January 2, 2009

Mother Earth is Waiting for Us, There's a Debt We Have to Pay

(With homage to Tracy Nelson)

We know that our current consumption rates are bankrupting the carrying capacity of the natural world upon which all life depends. And yet we continue consuming as if this bubble will never burst. Sound familiar? When it does burst, and it is—ecosystem collapse is increasing all over the planet—who can bail out nature? It is our generation who must do it, and we must do it now. We cannot wait. We have to act while we still have the capacity to do so. John Jeavons reports, for example, that estimates of remaining peak farmable soils on earth range from 36-52 years.

Yes, even with our monetary systems in collapse—especially because they are in collapse—we must reinvest now in the creation and restoration of all natural capital. Money systems are symbolic information games; natural capital coupled with organized, applied human know-how is the real wealth of our world, our "forward days living capability" as Bucky Fuller so wisely defined it. OK given that, how do we do this?

By striking a "New Deal with Nature" through "Consumer Credit Card Debt for Nature Swaps". Here’s how it works. The federal government would purchase and repackage consumer credit card debt (there’s about $962 billion in our national economy right now), slashing interest rates to end usury—and unlike the TARP bailout, asks for something in return. "Prosumers" (productive consumers) can further reduce their interest rate by joining a registry and achieving a variety of documentable energy and water efficiency retrofits of their homes (if they're homeowners) and/or participate in ecosystem services restoration projects locally and regionally if they are not.

How do we put an economic value on Nature's services? The Natural Capital Project at Stanford has recently developed innovative software for helping manage Nature’s ecosystem services and biodiversity as the valuable life supporting assets that they are.

But how do we organize such a gigantic undertaking? Energy efficiency websites like WattBot already point the way to easy methods of organizing to transform an individual property’s energy performance. The net effect: Taxpayers invest in ecologic and economic restoration by funding interest rate reductions by prosumers who reduce the environmental impact of their homes, property and lifestyles.

Footprint reducing AND biologically restorative.

Big Mother, not Big Brother.

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Christine Arena
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