Talk:Managing Abundance, Not Chasing Scarcity

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Let me see how much of this I understand.

1. Abundance-based economy is based on equitable sharing. The system elements and boundary conditions are not clear to me. What is the quantity of resource (forest) to be shared and what are the populations (various communities local to the resource and remote populations with various lifestyles) among which it is to be shared? Suppose one Yaka-person-lifestyle requires several acres. My lifestyle requires only a small amount of paper products--maybe .05 acre per year, or 1 acre for sustainable harvest. Does equitable sharing imply we should get equal allocations? It seems somewhat against the general drift of the article that each Yaka requires/gets far more resource than I do. But maybe I don't belong in the picture at all. I am unclear about this. Should everyone on earth be entitled to a Yaka-sized plot of forest? If so, then what is the population carrying capacity of all existing forest? Do we get rid of any excess people in order to share equitably? If equitable does not mean equal, what are the rules of equitable apportionment? The rules developed by Yaka for their own use probably wont work for people with other lifestyles, population densities, etc. So what exactly have we learned from the Yaka that is translatable to non-Yakas?

2. The Yaka lump loggers and conservationists together because both exclude them. If Yaka-style land use is not destructive, then the answer is they should not be excluded and conservationists are just idiots for doing so. I am provisionally willing to believe that for now.

3. Conservationists are either idiots or collaborators for not adequately restricting logging. Implication: the conservation preserves are merely tokens, and even that is used to offset (read "green light") exploitation elsewhere. Conclusion from premises given: green-washing con game. I'm provisionally willing to believe this, but the Yaka anthropology (much of the article) has little or nothing to do with it.

4. The article actually faults conservationists for "not standing up to" logging interests, not for failing to control them. The relation between conservationists "standing up" and logging interests actually standing down is unclear.

5. Are the token preserves all the conservationists can get, try as they might?

6. Are the token preserves really worth anything at all if in the end they are used as offsets for logging elsewhere and the Yaka are excluded? Given those conditions, a reasonable person might say the preserves are worth nothing at all. If so, the conservationists are idiots or industry collaborators. If that is the case, is there any available remedy at all?

I'm not clear about the power and the degrees of freedom that each player has. So the article leaves me feeling pretty uninformed except for the porteait of the Yaka and the basic facts of their predicament. While I am empathetic to the Yaka and similar peoples, how can I help them, and given the limitations of my own resources, why them (whose situation may well be hopeless) as opposed to some other tribe or cause?

Have I missed anything? --Poor Richard 00:58, 11 September 2011 (UTC)

Dear Richard, if you have also read the full original article, at the end, they mention the Forest Stewardship Council approach as exemplary. The author believes the way forward is for conservation efforts that accept participation of the traditional indigenous people, and to recognize them as stewards of the forest, rather than as poachers. That seems a very sensible approach to me. The value of the article is that it lets me see how even well-meaning western people can do damage if the don't recognize the worldviews and participatory rights of the original population. --MIchel Bauwens 05:10, 11 September 2011 (UTC)

Michel, thanks for the clarification. I didn't read the full source article. I tentatively agree with what you say is the author's opinion that the way forward is to include the local people as stewards, and I am peripherally aware of a number of conservation projects in Africa (sorry details not available in my memory) that follow this. The reservation is that the local residents actually behave as stewards. As forest and other resources shrink, traditional practices may need to be modified. Often, local people are able (and may be the first) to realize that. Sometimes not. Hunting gorillas for their hands, rhinos for their horn, elephants for ivory, etc. are not really indigenous practices (they are driven by external markets) but local people may have participated in such behavior for several generations. Things like slash and burn traditional practices may be benign in large forests but can become problematic in a smaller preserve. Even using particular species for food, medicine, or other indigenous products may become problematic in the context of a preserve in which some plants or animals have become endangered through no fault of the local people but rather just because the habitat has become to too fragmented or depleted at the regional level. On the whole, my sense is that local people (at least the majority) are usually very good at understanding their own self-interest in modifying traditional practices to meet changing conditions, and they are usually the best leaders and partners in developing appropriate stewardship methods. The local population is seldom monolithic in their behavior, but in most cases the more enlightened locals police the unenlightened ones pretty effectively. Of course when there are serious tribal conflicts the odds for manipulation and environmental exploitation by outsiders are often increased. I also recognize that many conservation organizations tend to know much more about the problems than about the best solutions. I like to say there is no answer, there is no solution, there is only practice. The local, regional, and global interactions of people, including consumers in developed countries, may be just as complex as the rainforest ecology. Unfortunately, we probably don't have time to work out the best practices in many cases. We may wind up with few options left but some kind of "Hail Mary pass" (a US football term meaning a long, desperate pass at the end of the game).

I still have to say I don't think I fully understood the main theme of the article, the issue of how principles of an abundance based economy might be applied to modern problems. I tried to extract the different propositions contained in the article and summarize them. I'm afraid I have a hard time seeing many resources as abundant from a global perspective. No matter what the local perspective may be, regional and global forces are intruding. It seems to me there are few things left that can be seen as abundant from a regional and global perspective except maybe sunlight and people. I'm not sure what the abundance frame of reference offers. In fact, it seems hopelessly out of place as a solution-set for modern resource conflicts. I CAN see within the abundance/traditional frame of reference certain individual principles and practices such as sharing, cooperation, justice, thrift, parsimony, respect for others and the environment, etc. that of course are always good practice, and these make anyone (not just Yaka) better people and better stewards. I didn't need the Yaka story to know that. So in general I am still confused by the article and what it is meant to teach a mature and thoughtful eco-activist.

If the point of the article is that its good practice to partner with local people, especially indigenous ones with benign local traditions, in stewardship and not exclude compatible, non-destructive local uses of land in preserves, I agree; but the article seemed to be trying to say much more than what I just said in one brief sentence, so I am left fairly befuddled.

--Poor Richard 21:23, 11 September 2011 (UTC)