paper is prepared for the Community
conference June 2017
For a printable pdf copy see http://gaiapc.ca/PJ/CIC-BPG.pdf
S#’s at the left refer to accompanying ppt slides.
Wealth Indicators as Elements of Paradigm Change:
A post–normal journey ~~ Blue Planet Governance
afternoon. Thank you for giving me
the opportunity to present ideas about social change:
1000 years ago, in
the flat earth era, the nature and scope of lands and oceans were
unknown. There were no ‘indicators’
to suggest limits to travel. Folk
lore suggested that if you sail far into the unknown you may fall over the
edge, into the…. abyss of the unknown[i]. (Footnote)
S2 Blue Planet
500 years ago we
discovered the Earth was round. Therefore it had a circumference, giving us
indication of definable limits to sea and land.
50 years ago the
first wave of primitive global indicators were dynamically interwoven in a
computer by an MIT research team that was commissioned by the science based
Club of Rome. This resulted in a highly controversial
report called, Limits to Growth. Some of the indicators used were:
depleting non-renewable resources; human population growth; food and
services per capita; and increasing pollution. When projected into the future this 1972
data suggested that early in the 21st century growing human-activity
would collide with the reality of resource-depletion and pollution, causing
human population to peak about 2030.
17 years ago the
Smithsonian Magazine reviewed the ‘Limits’ report using the same mix of
indicators to update past trends.
The heavy lines in the blue section of the graphic confirm the
relative accuracy of the original projections that had been from 1972 to
2000. The Smithson’s future
projection, from the year 2000, also indicated the likelihood of peak
population about 2030.
S4 World Leaders
But why don’t
governments change our course?
years ago I had some exchanges with Alexander King, [ii]
Club of Rome co-founder. He spoke of an event where the club had
invited many world leaders (including Pierre Trudeau) to a meeting to
discuss the implications of the dire message conveyed by the controversial
book. King stated that he and others
were pleased with the level of understanding among the national
leaders. But would they act? At the end of the meeting, one of the
leaders spoke for the group saying that they understood what our future
appears to holds, “But were he to act
on this substantially, he would be out of office, not at the next election,
but in a few months”.
cannot political leaders change the collective human trajectory?
leaders cannot because we have a paradigm problem. The collective story of our times has
evolved without taking into account scientific ‘indicators’ that clearly
illustrate our planet’s biophysical limits. Today’s national leaders don’t have the
constitutional tools to deal with the changes needed: And if a few did,
they could not act alone. And also,
the majority of ‘we the people’ be unlikely to believe
or accept the types of changes that a viable future will require, which
will likely include limits to population growth[iii].
say in bridge or today’s politics, ‘We
have been Trumped! :-)
This is a
complex multidisciplinary issue.
Many books and papers are written each year about each of the
foundational issues, but the key points are summarized within the chapters
of a web-based booklet called Paradigm
Junction. The chapters briefly cover several key
issues such as:
· Energy: Today’s civilization depends on fossil
energy for about 98% of global transportation. The reality of peak oil cannot be accommodated much longer by our current form
of governance. John Howe’s studies
suggest the effects will become apparent in a couple of years;[iv]
· Dynamic systems – to have a goal – to measure
critical items – to provide feedback to direct change toward that goal;
· During the last couple of centuries of the fossil energy era various forms of
economic and money creation schemes were developed in order to facilitate
exponentially increasing goods and services required by exponentially
growing human population - about 80% energized by fossil fuel energy, the
global warming culprit.
· The current commercial bank-controlled debt-based
money creation system is totally incompatible with either steady state or
negative growth in human-activity. This is only one of several serious
flaws in our Monetary Economic System
of which the acronym MES makes a good summary[v].
· During the past century of corporate lobbying, constant
hegemonic pressure has resulted in what many observers refer to as
‘corporate governance’, a root cause of today’s staggering wealth inequity[vi].
leaders who attended the COR meeting 25 years ago acknowledged they could
not escape the growth paradigm. It’s
the same today. Governments at all
levels pursue economic growth even though, as enlightened economist Kenneth
Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go
in a finite world is
either a madman or an economist.
S7 … and yet your daily media report will
cover the local stock exchange numbers giving the impression that growth is
seen as the holy grail of progress.
Today’s governance appears to be guided by a mix of surrealism and dreams
of past glory.
S8 Our predicament is summarized in a chapter of a 1988 book called Dream Of The Earth by Fr. Thomas
Berry where he also suggests what is needed:
industrial context in which we presently function cannot be changed
significantly in the immediate future.
Our immediate survival is bound up in this context, with all its
benefits as well as its destructive aspects. What is needed, however, is a
comprehensive change in the control and direction of the energies available
to us. Most of all we need to alter
our commitment from an industrial wonderland achieved by plundering
processes to an integral Earth community based on a mutual enhancing
human-earth relationship. This move
from an anthropocentric sense of reality and values to a biocentric norm is
Blue Planet Governance
Providing Stewardship for a
Small Blue Planet
Indicators as Elements of Paradigm Change:
A post–normal journey, where,
is a measurement of a robust ecology
of the general health and happiness of the people!
as penned by Riane Eisler
in her ’89 book, The Real Wealth of Nations
Let’s consider a few wise words by a few other notables:
Don’t be fooled by the idiotic exertions
of the Red team and the Blue team. They’re just playing a game of “Capture
the Flag” on the deck of the Titanic.
S11 In her book, This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein tells us
So we are left with a stark choice: allow climate disruption to
change everything about our world, or change pretty much everything about
our economy to avoid that fate. But we need to be very clear: because of
our decades of collective denial, no gradual, incremental options are now
available to us.
S12 And the ever realistic Buckminster Fuller commented:
never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something,
build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
Helmut Burkardt laments:
Today’s global polity
needs our attention because it is as ugly as fascism. It is violent,
destructive, dangerous and expensive. It is incomprehensibly violent and
destructive as witnessed in Aleppo or in Mosul. It creates deadly danger
for all by threatening the application of nuclear weapons. It is expensive
due to the costly arms race, which the existing political reality requires.
We live in a global anarchy of self centered sovereign nations vying for
hegemony and carelessly ruining our “Lebensraum”, the ecosystem. This is a
nightmare. How can we tolerate and even hang on to such a bad political
S14 The Future starts now:
The foregoing points about our obsolete paradigm were made to establish
that this paper assumes that the current growth-driven national governments
of the world are incapable of changing civilization’s “Titanic” course into
the future. This information is not
intended to depress but to inspire intelligent young minds to capitalise on
the wealth of measurement tools and well-established technologies that
could enable us to govern ourselves towards the biocentric norm of which
Fr. Berry spoke.
In the past few decades there has been a groundswell in appetite for
change, with thousands of NGOs working for improvement in many of our
critical areas of interest. Data
produced by the Community Indicators
Consortium will be essential for the production of vitally-needed data
providing feedback guidance within any viable governance system. What is missing is a common realistic
vision; a holistic goal that could enable these now disparate energies to
gain the synergistic boost of common-cause, to build team spirit while
achieving our common goal of reducing our excessive footprint to live within
the biophysical limits of the systems of life on our small blue
Job one is to envision, to discuss with a team and then develop the
documentation framework that can move communities of minds toward a
biocentric form of governance capable of providing stewardship of the Gaian
living systems. For now we’ll call
this system, Blue Planet Governance
From within today’s geopolitical worldview Blue Planet Governance seem like a pipe dream. But if we look around we see ample opportunity
to begin areas of implementation. Many
essential components are already being established. There are several organizations promoting
regionalization. In the real wealth measurement area we have
the well-established Ecological
Footprint organization, the Community
Indicators Consortium and various energy assessment groups. Bitcoin and other blockchain
monetary systems are already making inroads and could easily become a
commodity-based currency rooted in measured real wealth of each Region.
The Population Institute
provides instruction on family planning in areas where information is
scarce. Existing government
structures, from municipal to state or federal, could remain much the same
as they are today but simply operated somewhat differently.
Paradigm change does not come easy. The biggest obstacle will be to
change the human mind-set as commented by cyberneticist Stafford Beer in
his 1972 book, Designing Freedom:
I am proposing simply that society should
use its tools to redesign its institutions, and to operate those institutions
quite differently. You can
imagine all the problems. But the first and gravest problem is in the mind,
screwed down by all those cultural constraints. You will not need a lot of
learning to understand what I am saying: what you will need is intellectual
freedom. It is a free gift for all who have the courage to accept it.
Remember: our culture teaches us not intellectual courage, but intellectual
Of course another global economic collapse, as almost happened in
will inspire many to seek the safety of a regional/global lifeboat economy
– presuming we have built one.
While at an
economic conference in UK October 2008, I visited by Bull of Birmingham.
Section 4 of the Paradigm Junction booklet is about envisioning, which is a
form of post normal design. In
engineering, when new concepts are imagined, we move from a sketch to a
prototype for testing, and then to the finished product. Quite a lot is generally known about many
of the parameters that will affect the outcome, such as in the case of a
new type of aircraft, or a new energy conversion system. However, when speculating on the design
of a sustainable human civilization, the term post normal encapsulates fuzzy parameters.
Drawing from a
2003 ISEE presentation by
S.Funowitz & J.Ravetz
This figure shows
diminishing certainty and increasingly high stakes as we move from
relatively familiar applied science and sociology towards the fuzzy world
of post normal – our common future.
Post-normal science is a
concept developed by Silvio Funtowicz and Jerome Ravetz, who illustrate a methodology of inquiry
appropriate for cases where: facts
are uncertain, values are in dispute, stakes are high and decisions are
urgent. It is primarily applied
in the context of long-term issues where there is less available
information than is desired by stakeholders. These conditions certainly apply when
speculating on a sustainable global governance system.
Professor Professor Hartmut Bossel speculated on paradigm change in his
1998 book, Earth at a Crossroads:
Pathways to a Sustainable Future, his list of considerations of needed
changes are very much aligned with the ideas with Blue Planet Governance, as listed in the reference material.[x]
Stewardship For A Small Blue Planet
Here is a simplified[xi] big picture view of BPG
as it might appear in about 10 to 20 years if a few good men and women can
accept with optimism we reach Paradigm
Junction with a vision capable of guiding us through the chaotic times
that we know will be in our short term future – one way or another.
Regions & Their UR
Fig. 1 provides overview of the United
Regions (UR) where many today’s medium size counties such as those in
the European Union, Africa, South America, and also bioregional segments of
large landmasses such as Asia, USA, Canada or Russia are referred to as
Regions. These regions are united in
common cause and have changed the nature and the name of the United Nations to the United Regions (UR)[xii].
successful concept from the corporate world[xiii], the UR is a chaordic organization[xiv], meaning that it has been created by the highly autonomous regions
of the world in order to deal with common issues that are beyond the scope
of any one region. Fig. 1 shows the
cluster of regions that are part of this stewardship system of global trade
and commerce. Some small regions are
represented through a continental hub to represent their common
Two key concepts underly the dynamics of
this system of governance;
Concept 1: A changed definition of wealth:
Gone are the fatally flawed debt-based, computer-generated numbers that
create today’s vast ‘wealth’ inequity.
As penned by economist Riane Eisler in The
Real Wealth of Nations, here is the new definition of wealth: Real
wealth is a measurement of a robust ecology and of the general health and happiness of the people!
The many elements that go into that definition are called Wealth Factors. These ‘indicators’ of physical and social
reality become the commodity basis for the Gaia$ money system. It is their scientific measurement that
determines a region’s human carrying capacity and Gaia$ supply. Since these ‘indicators’ are such an
important part of the dynamic interaction of Blue Planet Governance, we’ll dwell more on those later.
Concept 2: Monetary
availability and flow rate can be seen as a dynamic regulator of
human-activity. I.e., more money = more resource throughput, less money =
less resource throughput. Monetary
affluence also influences procreation considerations, especially when the
potential ‘real wealth’ and well-being of one’s region is inversely
proportional to population level.
This may be thought of as per capita dynamics.
UR Expanded View
As illustrated in Figures 1 & 2, the UR has various sections as
· The State of Gaia (SOG) section is responsible for scientific
observation of, and needed response to, our natural world;
· Indicators: Because you can’t manage what you don’t measure[xv], the Human Activities
Index (HAI) gathers data from the regions that ‘indicate’ the
well-being of local natural systems, of energy usage, of energy generation,
of wetlands, etc., of the state of industry, of the state of civic
infrastructure, of farming, of human happiness and population numbers;
· The Global Standard (GS) section develops:
- laws that apply to the global commons;
- the criteria for a region’s acceptance into the UR community;
- the standards that apply to the ‘indicators’ that represent regional
wealth, based on the HAI data.
· The Bank of Gaia (BoG) gathers data from
the HAI in order determine how many Gaia$ dollars can be issued to each
region, based on their wealth factor assessment. In this system an
individual’s wealth potential is inversely proportional to their region’s
population. Now population and
procreation considerations become dynamically tied to regional wealth and
wellbeing. This data will now
influence personal resource throughput and procreation considerations.
· UR Defence: There is a UR military presence in each continent to
police the global commons and as the tool of last resort in inter-regional
Here are a few suggested standards for Regional acceptance into the
community of United Regions:
ü Regional governments should be
ü There will be no corporate or private
ownership of land[xvi]. The lands, forests and lakes are under
the stewardship of the Regional government, but can be leased to
individuals and corporations.
ü UR recommends that individuals in each
Region are provided with a minimum income and will be subject to a maximum
ü Regional money is generally expressed on a
per capita basis.
ü Regional governments are the shareholders
of all multi-regional corporations, not individuals as it was BPC (Before
Paradigm Change). This change
enhances the common good wherein automated production now provides
enjoyable leisure time instead of unemployment.
ü The relatively transparent blockchain (Bitcoin-like) system of accounting enables
regional governments to limit external trade as necessary, and it enables
them to have full control over immigration because only registered citizens
can use their Region’s Gaia$ money system.
S20 We have work
to do. Are We Ready To Enact?
November 12, 1936 Winston Churchill grew so exasperated with the continuing
failure of Britain to prepare for Hitler’s onslaught that he charged in a
speech to the House of Commons: “The government simply cannot make up
their minds, or they cannot get the Prime Minister to make up his
mind. So they go on in strange
paradox, decide only to be undecided, resolve to be irresolute, adamant for
drift, solid for fluidity, all –powerful to be impotent... the era of
procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients of
delays, is coming to its close. In
its place we are entering a period of consequences.”
The End The Beginning
Links to all
chapters of Paradigm Junction at the end of the notes: [xvii]