Behind the idea of Natural Capitalism, which Hawken describes in the book with the same name, lies the idea that capitalism must be taken to a new level: an ecological one. Hawken describes how the economic system we are still having today was created in a cornucopian view present during the first industrial revolution. But let’s wake up to reality: resources are not never-ending.
“For decades, environmentalists have been warning that human economic activity is exceeding the planet’s limits. Of course we keep pushing those limits back with clever new technologies; yet living systems are undeniably in decline.“, Hawkens writes. His book aims high: together with Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins he tries to describe the new industrial revolution which will finally overcome this limited worldview. To me it sounds rather utopic when he describes “a future in which business and environmental interests increasingly overlap, and in which businesses can better satisfy their customers’ needs, increase profits, and help solve environmental problems all at the same time.” The three authors combine inspiring stories to show which small (and bigger) steps have to be taken in order to move towards the new type of capitalism. You can find some excerpts of the book here.
Now, personally I am critical. I mean, don’t the two words nature and capitalism strike you as opposites, as a unchangeable conundrum? I know how green technologies are on the rise and might actually do some good on this planet. But what we are left with is still an unchanged attitude of consumerism and accumulation; in short: capitalism. I am missing out on sustainability here. Probably I should move on to Hawkens older book in order to understand better; the Ecology of Commerce has “a Declaration of Sustainability“ as its subtitle.
What do you think about the idea of Natural Capitalism?