THE VERY idea that the TPP is good for the environment (Craig Foss, October 26) is arrant nonsense. Moreover, it is wilful distortion. While Mr Foss might have the privilege of knowing what clauses say in this secret deal "of the oligarchy for the oligarchy", he doesn't understand the environment, let alone resource economics and ethics.

Mr Foss thinks certification schemes will ensure environmental protection. They won't. There are two types of commerce - the ethical and connected to place and community, and the unethical and unconnected.

Small-c commerce contributes to our place; moral philosopher Adam Smith's village environment. The latter extract from place, colonise and privatise gain. They form oligarchies and unethically influence government policies. Adam Smith warned us against their influence.

Mr Foss' claim that certification schemes indicate a positive of the TPP lumps all commerce together. Schemes like the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) were accepted by ethical small-c companies and corporates who were ethically linked to their land and community, and who recognised labelling was essential to encourage the market position of their produce. However, the FSC was unpopular with mega-corporates, who focused on low-cost systems and dominance.

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Mr Foss is also confused about what the environment is. It is not just our biodiversity; it is our water systems that are being mined, our soil systems, climate and carbon cycles, nutrient cycles, our acidifying ocean, and services that are gifted to us. He should research Stockholm Institute's Planetary Boundaries work before suggesting that a commercial deal will do any good. We are running close to many boundaries, and the root cause of much of it is short-term greed supported by big-c interests. Exactly the type of people who have access to the TPP details while we do not.

Mr Foss also doesn't understand natural system economics. The environment is not a set of "resources" it is our functioning life support system. Think dynamic "verbs" to keep flowing, not static "nouns" to load on a truck.

That does not preclude commerce or community, but it does require short-term greed and power to be held in check.

Once, a neo-liberal economist spoke with conviction that said "the free market provides the best environmental solution". It is amazing that they teach economists that rubbish. If you are of a big-c mind, without connection or ethical concern for your local place, or your local community,then the "rational" thing to do is to pillage and move one.

Those educated in forest and soil management know this. Finance will trump ethics and our children's future if you let it.

If short-term profit is your creed, take ownership of the public common for your own ends, privatise gains to be made and socialise costs, to make deals with short-term commissions. And liquidate natural systems that cycle slowly - destroy the forest, driftnet the ocean, and hoodwink the Solomon Islands chief out of his valuable forest for hollow promises.

Mr Foss seems blind to history. Mining of natural systems (soils, fisheries, forests, wetlands) is our history, and it is accelerating today as the greedy and powerful robber barons have reasserted their political influence around the world.

This practice was recorded as far back as the Epic of Gilgamesh, for heaven's sake. The skies of Southeast Asia are testament to that continuing big commerce way.

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So-called "trade" deals that profit mega-corporations will not change that extractive thinking. It will only reinforce it. If this Government was supportive of small-c it would encourage high-value enterprise and ban GMO trade to protect our environment and economy.

It would not allow mega-corporates to sue our democracy. It would protect the principles of democracy where any enterprise operates within the laws as decided by the people, not the reverse. That is not democracy; that is oligarchy.

And it would make open those TPP clauses to which unethical commercial entities have access. The fact that it failed to do any of these things is a disgrace. Mr Foss, your claims of environmental gain are empty spin.

* Chris Perley has a background in strategy, policy, research and operational management in provincial economies and land use.
* Business and civic leaders, organisers, experts in their field and interest groups can contribute opinions.

The views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email us at: editor@hbtoday.co.nz