Category Archives: among best

A new idea for Investment in Deep Ecology

Deep ecology is a natural philosophy that recognizes the nature and its parts as living systems that have their own worth, independent of the services they provide for humans. It was named by and perhaps best described in the work of Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss. As a practical approach to life it involves systems thinking, to understand healthy relationships and the roles between parts of living networks.

That’s more like understanding how characters create the themes of a play than “cause and effect”. Since all ecologies develop by building and maintaining their energy using processes there are also observable boundary conditions one can use to help understand the more complex relationships. That traditional paradigm of science would examine living systems as chains of deterministic effects, the way logic and computers work. So those metaphors are less useful even if they are the dominant way of explaining things in our culture.

How money can take care of our world

The idea grew out of conversations with John Fullerton, Hazel Henderson, Leland Lehrman and Kenneth Davies, looking for new ways to define ethical investing that could be defined and implemented as the world searches for what’s wrong with money. At a conference I had asked a question about how investors could avoid the main cause of our pressing environmental impact problems. Continue reading A new idea for Investment in Deep Ecology

“The big Crunch” natural limits and the food crisis

The published article that followed from this is A decisive moment for Investing in Sustainability, published in New European Economy in Apr 2011.   Back when I saw this particular event emerging I told people “We’ll definitely notice this one”.   There’s much more to come people still don’t expect at all.


John, your new post on the food crisis, “As Goes Egypt”, is great. To me how to connect economic theory with the natural world starts with learning how to read the behaviors of the system as a whole, looking for things no one has any theory for.

the food crisis from 2010

That includes strains that are not supposed to be there, like hitting the hard global limits of affordable food, fuel and water, etc. My research method basically rests on emerging growth systems being invariably unstudied, because growth indicates nature doing something new. Continue reading “The big Crunch” natural limits and the food crisis

Why finance has a bigger appetite than the earth

New graphics and update for Concept$.htm


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The ideal investment …. for people think of investment only for the money is one that assures that putting money in will let you take more out, and let you add that gain to your investments over and over and over. One can only imagine that to be sustainable, though, when considering nature as a concept rather than an environment. Continue reading Why finance has a bigger appetite than the earth

Competing Dashboard Options: Measures for saving the Earth & Economy

Designing a “dashboard” of “Outcomes and Metrics” for guiding worldwide efforts for our pulling back from the brink of of environmental catastrophe, to begin healing our relationship with the earth, is of some considerable importance, and a fascinating task. Below is one email exchange and links.

Applying the transformational vision of Four Years Go a work group developed a draft plan and resources for a comprehensive transformational approach you can find linked to our draft 4YG Dashboard (image below). We wanted to use a wiki to develop key indicators of essential changes in direction, of material, political and spiritual transformation, within 4 years.

Our starting points had been other models, like the Ursula Project’s metrics of sustainability and the European Commission’s MDG Goals Dashboard. We also looked at different PES (Payment for Environmental Services) approaches, and found them objectionable, and CSR (comprehensive sustainability reporting) models, but found them nebulous for our purpose, of defining concrete achievement goals. We ended up having difficulty deciding what to include, not understanding each other’s definitions, and with other 4YG work groups getting more attention.   We seem to have accomplished a lot in terms of the conceptual design, though.

The draft 4YG World Transformational Dashboard


You’re right, there still is a need for a more ethical ‘dashboard’ than the approach the financial community seems to be taking with “Payment for Environmental Services” (PES) instruments, and “Sustainable Performance Indicators” seemingly for monetizing all of nature for trading in new commodities markets, like repackaged mortgages are!

The Ursula Project model does show considerable effort in constructing a holistic measurement system.   Their metrics are interesting too.   They seem to rely on consensus value judgments, though, and not to identify physical boundaries or thresholds.

key indicators of essential changes in direction, of material, political and spiritual transformation, within 4 years.    Continue reading Competing Dashboard Options: Measures for saving the Earth & Economy

Why fixing what failed before always led to the next

The journal Nature published an insightful research article on Systemic risk in banking ecosystems that added valuable insight into what went wrong in the 2008 financial collapse. Invited comments on a forum page Financial systems: Ecology and economics added other insights on what did or could go wrong.

My comment pointed out that trying to fix what went wrong in prior financial system failures to prevent the next, is what led to the next not the solution, for a curiously visible reason. A link to Dmitri Orlov’s new video on what happens if these kinds of systemic contradictions are not attended to, and my comment, are below as well.


Nature Forum,

The curious omission by Haldane and May, as well as by Johnson and Lux in their critiques, is not considering the place of this financial collapse in history.

This was only the biggest and most recent instance of extreme over-inflated financial expectations collapsing the environment they were part of.

It was just one of a great many self-similar panics and collapses, large and small throughout history.  It’s been an interest of mine for over 30 years. Continue reading Why fixing what failed before always led to the next

whether successfully averted for the moment or not, …

Hi folks,

…this week’s global run on credit seems like a casebook example of how a natural system failure to provide growing physical returns on investment would effect financial commitments for endlessly growing financial returns.   They  naturally conflict.

One thing we can do is watch it closely, so others may learn from our experience.   Because systemic collapse is a big physical process in a big physical system, displaying all-together new kinds of rapidly spreading behaviors, watch for that.   If you see that sort of thing perhaps you’ll ‘believe your eyes and ears’ and not feel the observations were ‘planted’ in your imagination somehow.

Remember what things seemed to mean before and after,
and make note of it.

Quite easy to mark

post to FRIAM 1/20/07

marking a map to help navigating the sysems territory

One of the things that Roger’s comments bring out about the discontinuities you find in tracing organism growth (epigenesis) is the question of markers. Normal single growth curves are famous for representing huge changes and having almost no markers at all to signify what’s really happening.

There really are only two places on them that are easy to mark, the upward and downward inflection points (¸¸ .·|´ ¯ and ¯`|·. ¸¸ respectively). The origins and endings of the curves seem completely disguised by the smallness of events at their tails.

Elsewhere in the history of their changes the wide distribution of seemingly unconnected but well orchestrated events makes it very hard to single out any particular thing for significance. The inflection points, however, can be made quite mathematically precise, and do approximately correspond to matching major changes in what’s going on. Continue reading Quite easy to mark