Nature as a capitalist

Small communes have been attempted for over a century but they have all been isolated show-cases. Internet is making these new enviro-islands, numerous, connected and viable.

Another reason the second-wave has a chance of succeeding, is that unlike in Gandhi’s times, alarm bells are ringing deafeningly now. Global warming, depleting oil reserves, pollution related diseases and rising consumption in China and India have all created a new urgency. The state of the earth is being discussed in every drawing room. George B Schaller has already asked for a computation of earth’s capital that we are using for free: “What you need to measure among other things, is the services that natural environment provides. Cleaning the air, cleaning the water, the genetic background to rehabilitate areas… you can in rough ways actually measure it. The billions of rupees the forest provides for free that would cost you otherwise.”

The party is over. We have to start paying bills. Nature is going to demand that it be treated as a capitalist. At pointReturn we will begin to comply before being forced to.

pointReturn will buy tractors and vehicles but, eventually run them on self-grown fuels. It will not buy-in petro-fuels but instead control vehicle use. It will mostly -but not exclusively- eat the food it grows. It will practice sober accountancy in water use. It will support people on its campus -children and experimenters- who will go on refining their practices and sharing them on the Internet. It will sell its surpluses in local markets as far as possible. Very high value produce like say the oil of vetiver, may justify transportation over a far distance. There is a difference between daily transporting Sydney oysters to Tokyo and flying in once, a small, efficient wind generator from New York to Chennai. It is one thing to take a plane to go away for a 4 week’s stay and another, to dash across the world capitals twice every week. A fuel efficient car can be a useful object, but a Hummer in your garage? It is these sensible choices the new environmentalist has to constantly, conscientiously make.

When this happens, a million neo-environmental islands dotted all over the world, can connect on the information layer, even as capitalism continues to thrive with a physical contiguity. pointReturn aims to be one such island. It will grow using the experience and knowledge of others; in turn, it will share its innovations and experiences.

A hypothesis attributed to Adam Smith that has been used to sell capitalism till this day, is that of ‘the invisible hand’. No doubt the capitalist, it is argued putting words into Smith’s mouth, works only for his own profit, but an invisible hand is at work that promotes good in his community. Might not a parallel exist in environmental capitalism? Even if the environmentalist is deemed a bull-headed idealist, with no chance of changing the world, might not an invisible hand bring that about? I’ll wager, this will happen sooner here, than out there.

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