Eco-literacy Part 1: The missing element in our connections and decision making with our environment

Here’s a question you may not have heard before: What is the real currency of our planet?


As toddlers, we begin to naturally learn to respond to and speak our parents’ language. We learn soon enough the words for coins and dollars, and their value to obtain things we want. In modern human societies the more money you can achieve, all other things being equal, the more ‘power’ you have to obtain goods and services. A little later on we learn the word ‘currency’ and it typically invokes an image of money being a standard of exchange for goods and services, and a barometer of the ‘standard of living’ you can obtain.


Having an agreed upon standard of exchange is a great human invention. Typically, though, most of us learn a basic language of economics and use it in ways that foster absolutely no respectful connection whatsoever to the Earth or other organisms on the planet. We pocket the golden egg while slaughtering the goose – not understanding that it was she that laid the egg.


Most modern humans don’t gain a language of ecology with which to understand our own and other organisms’ relationships to each other and to the ecosystems upon which we all entirely depend – and with which to properly understand our human economic systems: The environment is the parent. The economy is the child. This is the beginnings of having an ecological literacy for our modern times.


“The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment” ~ Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams


So, what is the real currency of our planet?


If you said, “sunlight”, then you are 100% correct, A+.  Light energy emanating from our nearest star, Sol, is what drives our planet’s energy flows. The entire wealth of civilization is essentially accrued sunlight. Understanding the basics of how our home functions is important knowledge human beings require in order to be good stewards of our Earth, our home. Understanding this core currency of sunlight energy and the physical laws that govern energy and runs our planet is perhaps the best place to begin an eco-literacy journey.


In the next post, I’ll go a bit deeper into an eco-literacy of energy, wealth, and the physical laws that we must better understand and incorporate into our lives if we are to ever have any chance of developing sustainable human societies.



  1. Pingback: Eco-literacy Part 2: The missing element in our connections and decision making with our environment – Emerge Wild

  2. Pingback: Eco-literacy Part 4: The Law of Return and Sustainability – Emerge Wild

  3. Pingback: Eco-literacy Part 5: We Measure What We Treasure – Emerge Wild

What do you think?