Nature as a capitalist

I propose to try a new experiment at pointReturn. Basically, the idea is to voluntarily apply capitalism’s approach to money, on resources other than money; resources like water, energy and the means to grow food and materials. What we consume, we repay with interest, treating nature as the capitalist.

Instead of confronting and renouncing the goods of capitalism, pointReturn will use them much as we use capital: prudently and terminably. So grid electricity will be used for a number of years till pointReturn is productive. During that period the quantum of electricity used will be recorded and over the following years, a greater quantity will be generated locally using solar, wind or biofuels. Likewise diesel for vehicles: pointReturn will mill and extract diesel equivalents from oilseeds. Water? pointReturn campus will harvest a quantity of rain water greater than it uses in its campus.

Looked at another way, at this moment, the pointReturn acres produce no food, electricity, fuel or save water. They have been abandoned. A new owner has the option of working it forever using grid electricity, petro-fuels and ground water. He can mono crop it for cash as quite a few in the neighbourhood have done. [There is a 100 acre plantation of just mango, which are harvested once a year and then left alone. The land is not cared for at all. Several other farmers are converting their crop lands to grow stands of fuel wood or wood for pulp mills.] Or, one can turn the wasteland status of pointReturn, into a productive unit integrated fully with nature, that produces anew for the universe, replacements for depleting resources. It will then be part of the second-wave environmentalism gaining ground now.

The new environmental movement underway worldwide, has a chance of succeeding because it works on sustainable solutions using all manner of tools and technologies, produced by capitalism. It only rejects those produce that have no social or environmental responsibility built in. Of the other goods and services it needs, it seeks to replace what it can, and there are many it can replace. Gandhi’s slogan on the other hand, was total self-reliance and rejection of all products of organised industry. What is possible in our future, is not environmental puritanism that will supplant capitalism, but an alternative that starts within capitalism, and expands its space.

If the momentum of the current second-wave environmentalism is kept up, we will have two systems coexisting with healthy rivalry. Capitalism will be displaced or competed with, as the sole intermediary between us and nature in several realms. Dispersed communities, supporting one another with information, need not depend on organised big industry for their energy, food, water, education and employment needs. But neo-environmentalism cannot do without international transport, communication networks or municipal services, for instance. It can succeed only if it restricts its reach to a defined local geography. Beyond that, world-scale organisation will be called for and that is best left to money-capitalism.

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