Natural Capital Speaks!

180 minute DVD, © 2009 $19.95 or
Watch Online Free of Charge

In a series produced from 1991 to 1996, these four 45 minute documentary videos cover the historic emergence of the young science of ecological economics. The prescient warnings of some of the world’s most renowned ecologists, scientists and politicians capture the fascinating early days of an economics that counts the earth.

Produced in association with: The International Society for Ecological EconomicsRobert Costanza, Herman Daly, Dean Button, and Janice King; The Madison Institute and the Madison Campus MinistryVern Visick; The Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm UniversityAnnMari and Bengt-Owe Jansson, Nils and Lena Kautsky; Rocky Mountain InstituteAmory and Hunter Lovins, Andrew Jones, Jeanette Darnauer; and Universidad Nacional de Costa RicaOlman and Katia Segura, David Barton and Rosalba Ortíz

Production and Sound Assistance by Joanne E Griesinger; Sound, Lighting, Technical Coordination and Editing by Robert L Campbell; Produced, Directed, Designed and Filmed by Peter R Griesinger

“Griesinger’s videos on ecological economics are real assets for understanding how our economic activities should relate to the environment.”
– Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, The Smithsonian Institution
“I am pleased to tell you that we think your films will be very suitable for our lectures as our students enjoy seeing and hearing world-famous experts explain their concepts in their actual words. We also note that the talks are given in a very pronounced and
easily understandable way.”
– Dr. Uwe Shubert, Interdisciplinary Institute of Environmental
Economics and Management, Wirtshafts University, Vienna, Austria
“The most sacred tenet of capitalism is that you do not consume capital to pay for current expenses, yet, unwittingly, perhaps witlessly, the captains of industry and the free market entrepreneurs have been depleting the nation’s capital resource base for so long that they are unaware that they are sowing the seeds that will destroy the system. Every business enterprise in history that consumed its capital and called it profit, went bankrupt – sovereign nations are no different…it will just take them longer to get there.”
– Gaylord Nelson in ‘An Introduction to Ecological Economics’
“It makes me see the little seeds of the vision, the little experiments in that vision already on the ground, happening all over the world, and it makes me see that those are the
places to be watered and nourished.”
– Donella Meadows in ‘Costa Rica Counts the Future’

An Introduction to Ecological Economics
45 minutes, ©1991, Madison, WI

Gaylord Nelson, Herman Daly, John Cobb Jr., Ann Kapuscinski, Marin Evers and others emphatically demonstrate that the human economy is a smaller, open sub-system of a finite, non-growing and materially closed ecosystem. The stunning liquidation of the forests in Siberia and the Pacific Northwest; the looming collapse of the global fishery; humanity’s preemption of the Net Primary Product of Photosynthesis; and Daly and Cobb’s ‘Index for Sustainable Economic Welfare’ are put into an exciting, revolutionary perspective. Video excerpts from ‘The Ancient Forest’ provided by LightHawk, the ‘Environmental Airforce’. Video finalist, World Congress, Eco-Ed ’92, Toronto, Canada

“Economists talk about scarcity. Ecologists speak of conservation. The beauty of this film is that it explores the interface between economics and ecology, and raises one of the most pressing questions of our time: if resources are so scarce, why isn’t better care taken in using them?”
– Don Cole, Professor of Economics, Drew University
“Coherent, accessible, and tightly constructed, this video introduces an economics that counts the earth.”
– Alan Durning, Worldwatch Institute

Investing in Natural Capital
42 minutes, ©1993, Stockholm, Sweden

Herman Daly, Robert Costanza, Paul Ehrlich, William Rees, Cutler Cleveland, AnnMari Jansson, Paul Ekins and others explore the earth’s carrying capacity as it relates to agriculture, international trade, property rights, and over-population. Filmed on the shores of the Baltic Sea, it is argued that we must shift investment from man-made capital to natural capital in order to adapt to a world with a new pattern of scarcity. The precautionary principle, per-capita resource consumption, ecological tariffs and more are discussed. Featuring the video map ‘World Population, 0000 – 2020’ by Zero Population Growth.

“More than 70% of total human population growth has occurred in this past century. In the context of much greater population density, long-standing assumptions about the exploitation and consumption of our resource base could end up bankrupting even the world’s richest countries. ‘Investing in Natural Capital’ is a provocative, educational exploration of the ways in which ecology can, and must, transform economic theory.”
– Aaron Sachs, Worldwatch Institute
“Ecologists, economists, agriculturalists, foresters, fishery specialists, geographers, and others will be most interested in seeing and listening to this group of eminent scientists discussing how and why it is vital for humans to manage their ‘natural capital’ more carefully than ever before.”
– David Pimentel, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University

Conversation for a Sustainable Society
43 minutes, ©1993, Aspen, CO

Amory Lovins, Hunter Lovins, David Orr, Dennis Meadows, Claudine Schneider and others bring humor and joviality to the serious business of energy efficiency and resource productivity. Promoting market-based end/use, least/cost solutions that include energy efficient technologies; lighting/heating/cooling retrofits in commercial leasing markets; utility reform; regulatory/accounting innovations; and system analyses by students of their college resource flows, the video provides a glimpse of the heady early days of the clean-tech revolution.

“Not merely philosophy, the video includes constructive suggestions by a congenial group of thoughtful people. A truly stellar group!”
– Science Books and Films

Costa Rica Counts the Future
45 minutes, ©1996, San José, Costa Rica

Costa Rican President José Maria Figueres, Juan Martinez-Alier, Donella Meadows, Paul Ekins, Dr. Rodrigo Gámez, Dr. Alvaro Umaña, and three Costa Rican Southern Zone cooperatives appear in this elegant bilingual documentary (with Spanish/English subtitles). Costa Rica’s adoption of ecological economics as official policy is brought to life by exploring CO2 mitigation services; secondary forest protections; commercial exploration and preservation of biodiversity; botanical medicines; eco-tourism; organic agriculture; sustainable yield mangrove charcoal production; and economic opportunity for indigenous women.

“As with all of Griesinger’s videos on ecological economics ‘Costa Rica Counts the Future’ charts a course more of us should be following. Simple, elegant, and innovative, the solutions presented here demonstrate how a nation, from the President of Costa Rica to local workers’ cooperatives, can join forces to transform decades of destructive economic activity into a truly restorative economy. Highly recommended.”
– Paul Hawken, author, ‘Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement
in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw it Coming.'

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A Short Primer on Ecological Economics

By Dean Button, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

“The ideas and theories of Conventional Economics govern international trade and commerce. Conventional economics is primarily concerned with the isolated, circular flow of exchange between producers and consumers. Because the Conventional Economic model is driven by the exchange of income, which is, in theory, infinite, problems such as resource exhaustion, over-population, and pollution are not formally considered.

Ecological Economics takes a much broader view. Instead of narrowly focusing on the circular flow of goods from producer to consumer, Ecological Economics recognizes that the human economy is a smaller, open sub-system of a finite, non-growing, and materially closed ecosystem. The economy is open in that it receives the input from the sun (energy) and natural resources (matter) and transforms those material inputs into commodities through a variety of production processes. Just as commodities are produced, so is the residue, or waste, of these productive systems. The waste must eventually be returned to, or absorbed by, the larger environment,

Ecological Economics acknowledges this self-evident circumstance and actively challenges the prevailing economic paradigm that considers these observations as ‘external’ to the economic process. Our remaining Natural Capital Assets – our air, water oceans, biota, and soil – are being polluted and plundered in the mistaken conventional belief that there will always be more.

We must preserve and restore our Asset Base by recognizing the dependence of the economy on a healthy biosphere.”

‘Natural Capital Speaks!’ was produced in memory of my mother and father – vital, healthy, energetic people – who were prematurely struck down by ALS and Alzheimers; my close friend and compatriot, Ed ‘Citizen’ Hauser, who had what it took to defend and celebrate the singular health and beauty of the public realm at Whiskey Island, Cleveland, OH; AnnMari Jansson, one of the cofounders of the International Society of Ecological Economics and a believer in humanity’s ability to self-organize; Gaylord Nelson, whose monumental achievements in public policy set a standard unmatched since that remarkable first EarthDay in 1970; and Donella Meadow, who helped unleash a great and limitless movement to envision and create a sustainable future. – PRG

Natural Capital Speaks!

Production Stills

Peter and Joanne Griesinger

Photos From Sweden

Photos From Costa Rica

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