In the prevailing economic system, the resource base is only considered valuable insofar as it can be exploited to feed consumption. A system which aims for widespread abundance must move beyond sustainable exploitation of resources towards planet-wide regeneration of the ecological resource base. In order to achieve this, the mechanisms for degradation must first be addressed, and then a new mechanism for regeneration introduced.

In a private-property based system or an open-access system, individuals look out for themselves at the expense of the group. When resources are considered scarce, individuals race to exploit their desired share of resources before they miss out, degrading the resource base in the process. This process is called the ‘tragedy of open-access’, commonly mislabeled as the ‘tragedy of the commons’. The commons is in fact an ecologically viable alternative to the ‘market’ for collectively managing and allocating resources, as opposed to open-access where no management system applies.

In order to avoid this scarcity-fueled race to the bottom, we assert the primacy of the commons. The concept of private-property ownership and exchange of exclusion rights on goods gives way to stewardship and allocation rights for managing the shared common pool resources. People do not individually ‘own’ resources but rather, earn rights to allocate them from the commons for a time.

Effective stewardship is rewarded with a regeneration incentive, targeted at regenerating the resource commons. Every resource maintains a reserve, and a corresponding reserve ratio which describes the percentage of resources withheld from its total available resource pool. The regeneration incentive is computed from the reserve ratio and then used to encourage the reserve’s replenishment via natural and augmented processes, starting from the fundamental resources and the carrying capacity of the planetary base. Resources can only be extracted to fulfill needs if the resource base has been regenerated to increase its carrying capacity to a sufficient level.

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