The Ecology of Commerce Summary & Study Guide

Paul Hawken
This Study Guide consists of approximately 24 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Ecology of Commerce.
This section contains 491 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Ecology of Commerce Summary & Study Guide Description

The Ecology of Commerce 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 The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken.

The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken deals with the effects of industrialization on the environment. Hawken's takes the point of view that the environment is being destroyed by the economic system. The economic system and the processes of industrialization do not mimic the natural cyclical processes of nature, where the waste in one step becomes the food in another step. In this type of ecosystem, there is no waste; everything is recycled. What is waste in one stage is food in another stage. If industry had mimicked this kind of system there would be no problem with exhaustion of resources and damage to the environment. However, this isn't how industrialization works; instead, the process is linear. Industrial processes result in a great deal of waste, which does great damage to the environment. For example, industry relies on fossil fuels like oil and other carbon-based fuels. This creates a problem with carbon dioxide, which is harmful to the environment.

Hawken presents the idea that the economy must change from one based on waste that causes damage to the environment to one that is a restorative economy. This change must take place in order to save the planet from destruction. This would be difficult to accomplish, however, since businesses in the economic system are based on the profit motive, meaning they use the cheapest production technique. Being environmentally aware is usually more expensive and since this does not help the profit position, it is usually not adhered to. Hawken discusses several environmental disasters, like Bhopal, and the business response to the situation. The multinationals come across as cold and inhumane and concerned only with costs, not with human lives.

In order to save the environment, there must be a change to an ecologic economic system, which would yield no waste. The industrial process will not create any waste that is dumped into the environment. The ecologic economic system will mimic the cyclical processes of nature in which waste from one stage is food in another stage. The ecologic economic system will be based on hydrogen and solar power instead of carbon. The use of fossil fuels results in carbon dioxide problems in the environment, which would be eliminated with the switch from carbon in the production process. Finally, an ecologic economic system will be based on feedback and accountability that will strengthen the restorative nature of the system. Hawken makes the point that this change has to take place for the survival of the planet, but the carrying capacity of the planet is not known. The carrying capacity refers to the amount of population the planet can support and the amount of waste the environment can absorb. Business prefers to use regulation and things like taxes where they don't have to change their production techniques. As long as they can just pay, they don't have to change their production behavior. However, this isn't what is needed for the establishment of an ecologic economic system.

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This section contains 491 words
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