In the Anthropocene, it has become vital for humankind to value the environment. C.E. Bowers who wrote "Steps to the Recovery of Ecological Intelligence", Bruno Latour who wrote "Agency at the Time of the Anthropocene", Van Jones, the thinker behind "Greening the Ghetto", Jenny Cameron, Stephen Healy, and J.K. Gibson-Graham who co-write Take Back the Economy and Paulo Freire who wrote "The Importance of the Act of Reading" all explicate their thoughts on environmental protection. Through an effort to collect the most outstanding concepts in these readings, ecological intelligence can be redefined. Ultimately, these thinkers and actors help us to understand we must be educated to prioritize the environment with realistic solutions that do not exclude ethical concern or innovative thinking.
As stated by Bowers and Freire, ecological intelligence incorporates proper knowledge. Bowers presents as a main idea in his essay, ("How to revitalize the cultural commons, as well as understanding how they are being undermined, need to become part of the curricula of public schools and universities" (Bowers). Humans do not currently understand the extent to which we are deteriorating our planet and the species among it. Bowers amplifies this necessity to understand the destruction of our 'cultural commons', or how humans have depleted the resources needed for extended survival. We do not know the severity to which we exhaust natural assets and we need to be educated. Many of Bowers' ideas of interconnection and intelligence are also supported and further developed in Freire's essay. Initially, the writer details a personal anecdote in which, as a small child, he is "reading the world" (Freire). "Truly, that special world presented itself to me as the arena of my perceptual activity, and therefore as the world of my first reading...the texts, words, letters of that context were incarnated in the song of the birds...the sky's color, its movement; in the color of foliage, the shape of leaves, the fragrance of flowers" (Freire). Through interconnection with his surroundings, Freire augments his individual method of teaching- stressing the "importance" of concepts, not only the concepts, themselves. Specifically, Freire explains that "only by learning the significance could they[learners] know how to memorize it, to fix it" (Freire). This belief should apply to our education in achieving ecological intelligence. Only by understanding the significance of our milieu, can we truly appreciate all that it offers and genuinely succeed at preserving it. Both Bowers and Freire believe humankind lacks the intelligence to value the environment appropriately.
Thus, Bowers determines ecological justice cannot prevail without cognizance, but in addition, does not exist because society has prioritized economic efficiency and corporate authority over ecological intelligence. The content of his writing is informative and progressive; Bowers fully dissects the manner in which humans act without ecological intelligence-how achieving ecological intelligence is impossible with differing priorities such as economic efficiency. "Losses force more people to be dependent upon consumerism at a time when automation, outsourcing and downsizing by corporations in search of greater profits make it increasingly difficult to earn the money necessary for meeting basic needs" (Bowers). Bowers argues that humans have recently been conditioned to choose between survival and ecological intelligence. In effect, a disconnect occurs between mankind and the environment: "Ecological intelligence has been further undermined as the idea of the autonomous individual became accepted as the basis of our political and social justice system- and now as the source of ideas and values" (Bowers). We have been stripped of our "awareness of contexts, relationships, interdependencies, and the concepts of human behaviors that ripple through both cultural and environmental ecologies" (Bowers). Yet, must ecological survival ignore individual thinking and separate language? Latour writes, "There is no distant place anymore" (Latour). We cannot separate our history from our future; we cannot rewind the clock and rid the world of its technologies or stray away from individual thought processes. Humans must prioritize the survival of our "cultural commons" (Bowers) but we cannot eliminate or discredit the many benefits technologies and individual thinking bring.
Therefore, Jones contends we must approach ecological intelligence with solutions that may derive from modern innovations or individually constructed ideas. With his method, "Greening the Ghetto", Jones focuses on correcting global warming and poverty. His "goal is to broaden the appeal of the environmental movement and, at the same time, bring jobs to poor neighborhoods" (Kolbert). Jones uses his ecological intelligence to engender solutions to multiple issues at a time. Moreover, the expert does not discredit technology or individual thinking, but rather utilizes these dimensions to inspire government policy, economic possibility, and environmental intelligence. With his modern, realistic solution, Jones actively promotes ecological intelligence. "Since Pelosi's meeting, the notion of green jobs has become a commonplace. Not only did it keep coming up in last year's campaign but it has been embraced by a growing number of unions, by the heads of many major corporations, and by an ever-expanding list of politicians" (Kolbert). To better encourage ecological intelligence, experts must offer solutions in the most realistic, efficient manner. In the book Take Back the Economy, the authors also offer resolutions to economic issues. "In a community economy, we are interested in stepping back from the hype about markets and thinking about how we encounter others in the process of surviving well together on this earth" (Take Back the Economy). Furthermore, the writers include a vital aspect. "Ethics should not be erased from the market" (Take Back the Economy). Ecological intelligence must not exclude morally sound action.
Ecological intelligence is not a simple concept that can be defined by one person, yet it is so vital to possess within our society. Mankind must both recognize and appreciate all that the environment is. As Jones and the co-writers of Take Back the Economy suggest, there are solutions and approaches in which humans can partake to attain this goal. By learning to prioritize the existence of our surrounding environment realistically and morally, we accomplish ecological intelligence. This intelligence means caring for our milieu, diversified with extensive varieties of living organisms, to ensure any means of survival. Through education, empathy, realism, and ethics, humans can make a change. Intelligence means taking action and being effective with those changes.
Bruno Latour. Agency at the Time of the Anthropocene. New Literary History 45, 1 (Winter 2014): 1-18.
C.E. Bowers, Steps to the Recovery of Ecological Intelligence." OMETECA 43: 14-15.
Elizabeth Kolbert, Greening the Ghetto: Can a Remedy Serve for both Global Warming and Poverty? The New Yorker (January 12, 2009).
Jenny Cameron, Stephen Healy, and J.K. Gibson-Graham. Chapter 4: "Take Back the Market: Encountering Others." Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide to Transforming our Communities (University of Minnesota, 2013. 85-123).
Paulo Freire, The Importance of the Act of Reading. Trans. Loretta Slover. Brazilian Congress of Reading, Campinas, Brazil. November 1981. Rpt. Journal of Education 165, 1 (Winter 1983): 5-11.