Category Archives: Natural Economy

how economies can work comfortably within ecologies

I enjoyed the Connections site

Re: HDS sustainability Connections site from 1/22/09

Will, All the best to you and Nicky too! Thanks for the note.

People get so absorbed with their solutions it keeps us from seeing that most mistakes come from not checking our way of defining our problems.  It takes constant reminders to just ‘look around’ for unaccounted new things happening in the world we might use or we might run into, as we go…!

Best, pfh Continue reading I enjoyed the Connections site

The big contradiction in our Climate values.

response to Carbon Equity newsletter 1/20/09


Your list of current climate change media sources is amazing, thanks, but troubling too, showing our deep confusion.

It’s amazing what an outpouring of warnings and commitments to act on solutions there is… The trouble is that all the warnings are responding to impacts caused by the profit making solutions of the past, and the present solutions are all intended to work by stimulating multiplying profit too. For a very simple reason that is bound to have the same sort of multiplying impacts. Multiplying money is not “inherently” bad, just inherently bad when the earth is already suffering from our multiplying impacts. Continue reading The big contradiction in our Climate values.

The tragedy of Barak

from RunningOnEmpty post 1/18/08

Thinking 100 years into the future with assumptions from 100 years in the past… is a problem. It’s tragic to hear of Barak’s crystal clear statement about global warming.

We know that preventing global warming requires physically lowering our total resource footprint on the earth so we can live sustainably.   That directly conflicts with all his other policies for continually swelling our footprint by restoring continual economic growth.

Cost will rule and no one who remains competitive will be using clean energy. Continue reading The tragedy of Barak

New path in the darkness, outreach to Helena Norberg-Hodge

Helena Norberg-Hodge,

A new friend mentioned your writings, and I find you are asking a lot of questions I think I can help answer.   I’m a scientist who is slowly learning how to explain to people what I found.

Understanding how nature changed the world to make growth profoundly unprofitable is something I view from a physical science approach, leading to a better understanding of how natural systems work as wholes.  They go through phases of development, where the meanings of things change.

I do diagnostic complex systems science to watch how it happens.   It points to how the real solution to growth is understanding our stage of growth, now needing to mature toward stability to avoid accelerating our conflicts and scarcities. Continue reading New path in the darkness, outreach to Helena Norberg-Hodge

Wishful solutions that multiply problems later

Re: Climate change media 6 January 2009 CarbonEquity, Climate Action Centre, Melbourne To subscribe (one email per week) send blank email

David, reply 1/10/09

Interesting list of studies and alternatives!   In the same way that “clean coal” seems to never have existed except as wishful thinking, “good growth” never has either, and most of the solutions on the list depend on it.

There are a lot of other ways that some of our “solutions” multiply problems too.    It’s a major theme of what we’re dealing with.  All our increasingly insolvable problems were created by widely supported solutions of the past. Continue reading Wishful solutions that multiply problems later

Why “new rules” apply? – Nature changed them

Steve Salmony, 1/12/09 reply to post below

Very nice letter, clear and solid.   I think one more thing that people will need to understand in some way is “why the rules changed”, and then address what rules changed and what new rules apply.

The basic public support for “sustainability” has been achieved, we just seem clueless as to what it really means or what we’d need to do to achieve it.

The big dilemma is that everyone’s favorite solution, self-restraints and technology efficiencies, don’t have the intended effect on the whole system, *especially* if they work.     Continue reading Why “new rules” apply? – Nature changed them

“Producer side” & “Consumer side” as one circle

1/9/09 post to ClimateConcernGroup

re: Consumer-side v. Producer-side Environmentalism

No doubt it does help to look around at all the contradictions, and try to connect them, but from a scientific view each side of a circle still represents the same object. The difference between the “production” and “consumption” side, from a systems view of the economic issues, is that they’re two sides of the same circle.

The actual control available for natural system circles is usually not in which side of the circle you favor, but the economic multiplier that adds or subtracts an increment to both sides of the circle every time a dollar goes all the way around it. Continue reading “Producer side” & “Consumer side” as one circle

real cause; money multiplies, earth doesn’t

Money will multiply as long as there are profits, because people with money multiply their own profits that way.   As JM Keynes among others pointed out, when real productivity approaches limits, multiplying money will drive profits to zero. Driving profits to zero triggers waves of collapse, providing a means for our responding to our limits on earth.

It takes a little exploration to lead people to just how the present waves of money collapse are directly related to declines in the profitability of the earth, but that’s a major contributor and the first cause.   Correcting the various immediate causes won’t fix that first cause.   None of the other causes would have mattered if profits were still multiplying dramatically as compounding money needs to remain stable.

Do yourself a favor, read my own or other peoples’ writings on it to find better questions for yourself.    Explorers starve or get buried by avalanches for reading to pass judgment.    You can come up with open questions in a blink, so don’t turn any page without finding one.


Phil Henshaw ¸¸¸¸.·´ ¯ `·.¸¸¸¸

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.

By 2020 – The Year of Clear Vision

By 2020 the investors of the world will see their self-interest and stop compounding their returns, allowing the global economy to climax at a high stable rate of change, forestalling the climax of investment with a loss of resilience, expectation failures, environmental collapse, conflict and mistakes.

The real limit of economic growth is the loss of resilience from accumulating mistakes. I mention this because exponentials are spookily explosive, seem like nothing & follow w/ major affects. If you see a road sign saying ‘Curve Ahead’ you know if the car starts tipping it’s too late to slow down. The curve of an exponential gets ever more radical the further you take it, and it’s a mistake not to slow down. Continue reading By 2020 – The Year of Clear Vision