbooks.com/Strategy-and-Competition-Books/The-Ecology-of-Commerce.htm)
On the Energy-hungry Internet
Equipment powering the internet accounts annually for 9.4% (or 350 billion kWh) of the total electricity consumption in the US, and 5.3% (or 868 billion kWh) of the global usage. 
Elinor Ostrom on the Seven Generation Rule
Our problem is how to craft rules at multiple levels that enable humans to adapt, learn, and change over time so that we are sustaining the very valuable natural resources that we inherited so that we may be able to pass them on. I am deeply indebted to the indigenous peoples in the U.S. who had an image of seven generations being the appropriate time to think about the future. I think we should all reinstate in our mind the seven-generation rule. When we make really major decisions, we should ask not only what will it do for me today, but what will it do for my children, my children’s children, and their children’s children into the future.
- Elinor Ostrom, the 2009, Nobel laureate in Economics
We need an ethic of ecology
An ethic, ecologically, is a limitation on freedom of action in the struggle for existence. An ethic, philosophically, is a differentiation of social from antisocial conduct. These are two definitions of one thing. The thing has its origin in the tendency of interdependent individuals or groups to evolve modes of cooperation. The ecologist calls these symbioses. Politics and economics are advanced symbioses in which the original free-for-all competition has been replaced, in part, by cooperative mechanisms with an ethical content. The complexity of cooperative mechanisms has increased with population density, and with the efficiency of tools...The first ethics dealt with the relation between individuals...Later accretions dealt with the relation between the individual and society. The Golden Rule tries to integrate the individual to society; democracy to integrate social organization to the individual...
There is still no ethic dealing with man's relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it. Land, like Odysseus's' slave-girls, is still property. The land-relation is still strictly economic, entailing privileges but not obligations.
- Aldo Leopold, Sand County Almanac,1949 
The inherent sustainability of distributed manufacturing
"Personal-scale manufacturing machines ... enable small manufacturers to make one product at a time in response to customer demand, and scale up production as the product sells. ... Regular people and small manufacturing companies that lack investment capital will be able to set up low investment, “start small and scale up as it goes” businesses. With local, onsite production, long-distance shipping of the completed item is no longer necessary. Products and parts can be made only when they’re needed, saving on storage space and the costs of maintaining un-used goods and products."
- Hod Lipson & Melba Kurman 
- To monitor developments, see also our Delicious tag on P2P Ecology
- MeansBusiness is a unique concept database of 20,000 key ideas from business and management books
- Green Frog, a 'clean-tech' blog from Olivier Jerphagnon
- the Distributed Generation Educational Module
- We recommend the blog Make Wealth History by Jeremy Williams.
- Green Broadband, from Bill St. Arnaud, http://green-broadband.blogspot.com/
Book recommended by Dave Pollard on Ecological and community-based economics:
- Herman Daly on Steady-State Economics
- Roger Douthwaite's Short Circuit, a blueprint for a community-based economy
- Thomas Princen explains why we need to evolve to a Logic of Sufficiency
- Peter Brown: The Commonwealth of Life
- Toward a Bioregional State. Mark Whitaker, 2005.
For distributed energy creation:
- Nanosolar: plastic solar panel manufacture: “Panel cost of manufacture is said to be $0.30 per watt. Panel cost at retail is around $1. Price of a machine which will print panels: $0.16 per panel per year.”
- Konarka Technologies: “thinks their panels will be about 1/3 the price of nanosolar. In about a year or so.”
- Jellyfish Wind Turbines: $400 a pop
- The Austrian documentary filmmaker Stefan Wolf traveled for ten months through Europe in order to explore well established eco-communities and to present a broad spectrum of lifestyle possibilities to many people. See: A New We 
- Waste = Food: Documentary on Cradle to Cradle Design
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