How CoVid-19 lays bare the fragility of an unsustainable economy
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Photo of Chris in ground of Earthship

Written by Chris

May 15, 2020

In a time for reflection, with most of us spending the majority of our time walking, thinking, reading, we observe people coping with difficult situations from losing their jobs, experiencing social isolation, protesting in anger, and grieving loses in isolation. Suddenly, the global distractions of sport and media are replaced with consideration of our own lives, the purpose of this delicate and finite existence; yikes. Few embrace it while others shun it for fear of what they might find.

From a macro scale, we are observing a total collapse of an unsustainable economy. You’d think that with all the work we have all been putting in over the years that we might weather a pandemic, that our efforts of construction, working 40+ hours a week towards something for years might have led to some societal resilience and yet it seems a small gust of wind blew down our global economic engine in days. Why is that the case? It seems that the most unsustainable parts of society collapsed first; airlines, cruise ships, destination resorts, sporting events, oil companies, etc. Anything that is fundamentally dependent on a consumption only based model crashed and unfortunately, with the majority of our economy still based on consumption, the majority of the economy is tanking.

Yet, I drive by solar fields and wind turbines and they still hum away as they produce clean power. Their operators continue to service them and seem to fortunately do so with plenty of social distancing. Local farmers based on a farm to table method continue to grow their produce for the community while large whole sellers of industrial meat and other crops struggle to find markets as extended supply chains break down.

It seems to me that the more sustainability is tied to your career, the less likely you are impacted by this pandemic. This makes sense because when we define sustainability, we see it as “performing an action in perpetuity without the need for outside input or yielding excess waste.” At least that is how I define it. Thus, when a pandemic hits, the processes that do not require extensive supply chains can continue to run when the global system stalls and seem to be managing far better than those that are deeply dependent on external factors.

I would go farther and argue that as climate change and system disruption continue to escalate through global warming (droughts, hurricanes, floods, sea level rise), that the more sustainable the person, family, community, city or industry becomes, the more resilient it will be. A friend calls me “captain obvious”, and it seems like a completely obvious statement. Yet, we watch as people protest with their urge to get back to normal… but what is normal? Working our 40+ hours a week on a treadmill without any real movement towards resiliency? To buy back into the distractions of sport to rock us to sleep while the ground we walk on increasingly shakes? Is that normal? It just doesn’t make sense when we observe 30 million Americans filing for unemployment within a month. We should be running towards sustainability and careers in said field. We should be planting fruit trees and gardens wherever possible, our homes and our neighbors’ homes. We should be installing solar on our roofs so our power doesn’t go out and creating networks of support in our community. Many people are in fact finally moving in this direction as they start to see the writing on the wall which is terrific news in the face of such difficult times. The question I pose to you is, “are you running towards sustainability too?”

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