Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Eco-Economy Table link-list:

This is an overview of the Eco-Economy Table link-list:



Considering how the economy and the environment are approached in the United States, one would assume they are entirely separate entities operating under different principles. In many people's minds, economic growth naturally comes at the expense of the environment, and protecting natural resources requires constraints on economic growth.

This zero-sum approach to the economy and the environment makes it hard to envision a sustainable future. Sustainability is often seen as an environmental concept but not an economic one. In reality, a sustainable vision that does not take economic forces into account is doomed to fail. A sustainable Santa Barbara County will require an economy that, rather than working against ecological principles, reinforces them and is founded upon them--an eco-economy. In an eco-economy, sustainable practices will be common and profitable.


· Establish Eco-Industries

· Unify the Efforts of Economists and Ecologists

Back to Sustainable Strategies

Make Taxes and Subsidies Eco-Friendly

Why do so many economic activities harm the environment? It is not that environmental destruction is inherently profitable. Nor are green practices necessarily too costly. It is simply a symptom of the way we view and manage our economy.

Governments profoundly influence the economy through a series of subsidies, many of which artificially reduce the costs of environmentally destructive activities. Additionally, environmental costs are not often reflected in the prices of goods and services, meaning that society as a whole bears the burden of destructive activities rather than the individual producer or consumer.

Sustainability can be made more profitable by changing these price manipulations to favor sustainability.

· Subsidy reform

Government policies often subsidize the consumption of natural resources rather than discourage it. A 1997 Earth Institute report found that over $700 billion is spent by governments worldwide each year funding environmentally destructive activities (Brown). As a result, prices often do not reflect the full cost of producing a good or providing a service.

Take, for example, automobile use. Drivers in the U.S. pay only 20-50 percent of the cost of parking, traffic services, and road construction and maintenance (de Moor and Calamai). While effective transportation is important to economic development, the fact remains that Americans drive more than necessary, with negative results such as accidents and air pollution. The massive subsidies on automobile travel make this possible.

This is not to say that subsidies are always bad. The task, rather, is to shift subsidies so that they encourage conservation rather than consumption. Subsidies should promote investment in renewable energy or tree planting, not pollution or waste.

· Environmental taxes

Taxes, like subsidies, can be shifted to better support sustainability. This has been done in many European countries. In Denmark, for example, income taxes have been lowered and replaced by higher taxes on the sale of water, fuel, coal and electricity (Brown). Such shifts are engineered such that the government receives the same amount of revenue. The only difference is that people are no longer penalized for making money, but instead for spending it on the consumption of important, finite resources.

Many destructive environmental activities are not yet taxed at all. If a tire manufacturer wants to calculate how much money he is going to make by selling one set of tires he will subtract his input costs (labor, overhead, raw materials, advertising, etc.) from the expected price of the tires. A resource that is not included in the price of the tires, however, is the environmental impact of the production of these tires. By filling up landfills with manufacturing waste or polluting the air with factory emissions, our natural resources are being strained. The environment is a resource the manufacturer is relying upon, but it is often not factored into the price of the finished good. Although harmful externalities are often overlooked when calculating the costs of production, society still has to pay the costs of pollution or other environmental impacts, regardless of how difficult they are to define monetarily. It is more sensible for the users of a resource to pay than for society at large to soak up the burden, especially since it is more likely to curb wasteful behavior by individuals. In addition, whatever revenue is generated through such a tax can be funneled back into the system as an incentive for business to continue to search for environmentally sustainable ways of doing business.

Environmental tax example

One example of an effective environmental tax is the U.S. Ozone Depleting Chemicals Tax (1995), which directly targeted a specific source of pollution: ozone-depleting chemicals (ODCs). Before the tax, regulation of the ODCs was costing $3 billion for a 50% reduction in production; after the tax was put in place an estimate for complete elimination of ODCs was less than $3 billion (Jackson 2001). In addition, the tax encouraged both companies and consumers to find less environmentally damaging substitutes by increasing the price of products with ODCs. The key factors in this dramatic turnaround have been the gradual and pre-announced increase in tax levels, which gives companies enough time to conduct research and develop alternatives, as well as the direct use of tax revenue for research and development into environmentally sustainable options.

Back to the Eco-Economy Home Page

Establish Eco-Industries

Profitable eco-industries

There is money to be made in industries that are environmentally friendly. Switching to more sustainable practices does not mean that the economy is destroyed; it merely alters which industries dominate. Under an eco-economy, the demand for oil pumping, logging and the manufacture of throwaway products will decline, however other industries will boom: fish farming, bicycle manufacturing, wind farm construction, wind turbine manufacturing, hydrogen generation, fuel and solar cell manufacturing, and tree planting.

Wind power

Wind power in particular can easily provide for a robust economy just as easily, if not better, than the current dependence on fossil fuels can. Many jobs will be created due to the need for people to manufacture turbines, install and maintain them. With wind power still in its fledgling stages in the U.S., Santa Barbara County still has a chance to establish itself as a leading turbine manufacturer. Even if the county simply uses tSource:urbines built elsewhere, installation needs will likely spawn local businesses and maintenance needs will provide long-term employment.

The county can attract environmentally-friendly industries using monetary incentives, strategic investments and clever marketing.

Back to the Eco-Economy Home Page

Encourage Eco-Friendly Firms

The county can work to ensure that its businesses are environmentally friendly by helping them adopt sustainable practices and commending those firms who are committed to such practices.

Capital investment

Switching to any new method of doing business can be risky and costly for a firm. Businesses and communities will be more likely to invest in eco-efficient practices if financing programs are created to help connect businesses with the capital they need to go green. Although many small business owners profoundly agree with many of the goals and principles of sustainability, they simply do not have the money to put in place many of the new technologies that are available. A combination of low-interest loans or grants will speed the environmental development of small business, who otherwise would have a great deal of difficulty modernizing.


The county can establish educational programs to instruct industries in making commercial activities more environmentally friendly. One example of such an educational program could be an ecological building seminar that teaches contractors and builders about techniques and materials that are environmentally superior to conventional practices.


Labeling products or businesses as eco-friendly encourages firms to adopt sustainable practices. Many people are environmentally conscientious and, given a choice, will select the greenest product or service, even if it is somewhat more expensive. In places where electricity customers are given the choice between green and regular power, many customers will choose to pay 3 to 15 percent more for the green power (Brown).

Santa Barbara County can establish a program that certifies as green those businesses that meet specific criteria. An existing Green Business Program in the Bay Area assists businesses with complying with environmental regulations and certifies businesses that take special efforts to be more sustainable. Certified businesses are able to display the program's unique logo and are listed in a green business directory that is available online or in print.

Some such efforts are already underway in Santa Barbara County. A directory of green professionals in the architectural and building industries has been established at Sustainable ABC. In addition, each year a consortium of county organizations presents the Green Award to companies and organizations in Santa Barbara County that voluntarily do activities that result in cleaner air or water, less waste, less traffic, conservation of energy and natural resources, or reduced use of hazardous materials.

Back to the Eco-Economy Home Page

Unify the Efforts of Economists and Ecologists

Creating an eco-economy requires not just the efforts of environmentally minded citizens. Both ecologists and economists must work together to ensure that the two disciplines are not at odds with each other.

Sustainability conventions

One method of advertising and promoting eco-friendliness is for the county to hold sustainability conventions where ecologists, economists, planners and interested citizens come together to discuss sustainability topics, learn about recent projects and formulate ideas.

Hosting such conventions in the county also provides a way for Santa Barbara to advertise itself as a leader in sustainability. With such conventions on its turf, the county will have an easier time attracting businesses, industries and people who support eco-friendliness. Of course, it is not enough to merely say the county is committed to sustainability; it must genuinely follow through with such a commitment. Advertising its eco-friendliness should nevertheless help the county reach its goals.


The Internet has the power to connect people around the world very easily.

The county can sponsor a website addressing sustainability in an exceptionally thorough and comprehensive manner. Such a website would provide a medium that sustainability advocates could use to interact with each other at any time. The website would also contain the latest news and research in the field and become a major resource for those interested in sustainability.


Joint research can yield economic models and ecological models that will help to quantify ecological costs. Some method of quantifying natural resources will be essential in developing an economic system that takes into account the depletion of natural resources. As a major research institution, UCSB can become a leader in such work.

We cannot let a healthy debate on these issues impede the introduction of these environmental quantifiers. We will never have the complete environmental picture, but this must not deter us from putting in place quantifiers that seek to change consumer and commercial behavior in favor of more sustainable practices.


It is important to establish indicators that provide an idea of how close the county is to reaching its goals of sustainable progress. The UCSB Indicators Project has already established a website with some social, environmental and economic indicators, but it could use further development. This project should be expanded.


Back to the Eco-Economy Home Page

Back to Sustainable Strategies

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Earth Policy Reader

The Earth Policy Reader

You can view the attached Adobe PDF files with the Adobe Acrobat viewer, available for free at:



1. The Economic Costs of Ecological Deficits
Deserts Invading China
Advancing Deserts Gaining Momentum
From Ecological Deficits to Dust Bowl
Spreading Deserts: The Response
The National Costs of Failure

The Worldwide Effect of Failure

Assessing the Food Prospect
Soil: Surplus to Deficit
The Fast-Growing Water Deficit
The Changing Food Economy
The Soybean Factor
Future Food Security

Facing the Climate Challenge
The Rising Costs of Climate Change
Restructuring the Energy Economy
Building the Wind-Hydrogen Economy
Fixing the Market

2. Eco-Economy Indicators: Twelve Trends to Track
Population Growing by 80 Million Annually

Economic Growth Losing Momentum
Grain Harvest Growth Slowing
Fish Catch Leveling Off
Forest Cover Shrinking
Water Scarcity Spreading
Carbon Emissions Climbing
Global Temperature Rising
Ice Melting Everywhere
Wind Electric Generation Soaring
Bicycle Production Breaks 100 Million
Solar Cell Sales Booming

3. Eco-Economy Updates
Energy and Climate
U.S. Farmers Double Cropping Corn and Wind Energy
The Rise and Fall of the Global Climate Coalition
Climate Change Has World Skating on Thin Ice
OPEC Has World Over a Barrel Again
Wind Power: The Missing Link in The Bush Energy Plan

Population and Health

Population Growth Sentencing Millions to Hydrological Poverty
Africa Is Dying -- It Needs Help
HIV Epidemic Restructuring Africa's Population
Obesity Threatens Health in Exercise-Deprived Societies
Iran's Birth Rate Plummeting at Record Pace

Food, Land, and Water
Paving the Planet: Cars and Crops Competing for Land
Dust Bowl Threatening China's Future Worsening Water Shortages Threaten China's Food Security
World's Rangelands Deteriorating Under Mounting Pressure

Forests, Fisheries, and Disappearing Species
Fish Farming May Overtake Cattle Ranching as a Food Source
Our Closest Relatives Are Disappearing
Illegal Logging Threatens Ecological and Stability

Ecological Economics
Green Power Purchases Growing
New York: Garbage Capital of the World
Tax Shifting on the Rise


The Food Security Challenge in an Age of Falling Water Tables and Rising Temperatures

Lester R. Brown

Outgrowing the Earth:
The Food Security Challenge in an Age of Falling Water Tables
and Rising Temperatures

You can view the attached Adobe PDF files with the Adobe Acrobat viewer, available for free at:



1. Pushing Beyond the Earth's Limits
Losing Agricultural Momentum
Growth: The Environmental Fallout
Two New Challenges
The Japan Syndrome
The China Factor
The Challenge Ahead

2. Stopping at Seven Billion
A New Demographic Era
Population, Land, and Conflict
The Demographic Transition
The Demographic Bonus
Two Success Stories
Eradicating Poverty, Stabilizing Population

3. Moving Up the Food Chain Efficiently
Up the Food Chain
Shifting Protein Sources
Oceans and Rangelands
The Soybean Factor
New Protein Models


4. Raising the Earth's Productivity
Trends and Contrasts
Fertilizer and Irrigation
The Shrinking Backlog of Technology
Future Options

5. Protecting Cropland
Losing Soil and Fertility
Advancing Deserts
Losing Cropland to Other Uses
Conserving Topsoil
Saving Cropland

6. Stabilizing Water Tables
Falling Water Tables
Rivers Running Dry
Cities Versus. Farmers
Scarcity Crossing National Boundaries
Raising Water Productivity


7. Stabilizing Climate
Rising Temperatures, Falling Yields
Temperature Trends and Effects
Raising Energy Efficiency
Turning to Renewable Energy Sources

8. Reversing China's Harvest Decline
Grainland Shrinking
An Aquacultural Initiative
Water Shortages Spreading
Turning Abroad for Grain
A New Food Strategy

9. The Brazilian Dilemma
World's Leading Source of Soybeans
Feed Supplier for the World?
Meat Exports Climbing
Domestic Demand Growing
Expansion: The Risks and Costs

10. Redefining Security
The Tightening Food Supply
The Politics of Food Scarcity
Stabilizing the Resource Base
A Complex Challenge


Plan B: Rescuing a Planet under Stress & a Civilization in Trouble

Plan B: Rescuing a Planet under Stress &
a Civilization in Trouble

You can view the attached Adobe PDF files with the Adobe Acrobat viewer, available for free at:



1. A Planet Under Stress
Ecological Bills Coming Due
Farmers Facing Two New Challenges
Ecological Meltdown in China
Food: A National Security Issue
The Case for Plan B

I. A Civilization in Trouble

2. Emerging Water Shortages
Falling Water Tables
Rivers Running Dry
Farmers Losing to Cities
Scarcity Crossing National Borders
A Food Bubble Economy

3. Eroding Soils & Shrinking Grainland
Soil Erosion: Wind and Water
Advancing Deserts
Crops and Cars Compete for Land
The Land Hungry Soybean
Grainland Gains and Losses
Spreading Land Hunger

4. Rising Temperatures and Rising Seas
The Temperature Record
The Yield Effect
Reservoirs in the Sky
Melting Ice and Rising Seas
More Destructive Storms
Subsidizing Climate Change

5. Our Socially Divided World
Life Expectancy: A Seminal Indicator
The Effects of the HIV Epidemic
Poverty and Hunger
Poverty and the Burden of Disease
The High Cost of Illiteracy

6. Plan A: Business as Usual
Accelerating Environmental Decline
Spreading Hunger, Growing Unrest
Streams of Environmental Refugees
Population Growth and Political Conflict
Plan A: Overwhelmed by Problems

II. The Response - Plan B

7. Raising Water Productivity
Adopting Realistic Prices
Raising Irrigation Water Productivity
Rainwater Harvesting
Raising Nonfarm Water Productivity
A Global Full-Court Press

8. Raising Land Productivity
Rethinking Land Productivity
Multiple Cropping
Raising Protein Efficiency
A Second Harvest
Saving Soil and Cropland
Restoring the Earth

9. Cutting Carbon Emissions in Half
Raising Energy Productivity
Harnessing the Wind
Converting Sunlight into Electricity
Energy from the Earth
Building the Hydrogen Economy
Cutting Carbon Emissions

10. Responding to the Social Challenge
Stabilizing Population
Universal Basic Education
Curbing the HIV Epidemic
Health for All
School Lunches for the Poor
Breaking Out

III. The Only Option

11. Plan B: Rising to the Challenge
Deflating the Bubble
A Wartime Mobilization
Creating an Honest Market
Shifting Taxes
Shifting Subsidies
A Call to Greatness

Endnotes & About the Author

Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble

Table of Contents

Lester R. Brown

Plan B 2.0:
Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble


1. Entering a New World (pdf)
The Nature of the New World
Learning from China
Learning from the Past
The Emerging Politics of Scarcity
Getting the Price Right
Plan B—A Plan of Hope


2. Beyond the Oil Peak (pdf)
The Coming Decline of Oil
The Oil Intensity of Food
The Falling Wheat-Oil Exchange Rate
Food and Fuel Compete for Land
Cities and Suburbs after Peak Oil
The World After Oil Peaks

3. Emerging Water Shortages (pdf)
Falling Water Tables
Rivers Running Dry
Disappearing Lakes

Farmers Losing to Cities

Scarcity Crossing National Borders

A Food Bubble Economy

4. Rising Temperatures and Rising Seas (pdf)
Rising Temperature and its Effects
The Crop Yield Effect

Reservoirs in the Sky

Melting Ice and Rising Seas

More Destructive Storms

Subsidizing Climate Change

5. Natural Systems Under Stress (pdf)

Shrinking Forests: The Costs

Losing Soil

Deteriorating Rangelands

Advancing Deserts

Collapsing Fisheries

Disappearing Plants and Animals

6. Early Signs of Decline (pdf)

Our Socially Divided World

Health Challenge Growing

Throwaway Economy in Trouble

Population and Resource Conflicts Environmental
Refugees on the Rise
Failed States and Terrorism


7. Eradicating Poverty, Stabilizing Population (pdf)
Universal Basic Education
Stabilizing Population

Better Health for All

Curbing the HIV Epidemic

Reducing Farm Subsidies and Debt

A Poverty-Eradication Budget

8. Restoring the Earth (pdf)
Protecting and Restoring Forests

Conserving and Rebuilding Soils

Meeting Nature’s Water Needs

Regenerating Fisheries

Protecting Plant and Animal Diversity

The Earth Restoration Budget

9. Feeding Seven Billion Well (pdf)

Rethinking Land Productivity

Raising Water Productivity

Producing Protein More Efficiently

New Protein Production Systems

Moving Down the Food Chain

Action on Many Fronts

10. Stabilizing Climate (pdf)

Raising Energy Productivity

Harnessing the Wind

Hybrid Cars and Wind Power

Converting Sunlight to Electricity

Energy From the Earth

Cutting Carbon Emissions Fast

11. Designing Sustainable Cities (pdf)

The Ecology of Cities

Redesigning Urban Transport

Farming in the City

Reducing Urban Water Use

The Challenge of Urban Slums

Cities for People


12. Building a New Economy
Shifting Taxes
Shifting Subsidies

Ecolabeling: Voting With Our Wallets

A New Materials Economy

New Industries, New Jobs

The Environmental Revolution

13. Plan B: Building a New Future (pdf)

Listening for Wake-up Calls

A Wartime Mobilization

Mobilizing to Save Civilization

A Call to Greatness

You and Me

Additional Resources

Notes in pdf


About the Author (pdf)

Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth

Table of Contents

Lester R. Brown

Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth

You can view the attached Adobe PDF files with the Adobe Acrobat viewer, available for free at:



1. The Economy and the Earth
Economy Self-Destructing
Lessons from the Past
Learning from China
The Acceleration of History
The Option: Restructure or Decline

I. A Stressed Relationship

2. Signs of Stress: Climate & Water
Temperature Rising
The Ice is Melting
Sea Level Rising
More Destructive Storms
Rivers Drained Dry
Falling Water Tables
Facing Water Scarcity

3. Signs of Stress: The Biological Base
Fisheries Collapsing

Forests Shrinking
Rangelands Deteriorating
Soils Eroding
Species Disappearing
Synergies and Surprises

II. The New Economy

4. The Shape of the Eco-Economy
Ecology Over Economics
A Monumental Undertaking
Restructuring the Economy
New Industries, New Jobs
History's Greatest Investment Opportunity

5. Building the Solar/Hydrogen Economy
The Energy Efficiency Base
Harnessing the Wind
Turning Sunlight into Electricity
Tapping the Earth's Heat
Natural Gas: The Transitional Fuel
Getting to the Hydrogen Economy

6. Designing a New Materials Economy
Throwaway Products

Materials and the Environment
The Earth's Toxic Burden
The Role of Recycling
Redesigning the Materials Economy

7. Feeding Everyone Well
A Status Report
Raising Cropland Productivity
Raising Water Productivity
Restructuring the Protein Economy
Eradicating Hunger: A Broad Strategy

8. Protecting Forest Products & Services
Fuel, Lumber and Paper
Forest Services
Sustainable Forestry
Lightening the Load
The Role of Plantations
Reclaiming the Earth

9. Redesigning Cities for People
An Urbanizing Species
Car-Centered Urban Sprawl
Urbanization and Obesity
Urban Rail and Bicycle Systems
Planning Cities for People

III. Getting From Here to There

10. Stabilizing Population by Reducing Fertility
Breaking out or Breaking Down
Africa Breaking Down
Filling the Family Planning Gap
The Role of Female Education
Using Soap Operas and Sitcoms
Stopping at Two

11. Tools for Restructuring the Economy
The Fiscal Steering Wheel
Tax Shifting
Subsidy Shifting
Ecolabeling: Voting With our Wallets
Tradable Permits
Support for Fiscal Restructuring

12. Accelerating the Transition
United Nations Leadership
New Responsibility of Governments
New Role for the Media
The Corporate Interest
NGOs and Individuals
Crossing the Threshold
Is There Enough Time?