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From soothing palliatives and towards ecological literacy: a critique of the triple bottom line

Milne, Markus J (2005) From soothing palliatives and towards ecological literacy: a critique of the triple bottom line. Working Paper. Department of Accountancy and Business Law, University of Otago.

Not too long (21 pages) and not too hard to read for the most part, this paper is well worth a look. It reinforces (by looking at triple bottom line accounting) the concerns expressed about sustainable development and eco-capitalism expressed in our last post, and offers some constructive initial suggestions on advancing the transition to sustainability.

A few quotes:

“What emerges from this brief analysis of new concepts and tools is that current efforts of environmental or sustainability reporting are woefully inadequate means on which to form ideas about “success” in terms of the ecological logic needed to reorganise and ‘control’ economic activity.” (p.19)

In a transition to sustainability, if the end game is to remain unchanged, then the only… [way to seek processes, systems, and changes that promote a transition to an ecologically sustainable society]… is to seek changes that promote the decoupling of measures of success (growth, profits, etc.) from Earth’s limited physical energy and material flows. (pp.19-20)

Ultimately, however, humanity will need to realise that “success” is not just a case of making the transition to a solar economy, it is also in recognising that the natural cycles that the sun’s energy fuels are themselves limited in scale and speed (Sachs, 1999), and that all people have basic rights to meet their needs. Success is not just about technology, and efficiency, it is also about equity and sufficiency. (p.20)
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Filed under Barry, economic analysis, sustainability