Social and ecological problems are mutually reinforcing. Attempting to solve one without the other is counter-intuitive, thus we need to practice econology.
For decades, and maybe even longer than that, analyst, scientist and overzealous “tree huggers” have noticed a steady decline in the Earth’s natural environment. This scary fact is not simply an abstract technical problem requiring cohorts of academics to pontificate hypotheses, but has much to do with the way societies operate. Traditionally viewed as distinct issues, designated to separate government agencies, ecological and social problems are without question intimately connected and mutually reinforcing—neither is a peripheral problem that can be solved in isolation, suggests writer Christopher Flavin in his publication entitled “Rich Planet, Poor Planet: State of the World 2001.” In his writing, Flavin stresses that environmental problems are closely linked to another pressing issue—global poverty.
Global poverty and environmental problems can be solved, that’s the good news. But what’s needed to produce an innovative solution at the boundaries of disciplines is what Eduardo Athayde, General Director of Bahia’s Atlantic Forest Open University, referred to as “econology,” a synthesis of ecology, sociology and economics that can be used as the basis for creating an economy that is both socially and ecologically sustainable. Athayde says this is “the central challenge facing humanity in the new millennium,” that’s the bad news, I guess, if you’re scared of challenges.
You know who doesn’t seem to be afraid of challenges? Those bratty millennials everyone seems to be either complaining or raving about. A handful of them, along with teens and politically active citizens – both elected and seeking office – and two millennial-led organizations – Mobilize.org and Techbook Online – will convene in downtown Philadelphia on the second Saturday in April for an event called “Minding Climate Change: A Call to Action,” a youth voice, civic engagement and thought-leadership platform aimed at building public will for sustainable practices and policy recommendations for climate change adaptation. Under the banner of Global Youth Service Day, the largest annual celebration of young volunteers, Philadelphians of all ages will attempt to answer the questions: How can we build communities and economies that are socially and ecologically sustainable?
Philadelphia is a great city for this type of event, because much like Bahia, Brazil – where there’s a huge population, a downtown area decorated with tall buildings that house wealthy multi-national corporations and an innovation class that’s driving the future – on the outskirts of opportunity remain an overwhelming number of poor people who lack more than just access to high speed internet, they are without essential information and education about how the world works; and should work. According to the Pew Charitable Trust, the most recent Census data shows that the City of Philadelphia has one of the highest poverty rates, 28.4 percent, and one of the lowest household median incomes, $34,207, among all major cities. In fact, a 2013 report from Temple University reveals the horrid truth that city workers in poverty have doubled under the Nutter Administration.
The concept of econology, says Athayde, is “a challenge that must be met at the national and global levels,” however, there’s a huge role for cities to play in promoting and implementing econological solutions. The availability of new technologies, writes Satish Nambisan on JSOnline.com, has radically lowered the cost and distance between government agencies and the citizens they serve. Creating an economy that is both socially and ecologically sustainable will be a challenge; however, the strain can be alleviated through the aggressive aggregation of policy makers, social innovators and those most affected by the problems. With all the actors discussing ways communities can be empowered to design, implement and scale solutions to social and ecological problems that create revenue through innovation, Philly can truly become a world-class city, with wide-ranging thought-leadership influencing its direction. Until then, Philadelphia, and all other cities, will be just big lands of opportunity; because in my opinion, a world-class city has a real plan for its most vulnerable citizens.
Considering the rapid melting of glaciers, the declining health of heat-sensitive coral reefs, the shifting jet streams and the amount of carbon emitted into our atmosphere caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation – which is responsible for 60 percent of the total from greenhouse gases – coupled with the growing poverty rates across cities, countries and continents, econology is more than just another thought-leadership talking point, it’s a word, moreover a practice, that’s going to save your life – and that’s a fact, not an opinion.
Do you have an opinion or an answer to the question: How can we build communities and economies that are both socially and ecologically sustainable? Do you want your thought-leadership featured in a worldwide online publication commemorating Global Youth Service Day 2014? If so, email your post-ready essay (a minimum of 400 words) to [email protected] with the title: Minding Climate Change.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
Source: TBO Inc®
Photo: US Department of Agriculture/Flickr