Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Ecologist

Back To Basics by Andrew Simms
  • «Can something be ‘progress’ if it contains the seeds of its own downfall

  • «Living in one of the most stable climatic periods of the past half-a-million years has lulled us into a false sense of security

  • «We live on an isolated island planet with no known neighbours, so perhaps we can learn from small island populations who survived harsh environments for millennia. To tackle the ecological debt crisis, we need to relearn resilience and adaptability, and to move towards a dynamic equilibrium between society and nature while ensuring equity and sufficiency. There are failures to learn from (Easter Island, Nauru), but island communities have generally achieved well above average ecological efficiency at meeting human needs, and score well in NEF’s Happy Planet Index. The index compares ecological footprint data with life-expectancy and satisfaction. The first lesson is deceptively simple: to respect environmental limits. Next, resilient local economies – of necessity based on reciprocity, sharing and co-operation, not unlimited growth, fed by individualistic, beggar-thy-neighbour competition

  • «Boiled down, the potted small-island survival guide for a troubled planet would include these essentials: contact with nature, an awareness of and adaptation to more obvious limits, sharing-based economies that reduce inequality across a community and maintain supportive social relationships, food crops bred for hardiness and grown in mixed, productive plots.»

  • «Similarly, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology recently concluded that a massive shift of support to small-scale farmers using a diverse range of agro-ecological methods would be an efficient way to build resilience, inoculate against food crises, and insure against increasingly hostile weather patterns

  • «‘Since the Earth itself is developing without growing, it follows that a subsystem of the Earth (the economy) must eventually conform to the same behavioural mode of development without growth,’ writes ecological economist Herman Daly in his book Beyond Growth. In its place, he says, we need ‘a subtle and complex economics of maintenance, qualitative improvements, sharing frugality, and adaptation to natural limits. It is an economics of better, not bigger’. Achieve that, and it’s just possible that our ecological debts might not bankrupt a civilisation-friendly biosphere.»

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