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The next evolution of Deep Green

In the last post of this five-part series on Deep Green Classifieds, I will offer a Vision for a new type of conservation to begin. This vision is based on the following cultural changes now taking place here in the U.S. perhaps and to varying degrees in some other industrialized countries worldwide:

  1. the rise of the Internet and technologies like Geographic Information Systems and Google Earth allowing humans to understand the impact of their actions on the planet;
  2. the failure of command and control environmental policies to restore assets such as the Chesapeake Bay;
  3. the rise of emerging localized markets, such as the locavore movement;
  4. the great contraction of human civilization back to urban areas;
  5. the decrease of available funding for future large scale command and control environmental programs;
  6. recognition of the significant negative impacts of global trading policies;
  7. recognition that human communities and nature are one; and
  8. the worldwide green revolution.

These shifts in human culture lead me to believe that opportunities are emerging to green not just products and services but the very structure of our economy. Serious proposals include:

  • The Index for Sustainable Economic Welfare to replace GDP as proposed by Herman Daly and John Cobb in their book For the Common Good
  • The Genuine Progress Indicator as proposed by Redefining Progress

More recently, with discussions about Peak Oil, Daly and Cobb’s thinking on alternative measures of welfare generates heated discussions at sites like the The Oil Drum. The point here is that the re-imagining of our economy from an industrial paradigm to something else is actively under discussion. Our proposal is to get going at a local level from a bottom up approach right here in the U.S. right now with a few pilot projects.

Here is the vision as I see it:

  1. Local communities band together in watershed (or any other environmental asset-shed)-based alliances to form on-line marketplaces designed specifically to bring about the quality of life they desire. This quality of life certainly includes keystone environmental assets such as The Chesapeake Bay.
  2. These marketplaces are the focus of environmental policy in the 21st century because people understand that economy=environment.
  3. The vehicle to take us there is the U.S. Agricultural Marketing Cooperative, retooled to provided ecosystem services in the 21st century.

Deep down, we (humans within nature) all realize that ultimately, we are what we buy. We now understand that the greatest infusion of money in human history for top down environmentalism can’t save the day.

But we can switch gears. We can find the strength to plow new ground. Let’s not believe it’s too late. Let’s get to work.

- Michael Collins


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