Economic growth as if it can go on forever on a finite planet

You’ve got to be kidding.

The obsession with money seems to be so pervasive that it has sidelined important conversations about more pressing aspects of our lives such as the ecology.

The nightly news has a segment devoted to finance. Radio current affairs program often finish with a report on the market, meaning the share market. Newspapers also dedicate several pages to money and investment. There are magazines devoted to money and investment. ABC RN has a program titled The Economist and another titled The Money.

It’s not an if or but, it’s a fact of life that we are utterly dependent on nature and ecological transactions – if we want to use a money type description. These are the exchanges that take place every second of the day, enabling all other transactions to occur. The money cycle is a bit player when compared to the carbon cycle, the water cycle, the nitrogen cycle and so on. Without each of them, there’d be nothing else, literally. And yet these are taken for granted. Money is given a disproportionate amount of time and attention. Why would anyone dream of questioning this human constructed arrangement – artificial and concocted though it may be.

Yet the domination of financial reporting elevates it to be front and centre, when it should take a back seat.  Money has moved from being of service to us, to being the driver of much of our lives.

When money is traded it supposedly represents an exchange of goods and services and it does just that for many of us.  But is has also become an end in itself, being traded with other currencies and hijacked by those who launder it through gambling outlets or illicite activities connected with illegal social behaviour.

Money has not only become an essential part of modern society,  it has been given so much status that it obscures our worldview, such that nature – the ecology – have to be downgraded.  Should it not be the other way around?  How would we reapportion our media broadcast time if we allocated / applied equal opportunity principles to the ecology.  Nothing we do is done externally of mother earth.  We live on a finite planet, we breath her air, we drink her water, we eat her food, we rely on her to reabsorb our leftovers – be they peelings from preparing veg and fruit preparing for a meal, to tail pipe emissions from vehicle exhausts, to the rubble from demolished buildings, to the contents of our three bins kerbside collections, the sewage from toilet flushing, the carbon and other gases from coal fired power stations, the list goes on.

This is a finite planetary system where there is no away – we all live downstream.  The cycles of nature apply whether or not to acknowledge them. And the consequences of our chosen ways of living and social organization need to be factored into all the transactions being made, ecological, social and financial.

There is no capacity to opt out.  This being the case it would seem useful to reframe many of our ways of viewing human actions, such that they are discussed within an ecological context first, then a social context, then a financial context.   This would more accurately reflect the reality of our lives, as earthlings, as mammals, as fauna.  We could re apportion our media time to reflect this.

Money and finance would take their rightful place at the back of the queue, as passengers, not drivers, as lubricants, not as cogs and wheels.

We would report on ourselves less and on non-human beings (other species) much more.

We can’t eat money.  We can eat carrots, beans, lettuce, cucumbers, apples, you name them, but they get little attention by comparison to money.

We would have a Chief Ecological Officer as well as a Chief Health Officer – surely ecological health comes before human health.  Without a healthy functioning ecology, not much else matters.  This has been clearly demonstrated by recent programs i.e. Australia Story, highlighting the benefits of regenerative farming methods.  Soil health, precedes plant health, precedes animal health, and is essential for human health. (Also ref: Soil, by Matthew Evans)  

First things first, as Stephen Covey would say in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Firstly think about the outcome, what do we seek to achieve?  What are the basic building blocks, foundation stones of any society?  First things first: healthy soil, 99 per cent groundcover and everything else will follow, abiding by the first and second laws of thermodynamics – earth law, within which the laws of thermodynamics are located.

It all makes sense, when earth law comes first, since it informs how societal law and financial law fit into the equation.

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