Missouri Coalition for the EnOur-Future-Cover-4-30-12-232x300vironment, with the help of several other organizations and individuals, has completed a new report on sustainability using the Upper Mississippi River Basin as the focus area. The report takes a different, and we believe a more rational and supportable approach, to sustainability than other reports typically have. This report is based upon the concept of “strong” sustainability that dispels the inaccurate primary assumptions that our society is based upon, that there are no limits to natural resources or economic growth.

Using this approach, conclusions and recommendations become significantly different in creating a long-term vision for the region than our current, unsustainable economic view of the world elicits. The following paragraph summaries the report’s framework:

The environment of the Upper Mississippi River Basin is degrading and has been for over a century. The intensive management of the basin primarily for the short-term economic benefit of a small portion of the population is the underlying cause and is driven by dysfunctional economic policies and philosophies that ignore the laws of physics and biology in their application. MCE believes that because of our limited knowledge of our environment and our complete dependence upon it we need to minimize our “management” of our ecosystems and begin managing ourselves within the limited capacities of these ecosystems. This report discusses our concerns and then offers an alternative vision for the future that realigns our actions to be consistent with these natural laws through “Strong” sustainability, moving back to local economies, living within the capacity of our environment, and protecting the free ecosystem services and functions that we completely depend upon.

Why Did We Prepare This Report?

Like the rest of our country, the Upper Mississippi River basin has, and continues to suffer accelerated environmental degradation because we have no adequate, thoughtful, holistic long-term plan for its management.

As an organization, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) is disturbed with the lack of future legitimate and reasonable planning for the Upper Mississippi River (UMR) basin. MCE advocates a new vision to guide management of the UMR – a long term, multi-generational vision based on the principle of “strong” sustainability. Ultimately, it is a vision that demands we move from policies and actions that manage the UMR solely for human benefit to managing our economic and other activities within the capacity of the river system.

What Do We Hope To Accomplish?

Our report addresses our concerns and documents a vision that is more appropriate and attainable over a long period with the assumption that we accept the natural resource constraints, have the political will to change, and then begin adjusting our society to accommodate our vision. We assert that the challenge is to build the strong sustainability framework in this century.Ecosystem Services

The report is titled “Our Future?  A Vision for a Land, Water, and Economic Ethic in the Upper Mississippi River Basin”. It covers many important topics placing them into a holistic context that we think helps people better understand the root causes of many of the “wicked” problems we face today. But we also believe it will provide an opportunity for discussion that is lacking in the current debate about how the river system will function and how people will live within the basin over the next century.

Expert Contributions

We have had the great pleasure of working with 5 experts in the preparation of the report. Each of them drafted an essay providing their thoughts on sustainability for the UMR Basin and each is listed below under Chapter 6 with their essay title. You can read their essays by downloading the report.

To download the report click on the report image above or this link to the report.

The report’s Table of Contents is listed below:

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Upper Mississippi River Background

Chapter 3: Contemporary Myths Impacting the UMR Basin

Chapter 4: Our Framework for Sustainability

Chapter 5: Conclusions and Recommendations

Chapter 6: Expert Contributor’s Essays


“Taming the People” – K.S. Lubinski


“Sustainable Agriculture in the Upper Mississippi in the 22nd Century” – Frederick Kirschenmann


“Upper Mississippi River History and Hydrology” – Nicholas Pinter
“A Once and Future River” – Robert E. Criss

Ecological Economics

“The Human Economy and the UMR Basin” – Donna M. Anderson

Appendix A: UMR Barge Traffic and Its Efficiency


If you organization is interested in endorsing the vision and concepts in this report please contact MCE at the address below. Your organization’s name will be added to our list.

Brad Walker: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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