About the Author
Welcome to The Seventh Fold, a blog about energy, the environment, and the economy.
A bit about me. I am a husband, father, and a doctoral candidate in Geography at the University of Washington. I study the relationship between oil and the economy, and my approach is rooted in the theories and concepts of ecological economics. I believe that we – both as individuals and collectively as a global society – can prosper even under material and energetic constraints. We can become happier and healthier, but in order to do so we must first recognize the destructive capacity of business-as-usual and consciously work to lessen our impacts on the environment, society, and ultimately ourselves.
I envision a healthy and prosperous society as one in which both income and wealth disparities decline year-after-year. I imagine a society in which the pace of life slows markedly – one where the commute may still take 20 or 30 minutes, but will be increasingly be done on foot or by bike rather than by car. I imagine a world in which locally grown, nutrient-rich organic food comes to replace the empty calories produced by industrial agriculture. I envision a society in which health care costs decline not because of some government insurance program but because active, reduced-stress lifestyles and healthy food usurp the current status quo. I imagine a world in which our material economy is replaced by an experiential economy where energy and material ‘consumption’ are supplanted by the consumption of less material- intensive services. I imagine a world in which natural capital comes to be valued as highly as man-made capital – where we value the fish in the ocean as much as the fish in our markets and the fishing vessels moored at our docks.
Every day I see a new piece of evidence that we are slowly moving toward this ecotopian vision. Unfortunately, I also see active resistance to change. To many of the leaders of our society benefit from a system which concentrates wealth while spreading risk and cost across society, and they fight against any and all proposed changes to the rules of the game. The problem, of course, is that the world is a closed system. Both resources and sinks are limited yet we continue to permit corporations and profiteers to organize our global society as if these boundaries do not exist. We may choose to follow economic models that attempt to resist these physical limits, but ultimately such an approach will fail because when the laws of economics are pitted against the laws of physics, the laws of physics always prevail.
I believe that individually and collectively we face important decisions. If we continue to believe that business-as-usual can be sustained, we will blindly run full speed into these physical constraints, and the impacts will be devastating. Alternatively, we can choose to accept the limits imposed by nature and adapt our economy and our society to operate within them in a socially just manner. The choice is ours. Let your voice be heard, and speak with your actions.