Change the Story — Change the System
A Club of Rome Blog contribution, written by David Korten*
Forty years ago the Club of Rome’s report Limits to Growth drew world attention to the imperative to bring the human species into “system equilibrium” with nature. That report sparked a heated global debate about economic growth on a finite planet.
The Club of Rome projected dire consequences if we failed to act. We have indeed failed to act and environmental collapse is playing out much as the Club of Rome predicted. The collapse, however, is not the center of public debate, which centers instead on financial deficits, gas prices, and how best to stimulate even more economic growth.
The biosphere is an exquisitely complex global system of countless individual living organisms that self-organize locally everywhere as resilient, constantly evolving communities. This gives the biosphere an extraordinary capacity to adapt to conditions in each locality, optimize the capture and use of nutrients, energy, and water in support of life, and function in sustained dynamic local and global equilibrium.
The contrast between the system model of the biosphere and that of the global economy could hardly be greater. The global economy is controlled by a few hundred global banks and corporations that lack roots in any locality and are devoted to maximizing financial gain. Lacking the self-corrective feedback mechanisms required to achieve and maintain equilibrium with the biosphere, these institutions drive us toward environmental collapse, economic inequality, social breakdown, and political corruption. Until the institutional structure of the economy is reconfigured, the system will continue to drive us to these same disastrous outcomes.
Our common future depends on replacing this failed economic system with one that mimics the structure and dynamics of the biosphere and allocates the biosphere’s human share equitably to meet the needs of everyone.
Tragically, the clash between human and natural systems receives little public attention. The status quo serves powerful global corporate interests that control mass media, education, and the political discourse. They use that control to dampen critical voices. Yet the necessary policy action will come only when demanded by the public and that demand can only be generated by sufficient public awareness of the issues and options.
Many think tanks and advocacy groups demand action on specific environmental and social issues. The world, however, needs a group able to focus public attention on the deep system restructuring required to bring the human species into balance with the biosphere.
In 1972 the Club of Rome spoke with a powerful prophetic voice that challenged prevailing economic theories and corporate interests, cut through the establishment media filter, and for a time drew world attention to the defining system issue of our time. As the projected environmental collapse proceeds, the CoR must use its stature to become that prophetic voice once again.
* David Korten (livingeconomiesforum.org) is the author of Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth, the Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, and the international best seller When Corporations Rule the World. He is board chair of YES! Magazine, co-chair of the New Economy Working Group, a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and a member of the Club of Rome.
We are pleased to announce that, on the kind invitation of the Romanian Association, the General Assembly 2012 of the Club of Rome will be held in Bucharest, Romaniafrom 1st to 3rd October 2012.
More detailed information on the General Assembly and formal invitations will follow in due course.
German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours of Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank has said … Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry in Muenster, said the 22 gigawatts of solar power fed into the national grid on Saturday met nearly 50% of the nation’s midday electricity needs.That’s right—half of all of Germany was powered by electricity generated by solar plants. That’s incredible. It was also world record-breaking. Germany is pretty much singlehandedly proving that solar can be a major, reliable source of power—even in countries that aren’t all that sunny.
Germany’s promotion of renewable energy rightly gets singled out for its effectiveness, most often by me as an example of how to do things well versus the fits and starts method of promotion common in the US. Over at Wind-Works, Paul Gipe points out another interesting facet of the German renewable energy saga: 51% of all renewable energy in Germany is owned by individual citizens or farms, totaling $100 billion worth of private investment in clean energy.
Breaking that down into solar power and wind power, 50% of Germany’s solar PV is owned by individuals and farms, while 54% of its wind power is held by the same groups.
In total there’s roughly 17 GW of solar PV installed in Germany—versus roughly 3.6 GW in the US (based on SEIA’s figures for new installations though the third quarter of 2011 plus the 2.6 GW installed going into the year).
Remember, Germany now produces slightly over 20% of all its electricity from renewable sources.
The thing that got me though, other than the huge lead in solar PV installations Germany has over the US, thanks to good policy, and the fact that so much wind power isn’t owned by utilities, is what slightly over half of renewable energy being owned not by corporations but by actual biological people means—obviously a democratic shift in control of resources and a break from the way electricity and energy has been produced over the past century.
A good thing: Decentralized power generation, more relocalization and reregionalization of economic activity, the world getting smaller while more connected and therefore in a way bigger at the same time… taking a step backwards, and perhaps sideways, while moving forwards.
Acesta este sfarsitul lui homo oeconomicus: era postindustriala a industriilor entropice, momentul ZERO al mileniului 3 in care Romania are toate sansele sa fie cea mai puternica economie a lumii.