DeGrowth & Conservation:

 Lessons from Pre-Industrial Societies



               Debal Deb
Centre for Interdisciplinary ...
Humans began migrating across the Beringia   land bridge
               ca. 12500 YBP.
Humans did not manufacture advanced...
Ancient Hunters experienced
incidents of RESOURCE CRUNCH
         resulting from
  imprudent resource use modes
       unt...
Pre­Industrial Societies 
* Remember Consequences of 
  Their Resource Use Modes
* Learn from Past Mistakes
* Design Cultu...
Customary Protection of Useful Species


 • Hunting   Ethics
     e.g. Specific Life History Stages
 • Closed Seasons (for...
The Indigenous Worldview
recognizes (in symbolic and
metaphoric terms)

 * the Intrinsic Value of Many
Species, regardless...
Totem and Tabu
Sacred Species
Sacred Habitats –
 as Groves, Ponds, Rivers, Hills and Landscapes
were Once Widespread on All Inhabited Continents


     ...
Sacred Habitat - An Element of the Cultural Landscape
Ventilago sp, A Rare Liana in a Sacred Grove, W. Bengal
Casearia varica, a Rare Tree from a Sacred Grove in Bengal
Turtles in Baneswar Sacred Pond, Cooch Behar
Sacred Heronry
When “scientific” forestry takes over...
Industrial Societies Have
     No Community Memory.
Therefore, They Allow No Restraint

   A Centralized Information Indus...
“Rational” Harvest for Individual Profit Leads to Exhaustion

Big-Fish Stocks Fall 90 Percent Since 1950, Study
Says
Natio...
Community Memory is Essential
to ensure
(a) Restraint over Resource Use
(b) Intergenerational Equity

Hence, the Community...
Eppur si Muove…
Despite the Advent of Modernity,

• Communities continue to exist
• Customary management systems
•   persi...
Biophilia in Practice
Rescuing a Bat
Recognition of Intrinsic Value of Nature



  Hunting Ethics     Seasonal Restrictions

   Sacred Species        Sacred Gr...
Recognition of Intrinsic Value of Nature
               Obviates
 DISCOUNTING of Natural Resources
     in all Pre-Industr...
The Spurious Arithmetic of Discounting

  If we take a discount rate of five
percent, then the cost to society of a
$100,0...
Zero Rate of
   Interest /Discounting
    Entails Conservation


  Price = Rent ÷ Interest rate
With interest rate → 0, pr...
The Red Queen Race for Happines

‘What matters is not how much they have
but how much more they have than others’
   – Bar...
Signs of Prosperity?
Bhopal:
 Genocide
    for
Development
Global Carbon dioxide Levels (800 - 2000AD)
Another Form of Civilization: 
          Existing and ALIVE !

A Civilization in which
• The individual’s right to deprive...
10
 0




             De-growth
               phase
80




60




40




20                   No-growth phase


 0
     ...
Tenets of Eco-Socialist Society

1. Zero Rates of Profit and Interest
Natural objects will be conserved for future
generat...
Tenets of Eco-Socialist Society
3. Cooperative individualism

Encourage rational cooperation among
individuals to align wi...
Civic
                   Democracy




                   Eco-Socialist
                      Ethics




   Biophilia &   ...
“The defects of formal parliamentary democracy
result from the delegation of power. To make
democracy effective, power mus...
Villagers United to Protect their Sacred Groves
Power to the Community
DeGrowth & Conservation; Lessons from Pre-Industrial Societies
DeGrowth & Conservation; Lessons from Pre-Industrial Societies
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DeGrowth & Conservation; Lessons from Pre-Industrial Societies

  1. 1. DeGrowth & Conservation: Lessons from Pre-Industrial Societies Debal Deb Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies Kolkata, India www.cintdis.org
  2. 2. Humans began migrating across the Beringia land bridge ca. 12500 YBP. Humans did not manufacture advanced spearheads until 13000 YBP. Cave bear and Woolly mammoth declined 14800 YBP. Bison populations crashed 37000 YBP. “It's unlikely that a few thousand humans running around thecontinent with pointed sticks in hand could eliminate more than 130 big mammals in less than 400 years.”
  3. 3. Ancient Hunters experienced incidents of RESOURCE CRUNCH resulting from imprudent resource use modes until ca. 8,000 YBP Ever Since 8000 YBP,  No Extinction Event Recorded  Until the Advent of Modernity.
  4. 4. Pre­Industrial Societies  * Remember Consequences of  Their Resource Use Modes * Learn from Past Mistakes * Design Cultural Restraints on    Individuals Community Memory is contained in Folk tales, Mythologies, Proverbs, Omens & Auguries in Pre-Industrial Cultures.
  5. 5. Customary Protection of Useful Species • Hunting Ethics e.g. Specific Life History Stages • Closed Seasons (for hunting/fishing) • Ritual Domestication • Cultural Restraints on Harvest e.g. Customary Quotas of Harvest
  6. 6. The Indigenous Worldview recognizes (in symbolic and metaphoric terms) * the Intrinsic Value of Many Species, regardless of Their “Utility” * the Future Potnetial Value of Many Species that are Currently of “No Use”
  7. 7. Totem and Tabu
  8. 8. Sacred Species
  9. 9. Sacred Habitats – as Groves, Ponds, Rivers, Hills and Landscapes were Once Widespread on All Inhabited Continents Europe ro ves – in ri ca, North Sacred G in Asia, Af Ves tiges of scapes – a nd Land a acred Groves Americ S th rica and Sou ustralia. Ame p es – in A Landsca Sacred
  10. 10. Sacred Habitat - An Element of the Cultural Landscape
  11. 11. Ventilago sp, A Rare Liana in a Sacred Grove, W. Bengal
  12. 12. Casearia varica, a Rare Tree from a Sacred Grove in Bengal
  13. 13. Turtles in Baneswar Sacred Pond, Cooch Behar
  14. 14. Sacred Heronry
  15. 15. When “scientific” forestry takes over...
  16. 16. Industrial Societies Have No Community Memory. Therefore, They Allow No Restraint A Centralized Information Industry  entails:  * Generation of Selective Information * Selective Information Dissemination * Selective Public Attention to Events
  17. 17. “Rational” Harvest for Individual Profit Leads to Exhaustion Big-Fish Stocks Fall 90 Percent Since 1950, Study Says National Geographic News May 15, 2003 Only 10 percent of all large fish—both open ocean species including tuna, swordfish, marlin and the large groundfish such as cod, halibut, skates and flounder—are left in the sea, according to research published in today's issue of the scientific journal Nature. "From giant blue marlin to mighty bluefin tuna, and from tropical groupers to Antarctic cod, industrial fishing has scoured the global ocean. There is no blue frontier left," said lead author Ransom Myers, a fisheries biologist based at Dalhousie University in Canada. "Since 1950, with the onset of industrialized fisheries, we have rapidly reduced the resource base to less than 10 percent—not just in some areas, not just for some stocks, but for entire communities of these large fish species from the tropics to the poles.” Ref: R. A. Myers & B. Worm 2003. “Rapid worldwide depletion of predatory fish” Nature 423: 280-3.
  18. 18. Community Memory is Essential to ensure (a) Restraint over Resource Use (b) Intergenerational Equity Hence, the Community is Anathema to (a) Private Profit (b) Industrial Growth
  19. 19. Eppur si Muove… Despite the Advent of Modernity, • Communities continue to exist • Customary management systems • persist • Biophilia remains alive …. in remote villages of South Asia
  20. 20. Biophilia in Practice
  21. 21. Rescuing a Bat
  22. 22. Recognition of Intrinsic Value of Nature Hunting Ethics Seasonal Restrictions Sacred Species Sacred Groves Myths & Totems Omens & Auguries Conservation for Future Generations
  23. 23. Recognition of Intrinsic Value of Nature Obviates DISCOUNTING of Natural Resources in all Pre-Industrial Societies Discounting is a Tool of Neo-Classical Economics to Boost Growth of Capital
  24. 24. The Spurious Arithmetic of Discounting If we take a discount rate of five percent, then the cost to society of a $100,000,000 cleanup in 250 years' time (at today's value) is just $270. At an eight percent discount rate, the cost drops to just nine cents! Through discounting, then, future environmental problems of immense size can be made simply to fade away. – Mario Petrucci 2002. “Sustainability – long view or long word?” Social Justice 29: 106.
  25. 25. Zero Rate of Interest /Discounting Entails Conservation Price = Rent ÷ Interest rate With interest rate → 0, price → ∞  Nobody can buy [the right to destory] any ecosystem.
  26. 26. The Red Queen Race for Happines ‘What matters is not how much they have but how much more they have than others’ – Barry Schwartz 1986. The Battle for Human Nature. Norton. New York, p. 165. * The difference between ‘need’ and ‘want’ is never transcended. * The perception of want is governed by the desire to attain material well-being relative to all others. * The horizon of want perpetually recedes with techno-industrial progress.
  27. 27. Signs of Prosperity?
  28. 28. Bhopal: Genocide for Development
  29. 29. Global Carbon dioxide Levels (800 - 2000AD)
  30. 30. Another Form of Civilization:  Existing and ALIVE ! A Civilization in which • The individual’s right to deprive others of Nature’s services is abrogated; • The intergenerational right of all community members is upheld; • Natural “resources” cannot be price- tagged; • “Enoughness” prevails over “Moreness”.
  31. 31. 10 0 De-growth phase 80 60 40 20 No-growth phase 0 ▬ ▬ ▬ ▬ ▬ ▬ ▬ ▬ T e im →
  32. 32. Tenets of Eco-Socialist Society 1. Zero Rates of Profit and Interest Natural objects will be conserved for future generations; will preclude accumulation and wealth inequity. 2. Civic democracy Participation of all members of society; accountability for all actions that affects the rights of community; access to information and choice for all; consideration of rights of all members, including future generations.
  33. 33. Tenets of Eco-Socialist Society 3. Cooperative individualism Encourage rational cooperation among individuals to align with civic democracy; foster growth of personal knowledge, enhance individual creativity and facilitate dialogue between the individual and the community. 4. Inclusive Freedom Truncate certain exclusive individual freedoms and ensure inclusive freedom of the whole community and intergenerational social and environmental justice.
  34. 34. Civic Democracy Eco-Socialist Ethics Biophilia & Communitarian Ecocentric Ethos Ethos
  35. 35. “The defects of formal parliamentary democracy result from the delegation of power. To make democracy effective, power must always be vested in the people, and there must be ways and means for the people to wield the sovereign power effectively, not periodically, but from day to day. “Economic democracy is no more possible in the absence of political democracy than the latter is in the absence of the former.” M N Roy (1954)
  36. 36. Villagers United to Protect their Sacred Groves
  37. 37. Power to the Community

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