When I was a student learning about the problems of the world, I wondered if there was a group whose job was to think at the largest scale and develop solutions. My main interest was the overlap of environmental sustainability and economics. Specifically, I was disturbed by how the economic system devalues nature such that, for example, a standing forest is worth $0, but a clearcut forest may provide millions of dollars’ worth of timber. The incentive is obviously to clearcut and take the profit, resulting in global deforestation destroying watersheds, ecosystems, and the Earth’s natural carbon sequestration capacity.
I joined Model United Nations, thinking that an idealistic institution formed in the aftermath of World War II could be a beacon of hope as humanity faces the challenges of the 21st century. I was saddened to learn about the limitations of the UN and its well-intentioned agencies, underfunded and often disregarded in the face of national interests. I became aware that civil society must be a driver to empower those with a global mindset to make the world a better place. In an instant, my focus became community development and local environmental issues. I had realized the meaning of the slogan “Think Globally, Act Locally.”
In June 2004, I attended a conference in New York state hosted by the EF Schumacher Society (now called the Schumacher Center for a New Economics) entitled “Local Currencies in the 21st Century: Understanding Money, Building Local Economies, Renewing Community.”
At the conference, I met Richard Douthwaite, who introduced me to the group Feasta, the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability. The group is based in Ireland, but has members from around the world. Richard’s writings and presentations covered the context of the global unsustainable economy and potential systemic solutions. Douthwaite was particularly interested in the intersection of local currencies and climate change, and wrote the book The Ecology of Money, which contemplated monetary reforms such as the creation of an energy backed currency unit that would help the global economy decarbonize.
I enthusiastically joined the Feasta listserves, and began corresponding with Feasta members around the time that the Cap and Share concept emerged. In the US, I worked with Peter Barnes to promote Cap and Dividend, and I introduced Richard to Peter via email. Peter later paid a visit to Ireland and met many FEASTA members in person.
When California passed the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, I began working for Peter to encourage the State to adopt the Cap & Dividend model. In the course of that work, I began archiving outreach materials and press pieces, which became the basis for my Carbon Share website. Around that time, I considered forming an affiliate of Feasta, something like Feasta USA. It has not come to pass (yet). But my involvement with Feasta continued, culminating in coordinating a delegation of Feasta members to travel to Paris for COP-21 to promote CapGlobalCarbon, another Feasta brainstorm. The concept, in a nutshell, is to promote a citizen-led Global Climate Trust, which countries or other civil society organizations can join. The Trust would set a global cap on carbon emissions, and operate a Cap & Dividend or Cap & Share program where revenues from a limited number of permit or shares representing emissions under the cap are returned to people. It could form the basis of a global basic income.
For the past 10 years I have been blogging on HuffPost. They recently ended their contributor platform, and so I am moving my blog here, to the Feasta website. I am excited to continue promoting the many important concepts and policies supported by Feasta. There are very few organizations like Feasta, and their type of systemic analysis and large scale solutions are what’s needed in 2018 and beyond. I hope this blog can help spread the word, provide hope, and become an outpost for Feasta USA.
For a taste of what’s to come, here are some links to my blog archive on HuffPost, divided into general topics:
- California’s cap and trade program – how to return the revenues of a carbon price back to people
- The UN’s climate conferences – equity in the UNFCCC, with special attention to COP-21 in Paris, (also here), equity at the UN, and the launch of Cap Global Carbon
- The power of the U.S. Federal Reserve to create money, the austerity debate and Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) (here)
- Responding to news items from a sustainability perspective – the BP oil spill, disaster recovery from the 2017 hurricanes and fires
- Science and religion – the 2017 March for Science, (and here) connections between Biblical “end times” and the apocalyptic visions of climate science, more recently with a view towards humanistic worldviews that empower people to take action on climate (also here, here, and here)
- I often refer to George Lakoff’s metaphors and “framing” – understanding how the “strict father” worldview has impacted U.S. politics
- Here are some more favorites from the archive:
I hope you enjoy some of these from the back catalog, and I’m looking forward to future posts on the Feasta site!
Note: Feasta is a forum for exchanging ideas. By posting on its site Feasta agrees that the ideas expressed by authors are worthy of consideration. However, there is no one ‘Feasta line’. The views of the article do not necessarily represent the views of all Feasta members.
Mike Sandler is the current Chair of FEASTA’s Board of Directors and is a climate change and sustainability professional with experience working for nonprofits and government. In 2001 Mike co-founded the Center for Climate Protection based in Sonoma County, California. Inspired by Peter Barnes and Richard Douthwaite, he has advocated for revenues from a price on carbon to be returned back to the public as a per capita dividend or share. He actively promotes CapGlobalCarbon and he has written on green monetary reform and basic income, some of which is archived on his author page on HuffPost.