Natural Capitalism3

Written by Paul Hawken. Amory Lovins. L. Hunter Lovins

The past two hundred years of massive growth in prosperity and manufactured capital have been accompanied by a prodigious body of economic theory analyzing it, all based o­n the fallacy that natural and human capital have little value as compared to final output. In the standard industrial model, the creation of value is portrayed as a linear sequence of extraction, production and distribution: Raw material are introduced. (Enter nature. stage left.) Labor uses technologies to transform these resources into products. which are sold to create profits. The waste from production processes, and soon the products themselves, are somehow disposed of somewhere else (Exit waste. stage right.) The "somewheres" in this scenario are not the concern of classical economics: Enough money can buy enough resources, so the theory goes, and enough "elsewheres" to dispose of them afterward.

But there is a fundamental critique to be applied here, and it is o­ne based o­n simple logic. The evidence of our senses is sufficient to tell us that all economic activity, all that human beings are, all that they can ever accomplish, is embedded within the workings of a particular planet. That planet is not growing. so the somewheres and elsewheres are always with us. The increasing removal of resources, their transport and use, and their replacement with waste steadily erodes our stock of natural capital.

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