Within my youtube vlog – compass of kindness in sustainable economics – I mention the reptilian and amygdala areas of the human brain. The former is responsible for ‘fight or flight’ reactions, and the latter, for memories and emotions central to our experience, and therefore often (unconscious) basis for our decisions. The nature of our brain make-up, the neural pathways that form our thought patterns and habits for example, has capacity called ‘neuroplasticity’. This means we can change our conscious choice, our pattern of thought. Therefore consciously change our judgements, perceptions and other habits.
It is useful to know about neuroplasticity when approaching topics of sustainable development. We know the impact of human behaviour – economics and industry – has pushed us into the ‘Anthropocene’ epoch, damaging the environment to such a degree that climate systems are tipped out of balance. However, conscious neuroplasticity means we can CHOOSE the pathway we travel down; the pathway for human evolution. We are not stuck in ‘business as usual’ even though the prevailing message is stick with the known and familiar.
Evolution is the natural process of change, the whole planet earth participates in, has done over millennia. We all (even vaguely) know the story of the dinosaurs, and other species loss, as well as magnificent assortment of adaptations. We, humans, have evolved our modality, technology and material existence. There is huge diversity on this small planet, for how humans inhabit our surroundings. The most dominant modality of consumerism – framed by neoliberal economics – that is causal for the Anthropocene age. For better or worse….
At the moment, we know neoliberal and associated economic behaviours and policies, are driving the destruction of earths habitats. Digging up planetary ‘profit’ to finance the few, while pushing exponential species loss, destroying ecosystems and waterways. Forcing climate change to disastrous degree, as well as, magnifying and multiplying poverty and wealth inequalities, to extremely painful levels. When examined, it’s not solely the population of the planet that is the key issue for climate change, it is the economic inequality and attitudes of greed that have superseded need, which is the issue.
Children starve and are exploited in slave labour on one piece of geography, and are literal benefactors for the ‘elite’ (although I question the noun) individuals that subsequently own multiple yachts, private jets and all the trimmings associated with climate devastation. In the middle of this chaos is a constant consumer excretion of plastic and waste, we can’t seem to look after or pay attention to quick enough. For example sea mammals are now dying of complications while digesting Covid-19 facemasks, discarded and mingled in waterways with much of our other toxic junk.
We have evolved materially, but obviously struggling to evolve emotionally. Struggling to evolve our amygdala brain and how emotions and memories play a part – rooted in the reptilian fight or flight urges – within our decision making. Particularly our economic decisions. For example, neoliberal economic policy is basically GREEDY, fear based, not very sophisticated at an emotional level. Arguably, if we had evolved emotionally, we would not have the horrific levels of inequality that are in existence today. For example, toddlers age 3-4 are selfish and not likely to share, yet, we go through “learning to share” development stage as children. It is clear from our dominant economic frameworks, humanity has not yet completed our learning to share, emotional evolution, regarding how we relate with each other. There are economic, legally binding policies, that stipulate companies MUST make ‘profit’ over other considerations. These other considerations include, welfare and wellbeing of human labour and environment.
Dominant policies and practice can be collectively understood as ‘business as usual’. The type of economics that (although relatively new) we are so attached to, comes with an idea that there is ‘no other economic system’, an attitude prescribed globally at very high power and decision making levels. It all strikes me as rather immature. If one cannot forfeit ones-own place in the queue for someone that needs more than oneself, then it is reasonable to assert one lacks empathy and maturity.
Our sustainable development is subject to us (re)learning to share. All natural systems are an interaction of symbiotic relationships. While we think we are not part of nature, we will continue to have a shock when nature involves our personal lives with fire, floods, drought and hurricanes. The roulette of ongoing climate chaos. Really, what more evidence are we looking for? We are undeniably part of nature, deluded and mistaken that we can separate ourselves and ‘master nature’. How can we master nature, when we are unable to master our own basic thought patterns, and emotions of fear and greed?
According to almost every single ancient and indigenous population of this planetgoing back millennia (major philosophical understanding that has been ignored and supressed), we borrow our lives from the habitat we occupy, and wisdom knows we must invest and care for this balance as part of nature. At best our place and range within this web of life is as stewards or guardians, at worst, we are parasites. The Anthropocene era offers the question for each individual to answer through our engagement with economics – as a matter of evolution, and, as part of this beautiful interconnected planet hurtling through space – how would you like to contribute to and participate in the spectrum?
Investigate Ecobalance Courses to discover more about how you can make conscious choices, and, participate in systems, and systems change, that ‘evolve economics’ through more sustainable policy and practice.
Thank you for reading.