Monthly Archives: January 2016

Healing the Gap between Nature and our Economy

There is a often a separation between nature and our economical activities. Usually, enterprises only take, extract value and don’t give something valuable back.

At the root of this development is, that in Western society we have learned to see ourselves as outside of nature, somewhat above.

This is also apparent in our money system, which does not reflect the value of intact ecosystems. From that perspective, everything in nature is seen only as ‘resources’, something to be exploited and converted into money.

The money system is therefore an obvious leverage point, from which our behavior towards nature can be changed. One way to do that are local and worldwide alternative currencies with demurrage instead of interest. Such a currency is likely to support long-term projects (really long term, centuries!), because demurrage leads to fast circulation and no savings in form of money. The savings will be made in form of projects, as the pyramids in Egypt and the Gothic cathedrals in Europe demonstrate. During the time they were built, these societies had a dual currency system, as Bernard Lietaer has pointed out. Projects to improve the environment could be funded the same way, returning value instead of extracting it.

Another important step to overcome this gap is simply to acknowledge it, wherever it becomes apparent. Then, all the beautiful and inevitable connections we and our economic activities have with the web of life will also become clearer again and we will correct or abandon destructive activities.

For instance, disturbance resulting from mining activities does not have to be something destructive. Disturbance creates areas with higher potential for change, new growth. Many species can thrive especially well in areas created by mining activities like quarries or open-pit mines, after they are abandoned. Open-pit mines can be reforested or converted into beautiful lakes with much higher ecosystemic value than the landscape before. But it needs some effort. Also, mining leaves scars in the mineral crust of our planet, something that has not got enough attention so far. Subterranean material flows might need restoration too, or could even be improved.