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Thursday, March 4, 2010

$25 a kilogram for rice?!

My corporate sustainability lecturer mentioned in a lecture the other day that a study found that if you factored in the cost of the water, producing rice in Australia costs about $25 per kilogram. Which is insane. I don't know anyone who would be willing to pay that much for a kilogram of rice. Of course, this is not what rice costs in the supermarket, which is a beautiful illustration of the externalities (an economic term for "The side effect on an individual or entity due to the actions of another individual or entity." eg. pollution) involved in something like this. Growing rice in Australia is economically viable because rice growers don't have to pay enough for the water they use, and the impact of that water use on the country is an externality - one the environment and animals are paying for, not the consumers.

Examples like this are a great argument for the importance of internalising externalities and having prices that truly reflect the cost of the production of a good for everyone - including society and the environment.

It also begs a question - why do we have such blind faith in the 'invisible hand' when it allows crazy things like this make economic sense? In the driest habited continent on earth, I think it is fair to say we should not be growing rice.

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Important Lessons from the Bible

Why Jesus came:
"that the world might be saved through him"
John 3:17

Who Jesus is going to use to save the world:
"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God."
Romans 8:19

Our role on earth:
"The LORD God put the man in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to look after it."
Genesis 2:15

The Five Pillars of A Christian Theology of Sustainability

1. God is the creator, sustainer and redeemer of creation.

2. Covenantal Stewardship (we have a covenant with God as stewards of the earth).

3. The creation-fall-redemption paradigm (God made a good world; human failure broke the relationships between god, man and creation; Christ provides hope for all creation).

4.Bodily resurrection(we will rise with bodies, not as spirits)

5.New Creation (a new Heaven and new Earth refers to a renewal and an earthing of heaven, not starting over).

Adapted from When Enough is Enough: A Christian Framework for Environmental Sustainability, Edited by R.J. Berry, Published by Inter-Varsity Press, 2007, Nottingham p43+