Taking Care of the 100 Percent

Hunter Lovins in Iowa City - 2012

Hunter Lovins in Iowa City – 2012

The story we would like to be able to tell is of a world that “works for 100 percent of humanity.”

We’re not there. In fact, L. Hunter Lovins points out, “Humanity stands at the edge of a crumbling cliff.”

Whether one believes in climate change or not, it is time to walk back from the precipice and focus on what will sustain us. The doctrine of austerity, as reflected in today’s Iowa legislature, in Washington, and around the world is bankrupt. Lovins points out such policies were not an accident.

“Abraham Lincoln once said that the best way to predict your future is to invent it,” she wrote. “Indeed, 36 men created the economic mental model that has delivered the mess we’re in. Meeting in 1947 at the Mont Pelerin hotel outside Montreux, Switzerland they built the intellectual architecture of an economy of small government and individual decision-making in an unfettered free market.”

Sometimes we just want a livable world: clean air, a safe place, a sustained life. Thing is, walking back from the cliff we’ve made for ourselves will take economic engagement and Hunter Lovins tells a new story of what is possible. Here’s the article she posted Saturday on Unreasonable.

Economy at the Edge by L. Hunter Lovins

Humanity stands at the edge of a crumbling cliff. Half of the world’s wealth is owned by one percent of the population—the 80 richest individuals having as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people.

At the same time, we are losing the biological integrity of the planet. Global Biodiversity Outlook Three states that we are losing life at a rate never before seen in history, and that the earth’s ecosystems are tipping into collapse. Three of them, are at particular risk: Business as usual, there may be no living coral reefs on planet earth, perhaps as early as 2035. The Amazon, the earth’s lungs, is drying up and burning. And the oceans are acidifying. This puts the whole of the oceanic food-chain at risk.

Scientists at the Stockholm Resilience Centre demonstrate that humanity has moved beyond the planetary boundaries in at least four of the nine critical categories: Loss of biodiversity, disruption of the nitrogen cycle, climate change, and forest loss. Despite this overuse of the world’s resources, we are still failing to supply all people with the basic necessities for life and human dignity. Dr. Kate Raworth of Oxford describes the doughnut: the safe and desirable operating space below the boundaries of the planet’s carrying capacity but above a minimum standard that fairly allocates resources to meet basic human needs for food, water, energy, equity and health care.

The great cultural historian Thomas Berry observed, “We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The Old Story–the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it… sustained us for a long period of time. It shaped our emotional attitudes, provided us with a life purpose, energized action, It consecrated suffering, integrated knowledge, guided education… We need a [new] story that will educate man, heal him, guide him.”

The new story must, in the words of Buckminster Fuller, be about, “a world that works for 100 percent of humanity.”

Click here to access the entire article.

~ Written for Blog for Iowa

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