The only effective environmental strategy is a real ‘human ecology’
Effective strategy migrates organizations, cities, or societies from one mode of operation and set of conditions to new modes and conditions that provide greater opportunity and shared prosperity. In this sense, conventional environmentalism often falls short as a strategic practice. Its many methods and tactics have primarily been a way to contain existing modes of operation and to maintain the environmental conditions upon which those modes depend. Environmentalism creates a vital holding pattern, pending the establishment of new modes of operation, but has not offered a forward-looking strategy for a world that will host nine billion people by mid-century.
The central environmental strategy challenge of the 21st century, in Brugmann’s view, is migrating production, habitat-building, and consumption from an environmental engineering mode (i.e., growth through extraction and management of the product of ecological systems) to an ecological engineering mode (i.e., growth by building and stewarding human ecological systems), transforming humankind’s myriad engineered systems into self-renewing human ecologies.
Over the last two decades, Jeb Brugmann has helped lay the foundation for this strategic practice of human ecology, a next generation of environmentalism. He has worked extensively with governments, NGOs, and companies worldwide, at local, regional, and global scales, to make strategic shifts in their policies and practices towards new ecological modes of operation: from natural resource processing organizations to demand-side managers; from resource extractors to primary producers and recyclers; from land developers to habitat builders.