What would a Pentel & Wallace ecological economy mean for Minnesota?
The ecological economy goes against the current economic model in which we were born. As a society of governed people, we are constantly told we need to generate constant growth, yet we cannot continue to grow infinitely on a finite resource base. This is mass suicide for human beings who consciously continue down this path and mass genocide for the indigenous animals and species of the planet who have no say in how people mismanage the planet.
Based on this, the Pentel & Wallace Campaign for Governor will not engage in the use of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or Gross National Product (GNP) as an indicator of Minnesota's economic health, instead, as articulated by Robert Kennedy in 1968:
'For too long we seem to have surrendered personal excellence and community value for the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product now is over 800 billion dollars a year, but that gross national product, if we judge the United States of America by that, that gross national product counts air pollution, and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.
It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for people who eak them. It counts the destruction of the redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic squall. It counts Napalm, and it counts nuclear warheads, and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our city. It counts Whitman's rifles and Speck's Knifes and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet, the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play; it does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate for the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short except that which makes life worth while. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.'
~ Robert Kennedy’s comments on what the GNP measures during his session in 1968 at Kansas University.
One of the tools as Governor, Ken Pentel will use to achieve an ecological economy will be the Precautionary Principle (Do No Harm) as embodied in the Purpose of the Minnesota Environmental Act of 19732: (a) to declare a state policy that will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between human beings and their environment; (b) to promote efforts that will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of human beings; and (c) to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the state and to the nation. HIST: 1973 c 412 s 1; 1986 c 444
For the Pentel & Wallace, Ecology is the main focus. Meaning, we transition from a human centered to an ecological centered view of the world. From this unique perspective, as part of the bioregion of Minnesota, each economic exchange; be it barter or a traditional money transaction, inherently restores the water, air, soil, and habitats to health and sustainability. Or, to put it another way, a balance would be established in that Minnesota's economic health would be interdependent on the health of our natural resources.
Pentel & Wallace will also use measurements such as: whole-cost, full-cost, and life-cycle cost to measure our investment in Minnesota. Yet these measurements can only calculate some costs, not all. We cannot put a cost on global climate disruption, centuries of toxic-nuclear-waste, extinction of species, persistent toxins, cancer, and other yet unforeseen consequences from the growth-GDP economic model. Some of the costs that we can attempt to internalize are; mountain top removal, nuclear waste, tailing's from mining, the time and resources spent by our government managing and regulating the industries that don't pay their way.
We can also use some calculation around human health in relation to risk assessment. For example, look to the 2002 Report by the Minnesota Project: Public Health Benefits Of Converting the Riverside Coal Plant To Natural Gas3. In this report, there are human health costs that are not in the bottom line of coal electric power plants such as: onchitis, asthma, mortality, and a host of many others. At the time of the report, if we were to add up these costs from eight coal power facilities just within Minnesota, approximately $185 million each year would be added to the bottom line of the electric bills for Minnesotans.
If we were to add up the whole cost or life-cycle cost of the Prairie Island and Monticello Nuclear electric power facilitates, we could not because the number is infinite. The inane profit driven obsession that allowed this to happen has put the upper Mississippi River in danger. It has also imposed the burden on future generations who will now have to work millions of hours to pay off the infinite costs just so we could constantly plug-in during our short time on earth. These costs include routine releases of iodine 131, strontium 90 and tritium, the decommissioning of the facilities and the waste, as well as,. increased risks of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or human error that could lead to the Upper Mississippi River being contaminated indefinitely by way of a meltdown.
Mining both coal and uranium leaves tailing leave us, and local communities paying financial and environmental cost that are not included in the bottom line. Ethical people and an ecological economy would not tolerate leaving this unnecessary destruction and poisoning in our wake.
We can easily meet energy needs through stringent efficiency standards in housing and building codes and through renewable means but we must act and decide to have the courage to push for crucial changes in how we measure and get things accomplished. How much more do we have to lose? How much more ecological collapse do we allow collectively before we find the courage to change? When do our expectations meet our actions?
With transportation we can calculate whole-costs such as: road building and maintenance, police and fire, carnage, oil emissions, and the cost of having a military protecting the oil pipeline throughout the world. Add this to the costs of buying a car and the gas needed to maintain it, and now we're getting more honest on what the real cost of transportation is. The planning in Minnesota will adjust accordingly.
An additional benefit of an ecological economy can be seen by eliminating redundancies in production while rewarding human-scale economies, which would inherently enable minimum-impact and minimum-risk economies, such as: subsistence, barter, communal, cooperative and co-housing. Another outcome of an ecological economy is that as we stop creating so much waste, the cost of living will go down and quality of life indicators will rise. All living things will enjoy a cleaner, healthier environment. People will have increased free time available to become more whole and healthy individuals rather than working for waste and the wittingly or unwitting deterioration of all key life support systems on earth.
Emerging from these ecological indicators we can transition naturally; from disposable to durable and repairable, from wasteful energy use to efficient energy use, from unhealthy remote food and energy production to healthier local food and energy production. From suburban sprawl to walk-able cities.
Instead of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which has proven to be dysfunctional, we would have something such as: the Minnesota Ecological Health Indicator to guide us in implementing ecological and economic policies in Minnesota. This new indicator would measure the health of Minnesota's water, air, soil, diversity of species, investments in durable over disposable, and saved over wasted energy. So when poisons are dumped, topsoil is eroded, nuclear reactors kept running, coal kept burning, driving miles increase, extinction of species grows, the Minnesota economy will be known to be failing. We will understand that a truly healthy economy is only possible when all species enjoy a healthy environment. Those practices which have proven to poison and promote extinction will be disabled, and that which provides for our needs, yet simultaneously prevents and eliminates threats to the biosphere, will be enabled.
Pentel & Wallace will not allow incremental change in the face of exponential problems. An ecological economy achieves a proportionate response to remedy problems we face. Having the consumers try to put the genie back into the bottle of bad design, engineering and manufacturing will not come close to solving the problems we face. Our struggle to phase out of the existing economic dysfunction into a healing economy will be met with a variety of deceptive messages and practices, creating the illusion we are actually solving the problem. Over the last 60+ years the role of marketing, advertising and the public relations industry is one of the reasons we are in this mess, and these commercial pushers should not be underestimated in their cleverness as they attempt to divert us away from the fundamental changes that are necessary as we move to greater respect, balance, and a healing relationship with our home.
Through enforcement of existing law, passing new laws, court challenges, running candidates, and other tools, we can transform the political and economic culture to be "of, by and for the Earth and the people of Earth."
-Center for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy (CASSE), www.steadystate.org, 5101 S. 11th Street, Arlington, VA 22204, USA. ian Czech, President (703) 901-7190
-Sweet Honey and the Rock; Are My Hands Clean? http://collegeofsanmateo.edu/integrativelearning/learningcommunities/commons/James/AreMyHandsClean.pdf
(This is to show the interconnectedness of our dependencies, as well as, costs that are externalized from the price of what we buy.)
-Bill Rees on the Ecological Footprint; School of Community & Regional Planning, #433-6333 Memorial Road Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z2. Phone: (604) 822-3276; Fax: (604) 822-3787; email: email@example.com
-Redefining Progress: 1904 Franklin Street 6th Floor Oakland, CA 94612 T: (510) 444.3041 F: (510) 444.3191, Capitol Office: 1326 14th St. NW Washington, DC 20005 Phone: (202) 234-9665, Fax: (901) 234-9665, www.redefiningprogress.org
-State of the World 2008, A New Bottom line for Progress, By Matt Talberth; http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/SOW08_chapter_2.pdf,
-Worldwatch Institute, 1776 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036-1904, Phone: 1-(202) 452-1999, Fax: 1-(202) 296-7365, firstname.lastname@example.org
-Global Footprint Network: 312 Clay Street, Suite 300, Oakland, CA 94607-3510 USA, Phone: 1-(510) 839-8879, Fax: 1-(510) 251-2410, http://www.footprintnetwork.org/index.php
-Adbusters, December 2008 edition Issue #81. Hermann Daly is their Man of the Year. He was one of the modern thinkers on an ecological economy. Also, Issue #85, https://www.adbusters.org
Reach Adbusters: 1243 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V6H 1B7 Canada, Phone: (604)736-9401, 1-(800) 663-1243 Fax: (604) 737-6021.
-The Story of Stuff: http://www.storyofstuff.com
On the home page is video that offers a good explanation of whole costs.<