October 26, 2012

Corporatsaurus Wrecks vs Nature and Living Well

 I have rights, too.

What is the price that corporations must pay for causing environmental degradation? Zero. Currently there is no price that they must pay.

But what about the rights of nature? How is it that these most important of rights are being violated every day in the course of 'doing business', and no one is held accountable?

We all end up paying for the irresponsible rampaging of Corporatsaurus Wrecks. As this lumbering dinosaur slides ever closer toward extinction, the fear is that everything else will get dragged down with it.

A report commissioned by the United Nations looked at putting a price on the unintended consequences, or externalities, caused by the world's 3000 largest corporations. It found that on average the companies would lose 1/3 of their profits if made to pay for the damage they do to the environment.

While losing one third of profits would be fantastically unpopular with Wall Street, it might be getting off lightly.

Some corporations, especially those that create greenhouse gases, over-use/pollute water, put particulates  in the atmosphere, or create toxic waste, would cease to exist if made to pay for the damage they cause - they would no longer be profitable.

So what is the price those three thousand 'job creating' businesses would have to pay, if held responsible for the mess they cause? The UN report suggests a figure around $2.2 trillion per year, and says that the amount is an underestimate.

Bolivia's president, Evo Morales, enshrines the rights of nature
in the country's constitution, the 1st country to do so
Yes, that was trillions of dollars worth of damage per year in the course of violating Mother Nature for fun and profit.

It is time for capitalism to grow up and take responsibility for its environmental exploitation. If it won't do the right thing, we must force it to do so.

“Either capitalism dies, or nature does. We have to abandon luxury, wasteful merchandise, and not make other people pay for our luxuries,” said Bolivia's president, Evo Morales.

He has helped Bolivia become the first country in the world to enshrine the rights of Mother Nature in the country's constitution.

The recently enshrined rights include:

  • the right to life and to exist; 
  • the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; 
  • the right to pure water and clean air; 
  • the right to balance; 
  • the right not to be polluted; and 
  • the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.

The Laws Of Mother Nature also enshrine the right of nature "to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities".

Either Corporatsaurus Wrecks evolves to be able to survive in a new environmental reality, or it continues blindly bashing its way to extinction.

Either way, as Bolivia has recognized, business as usual is over. Rather than trying to “live better,” Morales says, our goal should be to “live well.”

"Living better” seeks to amass more and more material goods at the expense of others and the environment.

“Living well” means having all of one’s basic needs met, while being in harmony with the natural world.


  1. Fascinating! A shift in thinking that we desperately need. Reminds me of what Leo Babauta wrote about the true cost of fossil fuel. What is the report called?

    1. Several reports on this topic have come out in recent years. One of the UN reports is called 'The Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity (TEEB)'.

      Information can be found at:


      All these reports point to the same thing - we must drastically change the way we do business if we are to maintain a functioning ecosystem.

      It is all roughly based on 'the triple bottom line' (also known as people, planet, profit or the three pillars) which outlines values and criteria for measuring organizational (and societal) success beyond merely financial.



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