Book: Natural Capitalism

Posted by: Max Dunn on October 21, 2008 10:27:43

Natural Capitalism Natural Capitalism
by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins

When we use the word "capital" we usually mean money. This is what businesses look at when calculating their worth (profit) and what countries use to calculate their worth (GDP). However, this capital accounts for only a small part (if any!) of what makes us happy or what makes our lives worthwhile. While it is very difficult to place a value on those intangible things that really are meaningful, like rewarding work, clean air, a forest, a river or a child, our current system of capitalism fails to assign them any value at all!

Natural Capitalism covers many topics and is not easy to pin down exactly what it is about. The authors even acknowledge this: "Natural Capitalism is about integration and restoration, a systems view of our society and its relationship to the environment that defies categorization into sub-disciplines." But maybe it is enough to say that Natural Capitalism is about the importance of integrating natural resources and social systems into our world to create a sustainable society, and a guidebook on how to do it.

One reason I enjoyed this book so much is that rather than approaching this topic from a gloom-and-doom perspective that many environmentalists espouse, the authors are optimistic about the future and believe: "At the heart of this book is the thesis that 90 to 95 percent reductions in material and energy are possible in developed nations without diminishing the quantity or quality of the services that people want."

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic book and one that I am sure I will continually think about and refer back to for years to come as it offers a hopeful and realizable view of a better world.