Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution Summary & Study Guide

Paul Hawken
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Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution Summary & Study Guide Description

Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution by Paul Hawken.

"Natural Capitalism" is a cooperative effort of Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins to outline the principals of natural capitalism, an ethos by which the resources of the natural world are as highly valued as financial resources have been in previous human history. A summary of the state of industry and its cost to the natural world is outlined in the first chapter, with a call to the United States to lead the next industrial revolution and restore our economy, educational systems and environment. Hypercars and cities organized around the principal of community and pedestrian accessibility are the first strategy outlined, as they explain the cost to the environment, our industries and our lives in time and tragedy that would be saved by rethinking our cars and the design of our neighborhoods.

Discussing the wider topic of industry, the authors discuss waste as the most immediate albatross business must throw off. To model industry after nature would mean that systems are completely closed, reusing everything they take from nature or from the destruction of something old. To use as little material for the most good would mean that waste is eliminated before goods ever leave the factory. There is also a tremendous amount of waste the authors point out as unnecessary in buildings, as architects are taught that compromise is a matter of course, but if plumbers, electricians, architects and the like are allowed to work in cooperation with each other, their work can become complementary and waste can be eliminated.

They also describe how the simplicity of the systems that use less energy, and the ability to eliminate waste from production will tunnel through the cost barrier, until better design costs less both over time and in production. A perfect example is carbon fiber cars, in which the steel frame and heavy drive train are rendered unnecessary because of the incredible lightness and strength of the car's body. A similar cost elimination is demonstrated in the chapter on Muda, or waste, and a service and flow economy. This is a system in which people subscribe to a service to provide what a purchased appliance would otherwise provide. Service and flow leaves ownership of the appliances with the company, as well as the responsibility to make it as efficient as possible and reuse whatever they can as a means for them to keep their costs down. This makes innovation and efficiency the very best way of doing business.

The authors explain that there is nothing humans can manufacture that will provide for life on our planet like the life that is already here, and no amount of synthesis that can replace it once it is lost. For that reason, the very best way to protect business and livelihood is to protect the environment as the source for everything that makes life good. We can go a long way down that path by learning from the waste-free processes by which nature produces its resources, and following its example. "Nature's Filaments" describes several examples. "Food for Life" follows a similar track describing how delicate our food supply is, and how destructive it is for corporations to sequester and manipulate whole species of plants. To allow nature to function as unaltered as possible is the only way we will be sure it is able to survive, and it is true in the botanical as well as the aqueous world.

The climate is another of the systems that must be protected from those altering influences that we have already observed as having a detrimental effect on the planet, like carbon dioxide. Everything from fossil fuel burning to responsible forestry, farming and livestock practices can affect that balance, and it is increasingly more urgent all the time that we recapture and stop releasing greenhouse gasses. Government has a responsibility in this area to subsidize what is beneficial to the environment and penalize what is not, so that the cost to the environment of certain practices is factored in to the price of doing them.

The final two chapters are dedicated to examples of how these principals look in practice, the most detailed example of which is the city of Curitiba in Brazil. In the final chapter, the authors describe the culture in which we have been having this conversation, the different ways of thinking about it, and how to harmonize all of them, so that everyone can see the virtue of making these changes.

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