The dawn of econology

Economy and ecology are almost always posited as different things; and very often they are considered as opposing interests, even by progressive thinkers.

As a race and planet, we have reached the stage where the human economy and the Earth’s ecology, for practical purposes, can be considered as the same thing. They are deeply enmeshed and must coexist as a whole. They both embody a single entity, the econology. This concept has been around since the early 2000s and it makes perfect sense: considering the human economy and the planet’s ecology as a whole, as the life supporting sphere for all activity.

Terms like circular economy or sustainability are too weak inasmuch as they still operate on a dissociation of the economy and the ecology. A single term that captures the two dimensions of this whole is far more powerful.

To speak of the economy without regard to ecology is pathologically short-term thinking. Without a major transition to renewables and closed-loop material cycles before mid-century, we’re in for terrible catastrophes and massive loss of life, both human and otherwise.

To speak of ecology without regard for the economy is illusory. Humans are like all species in that they strive to survive and thrive – except that humans are much more powerful (and potentially destructive) in the ways in which they might pursue their aims. Their needs must be harmonized with that of the whole.

Whenever we speak of the economy or of the ecology without considering them as part of the econology, particularly when it comes to advocating for change, is a fundamental mistake. For practical purposes, they are the same thing.

The good news is that remaking the econology is perfectly possible. The only things standing in the way of the future are failures of imagination and failures of policy. They both can and shall be overcome. New enabling technologies will sprout and become critical for this transformation, but I predict they will come together with the changes instead of causing them.

Transforming the econology will bring about positive social change: the end of poverty, greater equality and greater international harmony.

Remaking the econology is the name of the game for what we should be working on during the first half of this century. It’s the enabler for everything else, both urgent and important.

Let’s get on with it!