Session 3: Ecological Change and Our Economic Security

Posted March 26, 2011 in Curriculum, Learning

Introduction:  Ecological Change and Our Economic Security

In our first two sessions, we have examined how the economy is going through deep changes.  In Session 2, Borrowed Times, we examined the role of debt in our lives and the larger economy.   In this session, we will examine the ways in which our economic future is linked to changing environmental conditions.

Many of us join common security clubs out of a practical concern for our economic security and well-being.  You might be wondering, “Why are we talking about environmental issues?”

The reason is that we are at a point where changes in the ecology are having – and will have in the future — an increased impact on our economic security.   In the same way that we borrowed heavily as consumers and as a country, we have also borrowed from the earth’s carrying capacity.  We have borrowed from future generations by consuming unprecedented amounts of natural resources.

We are going to learn together.  We’re going to take a look at hard information, but do it in community.  We’ll draw from some of the most interesting thinkers of our time – not always people you see on the evening news.

For those of you who have examined issues such as climate change and oil depletion, this will be an opportunity reflect on these matters in the context of our economic security.  For those who are new to these discussions, we hope that you’ll come away with an appreciation for why the ecological situation is central to our economic security and well-being.

The most challenging information in this session suggests that the economic growth model that we’ve come to live with for the last two generations is changing.  The engine of our economic growth has been oil.  It has been easy to tap and transport – and relatively cheap if we ignore all the hidden costs.  But as we’ll learn though this session, world oil supplies are declining.  Even with technological innovation, there is nothing as cheap and easy to take the place of oil.  At the same time, the climate is changing in ways that will affect our food, weather, health and community resilience.  As a planet, we will have to reduce the amounts of carbon we dump into our atmosphere.

These economic and ecological changes create an opening for a “new story” that can preserve and revive our communities.  Next session, we’ll be learning more about a concept called Plentitude – a new form of wealth and growth that operates within our new ecological realities.