How to Fix the Economy: Nature Knows Best© Henry S. Cole, Ph.D.Copyright
Too Big to Fail? American chestnuts once towered over the Appalachian forests. Then in the early 1900s blight, accidentally imported on an Asian variety, devastated the American giants. As a youngster hiking in the Kittatinny Mountains of New Jersey, I saw their ghosts, huge gray-white trunks. The forest, however, did not collapse; other tree species sprang up to use newly available sunlight, water and nutrients. Nature’s biodiversity ensured that even the great chestnuts were not “too big to fail.”
Arguably, ecosystems such as forests, prairies, and coral reefs represent the most successful, enduring economic systems on earth. A pound of forest soil contains thousands of bacterial species but also fungi, worms, beetles – gainfully employed, competitive, yet mutually contributing to the forest’s overall health. Ecosystems have no credit card debt, no inflation, no federal deficits and no bailouts. Despite numerous cataclysms – ice ages and asteroid collisions life has evolved, adapted and thrived for 3.8 billion years.
Resilience: Ecosystems (those escaping human onslaught) are remarkably resilient; they absorb and recover from shocks like droughts and fires. The enormous variety of life forms and their genetic diversity increases the odds that the system as a whole will survive disturbances and adapt to changes.