The Regenerative Economy
It’s impossible to deny that the climate crisis is now and is here.
We have now added our own society to the endangered list. It’s clear that climate change isn’t only an issue for future generations: It’s ours to face today. But there are a few reasons to keep hope and optimism. There’s a new way of doing business while saving our planet.
First, the bad news
There is no reason to soften the facts. The footprint of the human being is so harmful and deep that it is destroying everything around us, including ourselves.
Glaciers are melting, coral reefs are dying, and we’re losing our carbon-sinking woodlands, all with wide-ranging ecosystem consequences. Natural disasters are happening with higher frequency and magnitude. We face unprecedented levels of species extinction.
A Natural Equation
In a thriving natural system, a simple equation exists: The benefit each individual provides must outweigh the costs they bear on the environment. By doing this, the system replenishes itself and so sustains.
This is true across species and ecosystems, with the exception of us — so far. Some might argue that our exceptionalism stems from population growth. There are just too many of us! Yes, maybe we are, but ants are more.
Exponential-thinker Tom Chi elegantly debunks this idea through a comparison with ants. While ants are smaller than humans, there are many more of them. It works out that the combined biomass of all ants on Earth is coincidentally roughly the same as that of all humans on Earth. Ants, however, eat 10 times more food than us!
Despite their epic consumption levels, no one is talking about “ant-caused climate change.” That’s because ants are positive contributors to their ecosystems. They turn and aerate the soil, allowing water and oxygen to reach plant roots. They help disperse seeds for new plants. They act as the vacuum cleaner of nature by feeding on all sorts of organic matter—and they themselves are a source of food for all sorts of animals.
A Regenerative Solution
The central idea of the regenerative economy is that nature already has identified how to create sustainable systems.
“Natural systems, from living beings to whole ecosystems, are sustainable because they are regenerative. The transition to a regenerative economy is about seeing the world in a different way—a shift to an ecological world view in which nature is the model. The regenerative process that defines thriving, living systems must define the economic system itself.”
— Hunter Lovins
So simply put, a regenerative economy must act as a natural system — with participants creating net benefit — to achieve sustainable balance with the planet.
This idea goes beyond our previous concepts of sustainability — which were about reducing harm and thinking of ways to lessen impact — and instead challenges each of us to ask whether we leave the unique systems we impact, from plants and water sources to soil and people, in a better place