Parandettevõtlus: praktiline radikalism / Regenerative entrepreneurship: practical radicalism


  • Priit-Kalev Parts



‘Progress’ means extravagant energy use, enabled by the burning of fossil fuels and colonial expansion. The peak in the extraction of oil and countless other key natural resources, the ‘peak everything’, is at hand or imminent. Renewable and nuclear energy depend on fossil fuel-based production and have a poor EROI (energy return on investment). At the same time, the industrial civilisation has triggered a series of irreversible chain reactions. For the last 10,000 years, a period known as the Holocene, the Earth has enjoyed an exceptionally stable climate, which is a prerequisite for agriculture and the functioning of civilisations. We are entering a hothouse Earth with an unstable climate. The author starts from a post-sustainable framework of deep adaptation, according to which the collapse of industrial societies due to climate chaos and limits to growth is likely, inevitable or already underway in our lifetime.

The essential question of the post-sustainable world is how to live on a planet, on which humankind has never set foot in its entire evolution. In order to conceptualise this situation and to create an action plan, it is necessary to abandon the dogma of progressivism, the narrative that everything is going to get better, that all stories have a happy ending, and that there is no ‘going back to childhood’ (to a ‘Golden Age’, ‘traditional society’, etc.). The author takes a brief look at empirical and theoretical analyses that are in sharp contrast to the basic narratives of progress. The author also points out that no scientific-technical, Enlightenment-based culture or cultural situation in history can be shown to have been sustainable for even a single moment. At the same time, history is littered with examples of former state subjects, who have fled civilisation and gone native. Consequently, the achievement of an ecologically sustainable culture that breaks away from the doctrines of the Enlightenment and progress is an opportunity that is within reach at any moment.

Since the mid-19th century (at the latest), Estonian culture has consisted of attempts to create European-style culture in Estonian. In order to reach an ecologically sustainable way of life that can be lived from generation to generation, it is necessary to search for and invent the “modes of creation” of Estonians as a countryside people (before the 19th century, Estonians called themselves “people of the land”), i.e., a local epistemology and ecological sensitivity of the local culture, rebuilding a photosynthesis-based food system. The author calls for the abandonment of modernist business as usual and for the actual care of the land, generation after generation, a regenerative economy. The task of the regenerative economy is to bind water, carbon, nutrients into the Estonian soil. Agriculture – to the extent that it is possible on a hothouse Earth – must move towards forest gardening and grazing, because carbon is better safeguarded in the soil than in vegetation in the event of wildfires and superstorms. Also, it will be harder for colonisers to seize crops. Regenerative economy can be summed up in three words: food, wood, fibre.

Finally, the author proposes an extensive list of ideas for regenerative entrepreneurship. A regenerative entrepreneur is a practical environmental radical, whose everyday challenge is to find business models that are based on human or animal labour and photosynthesis as a source of energy and to create soil.

Keywords: limits to growth, climate chaos, deep adaptation, going native, regenerative economics


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Research Article