Economic Foundations and Environmental Progress
by M. Alexander Barker, Nov. 2009

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The problem we face is NOT a lack of solutions but a means to implement them.

In this article I will prove that the current economic value system is in direct conflict with the progress of the environmental movement.

It is clear that the scientific community and most of the public are aware of the problems we have today. This is not a significant barrier.

Neither is finding solutions through technology or lifestyle changes. These issues have been addressed by many creative and intelligent people.

The problem we face is NOT a lack of solutions but a means to implement them.

Once we realize this, then we can address the number one factor as to why we cannot implement the solutions suggested by the scientific community: that the green movement is bad for the economy.

Here is why.

Making decisions with an arbitrary value system (money) corrupts the problem-solving method.

When analysing the merit of a decision that impacts the real world, you need real value system (energy and natural resources) to quantify these decisions.

Money is circulated by jobs and consumption.

The more efficient and technologically advanced the culture, the fewer people they need working.

(“The progress of civilization has meant the reduction of its employment not its increase.” Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson, 1946)

The economy rewards technological stagnation in labour-saving devices and designed obsolescence.

(“Planned obsolescence is the catch-all phrase used to describe the assortment of techniques used to artificially limit the durability of a manufactured good in order to stimulate repetitive consumption. To achieve shorter product lives and sell more goods, manufacturers in the 1930s began to base their choice of materials on scientific tests by newly formed research and development departments. These tests determined when each of the products specific components would fail.” Made to Break; Technology and Obsolescence in America, Giles Slade, 2006)

The economy suffers when we are healthier, greener, and consume less.

The solution is a movement away from job dependant monetary circulation to a guaranteed livable income.

This will allow positive change to occur without causing job losses leaving people unable to meet their basic needs.

Without guaranteed income, people will continue to oppose things like the Kyoto Protocol. climate/article/13090/AFLCIO_Reiterates_its_Opposition_to_Kyoto_Global_Warming_Accord.html

In 1999 organized labour groups in the U.S. opposed Kyoto because they feared job losses.

(Feb. 17, 1999 “AFL-CIO reaffirms its opposition to the Kyoto Protocol”)

In 2003 a U.S. Republican senator also opposed Kyoto for the same reason.

(“Kyoto will cost 511,000 jobs" The Science of Climate Change, Senate Floor Statement by U.S. Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla), Chairman, Committee on Environment and Public Works, July 28/2003)

In 2007 the leader of the BC Federation of Labour stated in a radio interview his worry that a Climate Action Team would lead to job losses.

("The Premier's new Climate Action Team isn't getting the thumbs-up from big labour. BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair… is worried some of the panels recommendations could also mean job losses." VANCOUVER/CKNW (AM980), "Labour wants a seat at the climate table", Nov, 20 2007 )

To summarize, we need to use energy and natural resources as the new base for evaluating our decisions.

Secondly we need to move away from jobs being the number one factor in economic health so we will no longer have to worry about "it will cost too much jobs to be green" speech.

It is impossible to move forward under this current value system. It has stalled our progress and placed us in absolute stagnation where any real change is impossible. The founders of modern economic theory could not imagine the problems we face today and should not be looked to for answers.

Again, the solution is a movement away from job dependant monetary circulation to a guaranteed livable income.

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