Bankrupting Nature; Denying Our Planetary Boundaries
2012 by Anders Wijkman and Johan Rockstrom.
From its book review in Nature.
“…unlike previous pessimistic assessments of tipping points for humanity and Earth, this book combines a critique of political and economic systems with an assessment of global ecology.” “…rarely have [arguments] been gathered together in one place to clarify the links between politics, economics and ecology.”
“The ideas in this book are interesting and often inspiring, and, to some extent, the future of sustainability depends on wrestling them to the ground. In doing so, it is key to recognize that some scientists are optimists and others pessimists. To progress, this debate about limits and tipping points needs to be recast as a series of testable hypotheses about resource extraction, land and water use, and energy portfolios, addressable by models and data.”
Further synthesizing the full description of 12 key points on the publisher’s website (Club of Rome)
- Evidence indicates that we should be concerned about humanity’s ability to destabilize the Earth’s systems which sustain life.
- There is a sustainability crisis with both poverty and consumption creating challenges for progress.
- Defining planetary boundaries provide scientific reassurance with our best estimates to reduce catastrophic risk.
- The debates in science are over details, but evidence is overwhelming in support of action towards sustainability.
- Climate change denial represents behavioural opportunities that will confront ideological and cultural barriers.
- The growth dilemma must be resolved through a shared vision of a new economic framework.
- A holistic market that redefines value in light of the constraints and objectives of the system is required.
- We have a priority to focus on changing growth patterns into longterm improvements in natural and human capital.
- Effectiveness for the new growth will be measured on closed loop economics, more than efficiency of creation.
- Potential solutions must be able to maintain 9 billion humans with appropriate quality of life.
- Population growth is a continued threat which is best solved by altruism through education and generosity.
- Global agreements need empowerment through related actions in a descending hierarchy.
Please note that I have not yet read the book (added it to the ever-growing list!) but consider this condensation of information a quick primer from which further investigation or discussion can spread. Thus, the above points should not be considered as the authors’ intent.
Some extension on their principles:
- An idealized solution is based upon a conception of a fair and positive world would be defined by optimum conditions for humanity.
- The symmetry of well-being is beyond disproportionate to what is necessary, and big changes could be made for a large percent of humanity with the decrease in life quality happening to comparatively few humans.
- The equilibrium of resource consumption will depend on how well we can create shared interests over personal interests.
- The ‘rightness of the solution’ would be inherently value-based, which will vary across a spectrum of cultural and ideological filters.
- The evidence will place hard boundaries due to unavoidable natural limits, relative to those soft boundaries of belief in a global vision that we create.
- Values-based goals are much harder to define, but the limits at least give us a safe bounding to the problem.
- If there is global agreement to the planetary boundaries based upon our best evidence, making policy to create economic systems which prevent the risks associated with transgressing them will be necessary regardless of any belief system of further distribution of wealth.