The health of our ecosystem

The healthiest ecosystems are the most diverse, in which every species, no matter how minute or massive, plays a vital part in the continued wellbeing of the whole system.  As Fritjov Capra says: “The more complex the network is, the more complex its pattern of interconnections, the more resilient it will be.”


I’ve been thinking a lot about the diversity of our own ecosystem and the strain it is currently under.  Whether its the Brexit vote, the Grenfell Fire, the growth of foodbanks  or the UK Government’s sustained pressure on sick and disabled benefit claimants, it is clear that something is very wrong.


It seems that an imbalance exists in the system, in which a minority currently control its regulation in their own interest.  To the detriment of many other parts of the system.  For me this has been most graphically illustrated by 2 recent


At one end of the ecosystem, which some might call ’the bottom, an article published in the Independent on Tuesday revealed that the Department for Work and Pensions has spent £39 million defending incorrect decisions to withdraw benefits from sick and disabled people.  At the same time paying around £500 million to the contractors Atos and Capita, 70% of whose benefits assessments have been proven incorrect by tribunals.



Meanwhile, at the other end of the ecosystem, the UK Government has announced new measures to address company pay inequality.    

 To address excessive boardroom pay, there will be no government intervention to cap excesses, which, at a time when some low paid workers live in poverty and have to resort to using foodbanks, can be 120 times that of the workforce.  Instead, companies will be just required to  report pay differentials.  A stark contrast to the Government’s willingness to take robust action towards those at the bottom of the ecosystem.

In order for the diverse parts of an ecosystem to play their full parts towards the health and wellbeing of the whole system, each has itself to be healthy and thriving, not under stress.  When the health of the whole system rests with one small element committed to obtaining and retaining increasingly more resources for its survival, many other parts of the system become stressed and fail.  What is needed is action to recognise the value of our diverse population in all its forms and genuine efforts to redress the massive inequality that is undermining our ecosystem.  As Maude Barlow puts it:  “No piecemeal solution is going to prevent the collapse of whole societies and ecosystems… a radical rethinking of our values, priorities and political systems is urgent!”


Andy Shipley       

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