We have a model for restoration, it’s called the circular economy.
And there is a ‘reading list’ of communications that helps support the restorative phase – in concept, context, process, and metrics.
– Walter Stahel wrote his book The Performance Economy in 1992 (at least in English!).
He has these 5 principles to guide The Circular Economy. These principles, in essence define the basic economic opportunity, of keeping materials in cycles that mimic nature itself:
1) The smaller the loop (activity-wise and geographically) the more profitable and resource efficient it is.
2) Loops have no beginning and no end: value maintained replaces value added.
3) The speed of circular flows is crucial; the efficiency of managing the stock in the circular economy increases with the decreasing flow speed.
4) Continued ‘ownership’ is cost efficient: reuse, repair, and remanufacture without a change of ownership saves double transaction costs
5) The circular economy needs functioning markets.
– Cradle-to-Cradle came out in 2002: technical nutrient and biological nutrient kept in loops.
– Limits to Growth was written in 1972! (Same year Stanford U. introduced a course in Ecology)
– Fritjof Capra, 1975 book Tao of Physics, has just co-authored A Systems View of Life.
So the unifying framework has been here for quite a while, that is: how to have human economies/civilization work in synergistic mutuality with nature and its principles. A true economical economy. A true-costed economy.
Sustainability may be given a simpler focus:
1) Live off of current solar income
2) There is no such thing as ‘waste’; what appears as
‘waste’ is food for something else; waste = food.
This is the cyclic principle.
The industrial ‘economy’ comes from borrowing ancient sunlight, in the form of fossil energy. This extraction model discounts the future. It takes, makes, and wastes – from the point of extraction until its ‘consumption’. How does the paradigm shift from take-make-consume-waste (non)economics? i..e the one very reliant on actual and ecological subsidies.
Although not explicitly discussed much at all, Industrial Agriculture is the ultimate wasting system. Industrial Ag is an out growth of the out-dated mechanistic worldview: Industrial methods use a vast amount of water, energy, and chemicals. Persistent herbicides, fungicides and insecticides accumulate in ground and surface waters. Chemical fertilizers run-off the fields into water ways, generating blooms of oxygen-depleting microorganisms that disrupt ecosystems, and kill off fish, and other sea life.
In a restorative economy, these ideas are counter-productive – really, a waste – of resources and time and money. Michael Pollan’s research shows for every calorie of food grown in the USA there are 10 calories of fossil inputs. It’s a non-economy.
So what! We have always had in favor of the circular is the obsolescence of that linear worldwiew. Yet what gives us a compass, and a map, toward the emergent, regenerative worldview?
(People will ignore Cheap Ag, eventually. May take what marketing folks call “repositioning” – e.g. Industrial AG starves the world.)
What’s next? We have the sun and nature’s cyclic principles: what’s the guide/framework, for USAn Ag? It is akin to permaculture design: very interrelated while making rural living socially attractive: it has beautiful landscapes. Urban life includes trees, creeks, ponds, birds, pollinators, and growing food. Regenerative systems blend human aesthetic values with ecological design.
The Restorative Economy is a narrative about refreshing the natural world: Carbon enhanced soils, nutritive cycles for that soil (nitrogen, phosphorus, etc.), water retention and cleansing, regenerative water cycles, and wonderful food and plant and animal, including human, lives — less finite resource consumption, replaced with more green cells.
The economic model is here:
From linear to circular — Accelerating a proven concept
“A circular economy is an (alternative) industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design. It replaces the end-of-life concept with restoration, shifts towards the use of renewable energy, eliminates the use of toxic chemicals, which impair reuse and return to the biosphere, and aims for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products, systems and business models”
One can argue that there should be design that completely eliminates ‘leakage’ into the biosphere. . .the bottom of the pictogram could go to zero?
This butterfly gives us the framework for restoration: Especially by realizing that the photosynthesis-driven-cycles are the predominant economic force on the planet.
Agri-culture relates to both Technical and Biological Nutrient Cycles, yet has a specific ‘business’ purpose of producing green cells for sale, and converting some of those green cells for animal proteins for sale.
It is true that the biggest part of the technical nutrient cycle ‘leaking’ from USAn AG– we call herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides. (by US EPAs own data)
Ag chemicals are the majority of the toxic load in the biosphere, and our bodies: See EWG.org studies on “Body Burden.”
We do have the framework: Renewable Energy, plus Green Chemistry, plus Healthy Soils Initiatives, add the Cyclic Principle. The great transition, a.k.a. The Great Carbon Drawdown, needs leadership.
Many folks have shown profound insights into the whole systems issues and whole systems leverage pojnts for a restorative biosphere solution. These leaders know using agriculture as both a human scale and systems-wide endeavor would give us a true-costed, living system.
We can feed the world, quite easily, with regenerative agriculture and a restorative economy, and not endanger
the next generations.
We have the resources here and now.
No need to waste time, or listen to naysayers.