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Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution is a book written by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins. See http://www.naturalcapitalism.com/ for reviews, discussion, and the full book text.

From the site:

Most businesses still operate according to a world view that hasn't changed since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Then, natural resources were abundant and labor was the limiting factor of production. But now, there's a surplus of people, while natural capital--natural resources and the ecological systems that provide vital life-support services--is scarce and relatively expensive.

In this groundbreaking blueprint for a new economy, three leading business visionaries explain how the world is on the verge of a new industrial revolution. Natural Capitalism describes a future in which business and environmental interests increasingly overlap, and in which companies can improve their bottom lines, help solve environmental problems--and feel better about what they do--all at the same time.

The full text of the book is available online (HTML excerpts and full chapters in PDF form) at http://www.naturalcapitalism.org/sitepages/pid20.asp.

Chapter 14 ("Human Capitalism") contains the particularly interesting story of Curitiba--an example of several ideas similar to Natural Capitalism. From the chapter:

Curitiba is a southeastern Brazilian city with the population of Houston or Philadelphia. It shares with hundreds of similar-sized cities a dangerous combination of scant resources plus explosive population growth. Curitiba's metro-area population grew from about 300,000 in 1950 to 2.1 million in 1990, when 42 percent of the population was under the age of 18. Another million residents are expected by 2020.

Most cities so challenged, in Brazil as throughout the South, have become centers of poverty, unemployment, squalor, disease, illiteracy, inequity, congestion, pollution, corruption, and despair. Yet by combining responsible government with vital entrepreneurship, Curitiba has achieved just the opposite. Though starting with the dismal economic profile typical of its region, in nearly three decades the city has achieved measurably better levels of education, health, human welfare, public safety, democratic participation, political integrity, environmental protection, and community spirit than its neighbors, and some would say than most cities in the United States. It has done so not by instituting a few economic megaprojects but by implementing hundreds of multipurpose, cheap, fast, simple, homegrown, people-centered initiatives harnessing market mechanisms, common sense, and local skills. It has flourished by treating all its citizens — most of all its children — not as its burden but as its most precious resource, creators of its future. It has succeeded not by central planning but by combining farsighted and pragmatic leadership with an integrated design process, strong public and business participation, and a widely shared public vision that transcends partisanship. The lessons of Curitiba's transformation hold promise and hope for all cities and all peoples throughout the world.

I read the whole book online--it is well worth reading. Some chapters are excessively optimistic, but overall the book feels well-balanced. I highly recommend this book to those interested in environmentalism and SocialCapitalism issues. --CliffordAdams


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