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Our current economic and civilizational model is based on a false conception pseudo-abundance in the natural world, thereby creating an engine of infinite material world in a finite natural world. And it is also based on a false conception of pseudo-scarcity, which aims to create scarcities in the immaterial world, where the costs of reproduction are near zero. A sustainable economy demands that this duality is simply reversed. We must recognize the limits of the natural world, and create a free culture of exchange in the world of immaterial value: culture, intellect, spirit.

The key book:

Start here:

Read also:

  1. Towards planetary, peer to peer, and green consciousness. Dale Carrico.
  2. Madronna Holden on the Agency of Nature and the Partnership View
  3. In this article on Use Communities, Alex Steffen argues that sharing infrastructures are vital for sustainability
  4. Herman Daly: The Thermodynamic Roots of Economics
  5. The Environment as Our Common Heritage. James K. Boyce
  6. The History of Humanity's Relationship with Nature: Taken from a four-part essay by Ross Wolfe
  7. Managing without growth, towards economics of flow of matter/energy: Interview with Peter Victor

  • Video:

Open Hardware is energy smart: see Dominic Muren on the Ecological Advantages of Open Hardware Manufacturing

The Facts about the Biosphere: The Ecological Overshoot problem

See also: a summary of the Critical State of the Planet.

1. Ted Trainer:

"The following points drive home the magnitude of the overshoot:

  1. If the 9 billion people we will have on earth within about 50 years were to use resources at the per capita rate of the rich countries, annual resource production would have to be about 8 times as great as it is now.
  2. If 9 billion people were to have a North American diet we would need about 4.5 billion ha of cropland, but there are only 1.4 billion ha of cropland on the planet.
  3. Water resources are scarce and dwindling. What will the situation be if 9 billion people try to use water as we in rich countries do, while the greenhouse problem reduces water resources.
  4. The world’s fisheries are in serious trouble now, most of them overfished and in decline. What happens if 9 billion people try to eat fish at the rate Australian’s do now?
  5. Several mineral and other resources are likely to be very scarce soon, including gallium, indium, helium, and there are worries about copper, zinc, silver and phosphorous.
  6. Oil and gas are likely to be in decline soon, and largely unavailable in the second half of the century. If 9 billion were to consume oil at the Australian per capita rate, world demand would be about 5 times as great as it is now. The seriousness of this is extreme, given the heavy dependence of our society on liquid fuels.
  7. Recent 'Footprint' analysis indicates that it takes 8 ha of productive land to provide water, energy, settlement area and food for one person living in Australia. (World Wildlife Fund, 2009.) So if 9 billion people were to live as we do about 72 billion ha of productive land would be needed. But that is about 10 times all the available productive land on the planet.
  8. The most disturbing argument is to do with the greenhouse problem. It is very likely that in order to stop the carbon content of the atmosphere rising to dangerous levels CO2 emissions will have to be totally eliminated by 2050 (Hansen says 2030). (Hansen, 2009, Meinschausen et al., 2009.) Geo-sequestration can’t enable this, if only because it can only capture about 85% of the 50% of emissions that come from stationary sources like power stations."

2. [3]

  • Up to 270 species are driven extinct every day (73.000 per year & 2.336.000 in my lifetime). This extinction rate is between 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural background rate. (Harvard biologist, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Dr. E. O. Wilson in his book ”The future of life”)
  • Almost no multi-year ice remains around the North Pole and the average ice thickness is down to 90cm. (
  • There´s 6x more plastic than phytoplankton in some part of the oceans. 600,000 tonnes only in the North Sea! (
  • More than 12 million hectares of productive land are lost due to desertification every year. ~Size of South Africa every decade. (UNCCD – United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification)
  • 6 million hectares of primary forest are lost every year due to deforestation and modification through selective logging and other human interventions. –> At this speed by 2030 only 10% of all tropical forests will remain globally. (UNEP – United Nations Environment Program)

  • Carbon dioxide:

o Preindustrial concentration of CO2 was ~280ppm (parts per million). In 2010 392ppm.

o It must be kept beneath 350ppm to avoid “irreversible catastrophic effects”. To reach 350ppm would need a phase-out of existing coal emissions by 2030.

o Estimation for 2100: 541 – 970ppm! (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many others)

  • ~40 percent of deaths worldwide are caused by water, air and soil pollution. That´s 63.000 per day. (Prof. David Pimentel, Cornell University)

Introductory Articles

"Within resilient communities, we will see the establishment of platforms that make it easier to grow/sell food, produce/share/sell energy, trade, share ideas/methods (social software), produce products (fab labs), collect/share/sell water and much more."

" The noosphere gained an evolutionary dimension through the work of John Maynard-Smith and Eörs Szathmáry, in what they identified as the major evolutionary transitions (1995, 1999; Szathmáry, 2015). The history of the biosphere involves a series of transition thresholds, associated with new levels of collaborative 'altruistic' behavior. ... The noosphere flags a new transition, where the mental isolation, which up to this point had dominated the biosphere, is complemented by the sharing of meaning, conveyed by symbolic signs."

- Markus Lindholm, in the landmark article, Earth Has Become the Garden of Mankind

Mutualizing Physical Resources

* Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene: Collective human action is required to steer the Earth System away from a potential threshold and stabilize it in a habitable interglacial-like state. Such action entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies.

  • Ecological Effects of Carsharing. Beth Buczynski: An online survey of over 9,500 individuals living in Canada and the United States revealed that car sharing programs have the power to significantly reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions in North America.
  • The Internet is NOT an Energy Hog!, summarizes the two most important arguments of the internet's potential, i.e. dematerialization and its transformative effect on the industrial process itself

Design Global, Manufacture Local

The aim is to contribute to the ongoing dialogue on post-capitalist construction by exploring the contours of a commons-oriented productive model. On the basis of this model called “design global, manufacture local”, we argue that recent techno-economic developments around the emergence of commons-based peer production and local manufacturing technologies, may signal new alternative paths of social organization. We conclude by arguing that all commons-oriented narratives could converge, thereby supporting the creative communities which are building the world they want within the confines of the political economy they aspire to transcend.

For more, see also our entry on DGML and Cosmo-Localization

*Article: Design global, manufacture local: Exploring the contours of an emerging productive model. By Vasilis Kostakis, Vasilis Niaros, George Dafermos, Michel Bauwens. Futures, Volume 73, October 2015, Pages 126–135

URL = [5]

*Article: The convergence of digital commons with local manufacturing from a degrowth perspective: Two illustrative cases. By Vasilis Kostakis, Kostas Latoufis, Minas Liarokapis, Michel Bauwens. Journal of Cleaner Production

URL = [6]

*Article: Towards a political ecology of the digital economy: Socio-environmental implications of two competing value models. By Vasilis Kostakis, Andreas Roos, Michel Bauwens. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions

URL = [7]

Distributed Energy

  1. Bill McKibben on Why We Need a P2P Energy Grid; Jeremy Rifkin on the InterGrid
  2. Towards a World Wide Web of Electricity. Michael Powers.

Status reports:

  1. Global Renewable Energy Status Report 2009
  2. 2007 Status of Decentralized Renewables and Micropower

Let's not forget:

  1. The Case against Nuclear Energy and for Renewables. By Conrad Miller.

Green Computing

Key book: Greening Through IT: Information Technology for Environmental Sustainability. by Bill Tomlinson. The MIT Press, Cambridge, London, USA, UK, 2010

The facts:

  1. The Energy Effiency Fallacy
  2. ICTs in the home account for almost 50% of energy use
  3. IT to consume 40% of world's electricity by 2030

See also:

  • Report: Smart 2020, enabling the low carbon economy in the information age

The Natural Commons

Resilient Economics

  • Herman Daly: A Steady State Economy: A failed growth economy and a steady-state economy are not the same thing; they are the very different alternatives we face.
  • Sustainable Shrinkage: Envisioning a Smaller, Stronger Economy. By Ernest Callenbach. Volume 2 | Issue 4 | Page 10-15 | Aug 2011 [11]

  • Heterodox economics for sustainability:
  1. Redefining Progress ;
  2. National Accounts of Well-Being ;
  3. About Earth's Ecological Economics ;
  4. Earth Economics;
  5. Post-Autistics Economics Network;
  6. Degrowth ;
  7. New Economics Foundation ;
  8. International Society for Ecological Economics ;
  9. Footprint Network ;
  10. Cambridge Trust for New Thinking in Economics ;
  11. [12] ;
  12. Toxic Textbooks

Other Topics

  1. On harnessing collective intelligence for climate change. Thomas Malone.


  1. Alex Steffen: To achieve zero emissions by 2050, we have to start NOW!!
  2. Michael Ben-Eli on the Five Core Principles of Sustainability
  3. A Critique of the Stern Report. Ted Trainer argues that global warming cannot be solved at little cost, as implied by the Stern report.

Policy Proposals


  1. Herman Daly's 10 Policy Principles for the Steady-State Economy
  2. Cap and Trade Policy Primer
  3. Measures for Relocalization and Reruralization, 2 times four essential policy principles, as proposed by Mariarosa Dalla Costa

Specifics: Energy

Via [13] :

a team of scientists from Stanford University led by Mark Jacobson published a study showing how New York State could switch to a 100 percent renewable energy infrastructure by 2030–a highly ambitious plan that would only wind, water solar energy to power not just electricity but all forms of energy consumption, including building heating and cooling and transportation. The plan is a follow up to a more general proposal that powers the entire world with renewable energy in less than two decades.


  • a team led by Vasilis Fthenakis, a senior research scientist at Columbia University’s department of Earth and Environmental Engineering, published a study showing how the entire United States could go renewable


  • in 2011 a World Wildlife Federation report (prepared by Ecofys Consulting) has laid out another path to 100 percent renewable energy.


See also:

  1. Five Policy Solutions to the Climate and Energy Crisis. By Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute
  2. The "centralized" $420b Solar Grand Plan of Scientific American.
  3. Peter Barnes commons-based proposal: Why We Need a Cap and Dividend based Skytrust to solve Global Warming
  4. Understand the genius ofthe Cap and Share proposal through this five minute video introduction
  5. Thermoeconomics]: scientific pathways to solar energy

Specifics: Green Computing

Proposals for Green Computing, by Bill St. Arnaud:

  1. Free Fiber to the Home
  2. Green Grid
  3. Green Broadband
  4. Follow the Energy Computing Grids
  5. Bits for Carbon Trading
  6. Virtualization as strategy for green computing

Overview essay:

  1. ICT and Global Warming. Bill St. Arnaud

Specifics: Green Finance

  1. Hazel Henderson on Green Finance: Great intro to developments in sustainable and socially responsible investing, green sustainability metrics, and the necessary overhaul of finance and business education.
  2. Money and Sustainability: The Missing Link. by Bernard Lietaer, Christian Arnsperger, Sally Goerner and Stefan Brunnhuber. Triarchy Press, 2012 [14]. A report from the Club of Rome to Finance Watch and the World Business Academy


See also: Quotes on P2P and Commons-Oriented Ecology

David Bollier:

"Historically, commoning has been the dominant mode of managing land and even today, in places like Africa, Asia and Latin America, it is arguably the default norm, notwithstanding the efforts of governments and investors to commodify land and natural resources. According to the International Land Alliance, an estimated 2 billion people in the world still depend upon forests, fisheries, farmland, water, wild game and other natural resources for their everyday survival. This is a huge number of people, yet conventional economists still regard this “subsistence” economy and indigenous societies as uninteresting because there is little market-exchange going on. Yet these communities are surely more ecologically mindful of their relations to the land than agribusinesses that rely upon monoculture crops and pesticides, or which exploit a plot of land purely for its commercial potential without regard for biodiversity or long-term effects, such as the massive palm oil plantations in tropical regions.

Commoning is a way for we humans to re-integrate our social and commercial practices with the fundamental imperatives of nature. By honoring specific local landscapes, the situated knowledge of commoners, the principle of inalienability, and the evolving social practices of commoning, the commons can be a powerful force for ecological improvement."


Tragedies of the Commons Are Exceptions Rather Than the Rule

"Self-regulation has historically characterized common resource use (Jackson et al., 2000; Shiraev & Levy, 2017). Jared Diamond's book Collapse (2005) evoked much attention, with its reports on community collapse due to overexploitation of resources. But the number of unambiguous cases of such collapse are in fact few (the Viking colony on Greenland, the Easter Island, Minoan Crete), and have been factually disputed, as well (McAnany & Yoffee, 2010; Bregman, 2020). Most premodern communities managed to establish sustainable solutions to local resource use (Ostrom 1990). The Sami of the Arctic share limited grazing areas for reindeers, with agreements encompassing benefits and responsibilities in order to maintain common pastures (Barlindhaug, 2013; Marin & Bjørklund, 2015). Shared use of summer pasture, arable and meadows, has a long history across Eurasia, where resources have been regulated by common rules defining numbers of grazers, duration and associated duties, as well. The system of transhumance and setring of Northern Europe and the Swiss Alps partly roots back in the Iron age (Moe et al., 1988). Common laws included duties associated with maintenance and care of outfields, such as bush and rock removal, hunting of predators, and sowing of new grass following landslides. In Sahel, pastoralists have maintained the common use of meadows for cattle, which also included rules for shared use of the scattered acacia trees, and their protein-rich fruits (Stave et al., 2007). Through such agreements, sustainable use of common resources have been successfully maintained over centuries, without resource deterioration. A 'tragedy of the commons' is an exception rather than the rule (Ostrom, 1990; Araral, 2014)."

-Marcus Lindholm [15]

The Biophilic Nature of Humanity

"David Attenborough ("Humans are a plague of the earth") or Umberto Echo, ... claim that “the rest is just sex, copulation, the perpetuation of the vile species”. “Humans are the cancer of the Earth” t-shirts can even be purchased on the web. Based on deep ecology and recent insights in evolutionary biology, this study questions the legitimacy of such a pessimistic conception of the man-earth relation. The article departures from the paradoxical fact that humans not only destroy the environment. They are biophilious, as well. Use of flowers for ornaments, or animals as pets, are known from cultures across the world. People make nesting boxes for birds, plant trees, and dig flowerbeds, too. Biophilic behavior is universally human, known from Babylonia and ancient China to today’s suburban balconies. These two opposite faces of Homo sapiens call for a deeper exploration of human peculiarities, in order to establish a better evolutionary concept of man and environment, which even may renew hope and belief in the value of environmental education.


To assign oneself as responsible for the earth is to define oneself as the sovereign of the planet, whether we like it or not. To acknowledge responsibility is to move beyond the capacity of any other being. To classify Homo sapiens as solely a mammal among so many, is to deny responsibility for the prosperity of the global ecosystems, thereby undermining our ability to take environmental actions, as well."

- Marcus Lindholm [16]

On the importance of maintaining Natural Capital

"‘For the management of renewable resources there are two obvious principles of sustainable development. First that harvest rates should equal regeneration rates (sustained yields). Second that waste emission rates should equal the natural assimilative capacities of the ecosystems into which the wastes are emitted. Regenerative and assimilative capacities must be treated as natural capital, and failure to maintain these capacities must be treated as capital consumption, and therefore not sustainable.’"

- Mathis Wackernagel [17]

On the Difference between Ecology and Environmentalism

"Environmentalism tries to patch things up, applies band-aids, cosmetics, to the environment. It sort of takes hold of nature, strokes it, and says, ‘Produce!’ It tries to use soil, pour chemicals into it and if only they weren’t poisonous everything would be great. Whereas ecology believes in a genuine harmonization of humanity with nature. And that harmonization of humanity with nature depends fundamentally on the harmonization of human beings with each other. The attitude that we’ve had towards nature has always depended on the attitude we’ve had towards each other."

- Murray Bookchin [18]

What we need to measure first of all: Carrying Capacity

From James Quilligan on Carrying Capacity as a Basis for Political and Economic Self-Governance:

"No major civilization has EVER practiced carrying capacity as a basis for political and economic self-governance; carrying capacity has only succeeded in small communities. Of course, we know this from the modern Ostrom view of the commons; but Ostrom never put her finger on the pulse of carrying capacity as the *self-organizing principle between a species and its environment*. Nor has the commons movement recognized the importance of an *empirical way of measuring the metabolism of society* through the cooperative activities of people using resources to meet their biological needs. In other words, Ostrom and the commons movement have yet to define the dynamic equilibrium which they seek as the balance between two opposing forces - population and resources - which continually counteract each other. Instead, the commons movement is more focused on counteracting the Market and the State than on measuring the replenishment of renewable and non-renewable resources and managing them to sustain their yield. In short, the commons movement does not seem to be producing alternative indicators for the productive and provisioning which can be used to guide policy. ... (We must) ... establishes empirical targets that will bring down exponential growth to arithmetic growth levels; and thus organizing society according to the dynamic equilibrium between population and the availability of food, water and energy. ... If we don't know how to develop evidence-based policy for a soft landing toward a reasonable level of subsistence -- and I've seen very little of this in the commons movement -- then I don't know how we expect to create a long-term system for meeting human needs through sustainable yields. I would hope that the commons movement begins to create the basis for a viable new society by actually focusing on the optimum rate at which a resource can be harvested or used without damaging its ability to replenish itself."

- James Quilligan, Fb, August 2017

Contemporary Civilizational Change needs to be global, conscious, and relatively fast

“In the past, all transitions in the forms of civilization were slow, local/regional, exclusive, optional and unconscious. Today, we are faced by the need to undertake a GT in our dominant form of civilization that, in contrast, must be fast (by any historic standard), scalable to the whole planet, inclusive of all 7.4 billion of us, recognized as required and conscious. This last requirement also implies that today we must not only be conscious about change at every scale, but must develop a capacity for meta-consciousness about change at every scale.”

- Ruben Nelson of Foresight Canada [19] [20]

On the Value Revolution that is taking place

"Under the radar of mass media and mainstream academia, a value revolution is taking place that is promising to transform humanity’s very notions of wealth and economic development. Expressed in an explosion of both traditional academic indicators and innovative new quality-of-life and sustainability measures, this value revolution is not simply revealing previously invisible “full costs” of production, but also “redefining progress” more positively—from quantity to quality. Economically, our ways of growing and distributing food, providing & using energy, building buildings, making and exchanging clothing, etc. are being reexamined not only to reduce their negative impacts, but also to more fully express their social and ecological potentials. They are geared not simply to the sustainability of communities and ecosystems, but to their regeneration—to make economic development, as eco-architect Bill McDonough would say, “not just less bad, but good.”

- Brian Milani [21]

The Necessary Ecological Function of Money

“If we say that money comes from ecological function instead from extraction, manufacturing buying and selling, then we have a system in which all human efforts go toward restoring, protecting and preserving ecological function. That is what we need to mitigate and adapt to climate change, to ensure food security, to ensure that human civilizations survive. Our monetary system must reflect reality. We could have growth, not from stuff, but growth from more functionality. If we do that and we value that higher than things, we will survive.”

- John D. Liu [22]

Charles Eisenstein on the Illusion of Separateness

"Technology is both a cause and a result of our separation from and objectification of nature. It distances us from nature, as today's artificial environments, reliance on machinery, and processed foods exemplify; on the other hand it is precisely our conceptual distancing from nature that encourages us to apply technology to it as an object of manipulation and control."

"The distinction between self and environment is minimal among the earliest form of life, the bacteria, which blur the self-other distinction with their fluid sharing of genetic material. Even higher animals and plants, however, rely upon on another for the co-creation of the internal and external environments essential to their mutual existence."

"No plant or animal is a completely individuated, separate, distinct being....there is no clear-cut, absolutist definition of the self or the organism; our belief to the contrary is only a projection of our mistaken view of our own selves."

~ Charles Eisenstein, The Ascent of Humanity [23]

William D. Ruckelshaus on why the transformation needs to be fully conscious

"Can we move nations and people in the direction of sustainability? Such a move would be a modification of society comparable in scale to only two other changes: the Agricultural Revolution of the late Neolithic and the Industrial Revolution of the past two centuries. Those revolutions were gradual, spontaneous, and largely unconscious. This one will have to be a fully conscious operation... If we actually do it, the undertaking will be absolutely unique in humanity's stay on the Earth." (

Joanna Macy on the Great Turning

"A revolution is underway because people are realizing that our needs can be met without destroying our world. We have the technical knowledge, the communication tools, and material resources to grow enough food, ensure clean air and water, and meet rational energy needs. Future generations, if there is a liveable world for them, will look back at the epochal transition we are making to a life-sustaining society. And they may well call this the time of the Great Turning. It is happening now." (

Daniel Pinchbeck on the current state of Planetary Initiation

"We are on the cusp of realizing ourselves as one species organism, in symbiotic relationship with the planetary ecology as a whole. Once we make this leap, we will share resources equitably, adopt cradle to cradle and no waste manufacturing practices, and shift from competition to cooperation as our basic paradigm. We will go from acting like a parasite or a virus on the earth to becoming the earth's immune system." (

Kevin Carson on Internet and Energy


"To the extent that the P2P model facilitates economic relocalization by substituting the movement of information for movement of goods (i.e., the movement of information on how to produce goods locally for the movement of centrally produced goods), Peak Oil and the increased cost of moving goods may provide strong market incentives to economic models based primarily on the movement of information. In that case, the expansion of information movement capabilities as an alternative to investment in long-distance transportation and overseas production facilities (the Ponoko/100kGarages model using local shops), and as an alternative to the movement of people (teleconferencing and telecommuting), may actually be a powerful multiplier of energy efficiency. If the money and resources devoted to Internet infrastructure results in a corresponding tenfold reduction in the money spent on containerships and trucks, it’s pretty much a no-brainer." (


"Digital technology and the network revolution are at the heart of what’s creating the potential for a low-impact, less resource-intensive economy. Green and high-tech are allies against mass production and the mountains of deliberately obsolete goods piling up in our landfills, and against the globalist economic model of truck/containership warehouses linking points of production and points of consumption thousands of miles apart. If any single thing reduces the need for fuel, it will be shifting wherever feasible from the movement of material to the movement of information."

Herman Daly on the Steady-State Economy

"The closer the economy approaches the scale of the whole Earth the more it will have to conform to the physical behavior mode of the Earth. That behavior mode is a steady state—a system that permits qualitative development but not aggregate quantitative growth. Growth is more of the same stuff; development is the same amount of better stuff (or at least different stuff)." (

Paul Hawken on Sustainability

Paul Hawken on the emergence of the sustainability movement:

""I now believe there are over one million organizations working toward ecological sustainability and social justice. Maybe two.

By conventional definition, this is not a movement. Movements have leaders and ideologies. You join movements, study tracts, and identify yourself with a group. You read the biography of the founder(s) or listen to them perorate on tape or in person. Movements have followers, but this movement doesn¹t work that way. It is dispersed, inchoate, and fiercely independent. There is no manifesto or doctrine, no authority to check with.

I sought a name for it, but there isn't one." (from his book Blessed Unrest, cited by

Paul Hawken on redesigning markets for sustainability:

The Creation of Waste: "We need a different kind of growth, one that reduces and changes the inputs of raw materials and energy, and simultaneously eliminates the outputs of waste."

The False Efficiency of the Free Market: "Markets are superb at setting prices, but incapable of recognizing costs."

Markets Ruling Nature: "The sheer size of the largest corporations tends to grant them the political and economic power to externalize costs that should properly be absorbed by the company and therefore be factored into the price it sets for its product."

The Hollowness of Corporate Culture: "The growing power of corporations has not been accompanied by any comprehensive philosophy, any ethical construct, other than the accumulation of wealth as an end of itself."

Altering Incentives through Green Taxes: "We must design a marketplace that obviates acts of environmental destruction by making them extremely expensive, and rewards restorative acts by bringing them within our means." (from his book The Ecology of Commerce, cited at

On the Energy-hungry Internet

Equipment powering the internet accounts annually for 9.4% (or 350 billion kWh) of the total electricity consumption in the US, and 5.3% (or 868 billion kWh) of the global usage. [24]

Elinor Ostrom on the Seven Generation Rule

Our problem is how to craft rules at multiple levels that enable humans to adapt, learn, and change over time so that we are sustaining the very valuable natural resources that we inherited so that we may be able to pass them on. I am deeply indebted to the indigenous peoples in the U.S. who had an image of seven generations being the appropriate time to think about the future. I think we should all reinstate in our mind the seven-generation rule. When we make really major decisions, we should ask not only what will it do for me today, but what will it do for my children, my children’s children, and their children’s children into the future.

- Elinor Ostrom, the 2009, Nobel laureate in Economics

We need an ethic of ecology

An ethic, ecologically, is a limitation on freedom of action in the struggle for existence. An ethic, philosophically, is a differentiation of social from antisocial conduct. These are two definitions of one thing. The thing has its origin in the tendency of interdependent individuals or groups to evolve modes of cooperation. The ecologist calls these symbioses. Politics and economics are advanced symbioses in which the original free-for-all competition has been replaced, in part, by cooperative mechanisms with an ethical content. The complexity of cooperative mechanisms has increased with population density, and with the efficiency of tools...The first ethics dealt with the relation between individuals...Later accretions dealt with the relation between the individual and society. The Golden Rule tries to integrate the individual to society; democracy to integrate social organization to the individual...

There is still no ethic dealing with man's relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it. Land, like Odysseus's' slave-girls, is still property. The land-relation is still strictly economic, entailing privileges but not obligations.

- Aldo Leopold, Sand County Almanac,1949 [25]

The inherent sustainability of distributed manufacturing

"Personal-scale manufacturing machines ... enable small manufacturers to make one product at a time in response to customer demand, and scale up production as the product sells. ... Regular people and small manufacturing companies that lack investment capital will be able to set up low investment, “start small and scale up as it goes” businesses. With local, onsite production, long-distance shipping of the completed item is no longer necessary. Products and parts can be made only when they’re needed, saving on storage space and the costs of maintaining un-used goods and products."

- Hod Lipson & Melba Kurman [26]

Paul Hawken on the unity of the natural and the human

“As long as you think that nature is ‘out there,’ then you have the basic separation that allows you to see the environment as ‘other’ and people as distinct from that, and that separation of ‘self’ from ‘nature’ is really what white man brought to civilization. That is the disease, the deep, deep wound that will be healed one way or the other in the decades to come.”

- Paul Hawken [27]

A green economy is a knowledge-intensive economy

"A green economy is the ultimate knowledge-based economy: by definition, it replaces materials and energy with human intelligence. Both EPR and the non-governmental certification systems are based on the life-cycle approach and, increasingly, rigorous life-cycle assessment (LCA). But qualitative development involves far more than simply new values and information; it also demands a market and regulatory revolution, entailing a gradual—but fundamental—shift in the form, content and drivers of economic development. For a growing number of green thinkers, the main elements of this restructuring come down to (1) an increasing focus on producing services rather than products, and (2) reorganization of production and consumption in closed-loops, either integrated with, or imitating, ecosystems—what’s been called “economic biomimicry.” This cannot be achieved simply by beefing up environmental protection against nasty brown markets and production processes, but by a transformation that increasingly establishes social and ecological values as the prime driving forces of a new kind of market."

- Brian Milani [28]

Waste is (also) a mental construct

""Yes, Waste does exist. But it is a mental construct. It’s a term that puts the blame on the object and masks the real cause of negative value: our failure to design suitable contexts. Waste was and still is a choice. It did not suddenly appear out of nowhere to cause us trouble. I realise the marketing wizards will disagree with me, but here’s an idea for a slogan: “Waste exists only in our minds”. Today we gradually start recovering this ‘Waste’ to use as a resource for new things. It has become quite the hype as well, spurring a generation of entrepreneurs and researchers. This hype of recycling and upcycling and whatever -will-make-me-look-good-cycling is a big step towards a direct, positive ecological impact. However, it does not address the mindset that created the problem. The mindset that attached value stickers to things. People are merely replacing the stickers that say ‘WASTE’ with stickers that say ‘USEFUL’. Same idea, still handing out stickers. It’s time to stop transferring the guilt. It’s time for a shift in perspective. Let's throw away the very concept of waste altogether. The beautiful thing about discarded ideas is that they pile up without creating a mess and instead serve as a symbol for how far we have come. So let's stop using the term ‘Waste’. Let's use something that describes reality a little better: ‘Wasted resources’. Let’s transition to a Post-Waste Society."

- Magna Mova [29]

On the Importance of Permaculture for a Regenerative Society and Economy

"Permaculture is a movement that began when individuals began to learn the same things that I have learned by studying ecosystems. They saw that water, plants, microbial communities and biodiversity, were all inter-related and were part of functioning ecosystems. They also saw that modern agriculture was simply wrong-headed and really was just Neolithic agriculture with tractors and chemicals. They saw that it was possible to collaborate with nature rather than simply mine the soil extracting what they wanted and laying waste to the Earth.

This is the knowledge that must be understood by all people on the Earth as quickly as possible. Once you begin to understand, you cannot go back – just like you can’t believe that the Earth is flat. When you understand that moisture is infiltrated into the ground dependent on the percentages and total amounts of organic material in the soil you, cannot believe that plowing is a good idea. There is a great unhappiness now in human civilization because everyone knows in their heart that overconsumption, waste, and pollution are wrong. Yet the existing society and economy demands that we need more and more growth even if it kills us.

We are experiencing the end of an era. We cannot burn the remaining petroleum in the Earth, we cannot burn the remaining coal. We cannot mass-produce everything to enrich a few and let billions of people starve in poverty or be serfs to serve the wealthy. We need to know that not only all people but all living things have inalienable rights. We need to live more simply. We need to know how to care for the soil, the water, the plants and the animals on the Earth. We need to use our lives to ensure that human civilization will survive. Permaculture is a way for people who understand this to share their knowledge with those who are seeking to learn more."

- John D. Liu [30]

Key Resources

  1. To monitor developments, see also our Delicious tag on P2P Ecology
  2. MeansBusiness is a unique concept database of 20,000 key ideas from business and management books
  3. Green Frog, a 'clean-tech' blog from Olivier Jerphagnon
  4. the Distributed Generation Educational Module

Key Articles

  1. The Noosphere as a Evolutionary Transition. By Markus Lindholm.
  2. The Macroecology of Sustainability: 3 key rules regulating human-ecological interchange

Key Blogs

  1. We recommend the blog Make Wealth History by Jeremy Williams.
  2. Green Broadband, from Bill St. Arnaud,

Key Books


  • Bill Tomlinson, Greening Through IT: Information Technology for Environmental Sustainability. 2010. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 210 pp.,
  • Annotated Bibliography: New and Appropriate Economics for the 21st Century: A Survey of Critical Books, 1978-2013. By Michael Marien. Cadmus Journal, 2013. [32]
  • Plato's Revenge. Politics in the Age of Ecology. By William Ophuls. The MIT Press, 2013 [34]: "Ophuls argues for an essentially Platonic politics of consciousness dedicated to inner cultivation rather than outward expansion and the pursuit of perpetual growth. We would then achieve a way of life that is materially and institutionally simple but culturally and spiritually rich."
  • Book recommended by Dave Pollard on Ecological and community-based economics:
  1. Herman Daly on Steady-State Economics
  2. Roger Douthwaite's Short Circuit, a blueprint for a community-based economy
  3. Thomas Princen explains why we need to evolve to a Logic of Sufficiency
  4. Peter Brown: The Commonwealth of Life

Key Companies

For distributed energy creation:

  1. Nanosolar: plastic solar panel manufacture: “Panel cost of manufacture is said to be $0.30 per watt. Panel cost at retail is around $1. Price of a machine which will print panels: $0.16 per panel per year.”
  2. Konarka Technologies: “thinks their panels will be about 1/3 the price of nanosolar. In about a year or so.”
  3. Jellyfish Wind Turbines: $400 a pop

Key Statistics

  • "A new study from researchers at McMaster University published in the Journal of Cleaner Production analyzed the carbon impact of the whole Information and Communication Industry (ICT) from around 2010-2020, including PCs, laptops, monitors, smartphones, and servers. They found remarkably bad news. Even as the world shifts away from giant tower PCs toward tiny, energy-sipping phones, the overall environmental impact of technology is only getting worse. Whereas ICT represented 1% of the carbon footprint in 2007, it’s already about tripled, and is on its way to exceed 14% by 2040. That’s half as large as the carbon impact of the entire transportation industry."

- Marc Wilson [35]

  • "between 2000 and 2014, twenty-one countries, including the us, Germany, the uk, Spain and Sweden, all managed to absolutely decouple gdp growth from co2 emissions—that is, gdp in these countries expanded over this fourteen-year period, while co2 emissions fell." [36]

Key Videos

  • The Austrian documentary filmmaker Stefan Wolf traveled for ten months through Europe in order to explore well established eco-communities and to present a broad spectrum of lifestyle possibilities to many people. See: A New We [37]
  1. Waste = Food: Documentary on Cradle to Cradle Design

Key Websites

  1. 100 of the Most Essential Green Web Resources


Pages in category "Ecology"

The following 200 pages are in this category, out of 1,654 total.

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