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:


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Protect the Water rally today in Kelowna

The rally will be held at No. 102 – 1420 St Paul Street, Kelowna.

Jury finds Chad Alphonse guilty of manslaughter in murder trial

Kelowna jury delivers its verdict a day after starting its deliberations.

Heavy rain causes flooding in the Central Okanagan

Portion of lower Glenrosa Road closed due to flooding

Feature Friday: Is the sky the limit for downtown Kelowna construction?

City building up, not out, as high rise living becomes more popular

Free theatre performance for Lake Country families

Robinson Crusoe + Friday will be performed at Creekside Theatre April 14

Your March 23 Morning Brief

Check out the top stories of the day in the Okanagan-Shuswap with Carmen Weld’s Black Press Morning Brief.

BCHL Today: Prince George avoids elimination with game five win

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Suspect arrested and charged for assault on autistic man

Parmvir Chahil has strong B.C. ties; two others charged with accessory after the fact

Uber self-driving crash video calls safety, rules into question

Experts say footage shows that vehicle’s sensors should have spotted pedestrian, initiated braking

Daily rainfall records set in the Okanagan

Penticton and Summerland were hit the hardest in the Okanagan with rainfall

Van search connected to bear spray incident

Suspected clandestine lab involved in brazen robbery near Vernon

Body found on Blind Bay Beach

Police and coroner investigating, foul play not suspected

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Greens’ Elizabeth May, NDP’s Kennedy Stewart join B.C. anti-pipeline protest

The two politicians could be arrested for violating a court injunction

Most Read