Crossroads: Economy and the Environment

If COVID-19 has shown us one positive thing, it is that radical change is possible when the world unites in the response to a ubiquitous crisis. 

So what does this mean for the neglected, yet ubiquitous, environmental crisis?

About seven million people die from air pollution each year. At the time I am writing this entry, there have been just shy of three-hundred thousand deaths reported from COVID-19. 

I am not attempting to downplay the severity of the pandemic, but rather beg the question: Why do we neglect the blatant severity of the environmental crisis, as we are so quick to conform to alleviate the spread of this pandemic?

Our acquiescence to the systems and lifestyles we have accepted as normal has led us into the ongoing sixth mass extinction. As we rapidly approach a point of no return, our behaviors are leading to the destruction and deforestation of entire ecosystems.

Thus far, the political focus on climate change has been the reduction of CO2 emissions, but CO2 emissions are just one symptom of a much larger issue. While CO2 emissions are the symptoms of a major problem, focusing too much on this symptom diverts our attention from the very core of the issue. The core of the problem is the economic and social disconnect from the environment. 

“We have to address and make popular the idea that it’s our relationship with nature that needs the change, not the short-term solutions that we keep proposing.”

Joe Martino

The economic models we currently have in place prioritize profit over people, the environment, and Earth itself.

The reduction of CO2 emissions would be a step in the right direction, but treating one symptom, while neglecting the core of the problem, has the potential to inadvertently create more symptoms. If we are ever going to make any real progress for the restoration of the environment, we have to get to the core of the problem and work on solutions from there.

We need to rebuild our economic systems to shift priority from purely profit motives into motives that benefit the earth, it’s the environment, and all the life within it. In order to find a real solution to the issues in this environmental crisis, it is important to look at the earth as a complex organic system and how our actions offset the balance of nature as a whole. 

“The focus on emissions rests comfortably in the predominant geomechanical view of which sees Earth as a complicated machine rather than a living organism. Modern reductionist methods are well adapted to dealing with the complicated, as opposed to, complex systems.”

Charles Eisenstein

The inequality within the current US economy continues to grow endlessly as only 0.1% of the population owns 20% of the wealth, while half the US population is at a negative net worth.

Unemployment continues to skyrocket, yet the majority of the US stimulus package went straight to large corporations. During the pandemic, the American elite has seen their net worth surge by $282 Billion in just three weeks. (

The general public understands that the benefits of the current US economy are skewed toward the elite, so why do we cling so hard onto this completely unsustainable economic system?

Maintaining an economy rigged for the elite, while neglecting basic human needs and the global environment, is not the best path we are being presented with.

We are in a period of forced change in the ways we live and perceive life. The pandemic has shown us that the world is capable of radical change when necessary. It is the time to be seeking out new alternatives from the paradigm we left behind.

As we approach an environmental and economic crossroads, there is one crucial question:

Which path will we take?

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