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Origins of Deep Green Classifieds

This week we will feature daily posts on Deep Green Classifieds, Conserv’s newest marketplace. Deep Green was launched last week along with an overall upgrade to Version IV of the site. The following are the themes for each article:

  • Today – Origins and theory of Deep Green
  • Tuesday – How to use Deep Green
  • Wednesday – Deep Green Marketing
  • Thursday – Deep Green and government
  • Friday – The next evolution of Deep Green

The Origins of Deep Green

Deep Green came from conversations with my Dad (he lives near Avenue, Md. on the water) about concerns he has had about spending money to improve the Bay that won’t likely be captured in a future sales price when they sell their property someday. Deep Green came from Frank Kessler, now deceased, but once a member of the Thomas Jefferson Susainability Council. Frank hammered me for years on the notion that for conservation to ever really work, it had to pay for itself. More than anything though, I think Deep Green has come from my own experiences over 13 years as a public sector planner for a region, small town, and large city. From my time in government, what I have come to believe is that government, primarily acting alone, cannot get us to a substantially more sustainable future. Expressed differently, exclusive top down approaches will fall far short of what any reasonable person would define as success. I say this for the following reasons:

  • I have practiced through what will likely be the heyday of money for government environmental programs of various kinds. My projects and those of my colleagues in local, state, and federal government, produced countless reports with data and information for elected and appointed officials. They led to some change in worldview and yes, some change in behavior. We are, particularly with the advent of the internet and GIS technologies, making rapid strides in our understanding of micro-macro ecosystem function. But I do not believe they have led to the magnitude of cultural restructuring that are necessary for human culture to really be significantly more sustainable anytime soon.  The reasons for this are threefold;
    • We humans lack consensus on a moral/ethical/anthropological ecological mindset, a “post-industrial consciousness” as Carolyn Merchant defines it, that undergirds planetary culture, worldwide.
    • The actions of an elected official are based on ethical orientation, facts, and constituency concerns. Of these, by the time it comes time to make a motion, facts have been largely discarded, through the debate of one expert vs. another.
    • Policing effectively the individual actions of citizens to conform to any kind of governmental worldview is very hard to achieve. Long before the enforcement folks really get to be good at what they are doing, there is not enough money to hire enough folks and too much political outcry that code enforcement is hurting business.

The plight of the Chesapeake Bay is instructive. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent by local, regional, state, and federal government agencies in the watershed in the last several decades on top down strategies to clean up the Bay. Unfortunately, we seem to be nowhere near the finish line. According to Chesapeake Ecocheck, for 2008, the Bay received an overall grade of C-. These strategies have grown from a past behavior model that conservation is something extra that we do while we go about our daily business.  What seems clear, however, is that conservation really can’t be that important to us, because if it were, conservation would be our business.

How would U.S. culture function if conservation were really our business? To start with, one could make money doing it well. Put another way, people would get paid for doing the right thing. According to Leopold, Sand County Almanac, 1949, “a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.” Deep Green Classifieds and future associated markets could create the dialogue necessary for individuals and communities to step toward a “Bay economy” through creation of a market for ecosystem goods and services. It is a marketplace designed for those that have an ethical relation to land and as Leopold says,love, respect, and admire land and have a high regard for its value.”

Ecosystem services, according to Daily, Nature’s Services, 1997, are “the conditions and processes through which natural ecosystems, and the species that make them up, sustain and fulfill human life.”  They maintain biodiversity and the production of ecosystem goods, such as seafood, forage, timber, biomass fuels, natural fiber, and many pharmaceuticals, industrial products, and their precursors. According to studies such as the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA), these services can be subdivided into five categories: provisioning such as the production of food and water; regulating, such as the control of climate and disease; supporting, such as nutrient cycles and crop pollination; cultural, such as spiritual and recreational benefits; and preserving, which includes guarding against uncertainty through the maintenance of diversity.

Deep Green creates a nascent platform for the transaction of provisioning and cultural ecosystem services. It is not an attempt to replace the top down approaches of the past, rather to complement them. The idea is simply to help get the market in-sync with other emerging ecologically-sensitive dimensions of human culture. If we are to succeed, a systems approach to sustainability is required.

- Michael Collins

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One Response to “Origins of Deep Green Classifieds”

  1. KrisBelucci Says:

    I really liked this post. Can I copy it to my site? Thank you in advance.

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