Consuming earth’s assets

“At present, we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product.” So says renowned entrepreneur and visionary Paul Hawken at his May 3rd commencement address to the University of Portland Class of 2009.

Think about it. Really, think about it. Are we killing the golden goose? Are we unwittingly liquidating our assets to generate current income? What will remain for future generations? How short-sighted have we become?

Is stealing capital and resources from the future and liquidating them to enhance current GDP any different than cashing in your inheritance for current consumption? How is that not fool’s gold?

The destruction of assets to enhance cashflow is not production. It is not sustainable. It will culminate in insolvency and a pile of trash. (Think Wall-E!)

As Mr. Hawkens warns the U of P graduates, “you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating.”

Is it possible we don’t realize we have reached the limits to growth? And yet, we continue to be addicted to more growth. Can we stop growing or is our addiction simply too strong?

Only time will tell. But hope endures.

As Mr. Hawkens explains, “If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse.”

Let’s hope we come to our senses… soon!

PS – Thanks to Michael Karp and Rick Dubrow for circulating Paul Hawken’s commencement address.

About Larry Horowitz

Commenting member • Member since Jan 16, 2008

Comments by Readers

John Erickson

May 21, 2009

Larry, you are a good man you have no idea how well my day has started after reading the link you provided. Thanks, John

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