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Budgeted Life

Desperately needed shift of paradigm

Paul Suckow

TSU Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs



There exists a fundamental transition from equating natural resources and energy as capital goods that can be owned and disowned, degraded and decremented, to equating all material resources and energy as mutually planned and shared flows which must be equitably clocked (see rules of nature in McDonough & Braungart, 2002).  In this transition, the concept of waste disappears, to be replaced by the concept of constant cycling of nutrients.  In this transition, rates of flow beneficial to the human species cannot become privileged above rates beneficial to sister species upon which the entire earth system wholly depends for trajectories of health, development and specialization.  In this transition, basic relations between all material and energy will acquire definition, meaning and purpose, supporting physical, emotional and spiritual fulfillment and reinstating money as a means of transfer rather than a measure of worth.  In this transition, markets gain liquidity and hierarchies diminish as supplier and user of matter and energy become equal in importance while engaged together in the same beneficially transformative task.  For inspiration, we may look upon the regions of greatest diversity of life on earth, the tropical rain forests and reefs, and bear in mind that regions suitable for these may grow tremendously if proper respect and care is managed.  It is primarily a question of our own morality, mindfulness and self-restraint as a member species in this family of life whether we shall be rewarded adaptively or shall perish cruelly in the crucible of transition through which all nature will quite soon pass.  A newly quickened species, not necessarily our own, may find hegemonic ascension easy to attain.


In writing this, I was initially tempted to add human labor to the lists of natural resources and energy, but the implications became too stark and I relented.  It poses an interesting thought experiment though for my stoughtest readers.



McDonough, W., & Braungart, M. (2002). Cradle to cradle : remaking the way we make things (1st ed.). New York: North Point Press.


I am developing a real interest in the environmental justice movement that is the legacy of the civil rights, indigenous cultures and toxics stuggles in the past century and beyond, and in its increase to a global issue of stewardship of human and ecosystem health and welfare over sustainable or, I hope, even diversifying futures. 
This is likely to encompass a short-term struggle for redirection of oil profits, probably bounding my remaining lifetime, but leading to widespread and nonviolent space colonization, exploitation and finally mutually coercive agreements preserving the value of reused physical materials within the solar system (a circular economy) as deep space Kuiper ventures begin.  I would like this possible expansion to reopen debate over more egalitarian distributions of energy and material capital on Earth, or at least lead to a more vibrant public sector within the descendent(s) of western capitalist society.