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Sustainable Economy in Scotland

Knowledgebase > Sustainable Economy in Scotland

What If ?

The Birth of a Sustainable Economy
in Scotland, in the Moray Firth Region, 1995 – 2015

by Guy Dauncey

Presented to the Findhorn Foundation EcoVillages Conference,
Findhorn, Scotland, October 1995

In 1995, there was a growing awareness in Scotland that the way economic
growth was happening on the Earth, there might not be much of a new
millennium to celebrate in 5 years time unless some pretty serious changes
were put in motion to start doing things differently. The cumulative
effects of the fundamental clash between the economy and the ecology of the
Earth were beginning to manifest themselves in a host of worrisome ways.

In October of 1995, there was a major international conference on
EcoVillages at the Findhorn Foundation, and as a result of conversations
during the conference, a small group of local people got together who
shared a deep desire to build a sustainable Earth-Economy in the Moray
Firth Region of Scotland.

When they first met, they stuck a poster of a quote by Margaret Mead on the
wall, saying "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned
citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has".
Then they said "It's got to happen - so let's do it !".

They decided to devote 1996 to gathering information about state-of-the-art
thinking on sustainable economies from around the world. They set up a
Sustainable Economies Dialogue on the Internet, and invited people all
around the world to tell them about positive, hopeful initiatives. They
also ran a weekly Sustainable Future discussion group, which rapidly grew
as people discovered that the founders had a deep commitment, which
inspired others to want to get on board. The group included a local
councillor, an investment adviser, a farmer, several academics, a bank
manager, two businessmen from the local Chamber of Commerce, a local
landowner, and an officer from the local military base.

Over the course of the year they ran into a huge range of people over the
Internet, including some of the world's leading new economists and
progressive business people, and they explored a virtual ton of positive
sounding initiatives. At the end of the year, they hosted a community
seminar to share their results, and persuaded to the local paper to cover
the meeting.

"What have we learnt ?", they asked, at the seminar. "Overall, we have
learnt three things :

"One, things are far worse than we thought they were. Our economy, while it
has delivered many truly good things to us, is fundamentally hostile to
Nature in the way it operates. Almost without exception, each act of
economic growth is accompanied by an equivalent act of ecological loss.
>From Nature's perspective, the economy is behaving rather like an alien
organism that is preying on the Earth in a parasitic feeding frenzy. It
takes what it needs, without any understanding of the ecology or the
context, spews its wastes into the air, soil and water, and dumps the final

"At a profound level, the solution lies with a substitution of intelligence
for matter, a decoupling of economic growth from associated growth in the
input of material resources. The Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado and
the Wuppertal Institute in Germany are saying that we should build a
'Factor Four economy', ie one that is four times more efficient in its use
of energy and raw materials, and then go on to build a Factor Ten economy;
and that in so doing, we will both strengthen our economies, and make them
more sustainable, ecologically."

"These Sustainability Curves indicate the shift we must make. Curve A shows
the typical exponential growth of Earth's economy, as it heads towards the
limits of Earth's ecological existence, and its rendezvous with disaster.
Curve B shows how this growth really consists of two curves, one
representing our ever-growing consumption of material resources, the other
showing the growth of embodied intelligence, through science, engineering,
and the development of social and cultural wealth. Curve C shows how our
consumption of material resources must be rapidly turned around and
stabilized, while the curve of intelligence, which is also the curve of
spiritual and invisible wealth, can continue to grow, since it is not
bounded by any physical limits."

THE VISUALS  (Since the images can't be transmitted electronically !)

Curve A : Picture a background of Planet Earth, with an exponential curve
reaching up across it, starting to go vertical.

Curve B : Now picture the same curve with a second curve running parallel,
immediately underneath. The lower curve represents the growth of
consumption of material resources (quantity); the upper curve represents
the growth of intelligence and other invisibles (quality).

Curve C : The lower curve goes through a U-turn and then stabilizes, while
the upper curve continues its exponential growth.

"The second thing we have learnt is that all over the world, people are
working to change the way the economy works, seeking to remodel it so that
it performs in harmony with nature, instead of hostility. There are
initiatives being developed in governments, businesses and banks,
communities and households, farms, forests and international agencies. We
have learnt that the economy cannot be treated as a 'thing' which can be
fixed by economists, or any other kind of specialist. The economy is an
expression of a interconnected, cultural wholeness, which links to our
food, energy, houses, communities, values and our own children, as well as
to our businesses and our trading relations. And throughout this wholeness
a massive turnaround is in process, which offers us a wide array of

"The third thing we have learnt involves a constantly recurring spiritual
dimension. A disproportional number of people who are involved in the new
initiatives are motivated by a deep feeling that Earth, and Nature, are
both sacred, and that they have a profound duty to  stop the assault and
heal the damage. Unlike most other movements for economic reform, which
have usually been motivated by a desire to increase the wealth of some or
all of the world's population, ignoring the process by which that wealth is
obtained, this movement seems to have roots in a sense of the sacred. As a
group,"  they said, "we share that sense of the sacred; when we look at
Earth, and Nature, we are filled with a sense of wonder and awe. Whatever
the practical initiatives we get up to over the coming years, we want it to
be known that it comes down to this : we deeply love the Earth on which we
live, and we want to see if we can reshape the Moray Firth economy in a way
which will reflect this love".

In January 1997, half of the group devoted itself to launching an
organization called Moray Firth Businesses for Social Responsibility. They
spent six months attracting members from the local business community with
a variety of interesting speakers, and then decided to launch a program
called Green-Up, offering practical environmental advice to local
businesses to help them convert to more eco-friendly ways of operating. The
BBC was interested, and produced a series of programs called 'Green-Up',
based on the experience of businesses which were working their way through
the program.

The rest of the group decided to devote the year to mapping out a complete
picture of what the Moray Firth economy might look like in the year 2015,
if it was to grow in a completely new direction, towards
Earth-Sustainability. They needed such a picture, they decided, in order to
be able to back-track, and plot which initiatives and changes would be
needed now, if that goal were to be achieved.

During 1997, they held some very fruitful meetings with activists involved
in 'Local Agenda 21' planning for the Grampian and Highland regions, who
were committed to seeing that the goals of the 1992 Rio Conference were
implemented, particularly relating to biodiversity and global warming. They
also took a trip to Holland, where they met with planners involved in the
Dutch Green Plan. They were especially impressed with the fact that the
Plan took a 50 year perspective, and worked closely with business in key
sectors of the economy. They were excited by the Plan's use of goals,
indicators, and four-yearly progress reports in areas such as pesticide
use, carbon dioxide emissions, wildlife habitat protection and recycling.
The Local Agenda 21 people came with them to Holland, and on their return
they held a series of meetings with sympathetic people in local government.
Together, they decided that they would devote the whole of 1998 to
community meetings in the region, to share the idea of having a Green Plan
with the wider community, and win public support.

In the summer of 1998 Nature came to their support in a perverse kind of
way by delivering a  blistering 5-month-long drought throughout northern
Scotland, which had everyone on stand-pipes by the end of July. The world
scientific community came out in a strong voice, saying that yes, the
weather problems were directly related to global warming, thanks to our use
of fossil fuels, and the 4 billion tons of carbon dioxide we released each
year. The same year, the UN Convention on Climate Change declared that
stabilizing C02 emissions at 1990 levels was  nowhere near enough : if we
were to have any chance of stabilizing the atmosphere, we had to aim for a
massive 80% reduction of 1990 levels by the year 2015. Greenpeace then
launched a fall campaign called 'Drive a Car, Starve a Whale', which
successfully shocked people with the knowledge that increasing carbon
dioxide emissions was causing ocean temperature disturbances, which were
causing a drastic decline in zooplankton populations, and starving the
larger whale species of their habitual diet. Many young people were moved
by the campaign to sign a pledge that they would never purchase a
fossil-fuel-powered car, and started a profound shift in awareness that led
people to look on cars as they did cigarettes, as a source of suffering,
pain and death, and inherently anti-social.

Some sceptics wrote to the press saying how people had fallen for the
fear-mongering of the environmental long-hairs, but in January 1999 the
Grampian and Highland Regional Councils, in conjunction with a dozen other
organizations, put their name to an ambitious Green Plan for the area. The
Plan adopted the 80% C02 reduction goal, among a mass of other
commitments. "If the next 5 years tell us we are being unnecessarily
cautious", they said, "we can easily change". The first five-year plan
included a 25% cut in pesticide use, a 25% reduction in the waste stream
and a 25% increase in overall energy efficiency. To encourage  recycling
and the re-use of recycled materials, the Plan established several
Recycling Market Development Zones, based on the success of the program in
California, encouraging companies working with recycled materials to locate
in the zone. It also established an electronic Moray Firth Resources
Exchange Circle, designed to turn the region's industrial and commercial
wastes into a saleable market resource. The Plan called for the planting of
250,000 trees, the fencing of 1500 square kilometres of ancient Caledonian
forest to restore the forest by protecting it from the ravages of the deer,
the restoration of salmon habitat, a 25% reduction in the flow of treated
sewage, and an end to all ocean dumping into the Moray Firth itself.

Having set the ambitious goal of 80% C02 reduction, the Regions invited
Moray Firth Businesses for Social Responsibility to set up a C02 Reduction
Task Force to advice them on the changes needed to achieve the goal. "If we
ask the business community to recommend the reforms", they told themselves,
"it will be easier to reach final consensus, than if we try to tell them
what to do".

In the spring of  2000, the Task Force came back with its recommendations,
covering energy, transportation, and urban design. On energy, they
recommended legislation that, starting in a year's time, would oblige
anyone selling a house to  retrofit it to an agreed standard of efficiency
and insulation. To make the retrofits easy, they recommended setting up a
Retrofit Partnership between the energy utilities, the retrofit companies
and local banks to create a single package, through which you could phone
to get your house retrofitted, financed by an automatic bank loan which
would be repaid out of the savings on future fuel bills.  They also
recommended the creation of Energy Bonds to finance the retrofitting of
larger industrial and commercial premises, and investments into solar,
ground source solar, wind, and other renewable forms of energy.

When it came to transportation, they reminded people that the average
motorist doing 10,000 miles a year pumped 4-5 tons of carbon dioxide into
the atmosphere. "There is absolutely no avoiding it", they said : "the buck
stops with us". Encouraged by widespread discussion in the media about the
whole issue of global warming, they proposed a package of measures designed
to wean people out of their cars. These included :
*       mandatory trip reduction programs for larger employers;
*       true cost parking, to reflect the real cost of land and discourage
free and subsidized parking;
*       building a network of cross-country trails for cycling, hiking and
*       giving everyone an annual pass for the local bus services, pre-paid
out of local taxes;
*       restoring old railway lines, where they could offer good commuter
*       digging up some urban side-streets, replacing them with parks,
gardens and footpaths;
*       a feebate system whereby fuel-inefficient cars pay extra road-tax,
and efficient cars pay less;
*       electronic road-pricing, making drivers pay for every mile they
travelled on the roads;
*       additional taxes on the price of petrol;
*       a carbon-tax on aircraft fuel
*       using the income to support public transit, and for alternative
fuel research.

The Task Force's proposals were reported nationally, and championed by
environmental groups and non-conservative councils all over Britain.
Motoring lobby organizations were livid. In public, they accused the Task
Force of being manipulated by conspiracies of doom-mongers who had a hidden
agenda to destroy free democracies. In private, they organized the
posh-sounding 'Global Climate Environmental Research Team' which they paid
to commission phony scientific studies designed to show that global warming
was not proven, and hired a big PR company to push the studies onto
editorial desks across the country. The strategy delighted frustrated
motorists, until a leak to Greenpeace exposed a top-secret document which
outlined their entire strategy, along with details of secret payments being
made to politicians in off-shore bank accounts, creating a scandal which
caused several MPs to resign.

The proposals might not have been implemented, but the environmental
movement organized like never before, emphasizing the benefits of traffic
calming and cycling. In the winter of 2000 massive storms flooded huge
areas of Holland and eastern Britain, driving home the realities of climate
chaos, and providing the political support necessary for most of the
proposals to be adopted by councils all over Britain.

The third part of the Task Force's report dealt with urban design. They
focussed their attention on a new piece of software called the C02 Profile,
which calculated the CO2 impact of different urban designs by inputting
data on street layout, housing density and local employment opportunities.
They then recommended that only settlements with a low CO2 profile be
approved, and proposed a shift to ecovillage type settlements, and a move
away from single family dwellings.

As the proposals were implemented over the next five years, the price of
used cars plummeted and the motor industry went into crisis, with thousands
of layoffs. Car sharing co-operatives flourished, and telecommuting became
a regular way of life.

While all this was going on, the Moray Firth region continued to experience
a stubborn level  of unemployment, along with the rest of the country. The
technological revolution was fast and thorough, and was replacing people
with machines all over the economy. New jobs were appearing and new
businesses starting, but the businesses came pre-automated, and showed no
sign of being able to employ the tens of thousands who had no work. Some
households had had no breadwinner for ten years or longer. A quarter of all
school-leavers were unable to find work, and young men, in particular, were
bitter, angry and alienated.

Unemployment had been around for so long, however, that few people in
government or in the media paid any attention to it any more. There was an
attitude of resignation, after all the government schemes had come and
gone. "The unemployed will always be with us", seemed to be the attitude.
The unemployed tended to share the hopelessness.

In the year 2000, all this suddenly changed. A new movement grew up among
unemployed people, focussed around the demand for worksharing. "Why should
you all work 5 or 6 days a week, when we cannot work at all ?", they said.
"Why can't we all work 4 days a week, enjoy a 3-day weekend, and let
unemployed people get back into the workforce ?", They had studies from
economists that showed that with a 4 day-week, or an 8-day fortnight,
productivity would rise, employers' contributions for national insurance
could be eliminated, and average pay need be only 5% less. "A 20% cut in
working hours for a 5% cut in pay", they said. "Isn't that a pretty smart
move ?". To back their proposal, they produced opinion polls that showed
that 70% of the population supported such a move, if it could be arranged.

The idea had been around for years, but in the year 2000, for the first
time, groups of unemployed people took it up as a cause and started
organizing rallies, marches, and mass pickets of offices and factories,
saying to the workers "Share the Work !". The unions resisted, determined
not to surrender a single privilege of working life, but over the year, as
the logic of the move sank in, they began to acknowledge that they had a
social obligation to unemployed workers too, and began to accept the need
for change.

The environmental movement had never paid much attention to unemployment as
an issue. The debate had always been focused on ways to increase growth,
irrelevant of the environmental consequences, so there had been little
shared interest between the movements. When the unemployed took up the
demand for worksharing, however, the connection with simpler living and
with having more time instead of more things began to sink in. When the
unemployed took their protest to the offices of Greenpeace in London,
dangling outside worker's windows on ropes to protest the long, 6-day weeks
their staff habitually worked, Greenpeace capitulated. In 2002, the
government legislated a national move to a 4-day week, backed up by a major
investment in training to get unemployed people back to work in all the
vacancies that opened up. Over the next three years, 80% of the unemployed
were able to find regular jobs, and people all over the country got used to
regular 3 and often 4-day weekends.

Worksharing alone was not enough to heal the wounds that decades of
unemployment had left. It remedied the central ailment, but left numerous
communities still mired in poverty and alienation. It took widespread
adoption of Community Trusts to begin to tackle that. The Trusts took their
spirit from the movement for community economic development that began in
the 1970s, and the community businesses that flourished in Scotland the
'80s and '90s. The Trusts came of age when they were given proper
governmental support for their work of local economic development, along
with control over the budgets for local welfare, unemployment benefits,
training and business assistance. With these powers, and by using community
banks, local currencies and sustainable technologies to build local trade,
and by instituting a year of community service for all young people under
25, they were able to integrate the various pieces to the puzzle, and
rebuild shattered communities. It is a work that will need many years yet,
before completion.

And here's Part 2 !

By 2005, the Green Plan was half-way into its 20-year program. Progress was
steady, but patchy. In the first 5-year period, local farmers had succeeded
in achieving a 25% cut in the amount of pesticides they used, but the
amount of pesticides being used by householders was as high as ever. Around
2000, a number of parents groups started a campaign called 'Mothers Against
Cancer in Children', and sought court injunctions to have major Garden
Centres closed down on the grounds that they were contaminated sites,
because of the sheer volume of hazardous chemicals they contained. They
started promoting local pesticide by-laws, and within a year, 15% of
Scottish councils had approved the bylaw, which banned all use of chemical
pesticides in people's gardens. A consortium of agribusiness companies
fought back with a legal challenge, but it was thrown out by the courts,
and the following year, as if to rub it in, the government imposed a 30%
ecotax on all chemical pesticide and fertilizer products, with the income
going to a conversion fund for organic farmers.

The corporations' response was to move into biological pesticides in a big
way. By way of background, it helps to know that various types of bt
(bacillus thuringiensis) are biological pesticides, widely used by organic
growers. Back in 1995, Monsanto, one of the world's largest agribusiness
corporations, decided to move into the bt field. They took a variety of bt
that was known to kill the Colorado potato beetle, and genetically bred a
potato with the bt built right into it. Colorado beetles attacking the
spuds would die from the bt, and Monsanto would get a lucrative harvest
from their monopoly on the potato. The trouble was that if only two beetles
in ten thousand happened to have a resistant gene, these two would go on to
breed while all the others would be wiped out, and within a few years most
Colorado beetles would be resistant to bt, and the organic farming movement
would have lost one of its most valuable biological pesticides. The
movement fought Monsanto bitterly, and the potato project was put on hold,
but meanwhile, another multinational, GrowEx Inc., started marketing
genetically-bred bt vegetables, threatening to destroy the entire value of
bt as a natural pesticide in exchange for 5 or ten years of increased

For the people at the heart of Moray Firth Businesses for Social
Responsibility, GrowEx's actions presented a profound dilemma. They had
been promoting the creed that since it was the world's businesses which
were most intimately involved in the economy, and by default, in the
destruction of ecological stability, it was up to business to adopt new
standards of social and ecological responsibility, and change their
production processes accordingly. "So how do we respond", they asked
themselves, "to a corporation like GrowEx, that shows no trace of
responsibility, and which acts like an ecological psychopath, solely in the
interest of its shareholders ?". They asked the same question over the
Internet, and found themselves engaged in a major international debate with
people asking the same question all over the world. Throughout the planet,
many multinational corporations were behaving with the impunity of pirates,
blackmailing governments, buying politicians, relocating their offices,
minimizing taxes, and spending millions to get laws reversed, all in the
name of increased profits and share-values.

The information they gathered put some of the group's most committed
members into a major depression. All the work they were doing in their
small corner of north-east Scotland seemed like a gnat's pee, compared with
the deluge of unsustainability being practiced by corporations around the
world. What was the value of their own work, when faced with such a
deliberate ecological holocaust ?

The Internet dialogue was also full of solutions, however. In the USA, a
movement was building which challenged the charters granted by state
jurisdictions which gave the corporations their legal existence. Several
corporations had modified their behaviour when threatened with the
unpleasantness and publicity of a full legal hearing into their right to
exist. Responding to the growing international furor, the US state of
Vermont passed the Social, Environmental and Employee Responsibility Act.
The Act offered tax-incentives to corporations which adopted a package of
reform measures including worksharing, telecommuting,
employee-shareholding, public environmental and social auditing, community
directors, and a ceiling on executive salaries. It was a good move for
Vermont, since smart, young, ecologically aware companies chose to locate
in the state because of the Act.

Jumping ahead of our chronology to complete this aspect of the story, by
2012 anger and impatience had grown to breaking throughout the world at the
way in which big corporations acted as if they owned the place,
irrespective of ethics, taxes or environmental considerations. That year, a
major UN Conference was organized, and a Global Treaty signed which called
on all multinational corporations to abide by a Global Code of Social and
Environmental Conduct. Within a year, the Treaty had obtained the necessary
number of signatures, and became binding. Some corporations tried to ignore
the Treaty, and were taken to trial at the International Court of Justice
in the Hague. Like slavery, the systematic injustices and ecological
destructions that had been done at the hand of the corporations had finally
been brought to an end.

Back in Scotland, a new dimension was being added to the sustainability
movement with an increasing number of people who were getting interested in
the practice of voluntary simplicity. This was more than a vague spiritual
desire to get back to a simpler, less consumer-heavy lifestyle. People were
engaging in detailed financial planning, with help from organized
workbooks, to minimize their expenditures and maximize their savings, with
a view to 'signing off' from the working world, or reducing their paid work
to one or two days a week, and living a simpler life on a relatively low
income, while devoting their time to their families, and to things they
enjoyed doing. Quite a number of people were leaving lucrative professional
careers which had been high on income, but low on meaning, and were
devoting their lives to making a difference on the Earth. Their influence
cannot be underestimated when assessing the  changes that happened over the
first 15 years of the new millennium.

One of the physical indicators of their influence was the spread of
cohousing initiatives, ecovillages and intentional communities, which
enabled people to live in close proximity with a higher degree of sharing,
co-operation, and resource conservation than is normally possible in single
family dwellings. As well as the neighbourhoods, houses, and energy, water
and solar aquatic sewage systems being designed for sustainability, the
residents found that ecovillage-type arrangements made it easier to share
equipment such as tools, cars and dishwashers, and in an overall way, to
substitute quality for quantity in their lives.

In the summer of 2005, as the movement to ban pesticides was picking up
steam throughout Scotland, news broke in California of a plant virus which
was not responding to any known pesticide, and impending crop failures.
"THE BUGS ARE WINNING !", the headlines screamed. A month later, news came
in about drought in China, and food prices started to climb. By October,
the true picture of the calamity was unfolding. The world food surplus,
which had held steady at over 100 days supply in the 1970s and 80's, had
fallen to only 5 days. Fish stocks all around the world had virtually
vanished as a result of overfishing, ultraviolet penetration of surface
waters and the disappearance of zooplankton. China had ceased to export
grain in 1994, as growing numbers of Chinese had used their newfound wealth
to shift from grains to meat. From 1995, China had been a steady importer
of wheat. In the space of one month, world food prices tripled. In
Scotland, families who got by on low incomes or depended on welfare cheques
saw their money disappear in front of their eyes, and their children cry
with hunger. Parents dug up every patch of spare land they could find, and
planted vegetables the following spring. Parks, playing fields and waste
lands were converted for food-growing, collective kitchens and collective
canning co-ops were set up, and there was a major movement towards
vegetarian diet as the realization spread that if all the land in the world
that was used to raise food for livestock was used to raise grain for
people instead, there would be food enough for everyone.

As the year 2006 dawned, a new government in Edinburgh announced that they
were replacing the traditional taxes on income and employment with a series
of ecological taxes on energy, water, solid wastes, pollution, and natural
resources such as timber. Businesses had been prepared for the change, and
began hiring resource efficiency consultants to advise them on ways to save
energy, eliminate wastes, and redesign products for longer life-cycles and
maximum recyclability. At the same time, the government announced that it
was replacing  GNP with a new accounting system known as GNQ, or Gross
National Quality. The new measurement did a lot to widen the popular
understanding of what constituted "wealth", by including include such
things as ecological assets and ills, productive capacity, available
leisure time, education, clean air, and an absence of stress.

By 2010, a cultural shift of major proportions was underway. The third
phase of the Moray Firth Green Plan, which had just been announced, placed
a major emphasis on the role of technology in assisting companies to meet
sustainability goals. Ground source solar heat pumps, which extracted heat
from the earth and converted it into useable energy, and solarvoltaic
tiles, which could be used to turn a house into a net contributor to the
grid, were  hot sales items. In general, the culture was shifting from
technologies of matter to technologies of light, and technologies of
nature. A Moray Firth Future Fund was launched, enabling people to invest
in companies producing sustainable technologies through Sustainability
Bonds, or Billy Bonds, for short. Communities were just beginning to adjust
to the new realities, and to the regular run of weather abnormalities, when
they were hit by a new shock.

It started in a Glasgow hospital, which reported that an outbreak of
streptococcus bacteria had gotten out of control. The hospital was sealed
off, but within a week, similar outbreaks were being reported from five
other hospitals in the region, and patients started escaping at night. It
was three months and 3,000 deaths later before the outbreak exhausted
itself, but the nation's approach to health care would never be the same
again. In the panic, people rushed for every kind of alternative medicine
they could find. Herbs, homeopathy, natural healing, diet and group prayer
were all tried, and the healers with the greatest success had to hire
security guards to keep order among the queues that formed outside their
houses, day and night. The shares of big drug companies collapsed, a small
centre that taught pranic healing found itself giving daily healing tuition
over national television, and a company that sold bio-feedback technology
which enabled people to monitor the state of their own immune systems had
its shares oversubscribed 25 times.

Overnight, also, a small group of scientists who had been quietly working
away on the relationship between the human immune system and the power of
mental imagery and healing energy found themselves propelled into the
spotlight. Slightly before they were ready, they were pushed to publish
their theory on the relationship between matter and consciousness, or
spirit, and their postulation that the whole dynamic of evolution was not
propelled by random mutation, as had previously been thought, but by an
inherent directionality within the formative essence of matter, which
pushed every physical or biological form towards a greater relationship
with its environment, greater internal coherence, and greater
self-expression. "The nature of evolution as we know it", they declared,
"is significantly enhanced by this new understanding of directionality. Far
be it from us, as biologists, to comment on the relevance of this
understanding to the modern world condition, but we do share the belief,
based on our scientific work, that it is spirit itself, biologically
speaking, which is the driving force behind evolution. If this is true,
then our world, crazy as it may seem in this time of environmental
uncertainty, is actually evolving towards incredible possibilities of
wholeness, and a level of fulfillment far beyond our current capacity for

The significance of the breakthrough for the way we understand the economy
took a while to register, but gradually, as people played with the new
ideas over the Internet, a new realization began to filter through, until
it reached critical acceptance. "Our economy", the new realization said,
"is itself an expression of our evolution towards spiritual and planetary
wholeness. In the industrial age, it gave expression to our hunger for
material prosperity. Within the sustainability movement, it expressed
itself through the new economics, which provided the basis for sound
ecological housekeeping, and an economy of permanence. In the new
evolutionary context, the economy becomes the vehicle which can help propel
us towards fulfillment. Sustainability is not enough. It is a necessary
foundation, but is not the destination. Even while we are working to secure
an economy of permanence throughout the world, we must also work to
establish an economy of spirit, to propel us into the next stage of our
evolutionary journey".

Meanwhile, in the forests, glens and valleys of the Cairngorms and the
Grampian mountains, the new economics was of only passing interest to
people who had established ecovillage-style hamlets deep in the forest. The
story of how they were established, through partnerships between the
landowners, the Moray Firth Land Trust and local government planners, will
have to wait for another day.

The hamlet residents worked as ecoforesters, protecting and harvesting the
forest on a tree-by-tree basis, using horses to pull the trees from the
woods, and small custom mills to cut the wood to order for builders and
furniture makers who specialized in ecologically certified products, for a
growing market. They educated their children at home through the new global
cyberschools, and offered a range of workshops and retreats to supplement
their income. In their spare time, they worked with their neighbours and
other stakeholders to develop the new Strath Spey Watershed Stewardship
Council. The Council represented the first time that all the players in the
forests had come together to discuss their shared interests, and to develop
land-use policies which would ensure the long-term sustainability of the
forest, and protect their mutual interests. Foresters, fishermen,
wilderness guides, naturalists, wildlife management experts, water company
representatives and local government staff attended the meetings, and four
times a year they shared a camping trip through the watershed to increase
their understanding of the forest. To them, this was Nature's Economy at
its most beautiful, most primal and most efficient, and it was up to them
to ensure that it stayed that way, and that all  human activity within the
watershed served to enhance, restore and deepen the ecological wealth of
the land. The crisis of ozone depletion, combined with the chaotic seasonal
patterns of drought and flood, were causing the forest considerable stress,
and it was their work to do their best to help the forest survive this
difficult period, until the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
should return to normal, and the chlorine in the ozone layer should finally

In places where the ancient pine trees still grew, they fenced the land to
keep out the deer, and watched as the seeds grew slowly into trees,
restoring the ancient Caledonian Forest, and the integrity of its whole
ecosystem. Several landlords agreed to sign Wildlife Covenants, agreeing to
stop hunting and shooting on their land, except for an annual deer cull. In
return, the Stewardship Council provided them with an ecological inventory
of their land, using student help, and helped build wildlife trails and
bothies for naturalists and hikers.

At this point, these reflections on the past 20 years must draw to an end.
This tale of economic restoration and transformation is a complex one, and
there are many issues to which this brief report cannot do justice. There
is space for only brief mention of the new international tax on currency
dealing, which is being used both to tame the markets and to finance
sustainable developments around the world; and of how the gargantuan
problems of Third World Debt have finally been brought under control
through a binding UN treaty that requires the lending banks to write off
the worst debts altogether, and to swap the others into sustainable equity
funds for local use in their countries of origin.

Globally, there is still a massive way to go. The effects of ozone
depletion and global warming will be with us for another 50 years at least,
in spite of the slow turnaround in emissions. Rainforests and fish stocks
will take time to recover, and several species of whale may have been lost
forever. As a regional economy in the Moray Firth area, however, we have
rounded the corner; most of our sustainability indicators now point towards
the stabilization of the economy around embedded ecological principles. New
jobs in the growing sustainability and human resources sectors are helping
to provide extra jobs, and the ecovillage that is being built on the edge
of the air-base outside Forres is providing a welcome infusion of jobs to
make up for the loss of the airbase.

In conclusion, what should be said ? Just two things.

The first is that looking back, the task of re-aligning the world's economy
to harmonize it with nature has been a massive task, which will take
another 50 years to complete; but in perspective, it has been no greater a
task than the tasks of the industrial revolution, or the scientific
revolution before it. They both sought the transformation of the world; the
Great EcoRevolution, as historians are now calling it, has had as its goal
no less a task. Neither of the  earlier revolutions was achieved without
enormous struggle, sustained creativity, and great resistance from the
status quo. In retrospect, this revolution has been no different. In the
process, we have reshaped our culture, restored peace and hope in the
breasts of millions, and created a truly global democracy, which is able to
contain the manic tendency towards the accumulation of power and money
which shows up at every junction in history.

The second observation is more profound, and concerns our future direction
on this planet, and in this universe. When I look at the sustainability
curves (p2), I cannot help but notice how the curve of material progress,
which rushes upwards and then pauses, turns and finds harmony with the
Earth, is like a booster rocket, assisting the curve of intelligence and
spiritual progress to get beyond the gravitational inertia of the realities
of  scarcity. That curve's destination is far beyond us, and who knows
where ? We have now developed the technologies we need for ecological
balance - but we could never have developed essential technologies such as
solarvoltaics, solar aquatic sewage treatment or telecommunications, while
living in the middle ages. It is as if we needed the dirty, Earth-polluting
technologies of the Industrial Age to get us to the place where we could
create the delicate technologies of light and nature. Yes, in the process
of transition, we came close to blowing it altogether, but the overall
wisdom now prevailing no longer questions the imperative of ecological
harmony. People recognize the errors of our ways : we are past the danger

In completing, I will end with some words from Teilhard de Chardin, written
in the 1930s, long before most of us were alive to dream that possibilities
like this would some day come to pass :

"Today, something is happening to the whole structure of human consciousness.
A fresh kind of life is starting. Driven by the forces of love, the
fragments of the world
are seeking each other, so that the world may come into being."
Teilhard de Chardin


Guy Dauncey,
2069 Kings Rd, Victoria, British Columbia, V8R 2P6, Canada
Tel/Fax (604) 592-4473  [email protected]

Written for the Findhorn EcoVillages Conference, Scotland, October 1995

A book based on the Findhorn EcoVillages Conference will soon be available.
For details, contact the Findhorn Press  - [email protected]

I welcome your thoughts, comments and feedback on this report : I am aware
that I live some distance away from the Moray Firth. The report is based on
equivalent work I am doing for Vancouver Island, here in Canada. When
readers think it's beginning to be on track in a Scottish context, I may
then seek to publish it. If you live elsewhere, and would like me to make a
clone for your region, please get in touch.

References :
Anderson, Victor. Alternative Economic Indicators. 1991. c/o New Economics
Foundation (see below)
Brown, Lester, et al. State of the World (annual). WW Norton, New York,
1995. [email protected]
Chappell, Tom. The Soul of a Business : Managing for Profit and the Common
Good. Bantam, NY 1993.
Daly, Herman E., and John B.Cobb. For the Common Good: Redirecting the
Economy Toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future. Beacon
Press, Boston, 1989.
Dauncey, Guy. After the Crash : The Emergence of the Rainbow Economy.
Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1996
Durning, Alan. How Much Is Enough ? The Consumer Society and the Future of
the Earth. WW Norton, New York, 1992.
Ekins, Paul, Mayer Hillman and Robert Hutchinson.Wealth Beyond Measure : An
Atlas of New Economics. Gaia Books 1992.
Henderson, Hazel. Paradigms in Progress : Life Beyond Economics.
Berrett-Koehler, San Fran 1995.
Henderson, Hazel. Building a Win-Win World. Berrett-Koehler, San Fransisco.
Hawken, Paul. The Ecology of Commerce : A Declaration of Sustainability.
Harper Business, NY, 1993.
In Context , PO Box 11470, Bainbridge Island WA 98110. Best overall journal
on sustainability. $24pa.
Johnson, Huey D. Green Plans : Greenprint for Sustainability.
Univ.Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68588 '95.
Korten, David. When Corporations Rule the World. Berrett-Koehler, San
Fransisco. 1995
Local Economic Development Information Service (LEDIS) Monthly mailing from
The Planning Exchange, Tontine House, 8 Gordon St, Glasgow G1 3PL, UK.
(0141) 248-8541.
New Economics Foundation, Vine Court, 1st flr, 112-116 Whitechapel Rd,
London E1 1JE.
        (0171) 377-5720 [email protected]
New Road Map Foundation, PO Box 15981 Seattle, WA 98115. (206)
527-0437.(Voluntary simplicity)
New Ways to Work, 309 Upper St, London N1 2TY, UK.  0171-226-4026. (Worksharing)
O'Hara, Bruce. Working Harder Isn't Working. New Star Books, 2504 York St,
Vancouver, B.C. V6K 1E3, Canada, 1993, CAN$19.00pp.
Rifkin, Jeremy. The End of Work : The Decline of the Global Labor-Force in
the Post-Market Era. Putnam, New York, 1995.
Robertson, James. Future Wealth : a New Economics for the 21st Century.
Cassell, London, 1990. + Old Bakehouse, Cholsey, Oxon, UK.
Turning Point 2000. Twice-yearly digest of people, events, publications.
James Robertson, The Old Bakehouse, Cholsey, Oxon OX10 9NU, UK. (01491)
652346  £5pa


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