Living, Green and Circular
The new Truly Green Economy needs to be modeled after and embedded within the circular economy of nature to generate and regenerate wealth for people and planet. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
The world's economy is on the brink of financial meltdown, thanks to the corrupt Wall Street money and banking system unleashed by deregulation in the 1970s and 1980s  ("Shut Down Wall Street!" SiS 53). Emerging from the ruins is a new socially accountable economy that can provide good jobs at living wages, and generate real wealth for people and communities, at least in the United States  (New Economy Now, SiS 53). But that is not enough, we need a truly green circular economy working with and within nature to generate and regenerate wealth for people and planet.
Until a few years ago, very few people would take green or circular economy seriously. Not anymore; governments and businesses are now outdoing environmental groups in claiming the green circular economy for themselves. So perhaps it is time to put down some goal posts to make sure we get there.
Circular economy now mainstream
I have been arguing for the "circular economy" for several years, and first used the term in 2006 to describe a sustainable farming system  (Circular Economy of the Dyke-Pond System, SiS 32), but it did not originate with me. During a study-lecture tour in China, I gave a talk on my 'zero-entropy model of organisms and sustainable systems' (see below) at the Guangzhou Institute of Geography in Guangzhou, Canton Province. Prof. Zhang Hongou, director of the Institute, told me afterwards that what I had been talking about was the "circular economy" of mainstream Chinese thinking, as opposed to the dominant linear economy of the West.
"Circular economy" was a Chinese government initiative launched in 2004 and targeted at the manufacturing and service business sectors. It exhorted the sectors to enhance the economy and the environment by collaborating in managing environmental resources, so "one facility's waste, including energy, water, materials (as well as information), is another's input" . This became government policy with the Circular Economy Law of 2008, albeit with aspirations considerably watered down .
The term "circular economy" has since caught on. It features prominently on the webpage of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in how we should rethink the future . Recently, it was liberally used by speakers at a public conference organised by the UK group Green Alliance . Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Caroline Spelman spoke enthusiastically of building the "New Green Circular Economy" in partnership with business , and said UK has already produced its own Green Economy roadmap  ahead of European Union's resource efficiency roadmap to be published early in 2012 .
The major driver of the circular economy is not so much environmental concern as the soaring prices of commodities that seriously threaten growth in the business sector. European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potocnik put it more starkly: improving resource use is not just an environmental imperative; it is an "issue of survival" for businesses , as for the planet.
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