Earth Community Organization (ECO)
the Global Community
Heinrich Wohlmeyer and Hermann Dissemond
Universitaet fuer Bodenkultur Wien
for Discussion Roundtables 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 22, 23, 25, and 40
Table of Contents|
1.0 Analysis of the Effects of the present World Trade Order on the agricultural markets in the light of conditioning sustainable Development.Identification of necessary changes and proposals for the positioning of Austria within the coming WTO-negotiations
by Heinrich Wohlmeyer and Hermann Dissemond
Within the scope of this project it has not been intended to provide a
The analysis of the effects of world trade in general and on agricultural markets in particular is put into a comprehensive context, in order to gain the scientific coordinates for a balanced judgement. Therefore the study encloses a description of the present world trade order as well as deliberations on the theory of trade and of welfare economics - up to a chapter on ecological economics.
The interdisciplinary examination of world trade from different points of view led to the following main conclusions:
· Division of labour does not necessarily lead to increased welfare, due to several reasons:
· Under conditions of rising marginal costs extreme division of labour can be counterproductive. This is especially the case in the realm of agriculture (law of diminishing returns).
· Site-bound performances, like securing the living space and the husbanding of cultural landscapes, are by their very nature not open for international division of labour.
· The closing of material streams – one of the main ecological maxims – demand decentralisation and networking; but the present framework conditions foster increasing spatial concentration of material stream relevant activities and neglect the necessity of material stream cascades and circular oriented processes.
· The present philosophy of concentration ignores the risk of natural hazards, the vulnerability of centralised supply systems for basic needs and the danger of politically disturbed supply chains.
· Under conditions of unemployment States tend to "export" this misery by undercutting social and ecological standards. Therefore it should be made clear in Art.VI of GATT (Anti-dumping and Countervailing Duties) and in the "Agreement on Implementation of Article VI of GATT 1994", that the undercutting of social and ecological standards (This is de facto an unjustified subsidisation.) justifies countervailing measures.
The same should hold for the distortion of exchange rates and other ways of unfair systems competition, which can be proved.
Corresponding clarification should be made in Art.XVI (Subsidies) and in the "Agreement on subsidies and Countervailing Measures" within the Final Act of the Uruguay Round.
· As long as energy- and transport costs do not tell the truth, because a large part of the costs is externalised, infrastructure is provided free of charge and tax- and liability-privileges are granted, the patterns of division of labour cannot be optimal.
The WTO will not be able to escape the necessity to take regress to the production methods (PPMs), if effective protection of man and the environment shall be ensured. The necessary criteria have to be provided by framework-giving agreements. Such a frame of external Orientation is necessary, because the market is not able to generate them inherently.
Art. XX lit.b of the GATT (necessity to protect human, animal or plant life or health) has to find a wider interpretation. According to present scientific knowledge interpretation should not be restricted to sanitary measures alone, but comprise systems protection (protection of the carrying ecosystems).
Art. XX lit.g of the GATT (measures relating to the conservation of exhaustible natural resources) should be seen as to applying also to the scarce natural resources biodiversity, fertile soils and water .
Within the Non Trade Concerns the acceptance of the issues of long term food security and the ecologically, socially and economically balanced multifunctional cultivation of land have to be seen as conditiones sine qua non.
The study shows, that in the present conflict in world agricultural trade a clash of two cultural strategies of cultivation of nature can be identified.
On the one side poses the small scaled manifold pattern of land cultivation of the old cultural nations (close to nature, circular and site oriented) with a direct recoupling between man and the ecosystem and on the other side the large scale strategies of land use in the continents which have been colonised and populated by Europeans. The latter are characterised by a one sided maximisation of the productivity of labour and to a large extent by a not sustainable pattern of resource consumption.
With respect to the food security for coming generations the question has to be posed, whether the present main stream model of a resource- and area-intensive style of land cultivation, which maximises the productivity of labour, can be seen as future-oriented.
For a sound ecological, social and economic evaluation of the effects of the Uruguay Round the stipulated time span is to short and evaluation criteria have not been elaborated.
Effects in the realm of agriculture take place slower than in industry and not nature-connected services. Without a consensus on the evaluation criteria evaluation degenerates towards a subjective rating in relation to the own wishes. For both reasons a prolongation of the evaluation period is necessary.
Finally it is recommended, that concessions in the field of agriculture should not be made, if it is not agreed, that the protection of man and the environment is incorporated at least at the same level as trade concerns and that a bridging between GATT/WTO and Social and Environmental Agreements is institutionalised. Otherwise the asymmetric and partly destructive dynamics will continue and the world economy would not be directed towards balanced welfare and human wellbeing.
by Dr. Heinrich Wohlmeyer
This criterion recalls that those realities, on which others build upon, have to be protected first. A classical example is, that to the stewardship of the ecological base (the base of life) has to be given priority before the fulfilment of various economic and social wishes.
Criterion of Integration:
In the case of conflict wider strategies to keep the system concerned functioning, have to have priority before those addressing narrower fields.
E.g. demands resulting from the social system of a particular country have to find their limits in the protection of the global ecosystem or the aim of maximisation of labour productivity in agriculture and forestry should not be realised at the expense of biodiverse landscapes.
Criterion of Urgency:
Vital interests of future generations have to be considered as having priority before less vital interests of the present generation. Typical examples are climate change and soil erosion.
Criterion of Reversibility:
If a measure is inevitable, a variant, which causes reversible damage, has to be preferred before a measure causing irreversible loss.
Criterion of Regenerability:
Regenerable organic raw materials and primary energy carriers have to be preferred versus not regenerable fossil sources.
Criterion of Circular Orientation:
Supply chains have to be designed in a way, that the goods can enter after usage or consumption into natural or industrial recycling processes.
Criterion of Precaution (Precautionary Principle):
If serious damages to persons, animals, plants and the ecosystem cannot be excluded, an action or pattern of behaviour should be refrained from.
Criterion of Least Impact:
A measure for supplying goods or services for humans should choose a path, which entails the least possible impact on the ecological and social system concerned. This criterion is related to the precautionary principle. Its reason is, that functioning proven systems should not be disturbed and that unnecessary risks should not be taken. One example of its application in the eco-sphere is to rely on natural varieties before changing genomes by genetic manipulation.
Criterion of Causation (Causation - or Polluter pays Principle):
The causing agent should be made responsible for all damages he took into account. Negative examples are limited liabilities granted to air- and ship transport, to atomic energy plants and to data high ways.
Criterion of economy:
Human supply strategies consuming less resources should have preference before those enhancing more resource consumption.
A positive example is the Factor 10 Strategy (increasing resource productivity by a factor 10).
Criterion of Cooperation:
If measures or their consequences trespass national boarders, cooperative measures should be preferred.
Criterion of respect of human dignity:
Strategies, which violate human dignity, should not be permitted. Examples are the expulsion of an indigenous population by the flooding of a valley for a hydroelectric power plant or the imposition of overtaxing efficiency aims without a right to a say.
Criterion of wellbeing and aesthetics:
Strategies fostering human wellbeing and beauty of the environment should be preferred. This criterion is especially applicable to the management of cultural landscapes and the design of industrial sites and working places.
- Picken Friedo, Allgemeine Ethik (General Ethics), 3rd ed., Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1988 - Pieper Annemarie, Einführung in die Ethik (Introduction into Ethics), 3rd ed., A. Francke, Tübingen und Basel 1994
- Ruh Hans, Argument Ethik - Orientierung für die Praxis in Wirtschaft, Ökologie, Medizin und Politik (Argument Ethics – An Orientation for Practice in Economics, Ecology, Medicine and Politics) Theologischer Verlag Zürich 1998
by Dr. Heinrich Wohlmeyer
I. Preliminary Remarks
I.1) An interdisciplinary view.
This limited contribution cannot be more than an eye opener. But it tries to take up the challenge of giving some basic orientation for the complex task of politics in a more and more complex world. It attempts to denominate the major causes of the present ecological and social misery, which cannot be denied, and to shed some beams of light onto the subject of the preconditions of long term sustainable development from a multidisciplinary array of views. Thus it tries to overcome the blinkers of the specialised branches of science and of particular interests towards an interdisciplinary (holistic) view.
The authors training in natural and social sciences and his broad experience in farming, industry, services, regional development and research facilitates this task.
I.2) Not only growing GNP, but wellbeing.
The central aim of the underlying vision for an attractive societal design for the 21st century should be "physical and psychical wellbeing of man". This is the definition of health proposed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). At present "health" is de facto not defined by wellbeing, but by
I.3) Addressing key elements of human wellbeing.
It is a triviality that abundant supply of material goods suffices not for wellbeing. In addition there has to be equity of distribution. The Human Development Reports of UNDP tell a horror story of rising inequalities between and within States. But in addition the basic demands stemming from human nature (human biology and psyche) have to be addressed. The story of this disregard is told by asocial elements, outlaws, drug addicted and criminals.
I.4) Trying not to loose adhesion to ground.
Many scientific recommendations for politics tend to be aloof. This is to say, they do not address the real needs and desires of people. Very often they postulate from and towards a virtual world. This contribution therefore tries to act < as if people mattered>. This aim can be better achieved, since the author had and still has the chance to stay in contact with people of all societal strata around the world and to see an discuss their problems. The latter will be addressed by the paragraph on
I.5) Why not concentrating on agriculture ?
I was asked why my contribution is not elaborating on this emotionally discussed area of European Politics. My answer is simple: Agriculture is the
Only one remark may be allowed: As long as payments for performances of Agriculture in the public interest are treated as "subsidies", which do not enter the GNP and are seen as more or less illegitimate in the WTO, the measuring rod is an economy of exploitation without ecological and social concerns. This should be written into the diary of world politics as a special note.
II. The major Deficits
Dwelling on deficits is not useful, since they have been well described and internationally discussed like in the Brundtland Report and in the Agenda 21 (UNCED 1992). They can be summed up by pointing out, that it is evident, that humans are destabilising the ecological and social systems in a dramatic way. The first is shown in the realm of risk insurance (Elementary risks like hurricanes and avalanches can no longer be ensured, since their frequency has dramatically increased.). The latter by the fact that Anomia-Research has become a special branch in social research.
III. Goals for an attractive European and World Society.
III.1) The vision and its basic imperatives.
If the vision shall be a life in physical and psychical wellbeing both sides of human existence have to be addressed, the physical and the psycho-spiritual.
In such a vision civilisation has to be geared in conformity wit human demands and the ecosystem. Based on an ethical foundation it has to strike the balance between economy and technology on the one side and human rights and respect of fellow creatures on the other. In order to achieve this, we need a balanced legal framework providing the social rules necessary to meet these aims (see graph 1). The indispensable new norms will be addressed below as institutional benchmarking. Graph 1:
III.1.1) The necessary order of importance.
If there is a conflict of goals an values, there is also a need for guiding principles as to the hierarchy of these "goods". Practical ethics have already developed some road signs. Five major orientations shall be enumerated.
The Funding Principle demands, that those realities on which others build upon, have to be protected first. This to say, that saving the biological base of life has to have priority before certain social aims, which loose their value, if the biological base of life is destroyed.
The Irreversibility Criterion calls for extreme caution, if the consequences of an action cannot be reversed – especially in the ecological sphere.
The Criterion of Integration asks in the case of a conflict of aims that systems-protection has to have priority over singular measures. This criterion should be applied to Art. XX lit. b of the GATT, which exempts measures "necessary to protect human, animal, or plant life or health". At present only singular phytosanitary and veterinarian measures are acknowledged, but systems protection is denied.
The Criterion of Urgency demands, that the existential needs of future generations have to have priority over less urgent wishes and needs of the present generation.
The well known Precautionary Principle demands that precautionary measures (which also my consist in refraining from an action) have to take precedence over repairing strategies.
The Criterion of Cooperation means, that measures, which are based on the cooperation of Regions and States should have preference before those, which are taken by individual bodies, since normally environmental problems transgress national borders and universal standards exclude negative systems competition, usually called ecological and social dumping, which leads to a race to the bottom ( i.e. towards the lowest standards ).
All these Principles have to be applied in a way which does not violate human dignity, which has found its normative formulation in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Further rules have been developed by the Experts Group on Environmental Law of the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1986.
III.2) Securing the Ecological Base.
This is a consequence of the Funding and the Integration Criterion. In order to do justice to this imperatives, we have to look at the Ecosystem Earth with the eyes of an ecologically trained process technologist. As graph 2 shows, we can conceive the earth as a closed material system whose material streams are driven by the incorporation of sun energy. The biological incorporation of solar energy is the only negentropic process, because structures with less entropy are build up by its use. Looking at this pregiven System Five governing principles of the Biosphere can be identified (see graph 3). If they are not respected, the System is destabilised and the conditions to which man is adapted are changed to his/her detriment. Therefore there is no way round the fundamental eco-restructuring of our energy and material supply systems. They have to be site, solar and circular oriented. In order to be future oriented we also need a site adapted biodiverse agriculture, which is able to use all natural synergies.
For achieving the aims of solar orientation, circular and cascadic design as well as biodiversity supply systems have to be intelligently decentralised an networked. For this task we have the technical instruments of informatics, telecommunication, microelectronics and appropriate biotechnology. But at present we use these techniques in order to build up and to sustain risky and destructive Megasystems.
III.3) Respecting the Demands of Human Biology
Humans have reacted in their phylogenesis to the environmental circumstances, which they encountered and have special needs in their individual ontogenesis. If we do not respect these phylogenetic imprints, we do not only violate the conditions of human wellbeing, but give also ground to physical and psychical diseases. The neurologist John Eccles and the biologist Hans Zeier pointed to this existential conflict 1980.
According to our present insight, humans have acquired their erect movement, the loss of their tail, the change of their gripping hand and the narrow position of their eyes in the African Savannah. In this environment all these changes were useful and fostered the survival. Living conditions were best after the rain period. Then the savannah was green, flowered and had a multitude of little water ponds. Because of this genetic heritage we still love flowers and green, give flowers as a gift, travel out of the cities to the green and construct our parks as artificial savannahs (green meadows embroidered with flowers and structured by scattered trees). Especially we like blooming meadow-orchards, where the flower element is combined with the scattered trees.
Our traditional cultural landscapes follow this pattern and therefore give this basic message of wellbeing. Because of this heritage, humans have a basic need for such an environment, which has to be recognised at a similar level as the need for food, water, clothing and shelter (housing).
According to their phylogenesis humans are adapted to small self organising groups of about 100 people, thus to surveyable social units with clear roles and personal communication structures. To press humans in anonymous megasystems brings depressive isolation and the hyperflexibility and hypermobility, which we demand in the name of common and global markets, destroy or impede the formation of sheltering communities.
Finally man undergoes in comparison to other mammals a premature birth, otherwise his big head would not pass through. Therefore he/her is a nidiculus and needs protection. Therefore the baby binds itself to the caring person up to the
If we deprive humans of the environment, which they need for the unfolding of their abilities, they tend to become neurotic. The famous educator and psychologist (psychagoge) Christa Meves has warned a quarter of a century ago, that we will get young people who are not able to enter into stable partnerships, who are not reliable, not able to concentrate, not able to carry through in unhappy situations, who lack respect and thoughtfulness, and who become irrational consumption maximisers , which will never be saturated, - up to drug addiction as a mass phenomenon. Thus not only ecological needs but also basic human biological needs call for radical decentralisation and networking.
III.4) Being condemned to live in a century of anxiety ?
If one has open ears, one could say, that we are approaching a
There is increasing fear
- to loose the working place
- to be forced to leave the home community in order to get a job
- to be overtaxed by the technical development and by the new global working conditions
- to be outdated and put aside in the old days
- to have a not foreseeable future
- to loose social contact and partnership
- to see that the children become victims of drugs and
- to loose the social identity and public esteem
But is this a necessary precondition of social development?
Could there be an economic design, which also provides psychical wellbeing, especially without anxiety?
Why can we not be respected and loved ?
Why can we not provide sensible roles in society ?
Why can we not be sheltered and born in surveyable communities with social stability and at the same time be able to choose, to move and to change, if we find it necessary ?
Why should the emphatic sacrifice of personal wellbeing to an anonymous world machinery be the ultimate goal ?
IV. Institutional Benchmarks for an attractive 21st Century
IV.1) General remarks
There are basic steering instruments, which can be seen as indispensable for a socially, ecologically and economically sustainable societal design. In this context it should be emphasised, that flexible and innovative economies should not do without well organised markets. But markets should not be overtaxed. They are good for addressing short term needs and for short term allocation of resources for the provision of marketable goods and services.
The model should to be an ecologically an socially harnessed market economy as depicted in graph 4. If the market gets proper institutional road maps or guard rails, it can unfold its beneficiary dynamics, without ecological and social destruction.
IV.2) Major steering elements
IV.2.1) Bringing the road maps to the public.
If it is brought across, that the biosphere is the very base of which all human activities are carried (see graph 5) and that all social systems derive their legitimacy from their acceptance by the people, it will not only be easier to promote the necessary changes, but it will also trigger off autonomous efforts of the stakeholders concerned. The entrepreneurs will find, that the ecological and legal systems, which provide the framework of their activities are in danger, if business as usual is practised with the consequence of rising ecological and social destruction. This is understandable, since the acceptance of a system is usually withdrawn, if the degree of suffering reaches high levels.
The politicians notice already, that their clients are loosing confidence, if they are only the harbingers and executors of dynamics of the present world market design, without being able to influence them. They will recognise that they are on the way to an analogous situation as in the 1930, when the electorate fled into the hands of even a worse evil named fascism.
IV.2.2) Critical control points for the road map towards sustainability
Looking at the above mentioned deficiencies and drawing on already established alternative economic wisdom the following institutional changes can be seen as indispensable benchmarks for all attempts to manage the turn around towards a sustainable society in the 21st century. - Making positive systems competition possible.
This is to say, that trade political rules have to be redesigned in order to ensure a competitive system, which differentiates between different societal solutions and models. If a country wants to introduce taxes and cost-effective regulations, like described below, it has to be permitted to charge equalisation duties, in order to ensure fair competition on the level of individual enterprises. This is necessary, since the enterprises are confronted with different prices of the factors of production and with different standards for the process design. The present trading order (GATT-WTO) denies systems competition and leads not to a positive competition of welfare models, where the people should have a societal choice and where the most attractive model can be given preference, but to a race to the social and ecological bottom. This means cultural entropy instead of cultural evolution.
- Making life cycle analysis obligatory.
At present the WTO refuses the regress to the product production methods (PPMs). But ecological and social evolution can only be facilitated, if it can be controlled how a product or service has been provided. If higher social or ecological standards are undercut, equalisation taxes should be allowed in order to compensate for the differences in costs (see above), but the revenue should feed an International Development Fund and not go into national budgets. This institution should help the States with lower standards to raise their level. The race to the bottom could thus be turned to a development to the top.
- Taming the material stream crisis by taxation of resource consumption.
Based on the new trade rules the apparent material stream crisis could be tamed by taxing the consumption of finite materials up to their recycling costs or their replacement value. This would not prolong the present end of the pipe solution but lead to a front end restructuring (see graph. 6).
- Putting budgets on a sound base.
It is not only the above taxation of resource consumption, which could fill the empty pockets of the ministers of finance, who are presently forced to dismantle the Social State and abandon many other public services, for which our forefathers have successfully fought. The taxation of capital and information transfers is not only a powerful tool against international speculation but also the largest potential source of revenues. If the $ 1,5 trillion, which are transferred every day, would be taxed with 0,5 percent a daily world revenue of 7,5 billion would be at disposal. The revenue from the taxation of information transfer can be estimated towards a comparable magnitude. The latter could be used especially to provide poor countries with the necessary education and infrastructure in telecommunication and information technologies.
Sound budgets could help to end the underprivileged existence of families, which are the indispensable shelter and breeding ground for the individual ontogenesis of humans, to invest in public services and education (active human development) and they could provide the means and the manoeuvre space for eliminating the anxieties addressed above. This could be especially done by putting the social network on this new financing base instead of asking for solidarity of the endangered citizens. In order to make frictional and longer term unemployment less tragic a further measure could be easily financed of the new set of revenues . This is the provision of a basic income (basic security) for all citizens, who are not able to find an adequate working possibility.
- Providing basic security in a rapidly changing economic environment.
The present dynamic innovation driven society has also its victims. People loose their jobs more often than before. To be jobless will be more or less a normal state in the course of life. But this price of rapid economic development is to high, if the affected persons are mentally and socially broken and if their families are destroyed. An adequate basic income, which enables the person hit by unemployment to plan new income combinations without time pressure and humiliation, should be the solidarian price, society is prepared to pay to those who are the loosers.
- Additional institutional benchmarks should be:
- attributing real costs to transport
– abandoning the limited liability for privileged sectors like atomic energy production, air transport and shipping
– when environmental performances in agriculture and forestry cannot be rewarded via product prices, public demand should step in and ask for the services concerned in the interest of the wellbeing explained above (III.3).
This array of multifunctional changes should be seen as the necessary framework for a European way to the 21st century, which harmonises progress, social symmetry and cultural individuality. The latter can be sustained by a federal political structure, which also can be financed, if the new financial architecture will be established. In order not to go beyond the scope of this contribution a short final overview of the expected negative developments in a prolonged business as usual scenario and of the necessary reaction in order to sustain human development in dignity and freedom is given graph 7.
V. Final remarks
Finally it should be pointed out, that the institutional changes referred to above, should not be seen as restrictive measures. They are necessary , if the so far successful < European Model> of societal design shell survive and they are also a precondition that entrepreneurs can make gains without bad conscience. The latter could even entail a more creative and effective economy, because it is relieved from unnecessary social tensions.
Backcasting from the future asks for action
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