'Natural Capitalism' praised by Clinton

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Sun Nov 21 12:54:56 PST 1999

In Florence at the conference of Centre Left parties today, Clinton has just plugged this book again.

It is already number 387 in the Amazon book list.

>From the Amazon reviews below it looks as if it shows a number of ways
capitalism can be reformed to reduce the explotation of the environment.

The reference to neighbourhood land use *might* imply some sort of socialisation of land short of outright public ownership (as called for in the Communist Manifesto)

But it will create illusions that there can be a solution short of the abolition of capitalism to the uneven accumulation of capital on a world scale, and the law that the large the stock of capital the larger the global reserve army of labour.

These technical innovations might even intensify the relative immiseration of Africa through the workings of the global capitalist system.

Does anyone know this book and can critique it?

Chris Burford



Natural Capitalism : Creating the Next Industrial Revolution

by Paul Hawken, Amory B. Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins, Paul Hawkin

Our Price: $18.87

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Hardcover - (September 1999) 396 pages


Amazon.com In Natural Capitalism, three top strategists show how leading-edge companies are practicing "a new type of industrialism" that is more efficient and profitable while saving the environment and creating jobs.

Paul Hawken and Amory and Hunter Lovins write that in the next century, cars will get 200 miles per gallon without compromising safety and power, manufacturers will relentlessly recycle their products, and the world's standard of living will jump without further damaging natural resources. "Is this the vision of a utopia? In fact, the changes described here could come about in the decades to come as the result of economic and technological trends already in place," the authors write.

They call their approach natural capitalism because it's based on the principle that business can be good for the environment. For instance, Interface of Atlanta doubled revenues and employment and tripled profits by creating an environmentally friendly system of recycling floor coverings for businesses. The authors also describe how the next generation of cars is closer than we might think.

Manufacturers are already perfecting vehicles that are ultralight, aerodynamic, and fueled by hybrid gas-electric systems. If natural capitalism continues to blossom, so much money and resources will be saved that societies will be able to focus on issues such as housing, contend Hawken, author of a book and PBS series called Growing a Business, and the Lovinses, who cofounded and directed the Rocky Mountain Institute, an environmental think tank. The book is a fascinating and provocative read for public-policy makers, as well as environmentalists and capitalists alike. --Dan Ring

>From Booklist , September 1, 1999
Hawken is the author of The Ecology of Commerce (1993) and is best known for his PBS series Growing a Business. Amory and Hunter Lovins founded the Rocky Mountain Institute, which promotes efficient resource use, and Amory has been called the "godfather" of alternative energy.

The three have joined forces here to set a blueprint for sustainable development. The authors argue that it is possible for companies to reduce energy and materials consumption by up to 90 percent but still increase profits, production, and employment. They outline the four strategies that underlie "natural capitalism" and, using hypercars and neighborhood land use and superefficient buildings as examples, show how these strategies are being applied. They also identify ways resources are being wasted and explain the principles of "resource productivity." Throughout their book, the authors indicate new business opportunities that will be created by practicing "natural capitalism." David Rouse

>From Kirkus Reviews
A critique of the present economic system and its destructive effects on natural assets, coupled with ideas about how to make it work better. The Lovinses, directors of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a resource policy center, and business author Hawken (The Ecology of Commerce, 1993, etc.) merge their talents and experiences here to offer practical guidelines for reducing the environmental messes made by the industrial world, including pollution, transportation congestion, erosion, and wasted energy of all types. While suggesting solutions, however, they use a good deal of space to attack both contemporary enterprises and those dating to the Industrial Revolution. Targets include specific technologies, corporations, and general business practices, as well as wasteful consumer habits. The aluminum can, for example, is examined in particular detail, from ore mines to assembly lines. Capitalism as an economic system is criticized as a financially profitable, nonsustainable aberration in human development.'' Also attracting debate is the free market, vilified as one of the forces causing waste and pollution. This seems unfair, since the same system is an underlying aspect of the solutions cited throughout the book. Rather than abandon capitalism altogether, the authors argue for modification, yielding what they call ``natural capitalism.'' This could mean, for example, assigning value to electricity that is unused, what they call ``negawatts.'' They offer detailed explanations of ideas that yield positive resultsi.e., reduced energy usage in a mechanical appliancebut fail to provide a step-by-step plan of action for broader applications. The book nonetheless yields unique value as a broad collection of intriguing ideas that work and compelling pleas for the benefit they bring: increased profits. Despite their unease with the present economic system, the authors ultimately favor individual responsibility and local and entrepreneurial initiatives for solving environmental problems. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP.

Publisher's Weekly "...an ambitious, visionary, monster book.....the book's reach is phenonmenal. It belongs to the galvanizing tradition of Frances Moore Lappe's Diet for a Small Planet and Stewart Brand's The Whole Earth Catalog."

The publisher, Little, Brown , October 21, 1999 President Clinton praises Natural Capitalism "It used to be that you couldn't grow a modern economy and get a whole people rich unless you burned a lot of coal and oil. That is not true any more....There ís a new book out I commend to you by Paul Hawken and Amory and Hunter Lovins called Natural Capitalism, and if you read it, you will be convinced that whatever you're doing and however well you're doing it, you could make a lot of money on the side by getting into alternative sources of energy and energy conservation. This is a huge deal." -- President Clinton, at a Democratic National Committee dinner, Oct. 5, 1999

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