Carr’s Landing resident Cara Reed looks at property sale survey markings evident along the shoreline of Gable Beach. Image Credit: Barry Gerding/Black Press

Sustainable growth: Time to stop trashing environment

Regenerative capitalist Hunter Lovins offers economic insights at Kelowna conference

Sustaining our ecosystem in the face of climate change is a key cornerstone to preserving our global economy, says a leading proponent of the concept of regenerative capitalism.

Hunter Lovins, president and founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions and worldwide advocate for sustainable economic development, said “the world is on the edge of ruin” unless global economic models developed over the last century are changed.

“There is no substitute for clean air. You can’t replicate it and we rely on preserving our ecosystem to provide it to us,” said Lovins, speaking at the Building SustainABLE Communities conference in Kelowna this week.

“Look around us. Coral reefs are dying, biodiversity is being lost, the Amazon basin is drying up, our oceans are turning acidic. We are seeing environmental impact from global warming that sees the earth’s temperature increase in the range of 1.3 to 1.4 degrees. If that increase reaches six degrees as some predict, what will happen then if we are seeing an impact already?”

Holding back the debate on these issues, at least in the U.S., is the fossil fuel political lobby, which spends $150 million to buy support from politicians and is heavily subsidized by governments to make gas cheaper than it looks, says Lovins.

“There is something wrong with an economic system that allows the richest eight people on the planet to have more accumulated wealth than the bottom 3.5 billion. That’s 3.5 billion people. We are eroding our economic health in a way our environment can’t continually sustain.”

Related: Play outside to appreciate nature

Lovins is an advocate for resource management sustainability, that industrial growth and jobs are not the sole value systems that equate to economic prosperity, that environment protection, quality of life, resource management and food production sustainability are important ingredients of an economy that deserve a value creditation.

She added companies that embrace environmental sustainability solutions show 18 per cent more revenue growth than other corporate “laggards” who try to deflect or ignore those concerns.

“Either we get together on this or we lose it,” Lovins said. “The economy should be there to benefit 100 per cent of the population, not just a small percentage.”

Kurt Schwabe, environment economics professor with the University of California, said countries are learning that by applying a value to environment degradation and the impact that has on its people, that some resource-based development projects become a net loss to society.

Logging a sensitive watershed, for example, falls short of the cost left behind to repair the ecological damage left behind, he says.

“The pollution costs and other environmental impacts often end up costing more than the short-term benefit,” he said.

John Janmaat, associate professor of economics at UBCO, said his exercise of applying environmental economics measurements to the proposed Gable Beach lakefront property sale reflects that discrepancy.

Janmaat said with calculated assumptions such as long-term replacement value, property value increases and increased population growth will increase demand for a lakefront beach, saying Lake Country would make a bad choice by selling the land.

Related: Gable Beach supporters meet with Lake Country officials

In Janmaat’s tabulations, selling it would mean an economic loss of $196,839.07, keeping it would create an economic benefit of $388,504.49. Conversely, if property values were to remain the same over the next 15 years, the number analytics for selling the property would shift to positive net gain of $452,018.90.

“In the latter case, there is a benefit to sell if you make the assumption that property values are not going to change over the next 15 years, but that is unlikely to hold true given the recent history of real estate value increases in the Okanagan,” Janmaat said.

“What I keep reading is councilors saying they made a promise to not raise taxes to pay for the CN Rail Trail during the (referendum campaign), and is looking at the beach property sale as a means to live up to that promise, but it’s a promise that (environment economics) shows is ultimately detrimental to the community in the long-term.”

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Community Leader Awards: Anja Dumas

The Kelowna Capital News puts the spotlight on community leaders with annual awards

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Blowing snow, slippery sections on Okanagan Connector

Compact snow, poor visibility on Highway 97 from Pennask Summitt to Brenda Mines.

IH adds immunization clinic Sunday in Kelowna

Drop-in meningococcal vaccination clinic on today at Community Health & Services Centre

Fire crews investigating oil sheen on Penticton Creek

Fire crews are working to contain the oil from spreading

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Family suspends search for missing Alberta couple, plane near Revelstoke

Due to bad weather, families of missing Albertan couple say they will resume in the spring

Fire crews investigating oil sheen on Penticton Creek

Fire crews are working to contain the oil from spreading

UBCO prof tests software to help cancer patients

Program may help those reluctant to engage ‘tough conversations’ in advance care planning

Broken de-icer delays flights at Kelowna airport

Passengers were on board for three hours Sunday waiting for departure to Vancouver

Canadian grocers make $3M per year from penny-rounding: UBC study

Ottawa announced plans in 2012 to phase out the copper coin

Well-known Canadian bird making a comeback

Once on the brink of extinction, the peregrine falcon no longer considered at risk in Canada.

Suzuki: Shine a light during dark times

People need to remain positive despite difficult and unpredictable political climate

Most Read