Home Economics: Economy Equals Ecology

We all live in ONE common house. Economy equals Ecology

In another age, I would have, by now, begun to serialize to the blog the presentation I offered to an unpacked high school auditorium on Saturday.

But I think I’ve finally gotten it through my head that not very many readers or local citizenry want to hear or know or think about this stuff that speaks to our current and future obligations to the planet.

So I’ll just pass along this one illustration from the talk. I told the audience that if they remembered nothing else, to remember the centrality of this one mutualistic relationship that must describe the balance of life and living on the planet that their descendants will inherit.  We have lived for two hundred years in two separate houses–the “oikos” of our monetary resources [ECOnomy] and the household of our natural capital [ECOlogy] as if they were non-overlapping circles. This relationship is not sustainable.

The coming decade (singular, not plural) must bring those two circles to become one and the same. Human well-being (and the systems that generate it) must perpetuate for the long term the integrity of the natural systems that are impacted by that withdrawal towards providing our nutrients, energy and material existence–our basic needs, and only as much of our desires as the resilience of the planet can withstand, with a safe margin away from tipping points. We live today at or beyond tipping points.

In the future, it goes without saying, we CANNOT take more than ONE EARTH’s worth of natural capital a year to live off of. We should find a balance in some distant future world, where population and footprint combined inflict far less than everything the planet can provide and tolerate. This kind of relationship is going to take not new technologies but new hearts and minds. We can change.  Frankly, in my heart of hearts, I know we will not.

We will continue with business as usual. In that old-school economy, we use up forever. There is barely any overlap at all between the great circles of Economy and Ecology, and the former is pre-eminent over the latter in most disgraceful and unsustainable ways. It is not mutually beneficial to humans and planet. It is only good for some humans who do not want this system to end, ever.

YOU cannot be uninvolved. As Marshall McCluhan said, “On Spaceship Earth, there are no passengers. We are ALL crew.”

Below is a link to the reading and thinking resources I used for the presentation. I made little business-cards with the link for folks to pick up. But nobody did.

Possibilities of the Anthropocene  http://checkthis.com/k2v9#/

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Published by fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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2 Comments

  1. Fred… Please don’t lose hope. There are lots of us who read your blog. We appreciate your writing and the information you provide. Yes, the “tipping point” might arrive too late, but we all need to keep working to make this planet habitable for future generations. Thanks for all you do toward that goal.

  2. Some of us read your blog & only infrequently comment. But, we do appreciate the information you provide (along with the comments, humor, sharing, …)

    Thank you.

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