Updated: Apr 21, 2021
The Earth's ecology and the human economy have long existed in an inverse relationship. Since the dawn of the Industrial Age, as the economy has grown, the ecology of the Earth has been damaged.
The Earth's ecology and the human economy have long existed in an inverse relationship. Since the dawn of the Industrial Age, as the economy has grown, the ecology of the Earth has been damaged. The inverse relationship has been especially highlighted during the past year, as the COVID-19 lockdowns brought the global economy to a sudden halt. While the industries of the world were stopped, natural ecology began to show signs of life. Across the world, the "anthropause" allowed nature to recover from 150 years of damage. In China for example, it is estimated that approximately 200 million fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide were produced during the first month of national lockdown. In Italy, the famous maritime canals of Venice cleared up significantly as sediment usually disturbed by boat traffic was able to settle.
The human economy and natural ecology come from the same root, the Greek word "oikos," meaning house or habitat.
As the COVID-19 lockdowns are lifted in many parts of the world, including the USA, the need for a new conception between the economy and the ecology must be realized so that our shared home can be protected for generations to come.
The Shaker Tradition
The Center for ReGenerative Ecology, Education, and Enterprise Development (CREEED) is housed on historic Shaker land, in New Lebanon, New York. It is from this legacy we are able to draw upon the lessons of the Shakers, who lived in close harmony with their natural surroundings. Many innovative Shaker architectural designs, such as their round stone barn, and their ice houses utilized their natural surroundings to their advantage. For example, Shaker ice houses were built into hillsides, which allowed cool air to vent into food storage rooms and warm air to be released through the roof. In this way, CREEED serves as a transitionary bridge between the pre-industrial world of the Shakers and the rigors of the modern, global economy by fostering effective regenerative enterprises focused on healthy food, healthy soil, and a healthy planet.
The ethos of Western society has placed the short term growth of the economy at the center, without consideration to the effects on the natural ecology. As climate change continues to wreak havoc on the natural environment and as global wealth is consolidated into the hands of a slimmer and slimmer few, a new model is necessary to relink the health of the economy and the health of the planetary ecology. This relationship can only exist one direction, with the natural world holding the economy, as the consequences of the alternative are bearing down upon us now.