Here is the problem:
With nearly ten thousand new people arriving on earth every hour, a new and unfamiliar pattern of scarcity is now emerging. At the beginning of the industrial revolution, labor was overworked and relatively scarce (the population was about one-tenth of current totals), while global stocks of natural capital were abundant and unexploited. But today the situation is reversed: After two centuries of rises in labor productivity, the liquidation of natural resources at their extraction cost rather than their replacement value, and the exploitation of living systems as if they were free, infinite, and in perpetual renewal, it is people who have become an abundant resource, while nature is becoming disturbingly scarce.
Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins frame the dilemma that is the impetus for a new model of capitalism laid out in the first chapter of their book Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, published in 1999. While the excerpt is an ominous one, the book itself is an excellent balance of problem-posing and problem-solving. In great detail with reliable, straightforward statistics and real examples, the authors expose the environmental, economic, and social wastes that our current model of industrial capitalism has created. The staggering numbers will sicken you, but hope is regained as Hawken and Lovins demonstrate just as comprehensively how changes are already being made and what further work needs to be done to ensure humanity does not find its doom before the end of the century, a possibility renowned astrophysicist and Britain's Astronomer Royal, Sir Martin Rees, puts at “50-50” in his new book, Our Final Hour (Our Final Century in the U.K.)
If you want to understand in practical terms how the skies and waters of Earth can be clean again, how everyone on earth can be fed, how cars can be ultra-light and emissions free, how unemployment and crime can be minimized, how money can easily be made available for education, how neighborhoods can be designed to encourage community and connect fluidly with public transportation and commerce centers, or how the hole in the ozone layer can be permanently patched – read this book or portions of it. If nothing else, the principles of natural capitalism will inevitably bring greater awareness to your own consumption choices and offer you practical ways to conserve, save, raise your ecological standard of living - and even make incidental money - whatever your occupation or living situation.