Thursday, April 2, 2009

'Market to Mother Nature' accounting

This insightful piece by Friedman raises some very pertinent questions.

Friedman makes a compelling case of the need to look at how the model of engine of wealth creation is impacting sustainability and also other values of human co-existence and growth.

The fact that the consumers would in general rarely ever look at the environmental implication of buying more and more goods, puts pressure on the business leaders and our policy makers to come out with 'Market to Mother Nature' accounting system to explain how our actions are systemically connected to larger wheel of existence on this planet.

The progress of mankind in the decades to come would be measured not in terms of the cumulative and widespread wealth that gets generated but also on how responsibly that wealth is generated. If the wealth of today only leaves dry arid lands or over flowing water bodies and creates imbalance all around us, we will be left no option but to perish miserably.

The more people we have on this planet with appetite for more and more consumption of fuel, goods, food etc, the greater would be the challenge to think systemically and go beyond isolationist planning models where we fail to consider the other dimensions of existence.

Its not that reaching out to environment is the be all of everything. The kinds of crimes being conducted in the garb of market today also clearly hint at the importance of diving as much within ourselves as much as we are trying to look outside.


Saurabh Gupta said...

In absence of feasible (read more profitable) solutions offered, it seems rather difficult to change the trend. Its a vicious circle. The source of these solutions one would expect would be research centers- but ironically research centers, understandably, are as much driven by the same principals (number of publications, tenure-ship, grants) as the business world. Now the policy makers- its quite unlikely that the US or the western europe will be able to convince China and India to keep a tab on their carbon emissions for obvious reasons. Even if we go all nuclear, all that we might achieve is delay the same fate by few more generations. After all there is only as much nuclear waste we can take care of. In spite of all the pessimism of rationale mind, I do believe (or maybe hope) that some change, some transition would happen which will make it abundantely clear that to do the right thing is indeed more profitable, more practical (and not just "idealistic"), more sustainable, more comfortable and so forth, and thus making the current model obsolete. Hoping its not too "idealistic" to hope so :)

Ujjwal said...

Thanks for your interesting thoughts, Saurabh.

I think somewhere policy makers, environmentalists, corporate leaders are getting entangled with trying to optimize 'good quality living' in a world which actually has severe limitations. The fact that with over 6.5 billion population and with over two third of it reeling under poverty, the imperative of growth which is environmentally sustainable might be a question without any easy answer. On top of it we have the murkiness of political interests, ignorance of people, foreign policy levers which complicate situations beyond repair.