Category Archives: Popular

frequently read posts

How ‘Natural Growth’ can save the world.

Without thinking we use natural growth for many common tasks already, simply by starting things to finishing them with a minimum of waste. In each case you “save the world” from needless excess consumptive growth in getting things started, wasting your efforts and the earth’s other natural and human resources.

Every kind of life, and kind of effort too, begins with building up a system of demands for available resources,
to further expand on what built up before.

That expansion by building on what was built is the universal start-up process of nature, also sometimes called “extractive growth.” You see it very clearly in every kind of start-up, of a new friendship, a business, a career, a seedling or a life from a fertilized egg. The all start with steps that build up from what was built before. The build up that making breakfast starts with, for example, begins with the idea of food that makes you hungry, that then gets you to reach into the cupboard, and refrigerator for supplies, and the drawer or shelf for utensils, building a customized system and supplies for making your meal.

Nature’s integral; chaining start-up growth & refinement growth in preparing for a good life.

That process could go wrong, the way mankind’s way of using technology to multiply our making of things on earth exploded, and we now don’t seem to know how to stop. In making breakfast it might similarly go wrong if you got carried away taking out provisions. You might start with a small idea of what you need from the fridge, and add to that bigger ideas as you explore what there is to take out, repeating it to exhaustion perhaps, till the fridge and cupboards, pantry, and cellar, are emptied and all the family’s provisions in reach are mounded on the kitchen and dining-area floor, as you get hungrier and hungrier and your eyes expand way beyond the limit of your stomach, putting nearly all the family’s provisions to waste. The particular outcome is rare, but it is very true that once you get going with growing a process of growing, the process itself can become addictive. Today we clearly see in how we are wasting the earth in somewhat the same way, and love to be moved to tears and laughter by watching Disney’s Fantasia when Mickey Mouse learns turn his chores over to his broom with a magic spell, which gets tragically carried away carrying water.

starting things to finish them with a minimum of waste

Of course, we don’t usually behave that way at all, but at some point near the beginning of taking out provisions to use, switch to thinking about how to get to end of having a satisfying meal. We almost never have the exact end in mind either, but perhaps initially take out eggs and cheese to perhaps put them back and take out bread for toast and milk for cereal if you’re in a hurry. As you put things together you also do various smaller and smaller things you discover to do, to perfect the end result while also arranging the timing to get all the parts to come together at once, with excess provisions put away, all part of getting ready to sit down, perhaps with together with others in the family.

In doing that, rather than letting the initial provisioning of breakfast get carried away, we have “USED NATURAL GROWTH TO SAVE THE WORLD,” most often without really realizing what an enormous contribution to the community and your family was done by simply not maximizing the waste of all available provisions in the process of making breakfast. Of course, it’s also important to do and to watch for in other circumstances, a natural duty for living in a commons.

It seems like a little thing but is actually a very big thing,
that we casually do for ourselves and others
many times every day

that we casually do for ourselves and others many times every day

People are plenty smart enough to see that this “RULE OF NATURAL GROWTH” (also called “nature’s integral“), to finish up what you’ve started up doing before you make a mess for yourself and others, should also apply to civilization as a whole, and at every scale in-between. People do see that ALL development creates disaster risks, for example, and that boundless development would always creates an all-consuming disaster. Our minds still “get in the way” somehow, transfixed by fantasies it seems, and we just trundle along on the clear path to that all consuming disaster not knowing what else to do.

________________________________________

How this would save the world is really something quite plausible. We already see in progress a great “change of heart” by businesses and investors around the world to join in on averting the clearly disastrous future now directly ahead of us. If that initiates a wave of common sense, with business and investors choosing to follow the wave of the “impact investing” community, averting the looming crises in the most direct way possible, and with much less government involvement. Following that wave of necessity to avert disaster would also turn our world onto the natural growth path for perfecting how we use the earth. You could ask yourself and others to join the wave! The choices of higher purposes include the Green Climate Fund, supporting various SDG goals. The real, macro-economic effect is to distribute wealth in the service of higher purposes while directing profits away from concentrating wealth and raising the economy’s ever growing demands on nature and humanity.

Various other journal entries here discuss more about “what to do”, there’s a whole category with dozens of good little articles and discussions of it. Still, the best way to learn about it is for yourself, from watching how all of life revolves around the variations in nature’s integral, seeing for yourself how ‘start-up’ processes yield to ‘end-up’ processes in taking things to the natural climax of releasing them for their useful life.

SDG8 side event: Recoupling

2019 UN HLPF side event scheduled Tuesday July 10 2019 1:15 to 2:45 at the UN Millennium Hilton, 3min statement. Further links to natural growth strategy below. – Jessie Henshaw

Thank you for coming.  
Find more of my statement and links at www.synapse9.com/signals

My name is Jessie Henshaw.  I’m a natural systems scientist who developed a fascination with how living systems transform as they develop, such as how our economy once changed by small accumulating steps that got bigger and bigger.  Those ever-increasing rates and kinds of change are the key reason there are natural limits to growth.  Growth is itself an organizational process that pushes economies and their organizations in the direction of increasingly disruptive limits.  

For example, walking down the street by bigger and bigger steps, making more and more progress at first and would lead to losing control, and a painful fall.   Similarly, in the last 250 years, the world economy doubled its annual expansion about 12 times, so our annual expansions today are about the size of the entire world economy of 1920, truly enormous.  

In part, we experience that as universal pressure, for increased economic performance from all people, all organizations, all societies, and of course, all of nature too.  We are also feel surrounded by systems failing to keep up, and in crisis, crying for help, that we find hard to deliver.  So today the true location of the most “vulnerable people” and most “vulnerable regions,” struggling with unmanageable demands, is now truly the whole earth. (to cut for time)

At first, the economy’s growing demands were not overwhelming, and seemed very rewarding for large sectors, having a negligible impact on the earth as a whole too.  Continually multiplying them changed all that.  Now they disrupt every environment and are breaking through all silos of discussion.  Now we see there was no “economic decoupling,” but just detachment from our responsibility.  Now we look around and see an enormous diversity of crises that were not supposed to materialize, and need to decide what to do.  

We need an “economic recoupling” with our responsibilities for the earth and humankind.   An easy first step is to think of your responsibility for steering the economy as equal to your share of the economy.  It may seem small, but in a global economy where it takes the whole world to deliver every product or service, we are similarly responsible for a share of every harm caused too.  

Nature’s integral: joining the multiplication of parts (red) with the refinement of their designs and uses (blue) to prepare for LIFE (green) as the reward in the end

The path ahead I see, for transforming the economy is to change from compound growth to natural growth,  climaxing growth at a peak of resilience and vitality, ready for a secure, enduring and creative life on earth.

________________________________________________________

The Economic Path to Natural Growth

PDF slides: https://synapse9.com/_SDinteg/PathToNatGrowth.pdf
2019 Jul 2 Talk 30 min: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5Cz7vc0-c4

Only Healthy Cultures make Healthy Economies

Announcing the publication of
6/28/18

Culture, Finance-for-Development & tPPPs

Jessie Henshaw*

A less technical synopsis,
7/12/18

I’ve been observing the UN SDGs as a natural systems scientist since 2013 when I saw with some surprise that the one topic both Country delegates and Civil Society groups could agree on was the wording of the ideals for global development.  Even when the Co-Chairs, Ambassadors Korosi, and Kamu, began persistently asking for the discussion to turn to means and methods it never did.  Ideals are wonderful, but the strains the SDGs are responding to are still growing, as the global disruption of human cultures by the growing intrusions of the economies of the world powers continues.  That’s a problem not yet to be studied and discussed.  Why?  Partly to be “diplomatic” and partly not having a model for human cultures as living social organisms that carry all our shared ways of knowing living.   Still we need a way to discuss the rapidly growing strains on human and ecological cultures caused by accelerating economic growth, a global cultural sickness.

As growth presses the limits of the earth and challenges the world to ever faster rates of change, the damage to nature and human society is more and more lasting.   That’s a conclusion you can reach from many directions I think.  The communities the SDGs aim to help seem mainly deeply rooted old cultures that are now “failing to thrive.”  That is a living systems problem, not a numbers problem, as the SDGs were designed to solve.  Failing to thrive is more like a “lack of meaning in life” dilemma, requiring a different approach.  It’s also a symptom that one can use to map the problem worldwide and begin to look at its real dimensions.

Our accumulated ways of knowing and living  are stored only in our cultures

Failure to thrive seems to hit both indigenous cultures worldwide and communities within economies where “creative destruction” is leaving lasting scars, like rural flight or outsourcing that hollows out a region.  One example is the deeply alienated culture giving support to Donald Trump in the US, distressed by the world changing so much around them.  There are also non-thriving local cultures in North, Central, and South Africa, as well as in the Middle East and North, Central, Southern and Eastern Asia, as well as in Oceana, Australia, North and South America.  It’s not “the same old thing,” but a truly accelerating global plight, seeming to be of all the cultures that didn’t welcome or were disrupted by the intrusive growth of the world powers.

Human cultures are truly the crown jewels of humanity, though, where most of our gifts come from and are on display.  They are the unique individual species of the human ecology.  If you think about it, there is no other place on earth for the safekeeping of all our ancient accumulated ways of knowing and living. Each culture either crafts its separate way of knowing and living or branches off from another.   They are our most important gift, evidently now absorbing a great deal of abuse.

With each culture being its own “knowledge system” it keeps people from making sense of any other culture, or even our own.   If you trace the evidence, it does check out.  We get the large part of our ways of understanding things during early childhood, by what you might call ‘osmosis’.  Some say it’s “too close for us to see,” or that our mental way of seeing is functionally like a camera and its lens, that are never visible in the pictures they take.  Cultures also have a deceptive “cellular design.”  Their ways of knowing and living are internally shared, and not experienced from the outside.   Even with extended immersion, an outsider does not develop a native feeling for another culture’s roots.

The great challenge we face today is that growth is an ever faster process of expansion and change, *doubling* its demands on the earth and humanity every 20-30 years.   That radical rate of increasing demands is what eventually overwhelms the adaptability and resilience of people and the earth.  Living things are being pushed to keep mechanically doubling numerical returns for culture-blind investors, as if the earth was unoccupied.

That’s how the English occupied North America, a hundred years after the first settlements rapid expansion began with importing slave labor then a wave of settlers swept across the rest of the continent, as if it were unoccupied.  Elsewhere the economic powers built systems for globally harvesting resources, placing overseers where needed to manage their access, as if there was no one else there.  Today it continues with how global capitalism still relates to the world, measuring its success in rates of accelerating expansion alone, as if no one is here.  What’s most surprising perhaps, is how very effective our cultural blinders are in hiding our blindness to our own and other cultures from us.  That is, hidden until you have an indicator like the glaring disruptiveness of ever more sudden change.

So what would relieve our fast growing societal distress?    There’s a new business model expressly for responding to it, to use biomimicry for how nature builds thriving ecologies.   If interested there’s a longer discussion article on how healthy cultures are the foundations of healthy economies and the business model for nourishing our cultures, that I refer to as “True Public-Private Partnerships” (tPPPs) discussed more in the essay  Culture, Financing for Development and tPPPs.

The new business model begins like any business, organism, or culture does, with a period of innovating and vigorous growth, making profits to expand its systems.  When the environment responds with increasing resistance or stiffening competition, the new strategy is to choose when and how to switch from maximizing profits for growth to maximizing long-term profitability to pay it forward.  That’s done by refining systems to operate in smooth harmony with each other and their world.  It’s a more gradual process but would produce more integrated development and be more profitable in the end, to combine human ingenuity and natural design.

______________

Do comment if this gives you questions or ideas!

______________

[*] Jessie Henshaw consults as HDS natural systems design science, sy@synapse9.com, offering insight into nature’s processes of negotiating change.  She uses natural systems thinking strategies (NST) with “action research” (AR) and architectural “pattern language” (PL) methods of collaborative developmental design.  The start is from recognizing that organizational processes in nature follow a familiar arc, beginning with bursts of innovation, and then refinement, leading to a final release (IRR).  That is not unlike how we all do home or office projects, in stages of immature then maturing growth then release, also seen in reproduction.  The system produced is first “framed out” with innovations then “filled in” with refinements and “delivered” as the release when ready.  Her current related research article is on how our Systems Thinking co-evolvolves with our Systems Making.

 

JLH

NYC data Science… examples

To help people understand my work here are a couple examples of data science to discover dramatic recent culture  changes in New York City. The work is based on a careful lifelong study of eventful natural change, of all sorts, done by following the stages of growth and decay evident in the natural life-cycles of culture change events.

following the stages of growth and decay evident in the natural life-cycles of culture change

My method depends on finding data that shows clear evidence of growth or decay, as those identify natural processes of irreversible organizational development, in the natural successions of change.   Below are samples from two advanced studies of unexpected dramatic societal change, and a drawing of the markers of change I use to suggest what evidence to look for to discover what’s changing.

The two advanced studies are the mysterious 1991 collapse of the great NYC crack culture (1), and second the mysterious 1970 splitting apart of the US economy into rich and poor sectors on different tracks (2).   Both were simply enormous cultural events that very largely went unnoticed, dramatic “break-outs” of culture change that had been brewing for a long time, and then swiftly changed how we live.   The study of the collapse of the NYC crack culture and many other examples are in the archive of my research from the 80’s and 90’s called “The physics of happening

It gets easier to discuss these culture changes once you sense what is being opened up to view is really the stories of our own lives.  These and patterns of change in things we are all talking about anyway, only with data showing the systematic progression of key measurements of them. The basic science for following markers of change, implied by the physics principle of energy conservation (3), implying that lasting change is a process of organizational development.  So the markers suggest places to ask “what’s developing”.

basic science for following markers of organization change, implied by the physics principle of energy conservation

the markers suggesting places to ask “what’s developing”.

 

1. The collapse of the crack epidemic in NYC began in 1990,

… three years before the mayor who took credit for it took office. The real main player was the strain on the families of the NYC drug cultures involved. They had become particularly traumatized by it, and the rest of society desperately searching for some way to change too.  Everything people wanted to have work started working all at once, when their kids stopped looking up to the drug lords!   They turned to the emerging Hip-Hop mass culture as an exciting alternative to be part of, a riveting story when well told.

What tipped me off was the “decay curve” shape of the NYS murder rate data shown in the NY Times. The abrupt decay curve shape, rapid at first and decelerating over years, without wiggle, is a very clear indicator of a the death of a natural culture, in this case seeming to be from the youth that had once fed it turning away. Continue reading NYC data Science… examples

Was it the 1964 SEC Rules that wrecked the US Economy??

Preface:   Blaming the 1964 SEC rules change for the radical acceleration of economic inequality in the US in 1970 is more for posing a Socratic question.   It seems clearly connected, but what really happened?   There’s strong evidence in figure 1 below that something abruptly changed how US business is managed, and shortly after that general reworking of the rules for the stock market.   Figure 2 below also clearly shows the pattern of trading on the US stock market began to radically change in 1965 too.   There’s also other evidence mentioned below on what happened.  The Marketplace.org radio program 6/14/06 gave another part of the story for the evident sudden change in the relation between Wall Street and Main Street.   They said it was what Milton Freedman wrote in the NY Times in 1970:

  • The big change began with a professor. At the University of Chicago, economist Milton Friedman (who would later win the Nobel Prize) wrote this in the New York Times Magazine in 1970:
  • “There is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits.”

The coincident magazine article almost fits the data…, but when did a single comment by an economist suddenly change the world?   Never of course.    So I think it was some deep change in the rules of business, that may have  been made possible by the SEC rules change of 1964.   That the break was so sudden indicates pent up pressure for it that was suddenly released.  The smoking gun is that the bottom 95% of household income levels suddenly went from growing together with the whole economy, to splitting apart.  It reflects some kind of fairly sudden reprogramming of business.  We were just computerizing everything, and standardizing new business and stock market accounting methods, so that would have to be somehow connected.  The new definition of business value as the “bottom line” was being standardized at the time, along with maximizing “shareholder value”.  Those changes would seem to have served anyone being paid in proportion to profits, shareholders, stock traders, executives… and to disadvantage everyone else.   [1/1/2018]

_______

For those less familiar with my work, I study an evolutionary development form of physics, using explanatory principles of physics to ask leading questions about how complex systems rapidly reorganize and change form, perhaps the most inexplicable thing nature does.   The clue is that it is generally associated with the rapid expanding organization process of growth.  Other scientific methods treat it only as a numerical shape, but there is much more going on.   Much can’t be explained, but what can be firmly predicted is that any growth process produces a crescendo of change, that will upset its own process and cause it to change form.   We should all learn to study that transition.

_______

2016 forward:  

In the figure below, the economy as a whole is shown continuing to grow as before, while the various levels of household income suddenly split apart.

Whatever the change, it would clearly be catastrophic for the resilience of wage earning communities.   The question remains whether what kind of culture change is exhibited in the data.  Was it as I’ve suggested made possible and facilitated by the comprehensive SEC  and Congressional revision of the stock exchange rules in 1964.   Outwardly the SEC’s purpose was to bring the markets into the modern world, to make it more convenient, secure and efficient.   Other things were happening too, seen in the trading data (2) in how suddenly after the rule changes were passed the behavior of the NY Stock market dramatically changed.   There was an immediate wave of high volume trading unlike the past, seemingly ushering in the culture of fast and high volume trading for “playing the markets” we’ve seen since.   It notably also included a redefinition of business value for the sake of the markets, redefined to be a single number, “the bottom line”, introducing the widespread use of the term to represent a new way of market savvy business.  

If you think about how it might effect businesses, to be graded every month as succeeding or failing to make the “grade” set by market prediction of business value, it’s clear what a force it might become.  For CEO’s and board rooms across America would be forced to make decisions favoring the expectations of the market.  I have not found it yet, but my view is the some center of business thinking was discovering how much profit could be squeezed out of the economy if business was managed by computer for that purpose, and that was the pent up pressure that needed rules for rapid trading, ready to go as soon as they were in place.   It would change business and investor decision making like school teachers required to “teach to the test”.    As we know that raises grades an hollows out the student’s education.   Here driving American businesses to meet the numbers, to please Wall Street set for “maximize profit at any cost” was very costly.  Driving stock price increases with continual forced “efficiency” and “productivity” gains naturally drains a system’s resilience, as a real kind of enslavement.   It requires endless cuts that dismantle what had previously been thought of as “good business”.

_________________

Prior study since 2010:

My first notes on the subject were in 2010.   Your can find lots of examples of complexity itself being a natural limit to growth, and I initially associated this change in how the economy worked with the rapidly emerging complexities of life.  We all experience life as a growing struggle, an escalating “rat race” of new complications, and a constant search for simpler answers.  Clear evidence is found in the sudden rise in use of the phrase “information overload”, from the late 60’s on.  At the same time there has been slowing use of the word “complex”, I think indicates the complexity of things stopped being of as much interest.   Those issues are discussed in: Complexity too great to follow what’s happening… ??   Then in 2012 I realized 1970 was also when computers started being used to manage business complexity, as the first “killer app” of computing really.   The global effects would include giving business management a growing information advantage over others, telling them what can be cut and remain profitable, and making business financial analysis based purely on numbers rather than judgement, and somewhat incontestable, as discussed in: Computers taking over our jobs and our pay?

These preliminary studies still seem valid, but fairly incomplete.  They didn’t really explain why the change occurred in 1970, or why so sharply.  That is what the SEC rules change of 1964 now helps to provide.   It appears that the implied “fitness function” of business was redefined to advantage the stock markets and executives, and hollow out the economy for everyone else, in effect violating all of Isaac Asimov’s laws of robotics, as the first big thing we thought of doing with automation.

_______________

The Rules That Wrecked the Economy

It takes a little time to explain the evidence, here showing the long record of US GDP growing by leaps and bounds for 120 years.   Overlaid are Household income levels, scaled to equal GDP at 1970 so their proportional changes are displayed.   Household incomes are seen perfectly tracking GDP from the 1940’s to about 1970, and then start to dramatically fall behind.  It shows the economy completely stopped “lifting all boats” in 1970, completely disproving the endlessly promoted business lobby idea that how to cure the “malaise” was to give the rich more money.   Households suffered from the having to manage the ever faster growing complexity of life, but without the growing resources.   It might not have been intentional, but these trends do seem to literally display 40 years of US households being increasingly devalued, cheated out of the economic value they created, even as investors were cheated too, by businesses being driven to develop unsustainably, only becoming a great public issue now.

US GDP growth & US Income Levels falling behind, Incomes are scaled to 1970 GDP to compare rates, following GDP growth to 1970, then lagging and splitting apart.

The next figure shows the behavior of the stock market at the time when the SEC rules bringing “efficiency” to fast trading and market manipulation by traders, a 14 year record of NYSE trading frequency beginning at 1960.   You can clearly see how the strongly pattered trading followed right after the rules were implemented, as a dramatic change from the sleepy manner of trading before. You might also be curious about the 40 year record, from 1960 to 2000.

 

A 14 year record of NYSE trading frequency showing a dramatic change right after the new 1964 SEC trading rules were adopted.

When you see a genuine behavior change like how the trading volume suggests a “sleepy” market from 1960 to 1965 followed by a market of manic movements thereafter, it means people have really changed what they’re doing.   I’m not completely sure how well my hypotheses about that behavior change will hold up, what it was and what effect it had.   I have a rather good record on a number of other things, though, so I think they’re at least rather close.

I would love to have help going more deeply into how the culture change involved took place.  The SEC annual report mentions a number of meetings that might have been involved, and getting those notes might be very valuable.    The documents I found most useful so far are a 30 pg excerpt from the SEC Annual Report of 1964 and a NY Times article reporting demand for “the bottom line” .  The latter interestingly reports on the woes of bankers, as if not sure of how businesses defined their values, as an argument for reducing the value of businesses to a single number in a quarterly report.  I think that way of redefining the value of businesses shows a clear “spin” favoring the fast trading culture about to emerge.   It quite neglected the possible effect on the lasting values of businesses, that seems to have been the mainstay of Wall Street thinking before.

__________

Work to be done includes

  • updating the data from original sources
  • more detailed study of the 1964 SEC rules and their adoption, amendments, and “side agreements”.
  • studying why the rules were a pivotal  “breaking point” for a rapid large scale culture change in how American businesses are managed and how the new style trading cause business practice to change

No doubt there would be grand scale malfeasance discovered, and perhaps prosecutable criminality too.   As what happened is really culture-wide, I think finding criminality would depend on when the original meaning of “fiduciary duty” was lost, that would be the basis of requiring financial managers act in the interest of the people they make decisions for.   The main crime seems to be self-destructive, a culture change.  The ideal policy would be to guide people to understanding their own errors and learn how to follow a new path.   New York City, like all the “money centers”, is directly implicated in needing to find a new way to make money, for example.   For 50 years money centers have depended on maximizing the extraction of wealth, not securing the future of wealth, and so have relied on promoting disruptive innovations with no heed to what was disrupted…  No fury seems adequate to express the stupidity of that,   What is does indeed come down to is finding that those money centers will shortly “be out of a job” unless they become as creative at helping to put the world back together as they were at ripping it apart.

Added work to do includes:

  • further studying the very special problems of societal manias…. as that is what we see here.  What sort of “policy” can one have for societies taking the wrong path, having wandered SO far from creating a world to live in that can last.

If you think of money as physical energy, money being what we use to release our use of it, you can think of the global economy as a rocket ship.   The problem of course is our culture having settled on operating civilization that way, as a rocket ship, programmed to only accelerate and never land.   Our main societal “business plan” is to multiply our energy use, investing to accelerate our fuel consumption as fast as humanly possible, forever.   Of course to do that some money and energy are reserved for keeping people somewhat happy, but if the policy is for maximizing growth rates every other purpose is secondary.    So here’s the question, how do we change course when changing course is nowhere in the plan?   Do we shove the drivers out of the vehicle?    Do we hope to explain to them the use of the gas peddle, steering and breaks?   There may be equivalents in the rocket ship already, but the driver seems utterly unaware of them conceptually.  It’s a lot to explain, and a lot to learn,

  • collecting our understanding of real scope of the problem

The ancient legal principle of “fiduciary duty” is a deep principle of professional practice requiring professionals to act in the interests of those they serve, and another example of selective redefinition for for managing money.   There probably is a clear history of successive misleading revision, with a legal paper trail to follow for how it came to be turned on its head to serve mainly the self-interests of trader paid for their extraction of short term profits, not for serving the interests of the people whose money they traded.    I appears that legal opinion now holds it to actually prohibited for traders to consider anything than short term financial returns as the interests of investors, even though no one is served by that except traders and CEO’s who are paid in % of short term earnings.  That is the complete opposite of the original intent, of course.    So the redefinition of “fiduciary” seems to have come from cultural blinders like those that produced the SEC rules of 1964 too.

Another, even clearer example I’ve noticed, I also spent a lot of time thoroughly documenting.  It’s how all manner of scientific principles are being willfully ignored in managing the world survival project called “sustainability”.

One certainly can’t fault anyone stumbling through this confusing time, making sincere efforts to learn about how our very complex world can come to work again.  We’re in a period of unprecedented permanent change in who we are, not planned by anyone it seems.  That said there are also large systematic errors one can find in the efforts people are making, related to persistent influence of money. One very consequential case is in efforts to reduce environmental impacts that businesses are responsible for use, using widely circulated very unscientific rules for counting them.  The standard for environmental accounting instruct people to measure the global impacts of their use of the economy as what is recorded locally.   How that “slipped” by so many world institutions and communities is what’s shocking.

People are just told never to count the impacts of using money (even though that’s the main thing causing all our global impacts).  If you’re not allowed to count the impacts of money it limits your view to your boundary local observations.   So sustainable cities don’t count the resources consumed from outside the city. The same applies to national measures of sustainability, like Sweden not counting the external energy consumption for either the majority of their income and consumption. that happens to be outside its national borders.   I’ve published and written on this extensively, and tying it all together in my UN proposal for scientific method for steering world sustainable development, a World SDG.   It starts out very simple, learning to do the math right at least, and leads to giving people a full understanding of what our money pays for.

I’ve also studied fairly deeply how all these confusions could arise.   Is there something wrong with our minds if our effort to hold onto reality is fraught with difficulty?   What would allow the meanings of important words to unexpectedly change, largely unnoticed?   The line between the words that are and are not prone to radical change is between definitions we get from experience and ones we get from other people.   Most words directly refer to natural patterns of life and our own experience of them. They really can’t lose their root meanings as new variations on their meanings accumulate over time.   The problem is with words defined conceptually, social agreements and things like the economy that we can’t really observe, and so only understand abstractly.    Being unable to distinguish between those terms of conceptual thinking and words for natural experience, we tend to trust what ever usage of any kind is current in our immediate cultures.   So in the money world, or in any social or professional or religious community too, people may be making up new abstract meanings for convenience that may drift widely from one group to the next, and over time, and not be noticed.

That inability to distinguish between natural and conceptual meanings seems to spill over as part of all our problems.   We rely on natural and scientific language for grounding our idea in the patterns of nature, but we’re at risk if we can’t check the wandering meanings of our other languages.   At present though, the scientific meanings of natural language are not being taught, and our scientific thinking is limited to the classroom, lab or office.   We might try to find how to use scientific principles to check what we’re told to believe, and may wonder if conflicting interests have distorted.

That’s more or less what I’ve done, collected some things I see how to go back to nature any time to double check, to help show were work is needed to get the story straight!   ;-)

__________

(draft in progress)

JLH

Next thing to “make it in NY”?

Short version Voted a Top Comment on the Forbes article
The Stock Market And Bernie Sanders Agree — Break Up The Banks” ,
a
 more full story follows.

The reality of the matter is as embarrassing as it could be. If you trace it all back to origins… it’s our very own greed causing the whole mess, our demanding that Wall Street produce ever faster growing **unearned income** for our investments.

That’s what is now backfiring on us as the serious scientists all always said it would. The earth is not an infinite honey pot… is the big problem our not so big hearts and minds have in grasping the consequences of our own choices. We simply failed to notice the consequences, or listen to those saying “beware of what you ask for”.

The truth is WE became “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”* and now we are dealing with having turned the planet into our Fantasia. The truth is that if we “Break Up the Banks” the financial system we designed to grow unearned income will just keep multiplying the disruptions the scientists always pointed to it causing! Are there options?? Well find someone honest who studies it perhaps…

 Sorcerer’s Apprentice http://goo.gl/Zu69yD
(If  this YouTube copy is inaccessible sometimes you may need to find another copy or just recall the heroic tragedy of it all, from the last time you saw it.)

Day after the NY Primary 2016:

In New York State yesterday there seemed to be a lot of answers, but we can all see more questions too. Neither Trump nor Sanders are offering practical ways of doing it, but clearly raised a huge chorus of “throw the bums out”, without actually identifying “who the bums are” as part of the questions left hanging. To the surprise of many Trump’s win was so persuasive it seems to almost legitimize his candidacy. To the surprise of many as well, Sanders overall persuasively lost to Hillary Clinton, and only had persuasive wins in conservative upstate areas. In ultra-liberal New York City, his claim to ultra-liberal leadership found really very few neighborhoods persuaded. New York is the kind of place that needs no persuasion at all on the legitimacy of his issues, but found his manner and inability to say what he’d actually do, and relying on a constant stream what had to be called rather misogynist digs.. caused him to lose legitimacy.

So nearly all agree the bums need to be thrown out, but “who the bums are” remains unanswered, and largely undiscussed too, The Trump campaign colorfully claims the intention to disregard all the rules to “get the raccoons out of the basement”, and with no strategy but public outrage, sweep away the broken Republican party and Washington DC political establishments. Sanders imagines that some executive order breaking up the banks and popular demand for relieving very real and widespread despair will remove all the barriers to doing that.

I’ve studies these problems in great detail for many years, and have in fact been expecting to have to somehow claim to have predicted this kind of grand societal collision with itself from the first time I caught a glimpse of the real problem. My observations are only a little more detailed and focused on locating who has a choice, who actually is “at fault” in that sense, as the natural disaster at the end of capitalism has been has been long predicted for what I see as all the wrong reasons for centuries.

That real problem is that “Wall Street” is the name given to the practices of the financial traders who trade everyone’s investment funds, and so… “Wall Street” actually already works for us, and doing precisely what we ask it to do. There’s just something profoundly confused about what we ask it to do. We ask it to manage the use of our idle savings to produce profits to add to our savings, and so multiply in scale without end except for letting the trader take a share of the spoils, Of course the bargain is that multiplying your profit taking from your world with no exception eventually destroys your world, invisible only if you don’t look.

I don’t know quite why Goethe did not sharply identify that ultimately seductive bargain with the Devil when writing Faust. That play is apparently his morality tale about what happens when making that bargain. He was, though, enough more clear in depicting it in his balladic poem Der Zauberlehrling, that Walt Disney used as the basis of his ever popular animated film Fantasia, and very pointed fable “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”.

Our hero, Mickey Mouse, steals a look at the sorcerer’s book of secrets and immaturely calls upon its magic to command his broom to carry the heavy water of his chores, so he can sleep all day. As he awakes he finds the magical broom can’t be stopped, as Micky doesn’t know what spell to cast for that, and is flooding the whole house and castle, and so MUST be stopped. Then like people feel today, Micky picks up his ax to do in the boom for good…, but finds in chopping up the one it only multiplies magical brooms and the rising flood turns into a great torrent.

As Mickey sleeps his magic brooms multiply, and his effort to chop them up has the opposite effect, not knowing the magic to make them stop.

The failure of Mickey’s strategy would, of course, be repeated if Sanders’ grand gesture calling for “breaking up the banks” were to actually be applied. The various banks that have now grown overwhelmingly big, magically carrying our water so we can accomplish ever more without work, will all just continue expand, as long as we ask them to use our savings as before. You would just get more banks accumulating more disparity in the wealth of the world. Whether the phrase “break up the banks” refers to dividing up the banks into smaller ones, or separating their savings and investing functions, it wouldn’t alter a bit the basic service they are being asked to provide us as investors. They’d still be using our idle money to multiply, in some magical way, so we can be showered with fruits without labor, and left with the puzzle of why that can’t keep working.

Investors may or may not feel “wet”, but if you look around the world, everyone else does look rather soaked! It’s a quandary that we’ll have to resolve, why the secrets of creating wealth were apparently not shared by our process of enjoying wealth. So what’s clear, at least, is we now have a new job. It’s not one that Wall Street asked for, perhaps, but that they can’t refuse as they work for us. It’s to break with the Faustian bargain we made with ourselves, and perhaps stumbling some also stumble without regrets so much as anticipation, get about the work of showing the world another side of what we can do with our genius.

Here we don’t find ourselves without a plan of action, is what’s different from the many calls to protest, though the plan may need repeated adjustment and improvement in various ways. It’s ironically not like Bernie’s plan to “not take Wall Street’s money” either. It’s indeed to “take Wall Street’s money” we belatedly realize, because Wall Street is in fact just managing our money for us, and we just need to as for the right thing. That’s the real way to break our bargain with the Devil, that we do seem to be at a great historical point of rejecting. We can take our knowledge of wealth with us too, but only if we learn the other tricks needed to leave the earth whole and to share.

16 Tweets on Reading #BigData for Life

Working with BigData, especially learning how to read the designs and behavioral patterns of the earth’s natural systems, its living cultures of all kinds, and to sense our roles in them, opens up a tremendous new field of understanding.  It of course also opens up very new kinds of perspectives to puzzle over, both offering to show us new paths and making it clear various reasons to question what we’ve been doing.  

This series of Tweets came out in a group somehow, mostly in this sequence today, seeming to build a framework of interconnecting points, like tent stakes and poles maybe, a design for hosting ways to do it.    ……Jessie

  1. What we talk about becomes society’s reality, so we can read #BigData for what’s happening #following_all_cultures and #resources_on_earth.
  2. And what may matter most in #BigData is going from reading abstract patterns to reading naturally occurring ones. http://synapse9.com/jlhCRes.pdf
  3. Then add the magic of learning to read the patterns #BigData reveals, as exposing the designs of the natural systems producing it.
  4. Reading #BigData for natural patterns shows you even the best data doesn’t show what systems are producing it. 
  5. No degree in #data_science will neglect pattern recognition for understanding the natural systems creating the data.http://www.synapse9.com/pub/2015_PURPLSOC-JLHfinalpub.pdf
  6. If our world #economy is causing trouble for the #earth, why do we think it helps to speed it up? #Get_real_people!

    Escher
  7. Are @google, @IBM or other #BigData #research teams learning how to read design patterns of natural systems?? http://synapse9.com/jlhCRes.pdf
  8. To start reading natural systems in #bigdata look for cultures made individually, clustering or growing from seeds.

    from PURPLSOC 2016 http://www.synapse9.com/pub/2015_PURPLSOC-JLHfinalpub.pdf
  9. Then follow recognizing nature’s cultures with learning from them, going back and forth between models

    from PURPLSOC 2016 http://www.synapse9.com/pub/2015_PURPLSOC-JLHfinalpub.pdf
  10. When reading #bigdata for behaviors of cultures also note contradictions in the news, like #jobs_going_to_Mexico and #refugees_escaping_too.
  11. #BigData exposes surprising whole system views too, #professionals managing systems of growing inequity, disruptive change and impacts too.
  12. #BigData reveals living cultures: business, economic, social, biological or ecological, etc. all either: homeless, home seeking or enjoying.
  13. As you see their forms you realize two things:1) our world is very #alive and 2) most #bigdata is too “big”, making you look for other views
  14. To read #bigdata as views of shifting cultures, alone or together, pushes a #whole_system_view for units of measure. https://synapse9.com/signals/2014/02/26/whats-scope-4-and-why-all-the-tiers/
  15. A #whole_system_view, like #studying_the_camera not what’s in its view, is how to start seeing ourselves in the data!http://www.synapse9.com/jlhpub.htm#ns
  16. Sixteen Tweets on reading our world in #BigData, it’s many moving parts, units of measure & big recognitions required.

ed note: One tweet, that became #11, was rephrased and put in a more logical location a few hours after the first posting.

jlh

Kepler

and the laws that move you from maximizing power to maximizing resilience.

Like many young college women Kepler awoke that morning with other things on her mind than the project she had planned for the day.  She had been dreaming about how she loved her drawers of personal things, in colorful piles, neatly rolled, in little bags and folded, each in its own style and fit together.  Maybe she would become a “collector”, she thought, they gave her such a thrill.   How nature was “quite a collector” too fascinated her too, creating all the natural world’s very special arrangements, with everything having it’s own individual home, utterly improbable in such number and variety, and so highly organized and grouped with fitting parts everywhere.

She’d also been told that lots of scientists thought nature’s patterns came from a natural law of energy, that everything sought to maximize its power, which honestly, just made her wrinkle her forehead…   She did not know, of course, but thought there was something hidden in the magic of how things in nature so often yielded to each other, an obvious secret to how things come to fit so closely.   So she quietly thought perhaps that seemed at least or was perhaps even more important.

What she had planned to do that day was use her old graphic calculator from high school, to do an experiment in rewriting the history of the economy, laughing as she said it that way.   Could you show an economy as being responsive, seeking to get along, rather than just getting more and more aggressive in looking for, in the end, how to get in ever bigger trouble?    What would it be like, she wondered, if people could be responsive as a rule.  The idea had come up in reading that the climate change scientists, the IPCC, had said we needed to reduce world CO2 production to half what it was in 2010.   It was only recently in fact that the world economy had been below that, and now everyone was saying we had to go back but probably couldn’t.    She felt she had all the facts, though.

So she had the idea to just…

– totally redraw the history of ever growing CO2
– to show mankind as being responsive to the approach of climate change

She didn’t get it to work till quite late that night, but it worked!    What she had of course been thinking about, and felt that anyone who mattered constantly worried about behind every other subject, was the strange continual way the human society was so energetically trying to destroy its own future.   The evidence could not be more clear, with the ever faster consumption of everything useful on earth, that an economy maximizing its growth unavoidably does.  Anyone can plainly see that happening, as climate change keeps accelerating faster than expected. Everyone hears about the ever increasing loss of natural species from disrupting ever more natural habitats too, and the impossible debts nations have accumulated making their decision making impossible, and so many other disturbing things.

It wasn’t a “debate” to her.   It also wasn’t her “cause” either.   She also did not really see it as her job to change other people’s minds.    It was just something she personally needed to know, about her own life, and whether it could be meaningful. Continue reading Kepler

Easy Intro, “scope 4” use & interpretation

Here’s the whole problem:

Scope-4 impact measures add up the total environmental inputs resulting from business, personal, or policy choices. That’s so we can compare different choices, and make the better one.   Sounds like what sustainability metrics should do!

Standard sustainability metrics, however, collect impact information by where they occur,
not by what choices cause them…

So our whole metric system needs to be rethought.    Today if a business decision involves employing six new machines and six new people, all that is counted are the impacts of the machines.   The impacts of hiring the people or paying the investors or the government… aren’t counted.   Nature sees all the kinds of impacts incurred by business decisions exactly the same way, though!    It was our accounting community, going back centuries it actually seems, that decided to count one and not the other.      

The omitted impacts are actually not hard to scientifically estimate for scale.   That’s what Scope-4 accounting does.   As you work with it you find more and more ways having the numbers right results in big changes the terms of discussion.     The core scientific issue then, is having a metric that does not associate environmental impacts of business with the choices that cause them, but with the locations where the information is collected.   That inconsistency may be as fundamental to economic accounting as to have originated in how business records were kept in ancient times on clay tablets.

 

The [ e = mc^2 ] LAW OF SUSTAINABILITY

ln(e) / ln($)  =  c

It says our growing earth impacts and growing earth economy are directly coupled.

The natural constant observed, [c], is the coupling of GDP and Energy use, as a measure of everything physical the economy does.   It’s expressed as a ratio of their growth rates (here as a ratio of their natural logs). That coupling has been a constant [0.6] for a long time. You see it clearly in the figure below, showing a 40 year official world record for the economy’s growing Energy use and GDP.

It says that our increasing use of energy for altering the planet to make money grows only a little slower than GDP, at 0.6 times the growth rate of GDP, AND that this direct coupling has not shown any tendency to change over time!   People imagine that ‘efficiency’ changes the coupling, but even with growing efficiency the ratio has actually quite constant. You’d need global efficiency in energy use to double every ~20 years like GDP generally has to really make a difference, so having growing value in a steady GDP is far more possible.

Of course, like e=mc^2, it’s not possible to tell quite where the natural constant observed comes from.  That’s a big part of the scientific interest.   Natural constants are emergent properties of the system, seemingly here a natural rate of societal innovation and adaptation, like a “natural learning speed”.   The benefit of the constant is giving us a better way to measure inclusive sustainability, using the mathematical implication that:

—  average shares of GDP pay for and are responsible for causing
average shares of GDP earth impacts  —

World GDP, Energy & Efficiency
The world economy grows as a whole, nob acting at all like the parts…

The power of this rule the direct coupling between responsibility for shares of Earth Impacts and shares of Earth GDP.    It’s a measure that combines all the impacts of extracting energy and all the impacts caused by using energy, i.e. everything the economy does, with financial earnings from the economy.   When the data is aggregated correctly, it allows a complete accounting of the GDP impacts, and “closed accounting” for shares of responsibility for them.  So that for whole supply chains, one can measure their share of exhausting all our resources, forest and species loss, paving over productive land, etc.   Delivering goods for an average dollar of GDP causes an average share of the whole economy’s impacts.
.

Scope 4 CO2 assessment

The science for applying this constant natural coupling of money and GDP impacts was published in 2011 in a research paper “Systems Energy Assessment” found at the SEA resource site.  More detailed research notes are in the article What’s “Scope 4″.    The physics is sufficiently general and inclusive that the same technique can be comfortably use globally, to assign responsibility for all impacts of GDP on the earth, and have a way to “internalize all externalities” that can start and remain valid as it is incrementally improved, as in “A World SDG“.

The SEA research study pie chart, 5 time the true impact causation found compared with standard method.

 Discussion:

The real tragedy is that this bias in our business impact metrics assigns TOTAL responsibility for environmental impacts to the people who are paid to do them, who would not do them unless they were requested and paid for by someone else.

So then ZERO responsibility is assigned to the people choosing to request and pay for the impacts, communicating their requests for them by the transfer of money.

In criminal law, as when paying to have a crime committed, requesting and paying for it is considered the principle direct cause of the crime.  The person paid to do it may be penalized equally or not.    As far as physically causing economic externalities, in the court of environmental responsibility, it really should be decided the same sophisticated way.

What Scope-4 accounting does, then, is start from the complete list of things a decision pays for.   It could become a tremendously long list, with lots of things only known from the money spent rather than from exactly how the service was provided.   So for those you need to do research on what default assumption to make in case in case more detailed information does not become available.    I’m still waiting for people to study it themselves and compare results, but I think the proof is completely convincing that absent other information the necessary default assumption is not “zero” but “average”.

Elementary technique:

  • If you get stuck in deciding what to count, just remember, businesses don’t pay for things except for business reasons, so you need to count *everything*.
  • You then think about the different categories of spending, and what their “direct” (material) and “indirect” (economic demand) impacts are.
  • The initial rough estimate rule for economic impacts is to count them at 90% of the world average per $GDP, like around 7000BTU/$.
  • Make sure you use inflation adjusted $’s and state the index year.
  • That’s easy to do, and lets you reserve your time for estimating the direct impacts, according to the added information you can collect.

So for the energy content of purchased fuels, for example, you’d count BOTH the direct energy content of the fuel, AND the economic energy impact of the spending, at 90% the world average.   The reason is that the fuels come from nature, and the spending goes to people, paying them for the consumption they do to bring you the fuel.

If done correctly, the bottom line is a unique pie slice share of the world’s impacts
for delivering your share of GDP.

Another one to think through is how to estimate the impacts of retained earnings, used for either financial or business expansion investment.   The economic impacts of that spending needs to be estimated with a multiplier over time…  The whole purpose is to truthfully estimate the types and scale of consequences for our economic decisions.

More discussions can be found searching the journal or the web for “Scope-4” or “SEA-LCA” as interchangeable names for the same group of accounting methods.

jlh 11/8/14

_______________ Continue reading Easy Intro, “scope 4” use & interpretation

A World SDG – global accounting of responsibilities for economic impacts

______________________

Offering a true measure of economic sustainability,
internalizing the costs of externalities caused by delivering world GDP,
initially using shares of GDP to measure shares of GDP impact responsibility;
potentially making the world economy 100% accountable.

It’s the “right way to make money”,
taking responsibility for the true shares of our costs to the future.

 

Investing and doing business in the common interest, 

…calls for balancing costs and benefits, no longer just counting operational impacts locally as before, adding up only the impacts over which we have direct control (and can’t hide).   Now we need to do impact accounting inclusively, combining in one account both direct operational impacts and direct economic demand impacts estimated as our global shares of the GDP impacts we pay for.   That’s the essential step to inclusive accounting, and balancing our benefits from GDP with our real shares of responsibility for the whole economy’s accumulating GDP impacts.  It’s needed to guide our choices for moving toward a sustainable future.

To apply it we need to recognize that the supply-chain and service-chain impacts are a *shared responsibility* of the those managing the operations the result from, and the economic demand caused by paying for them.  Now the World SDG offers a scientific method for measuring the responsibility of economic demand.  Businesses and investors need to make sound sustainable decisions about supply chains reaching around the world, and need accurate information on what is being paid for and profited from to do that.  Consumers, shareholders and regulators can then also make sound decisions about what the markets are profiting from.  For the glaring cases, regulators could variably tax the profits from dangerous impacts, funds to be transferred to subsidizing the profits for scaling up alternatives, making the investor and buyer jointly responsible with the seller for the important side-effects of their economic services.   In principle both buyer and seller are co-equally responsible, liable for long term costs of short term profits, and for being transparent.  This way of doing the accounting would help pave a clear path ahead for the economy of the future.  06/26/17, 11/5/18

______________________

Updated Preamble to the 2014 UN Proposal

Following these notes is the original text of the World SDG proposal, to the UN Ministerial “Open Working Group 7” and the UN NGO Major Group and its Commons Cluster, for negotiating the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).  It offers a “whole system accounting” method to give all stakeholders the same transparent information on measurable Environmental, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) impacts of the economy, to help guide economic choices for our future.  What makes it work is a new scientific method for much more accurately distributing real responsibility of economic decision makers for their decisions.   That new science, for how the world economy works as a whole, is what allows all stakeholders to see their own and each other’s real scale of impacts on the whole caused by their economic decisions.  It becomes a learning tool for then guiding our choices for the benefit of the whole, creating a holistic awareness of what’s at stake for consumers, business, investors and governance, and guide efforts for achieving the SDG’s.

Latest 2016 research statements, The links below are to recent UN Statements regarding how our standard ways of measuring sustainability are very selective, and leave the great majority of economic impacts on our future uncounted[1,].  My recent video comment to the UN [2,] on this grand accounting problem is in the webcast of its high level political policy forum for sustainable development (HLPF), its July 11 Session 4: Fostering equitable growth and sustainability . Watching the hour of statements from many experts, countries and organizations will show you how the UN works, and avoids discussion of our ever expanding impacts.   My statement is at minute 0:40:40, and others by Youth, Women & Indigenous Major Groups are at minute 1:09:00 to 1:21:00, and quite excellent too.

Our modern environmental accounting standards were based on ancient habits of not counting things we can now measure the effects of. The is largely limiting the information given decision makers to LOCAL impacts, and leaving uncounted their real shares of the GLOBAL impacts. These categorical omissions from what is counted assure that businesses, investors, government and consumers  will make sustainability decisions quite unaware of most of the impacts their decisions will cause.  What is excluded also tends to be the more neglected and disruptive of our accumulating economic impacts on the earth and society, and so excluding consideration of them in making the decisions that cause them. So sustainability decisions to maximize profits can also be maximizing neglected impacts too!!!

  1. Details of what SD metrics don’t count ImpactsUncountedl.pdf
  2. Video of UN HLPF comment on Growth & Impacts Uncounted 11 Jul 16

Why a World SDG?  

We’ve never had a meaningful balance sheet for the earth, but new science and technology now makes it possible.  Our accounting methods started from doing local accounting of impacts, and so didn’t take a whole system view, and that’s still the case.   So leaving them out of consideration means it’s only slowing the whole economy that slows its increasing whole effects that are continuing to destroy the earth.

I)  The standard way ‘sustainability’ is now measured uses “selective accounting” rules, for addressing ESG impacts, for people, businesses, cities or countries or policies.  It’s to count things almost entirely only for what each one directly manages.   That counts what each planning group would immediately care about, but it ignores the often much larger remote effects of their commerce on others and the planet, a very deceptive one sided view.   For businesses energy use, for example, what is counted is only the energy within its operations, for its equipment and the material uses it manages, or directly traced to them.   Even though doing that takes a great deal of effort, it arrives at a total that is highly inaccurate and misleading, due to the more dispersed categories of impacts uncounted.

II)  The most general exclusion is of all impacts of financial choices, all treated as ‘zero’, though also very clearly resulting in what is paid for and profited from, by consuming all the services of the economy remotely.   The largest part of that exclusion is the financial choice made by businesses to pay their own people, and so economically causing the consumption. Business use of public and private services, and paying investors are also excluded.  Also excluded are all those categories of paid services impact for business supply chains.  So given that we are now relying on environmental accounts for saving the earth, it’s evident that no one before had been checking what decision makers would be told they were making decisions about.

III)   To make real decisions on sustainability decision makers would need to accept co-equal responsibility for their choices to request, pay for and profit from their share of impacts for delivering their share of GDP.  Because our responsibility for what we see happening around the world is not traceable you need to count it statistically, and the new research makes that relatively easy.  It gives co-equal responsibly for directing the work of a business supply chain with the operations of the supply chain.

The original research (3, 4) found the whole supply chain energy consumption and CO2 pollution of 5 times what the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) or GreenHouse Gas (GHG) “Scope 1&2” metrics would count, using a wind farm business with heavy technology as model.  For less for businesses using less heavy technology, the true impact might be 10 times what is counted, with the more disruptive remote impacts going completely uncounted.  The old rules were inherited from practices for simplifying accounting and ignoring things that were hard to count.  It reflect the oldest of old habits of thinking, of economies working with separate parts, when since Adam Smith everyone has known they work as a whole.

IV)  The World SDG proposes a data network giving access to a transparent inclusive accounting of measurable ESG impacts, a data platform.   The starting point is a scientific method of dividing up shares of known impacts of the whole economy, for which any part would be responsibility.  The baseline for estimating a share of economic responsibility is the decision maker’s share of the economy, initially counting every share as “average”, and then differentiating if more information is available.   So as an impact calculator, any person, business, or country would enter their “income” and first see a display of the known global impacts for that share of world GDP.  It would be for helping them choose how to invest their time and money, and guide policy.  As research develops, ways to depart from average and take credit for lessening or compensating for impacts would develop.

The principle strategy for the World SDG is to improve the decision making regarding investments, thinking of “investment” more holistically, as both “cultural development” and trying “new directions for the economy”.   For operating businesses its ESG balance sheet report would be published along side its annual financial balance sheet report. All stakeholders could view the same “best available information” on all impact factors.   When a new investment proposals want public recognition and perhaps qualify for support, they’d go through public reviews.  First would for general scientific and economic feasibility, then financial, and then for cultural acceptance and political commitment.   From initial to final reviews it would proceed as a “learning practice” going from early concept to final implementation stages.  More successful proposals might be seen as “transformational” and become a teamwork of all the stakeholders, not just the initiators.

Our main sustainability impact metrics (2)

  • LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) accounts for the impacts of recorded uses of technology and materials by individuals and businesses
    • but not the impacts of OTHER spending and economic choices
  • EF (ecological footprint) measures our traceable use and flows natural and renewable resources
    • also not the impacts of OTHER spending and economic choices

The World SDG method combining the omitted economic impacts with scientific measures  (3)

  • EI (economic impact) measures accumulative responsibility of participants in the economy for shares of global ESG impacts of GDP, assumed to be proportional to shares of GDP until improved information is available.
    • Share of GDP is a reliable measure of our use of the economy, on the currently reliable assumption that the measured economy works as a whole, based on the highly regular relationship seen in the first figure below, of a constant ratio of constant whole system growth rates for GDP, Energy & Energy Efficiency.
      Also see the Addendum – Background on the Science and references (4, 5a,b)

______________

Preface

Why a World SDG is both possible and needed is because our world economy works as a whole.  We need a truly global way of understanding the impacts of our decisions, to crate a “Knowledge Commons for Sustainability”.  We recognize that every part contributes to the whole and no part can operate without the whole.  The surprising result of the research is how reliably any share of GDP is likely to be “average” and pay for about the same share of world GDP impacts (4).   1) It first comes from how widely distributed consumption spending is, then 2) how widely money from any expense is distributed in the global economy, to all income levels within all kinds of businesses, as it is passed down a supply chain(5a,b).   It then also relies 3) on how truly global and competitive economic markets and services are, with all parts being disciplined by the same competitive standards for profiting from the resources everyone has access to.   So the baseline assumption that shares of GDP pay for the same average share of GDP impacts is both necessary as a default choice and likely to be accurate.  Making decisions on how individuals and the world can depart from average would then become the focus.  

Everyone could then understand their own benefits from the economy and how they compare with the global impacts of delivering them, seeing the simple facts in a broad context.  For example, a 6 oz (180 cc) glass of wine for $10  seems like a small impact.  As an average share of GDP what we find is $10 is quite likely to have an “average climate impact” of .45kgCO2/$ = 4.5kg for $10 = ~10lb x 16oz = 160 ozCO2 [2006 data] (4).  So the weight of CO2 consumed would be ~27 times the weight of wine.   The catch is that spending $10 on anything else would be the same.  How we use any part of our incomes would be close to having an average share of CO2 AND other global impacts of the economy as a whole, soil loss, deforestation, environmental and cultural disruptions etc.  [for 2016 data due to inflation and efficiencies impacts per $ are ~66%]

So the World SDG accounting model lets you: 

  • Compare our shares of World GDP benefits with our shares of  its measurable Ecological Societal and Governance (ESG) impacts.  
  • Using “shares of the whole” as a common unit of measure for responsibility for the whole
      • by aggregating reliable measures of human impacts and risks to our future, including direct financial liability if there are good estimates

     

    • using the sound initial baseline assumption of “average responsibility per share” pending more complete accounting.

It would provide an accurate accounting for the modern world’s survival on earth.
[ed 8/23/16] 

… a scientifically combined balance sheet for financial and ESG factors,
so people can better understand our economic choices.  

___________________________

.

A World SDG

A World SDG  is a “commons approach”

    • Full accountability for the rising economic costs of an unsustainable future

 

    • Finance motivated to invest in the SDG’s close to our hearts.

 

  • An integrated balance sheet of local and global responsibilities for integrated implementing of SDG’s.

New science makes it possible to give those who profit from growing our costly economic impacts the information they’d need to understand their growing global liability. What would be more profitable choices for all can then reverse that. It’s shocking, really, when one finds what a $1 dollar share of GDP (where the averages apply) is responsible for, as a $1 share of today’s economy’s fast growing impacts.   Every average $1 of GDP is responsible for close to 1lb of CO2 put in the atmosphere!  So in a sentence you just replace “dollar” with “pounds of CO2” to speak about the climate impact of normal earning and spending.   For a consumer with a $50k income, the climate impact is 50k pounds of CO2 per year!

World GDP, Energy & Efficiency
Parallel growth rates for world GDP, Energy, CO2 and Efficiency => make average shares of GDP responsible for the same share of those parallel impacts.

Continue reading A World SDG – global accounting of responsibilities for economic impacts