Issue 1 - Summer 1994

Book Review: (page 1 of 5)

The Ecology of Commerce
By Paul Hawken
Harper Business, New York City 1993
250 pages, $23.00 US.

By Ivan Handler
Networking for Democracy

Our world is in the midst of an environmental crisis. The biosphere is being destroyed, possibly irreversibly, by the demands placed on it by an industrial society flawed in its central components. Yet the same forces that created the problem, both the market and state intervention, are capable of providing solutions if intelligence can prevail over greed.

This is the core thesis of Paul Hawken's important new book, The Ecology of Commerce. The fact that the author has taken a market driven model as the centerpiece of his solution will give all ideologues on all points of the political spectrum the wrong idea. Hawken is not driven by ideology, but by a pragmatic approach combined with a deep sense of urgency. As he sees it, the market is a natural formation much like a mountain range or a tropical rain forest. Markets arise and function as a result of the forces that make them up. Markets do not initiate anything in or of themselves. Any solutions to problems caused by business will of necessity utilize the marketplace.

In his preface, Hawken offers eight objectives he feels must be met to solve the environmental crisis:

  • "Reduce absolute consumption of energy and natural resources in the North by 80 percent within the next half century."

  • "Provide secure, stable, and meaningful employment for people everywhere."

  • "Be self-actuating as opposed to regulated or morally mandated."

  • "Honor market principles."

  • "Be more rewarding than our present way of life."

  • "Exceed sustainability by restoring degraded habitats and ecosystems to their fullest biological capacity."

  • "Rely on current income."

  • "Be fun and engaging, and strive for an aesthetic outcome."

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