Peter Barnes (historian, journalist, co-founder of a worker-owned solar energy company in California and Working Assets) believes that we need to rework our economic system, and has written a new book about it: Capitalism 3.0: a guide to reclaiming the commons. He asserts that right now, under our current operating system (Capitalism 2.0), we are squandering the commons (obviously). Capitalism 2.0 is better for our society and environment than the first system we started with (Capitalism 1.0), as there are some regulations in place and we do place value on certain aspects of our environment. Now, however, we can and need to do better as we face the permanent loss of climate zones and important parts of our ecosystems.

He asserts that our current operating system places too much power on profit-maximizing corporations that are destroying the commons, and that the government has a hand (or two) in these corporations. Not breaking news here. As far as “Capitalism 3.0” he suggests creating a “commons trust” – an entity that would limit the use of scarce commons, charge rent and share the dividends with the rest of society.

I have not yet read this book, so I cannot say much more than that. It was recommended to me by my aunt – an avid conservationist, and Professor of Botany at UPenn. I do believe that in our current economic system it is nearly impossible to accurately assign value to parts of our environment – and those that we do assign value to have a value that reflects their human utility. Further, we do need to rework our economic model to accurately assign value to our environment and think in the medium to long-term. Such short term thinking is incredibly detrimental to the environment’s (and ultimately our) well being…