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James Baker and Gregory Ulferts University of Detroit Mercy

Environmental Measures for Improved Economic Systems

The climate crisis has been accelerating, and with this acceleration comes an ever-growing need to reduce the impact economies have on the environment. While the traditional measure of the economy Gross Domestic Product, and its recently developed alternative, Genuine Progress Indicator, they fail to measure the reduction of carbon produced. This paper seeks to determine the effectiveness of alternative economic measures used alongside Gross Domestic Product, and Genuine Product Indicator to take into account the environmental improvement of economic systems. The measures under scrutiny include several ratios. The first ratio provides for the number of low carbon footprint family-owned farms over the number of corporate mega-farms. Some family farms have been able to reduce the carbon footprint of their multigenerational farm, while systems employed by factor farming companies have growing carbon footprints. Family farms are also cleaner. Factory farms generate pathogens and require a long supply chain of petroleum products to medicate their livestock. Smaller-scale operations do not have that carbon cost. Second, a ratio of the rate of change in grocery costs over the rate in change of inflation. While the inflation rate might be useful by central bank standards that measure alone is useless if consumers are losing an increasing percentage of their take-home pay to mandatory expenses. This loss in capital prevents the average consumer from investing in reusable products, thereby growing their carbon footprint. Third, it is useful to use a system of measurements that tracks how closely a physical system resembles a blockchain network. For example, the decentralized Great War era victory gardens (now called farm to table) would rank higher than the centralized production found in ecologically destructive companies such as Beyond Meat. The shorter a decentralized system is, the lower its carbon footprint should be. This change in measurement would also serve to promote carbon-neutral behaviors as the environment can better recuperate from a carbon load if distributed over a larger geographic area. As stewards of creation, it is critical to restore the fertility of the land. Finally, a measure of how much of the economy has transitioned to a paperless system. The resources necessary to print new fiat currency every year far exceeds the carbon footprint of digital transactions. All of these models will be incorporated into Catholic Social teachings to ensure ethical standards.