Saturday, February 26, 2011

Measuring the worth of the Great Lakes:


As with much of today’s environment, our reality tends to be framed by the way we frame reality.  Delusionalism.  That is, we tend to believe that the economic system we have devised to get work out of each other (Capitalism, Socialism, or Whateverism) is real.  It isn’t, except that it becomes the template for most on how we see our world. 

For example, instead of understanding our environment and the lakes and animals and plants in it as a vast biological system of which we are a part on this planet, we set off on measuring these various components according to the way we measure the worth of other things, our houses, the labor of others, and just about everything else. 

But measuring the worth of life, of a species, or, of say, the Great Lakes, by how many fish there are for fishermen, or how many jobs it provides (see below) is a human conceit—only useful if you only understand our environment through the mistaken belief that our economy and the environment are one.  They are not. 

Our economy is an artifact that we devised and has nothing to do with our environment.  You cannot measure the Great Lakes’ worth or any other aspect of our environment, through our economy.  Our economy only cares about the movement of capital, and so for the most part our environment and the damage we do to it is only measured as a negative externality.  

Our great economists didn’t figure in our environment in their elegant systems of money movement.  What’s with that?  So, our environment we have somehow removed from our life and acknowledge it only as it provides us with jobs and natural resources. 

But the Great Lakes and our environment are who we are.  We can devise another economy (perhaps one that better includes the environment and its resources and the damage we do to it) but we cannot devise another environment when we trash this one. 

If we don’t start understanding our environment that it is the system that created us and one we need to survive and flourish, we are going to the at the mercy a place we’ve been treating like a great big magical box that we can take things from and throw things into without any repercussions.  Somehow we have to fix our economy so it includes our environment. 

Report: Great Lakes generate 1.5 million jobs - ANN ARBOR, Mich. — An analysis by Michigan Sea Grant at the University of Michigan says more than 1.5 million U.S. jobs and $62 billion in annual wages are linked directly to the Great Lakes.  (February 24, 2011)  Business News & Financial News - The Wall Street Journal -

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