Resilient Future Comment July 2011
Greg Gerritt • Larry asked me two questions. 1. What do you mean by economy? 2. What is ecological healing?
Ecological healing is the actual repairing of damage to the ecosystem. Planting a forest were one had formerly flourished but was now gone. Rebuilding soil structure with compost. Removing dams from rivers and restoring fish runs. Protecting reefs so they can generate more food for the local fishers to catch. Building local organic agricultural systems spurred by people by eating more locally grown foods. Cutting our carbon footprints below what the earth can actually absorb and recycle each year, so that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere actually starts to come down.
And many other examples.
The economy is the sum total of human gathering, production, and consumption. More and more it is based on an unequal distribution of wealth and the exploitation of natural capital. Often the depletion of natural capital is considered to be income, but whatever is going on, it is added up and cash is used to call upon the resources of 1.4 planet Earth’s each year. The poor are robbed blind and lose their forests.
In a place like Rhode Island, the economy is stuck. The industrial revolution has run its course and the resources to grow the economy do not exist. We do have immigrants, but we do not have new forests and fisheries, and despite all the chatter, the biomedical industry really does nothing to us except make us broke.
The way forward for Rhode Island is to stop poisoning ourselves and stop expecting the exploiting of the rest of the planet to feed us. And provide our energy and other basics of life.
My prediction is that the US economy will shrink. People will have less money and buy less industrial crap. My best guess is that we are heading to a median income approaching the global mean. Under those circumstances if we can not eat from the local resource base, we do not eat.
But at the same time, we have to transform from a society that gives power to the greedy and violent to one that derives satisfaction in community rather than consumption.
The public policy officials in RI that are focused on economic development have a 50 year track record of unmitigated failure. They keep expecting growth and complain that having to take care of ecosystems harms the economy. They are just plain wrong.
Having stopped a port development in RI that would have been bringing in the worst of the world’s consumerist crap from Asia, it is time to build the alternative. My focus is compost. Getting all the food scrap out of the landfill, compost it or digest it for returning to the soil, either as compost, or after producing energy, as organic pelletized fertilizer.
It feeds people, generates local jobs, builds soil, and reduces our carbon footprint. Today I was working on convincing a local culinary school that if they really want to be a leader in the green hospitality industry, and save some money, develop a compost facility.