- 1 Introduction: Toward a Regenerative Society
- 2 Regenerative Society: Definition
- 3 Organization
- 4 Our Current World Situation
- 4.1 Overview
- 4.1.1 Ecological Crisis
- 4.1.2 Most Significant and Immediate Danger: Methane Release
- 4.1.3 Economic Inequality and Social Injustice
- 4.1.4 Existential Risk
- 4.1.5 Climate Change Denial
- 4.1.6 Planetary Conditions
- 4.1.7 Environmental Reports
- 220.127.116.11 UN Millenium Ecosystem Assessment (2005)
- 18.104.22.168 IPCC Report, Fifth Assessment (2014)
- 22.214.171.124 National Academy of Sciences, “Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change” (2013)
- 126.96.36.199 Club of Rome "Limits to Growth
- 188.8.131.52 Vatican Workshop
- 184.108.40.206 Center for Naval Analyses
- 220.127.116.11 Great Transition Initiative
- 18.104.22.168 Zero Carbon Britain
- 22.214.171.124 Climate Change and Transboundary Waters (Pacific Institute)
- 126.96.36.199 Pathways to Deep De-Carbonization Report
- 188.8.131.52 EPA: Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- 184.108.40.206 Tellus - Contours of a Resilient Global Future
- 220.127.116.11 Carrying Capacity, WWF Living Planet Report
- 18.104.22.168 Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises
- 22.214.171.124 A Solar Transition is Possible
- 126.96.36.199 Reconciling anthropogenic climate change with observed temperature 1998–2008
- 4.1.8 Authors/Scientists/Business Leaders
- 188.8.131.52 Climate Change
- 184.108.40.206 Environmentalists
- 220.127.116.11 Deep Ecologists
- 18.104.22.168 Neo-Environmentalists
- 22.214.171.124 Business Leaders
- 4.2 Future Projections
- 4.1 Overview
- 5 Toward Regenerative Society
- 5.1 Regenerative Society: Basic Principles
- 5.1.1 Relocalization
- 5.1.2 Degrowth
- 5.1.3 Decentralization
- 5.1.4 Environmental Justice
- 5.1.5 Collaborative Consumption
- 5.1.6 Interdependence
- 5.1.7 Nonviolence
- 5.1.8 Universal Subsidization
- 5.1.9 Equality
- 5.1.10 Autonomy
- 5.1.11 Whole Systems Thinking
- 5.1.12 Participatory Democracy
- 5.1.13 Peer Production
- 5.1.14 Permaculture Design
- 5.1.15 Summary and Conclusion
- 5.2 Social Change Dynamics
- 5.2.1 Movements for Social Change
- 126.96.36.199 Berlin Wall: Revolutions of 1989
- 188.8.131.52 Velvet Revolution, Czechoslovakia
- 184.108.40.206 Arab Spring
- 220.127.116.11 Occupy Wall Street
- 18.104.22.168 Pots and Pans Revolution: Iceland, 2008-2013
- 22.214.171.124 Indigenous Resistance Movements
- 126.96.36.199 Spanish Indignados/Fifth of May
- 188.8.131.52 Satyagraha
- 184.108.40.206 Summary and Conclusion
- 5.2.1 Movements for Social Change
- 5.1 Regenerative Society: Basic Principles
- 6 Regenerative Strategy
- 7 Regenerative Approaches and Prototypes
- 7.1 Visionaries and Authors
- 7.1.1 Systems Thinkers
- 7.1.2 Visionary Thinkers
- 7.1.3 Psychology
- 7.1.4 Cultural Critics
- 7.1.5 Social Ecology
- 7.1.6 Biology
- 7.1.7 Transition Thinkers
- 7.2 Regenerative Prototypes
- 7.1 Visionaries and Authors
- 8 Resources
- 8.1 Media
- 8.2 Reports
- 8.3 Organizations
- 8.3.1 Transition Town
- 8.3.2 Resilience.org
- 8.3.3 US BlueGreen Alliance
- 8.3.4 Building Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE)
- 8.3.5 Great Transition Initiative
- 8.3.6 Great Transition Stories
- 8.3.7 Foundation for Conscious Evolution
- 8.3.8 Institute of Ecotechnics
- 8.3.9 Lindisfarne Association
- 8.3.10 Buckminster Fuller Institute
- 8.3.11 Post Carbon Institute
- 8.3.12 Climate Council (AU)
- 8.3.13 Kosmos Foundation
- 8.3.14 Climate Reality Project
- 8.4 References
- 9 Regenerative Strategy: Summary
- 10 References
Introduction: Toward a Regenerative Society
As a result of our rapid progress over the last centuries, we confront ecological as well as social problems of an unprecedented magnitude. According to estimates from the United Nation's International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and other scientific bodies, the Earth's temperature will rise 4 - 6 degrees Celsius by 2100. Even this estimate may be conservative. Scientists have discovered many positive feedback loops in the climate system that can accelerate warming once a tipping point has been passed. For instance, as Arctic ice melts, the ocean absorbs sunlight rather than reflecting it, accelerating warming. Other factors, such as loss of biodiversity and ocean acidification, are equally threatening to our future. Another immediate danger is large-scale release of methane - 20 times more powerful as a heat-trapping gas than CO2 - from the Arctic, as it thaws.
Over the last decades, our most powerful institutions - supranational organizations like the UN, national governments, as well as multinational corporations - have been unable to change the direction of human society with the speed necessary to avert catastrophic changes in our physical environment. Efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions have stalled, while "corporate sustainability" remains a distant goal. According to most accounts, we have only a short period of time left to address the threats to the future of our world. Every year - every month - is critical.
Current predictions of accelerating climate change and loss of biodiversity could cause a rapid decline and collapse of global civilization. The alternative is that we rapidly redirect our technical resources, change our social systems, and launch global initiatives to establish a world that is socially just and ecologically viable. How we react to this situation we have unleashed on Earth will be the legacy we leave to future generations.
Technically, nothing prevents us from reconstructing human society rapidly. We could use the communications infrastructure and social tools that evolved in the last decades to maximize efficiency and eliminate waste. Sustainable technologies for permaculture, bioremediation, rainwater harvesting, renewable energies, and so on could be mass distributed or manufactured locally. We could use mass media and social media to re-train the global population and disseminate a new set of values and principles that support a holistic and sustainable way of life. Facing rising seas, we could construct eco-cities that support local communities, with food and energy produced on site. Through a coordinated movement of civil society based on nonviolent principles, we could, in theory, dismantle the military industrial complex and institute universal peace. But to accomplish this, each of us must make a choice to participate in the transformation - as Gandhi said, we must be the change we wish to see in the world.
For a civil society movement to succeed, leaders and civilians must organize around a cohesive vision and shared strategy. With this Wiki, we invite the global community to work with us to envision and define this strategy. The goal is to critically evaluate the current system and move beyond the limits of outmoded ideologies and cultural blockages. We believe that, for human society to address the ecological crisis, we will need to reduce social injustice and share resources more equitably, while propagating a new set of values, cultural narratives, and beliefs. The new paradigm will be based on symbiosis, resilience, cooperation, and the rational application of our technical powers. We will highlight the many alternatives, experiments, and visionary solutions that point the way toward a world that works for all.
We believe humanity has the ability to rise to this challenge, through an ethos of individual as well as collective responsibility. Our extraordinary technical powers can be redirected toward building a regenerative society, in a short period of time, integrating mind and heart. We seek to apply a whole systems approach that integrates scientific and academic analysis with a spiritual, compassionate, heart-centered approach to defining regenerative and sustainable solutions for global transformation and ecosystem thriving. The goal of a regenerative social design is to heal the rift between man and nature, as well as man and man. As this research project evolves, we intend to apply these principles in the development and deployment of a solution-based action plan.
Regenerative Society: Definition
A regenerative society is one that enhances the health of the Earth’s ecosystems, and supports our human family to collectively thrive. A regenerative society will be characterized by regenerative design, as we reinvent our industries and supply chains to use renewable sources of energy and follow cradle-to-cradle practices, and a regenerative economy, based on resilience and equitable distribution of resources. Basic principles for building a regenerative society include:
- The Commons
- Universal Subsidy
- Social and Environmental Justice
- Whole Systems Thinking
- Participatory Democracy
- Peer-to-Peer Production
- Permaculture Design
We’ve organized this Wiki into three main areas: technical infrastructure, social system, and consciousness / culture. In a fourth area, we propose a plan of action to manifest the necessary changes. In the fifth section, we explore visionary solutions and prototypes.
Technical infrastructure includes industry, energy, transport, agriculture, telecommunications, ecosystem management, and so on. Social system includes politics, government, and economics. Consciousness / culture encompasses media, communications, and education; domains of "immaterial production" that shape the collective consciousness, worldview, beliefs, and social practices. These three areas - akin to what Karl Marx called base, structure, and superstructure - are intrinsically interrelated. As the political and economic system changes, consciousness changes. As consciousness changes, technology evolves, as new tools and approaches are developed.
When we understand how our technical infrastructure must change to address the ecological crisis, we can analyze the evolution in our political and economic systems necessary to manifest this level of transformation. This, in turn, will require a change in the collective consciousness as humanity adapts new practices and beliefs.
As Richard Heinberg of the Post-Carbon Institute has noted, the ecological crisis will force a transformation in our technology and industry, as well as our political and economic structure. Over time, this will reshape human consciousness. This process is already underway, as leaders in many areas of postmodern society have begun to question the underlying tenets of our current political economic system.
As humanity realizes that an economic model based on infinite growth on a finite planet is untenable, we will transition to a new model, of "degrowth" or "post-growth." Measures of progress will change from purely material and quantitative models like the Gross Domestic Product or GDP, to new measurements that include quality of experience and depth of relationships. We will require a civil society movement that seeks to reduce our use of natural resources, particularly fossil fuels, while enhancing the quality of life for the impoverished and disenfranchised.
We will review the current state of knowledge in each of these areas, and then offer specific proposals in each. We will explore the current barriers to implementation and how we might navigate around these obstacles. The goal is to hone a strategic and tactical plan for rapid transition, both inside and outside of the current system, to establish a regenerative society. In each section, we will propose goals we should aim for immediately, as well as in the longer term.
The severity of the threats we face require focused and determined action.
One hypothesis is that humanity's ongoing development of culture, technology - as well as the growth and extension of consciousness and self-awareness - continues the evolutionary process we find in nature. Robert Wright writes in Non-Zero: The Logic of Human Destiny, “the entire 3-billion-year evolution of plants and animals is a process of epigenesis, the unfolding of a single organism. And that single organism isn’t really the human species, but rather the whole biosphere, encompassing all species.” The rapid development of industry and technology might be the necessary precondition for a further evolutionary mutation, where we reintegrate with natural processes at a higher level of sensitivity and awareness, developing new capacities as a species.
Some thinkers, like Barbara Marx Hubbard and Bruce Liption, have explored the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly as an analogy for the accelerating transformation of human society and consciousness. In the chrysalis, the caterpillar doesn't simply sprout wings. Instead, the entire body of the caterpillar disintegrates and decomposes. A small number of "imaginal disks" contain the program for reorganizing the body of the caterpillar into a butterfly. As the caterpillar melts down, these imaginal cells begin to propagate. At first these cells are attacked by the dying caterpillar's immune system. As they survive the attack, the imaginal cells become stronger. Eventually they take over the entire organism and transform it. In this transformation, the organism goes from being a consumer to a pollinator, and gains the added dimension of flight.
For most of the last 100,000 years, humans were a small-scale phenomenon, living as nomadic hunter-gatherers, in balance with their environment. The pre-frontal cortex - the brain structure that allows for symbol processing, language, long-range planning, and everything that makes us distinct from other apes - reached its final form just 40,000 years ago. Over the last two centuries, humanity developed technology, exploding in population to cover the surface of the Earth with cities, cables, and roads. As we industrialized the planet, we linked the world together through a communications infrastructure. Humanity's evolution in the last centuries has been extraordinarily rapid, representing an almost exponential growth of population. There were two billion people on Earth in 1926. Today, the world population is greater than 7 billion people. More than 50% are below the age of 26. World Population Graph
When we see ourselves as part of nature, we can understand our social, cultural, technological development as an extension of biological evolution into new realms of sentience and self-awareness. Because of the evolution of our communications system, we have reached a point where new ideas, social technologies and ecologically restorative techniques can spread instantly. The emergence of culture and civilization - a planetary event - has taken a geological nanosecond. The transformation of our technical infrastructure, social systems, and current level of consciousness or worldview could also happen with extreme rapidity.
Consciousness and Ideology
"Cultures pattern perceptions of reality into conceptualizations of what they perceive reality to be; of what is to be regarded as actual, probable, possible or impossible. These conceptualizations form what is termed the ‘world view’ of a culture. The world view is the central systematization of conceptions of reality to which members of its culture assent and from which stems their value system. The world view lies at the very heart of the culture, touching, interacting with and strongly influencing every aspect of the culture." - Rev. Mäori Marsden, a Mäori scholar
Every culture is bound together by a set of agreements, beliefs, and operative myths. Every civilization expresses a particular worldview, and that worldview shapes what the culture does - what kind of ceremonies it practices, what types of tools are made by it, what behavior it condones. In our contemporary world, a number of competing worldviews are currently dominant. These include religious fundamentalism (in its Christian, Muslim, and Judaic forms) and scientific materialism. There are also remnants of indigenous cultures, who possess a different conception of space, time, and nature. Within the postmodern civilization of the West, there are a number of worldviews and ideological perspectives on the nature of progress, the future of society, and the meaning of our technological evolution. In this section, we will review some of these worldviews, and propose a synthesis of them.
Every worldview has profound social as well as ethical implications. What characterizes the various ideologies and belief systems held by people in our postmodern world is that they are, for the most part, divisive and fragmentary. One thesis is that our postmodern world is in a transition between worldviews. The narrow perspective of religious Fundamentalists, devoted to one particular doctrine, as well as the narrow perspective of reductive materialists, who believe consciousness is only brain-based, may be superseded by an integral worldview, a perspective that recognizes consciousness as primary - that even science can only ever be a "science within consciousness." The integral worldview reintegrates a conception of divinity with an expanded form of scientific inquiry. It allows us to conceive of humanity as a planetary super-organism, or one Earth tribe.
One hypothesis explored in this Wiki is that humanity is currently struggling with its own existence, as it approaches the potential for an evolutionary leap or mutation of species consciousness. The cell biologist Bruce Lipton and the political philosopher Steve Bhaerman explored this idea in Spontaneous Evolution, noting that evolutionary crises leads to rapid leaps from competitive and aggressive patterns of behavior to symbiosis. Our own bodies represent examples of this - our bodies are made up of vast hordes of cells and microorganisms that were once fighting for resources in a dangerous environment and learned to work together to form more complex structures. According to this thesis, the ecological crisis may be a necessary part of our evolutionary process, just as birth is a violent process that leads to new life. We have the potential to evolve away from a civilization based on patriarchal values, such as domination and private ownership, to a partnership society, where sharing and altruism are realized as core aspects of human nature. In order for this to happen, a transformation in our contemporary worldview is necessary.
Scientific Materialist Worldview
According to Wikipedia, "Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all phenomena, including mental phenomena and consciousness, are the result of material interactions." Scientific materialism is a highly influential philosophical position that has as its champions thinkers like Daniel Dennett, Willard Van Orman Quine, Richard Dawkins, Donald Davidson, John Rogers Searle, and Jerry Fodor. Prominent cultural institutions like TED and Edge.org remain staunch supporters of the scientific materialist worldview.
Most materialists would argue that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of the physical hardware of the brain, and the universe is the result of a physical process of evolution. As a result, there can be no psychic or transpersonal experiences, except ss delusions or hallucinations. According to this paradigm, anyone who advances research into psychic aspects of reality must be marginalized or dismissed.
The materialist worldview is being challenged at deeper and deeper levels over the last century, yet still maintains its preeminence in mainstream media, academies, and other institutions. The discoveries of quantum physics in the 20th Century posed major challenges to the materialist hypothesis, as explored in Fritjof Capra's controversial book, The Tao of Physics. Physicist Werner Heisenberg said, "The ontology of materialism rested upon the illusion that the kind of existence, the direct 'actuality' of the world around us, can be extrapolated into the atomic range. This extrapolation, however, is impossible... atoms are not things." A number of leading quantum physicists began to recognize the possibility that consciousness was the fundamental basis underlying material reality, making statements that resonate with those of Eastern and Buddhist mysticism. This area continues to be a cultural battleground, with tremendous implications for the future.
The materialist worldview provided a necessary ideological support for Industrial or Capitalist civilization, which was based on distribution of goods, extraction of resources, and a focus on individual material gain - on everything that can be weighed, measured, possessed, and quantified. It is possible that the worldview of scientific materialism - still dominant in advanced Western societies - is being superseded by a new paradigm, just as our post-industrial civilization must make a transition to a regenerative social design, based on holistic and humane principles.
Atheist philosophers like Tom Nagel, in his new book Mind and Cosmos, now recognize, as the phenomenologists did 80 years ago, that the scientific materialist worldview has no way of accounting for our subjective, internal, or mental realities - which are, in fact, the substrate of all of our percepts and concepts, scientific or otherwise. "The physical sciences can describe organisms like ourselves as parts of the objective spatio-temporal order – our structure and behavior in space and time – but they cannot describe the subjective experiences of such organisms or how the world appears to their different particular points of view," writes Nagel, who has realized "the scientific outlook, if it aspires to a more complete understanding of nature, must expand to include theories capable of explaining the appearance in the universe of mental phenomena and the subjective points of view in which they occur – theories of a different type from any we have seen so far."
The realization that Mind "is not an inexplicable accident or a divine and anomalous gift but a basic aspect of nature that we will not understand until we transcend the built-in limits of contemporary scientific orthodoxy" could be a bridge between scientific and theistic worldviews, Nagel believes.
Definitions of Religion
The anthropologist Clifford Geertz defined religion as a "system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic." The sociologist Durkheim, in his seminal book The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, defined religion as a "unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things" By sacred things he meant things "set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them". In his book The Varieties of Religious Experience, the psychologist William James defined religion as "the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine". By the term "divine" James meant "any object that is godlike, whether it be a concrete deity or not" to which the individual feels impelled to respond with solemnity and gravity.
One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings. Among the main proponents of this theory of religion are Daniel Dubuisson, Timothy Fitzgerald, Talal Asad, and Jason Ānanda Josephson. The social constructionists argue that religion is a modern concept that developed from Christianity and was then applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures.
According to Fitzgerald, religion is not a universal feature of all cultures, but rather a particular idea that first developed in Europe under the influence of Christianity. Fitzgerald argues that from about the 4th century CE Western Europe and the rest of the world diverged. As Christianity became commonplace, the charismatic authority identified by Augustine, a quality we might today call "religiousness", exerted a commanding influence at the local level. As the Church lost its dominance during the Protestant Reformation and Christianity became closely tied to political structures, religion was recast as the basis of national sovereignty, and religious identity gradually became a less universal sense of spirituality and more divisive, locally defined, and tied to nationality. (Wikipedia)
Major World Religions
According to anthropologists John Monaghan and Peter Just, "Many of the great world religions appear to have begun as revitalization movements of some sort, as the vision of a charismatic prophet fires the imaginations of people seeking a more comprehensive answer to their problems than they feel is provided by everyday beliefs. Charismatic individuals have emerged at many times and places in the world. It seems that the key to long-term success – and many movements come and go with little long-term effect – has relatively little to do with the prophets, who appear with surprising regularity, but more to do with the development of a group of supporters who are able to institutionalize the movement."
The five largest religions are: Christianity, with 2.2 billion followers; Islam, with 1.6; Hinduism, with 1; Buddhism with 500 million devotees, and Chinese folk religion, with 400 million adherents.
The Abrahamic religions are monotheistic religions, thought to descend from an original patriarch Abraham. According to the Bible’s internal chronology, Abraham would have lived around 2000 BCE. His story is featured in Genesis. He is no longer considered to be a historical figure, by most scholars. Most likely, the prototype for Abraham was a number of patriarchs living hundreds of years later. Judaism, the original Abrahamaic religion has 13 million followers, scattered around the world, with 40% in the United States and 40% in Israel.
Christianity, based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, comprises a wide number of sects with distinct beliefs and practices. These include the Catholic Church, headed by the Pope; Protestantism, which separated from Catholicism during the Reformation, and splintered into many denominations; Eastern Christianity, including Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy; and smaller groups such as Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Church of Latter Day Saints.
Islam is based on the Quran, a holy book considered to be a revelation of God to the 7th Century prophet Muhammad. Factions of Islam include Sunni Islam, based on the Quran, and Shia Islam, which believes that the prophet Ali succeeded Muhammad, and puts greater emphasis on Muhammad’s family line. Other denominations of Islam include Nation of Islam, Ibadi, Sufism, Quranism, Mahdavia, and non-denominational Muslims. Wahhabism is the dominant Muslim schools of thought in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Bahá'í Faith is an Abrahamic religion founded in 19th century Iran and since then has spread worldwide. It teaches unity of all religious philosophies and accepts all of the prophets of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as well as additional prophets including its founder Bahá'u'lláh.
Indian religions, founded on the Indian subcontinent, are known as dharmic religions, sharing a concept of dharma, defining a law of reality and a set of duties. The most ancient of continuing faiths, Hinduism describes the similar philosophies of Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and related groups. “Hinduism is not a monolithic religion but a religious category containing dozens of separate philosophies amalgamated as Sanātana Dharma, which is the name with whom Hinduism has been known throughout history by its followers.”
Buddhism was founded by Siddhattha Gotama in the 6th Century BCE. Gotama aimed to help sentient beings end suffering by understanding the true nature of phenomena, thereby escaping the wheel of rebirth and reincarnation (samsara). Sects of Buddhism include Therava Buddhism, practiced mainly in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, based on a collection of texts called the Pali Canon. Mahayana Buddhism (or the “Great Vehicle”) is practiced in China, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan, includes disparate teachings such as Zen, Pure Land, and Soka Gakkai. Vajrayana Buddhism is practiced in the Himalayan regions, including parts of India, Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan.
Religions and Violence
The conflicting doctrines of religious faith have often been an underlying cause of war and genocide. As Wikipedia notes, “Regina Schwartz argues that all monotheistic religions are inherently violent because of an exclusivism that inevitably fosters violence against those that are considered outsiders. Lawrence Wechsler asserts that Schwartz isn't just arguing that Abrahamic religions have a violent legacy, but that the legacy is actually genocidal in nature.”
Exoteric and Esoteric
Many scholars and visionaries draw a distinction between the "exoteric" rites of inherited religions and the "esoteric" practices found in mystical traditions. Every religious tradition possesses both an exoteric and esoteric dimension. The exoteric aspect is generally the dogmas, moral codes, and practices followed by the community of believers. The esoteric dimension are techniques designed to bring about inner illumination or enlightenment.
As Fritjof Schuon explores in The Transcendent Unity of Religions, the body of dogma and doctrine assembled by religions tend to exclude and conflict with each other. The esoteric dimension, on the other hand, reveals deep similarities, and is not in essence conflictual. The esoteric claim is that all religions access the same ultimate reality. The esoteric core of mysticism reveals the transcendent unity of all religions: "All exoteric forms are transcended or shattered, and therefore in a certain sense denied, by esoterism, which is nevertheless the first to recognize the perfect legitimacy of every form of this Revelation, being indeed alone competent to recognize this legitimacy."
Writing from the esoteric perspective, Schuon notes that "the Divinity manifests its Personal aspect through each particular Revelation and its supreme Impersonality through the diversity of the forms of Its Word."The mystical philosopher G.I. Gurdjieff, who founded the Fourth Way School in the early 20th Century, similarly stated that "every real religion consists of two parts — an exoteric and an esoteric. The exoteric teaches "what is to be done. The esoteric teaches how to do what the first part teaches. This part is preserved in special schools and with its help it is always possible to rectify what has been distorted in the first part or to restore what has been forgotten."
A revival of the esoteric teachings that are the core of the world's mystical traditions thus has the potential to unite the fragmented religious structures in a new integral realization.
Proponents of the Singularity believe that the evolution of technology is leading, rapidly and inexorably, toward a seamless merger of man and machine, and the capacity for futuristic technologies to solve all of the world's problems. The goal is the transcendence of all biological limitations, and the attainment of immortality through cybernetics, Artificial Intelligence, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and other disciplines. Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at Google and author of The Singularity is Near, is one of its main proponents. Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is another. The movement has spawned an institute, Singularity University, where new technologies are researched and explored.
The Singularity worldview borrows elements of Judeo-Christian eschatology in its depiction of a future perfected state, based on transcendence of natural limits. The movement ignores troubling aspects of the industrial and technological progress of the last two centuries, which is responsible for the major ecological problems currently faced by the global community. Other critics have recognized the "Progress Trap," where each new layer of technology we introduce seems to create a new level of unforeseen problems that we then must develop new technologies to solve. For instance, the discovery of plastics once seemed like a tremendous boon, but we have now discovered that plastics are infiltrating every ecosystem on the planet, as well as compromising the reproductive and endocrine system of many species, including the human species, with giant islands of plastic concentrating in the world's oceans, requiring a massive clean up operation. The Green Revolution - the industrialization of agriculture - has led to top soil depletion and nitrogen runoff. Genetically engineered plants may create another form of more intensive bio-pollution in the future.
There is little doubt that advanced technologies will be necessary to address the problems created by human progress, however it may be that the Singularity worldview is too simplistic and, in a sense, arrogant in its approach toward technological evolution. An alternative approach to technological development can be found in the works of thinkers like Buckminster Fuller and the approach of biomimickry, which propose that humans must design and build according to nature's principles.
There are a large number of tribal groups and traditional cultures around the world that maintain an understanding of the universe and the cosmos rooted in particular place, in a sense of unity with the cosmos that is not transcendent, as in the various religious structures, but immanent. The basic tenets of the indigenous worldview and indigenous cultures present an alternative to Western and Eastern worldviews. As discussed in Indigenous Worldviews: A Comparative Study: "
This point can be illustrated in the following way: in the Judeo-Christian tradition, God tends to be located outside of the world in a place called ‘heaven’. Hence, this world, the one we inhabit, was ‘created’ by God and is not the equivalent of God, it is not God. Rather, it is simply a manifestation of God’s creative power. In the Eastern worldview, on other hand, great emphasis is placed upon the inward path, the finding of the divine within. Hence, the proliferation of meditative practices in the east, the disciplines of the ashram and so on. The indigenous worldview sees God in the world, particularly in the natural world of the forest, the desert, the sea and so on. Human identity is explainable by reference to the natural phenomena of the world as in the Mäori expression ‘Ko mea te maunga, ko mea te awa, ko mea te tupuna’ (‘Such and such is the mountain, such and such is the river, such and such is the ancestor.’) Hence, indigenous worldviews give rise to a unique set of values and behaviors which seek to foster this sense of oneness and unity with the world."
Basic cross-cultural tenets of the indigenous worldview include the following:
- Has a universal set of principles held in common.
- Small scale in size ranging from basic family unit through extended family, to tribal confederations
- Their mythology and spiritual beliefs credit them with divine origins and descent through culture heroes.
- Rule was exercised by the chiefs, elders, and priests; but the power that they held was tempered by kinship bonds and the need to validate leadership by generous and wise rule.
- Consensus decision-making was the method of operation for the achievement of social and political goals.
- They think of themselves as holding a special relationship to Mother Earth and her resources; as an integral part of the natural order; recipients of her bounty rather than controllers and exploiters of their environment. Therefore Mother Earth is to be treated with reverence, love and responsibility rather than abuse and misuse.
- Spiritual and social values, e.g. mana/ tapu/ generosity/ sharing/ caring/hospitality/ service/ fulfilling one’s social obligations were the cardinal values. 
Emergent New Paradigm: Integral Worldview
According to Lawrence Wollersheim, executive director of Integral Spirituality :
The Integral worldview has emerged in the global Internet age where the totality of every knowledge discipline and the wisdom of all existing and previous cultures is readily available. The new Integral worldview:
- Provides a deeper and broader map of the evolution of known reality that embraces an inclusive, multiple perspective way of looking at and understanding personal, cultural and biologic evolutionary development. It excludes nothing needed for balanced understanding and/or growth or wholeness in any area.
- Anticipates what more appropriate solution comes next in the unfolding of the evolutionary process. These new solutions are shifted away from today's polarizing and marginalizing, right or wrong, either/or, left or right partial choices toward more inclusive, comprehensive both/and solutions. That's because its new solutions embrace the entire evolutionary developmental spectrum of life and humanity, allowing the lessons of previously exclusive and competitive worldviews to be systematically meshed, layered and harmoniously integrated to serve the well-being of the whole spiral of life.
- Is based upon the integral method of inclusion, transcendence and synthesis. It includes the most useful perspectives and values from all previous worldviews where contextually appropriate, while simultaneously pruning away contextually inappropriate perspectives and values.
- Unites all things in a coherent and structured matrix of relationship. It combines inner (subjective), outer (objective,) and the inter-subjective (relational) perspectives on any phenomena, whether singular or collective.
- Re-embraces new forms of non-pathological, integral religion and integral personal spirituality that is congenial to science, philosophy and art and, more universal in its perspectives.
Summary and Conclusion
Our Current World Situation
In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a scientific body under the auspices of the UN, reported, “Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes.” <ref>http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/</ref>
In the last century, average temperatures have risen 0.8 degrees Celsius, or 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit, with 80% of this warming occurring since 1980. Warming is projected to increase rapidly in the next century. Along with global warming, we are suffering from a loss of biodiversity - the “Holocene Extinction” or “Sixth Extinction” - with as many as 140,000 species disappearing each year. A great amount of excess CO2 is absorbed by the oceans, leading to a 30% increase in acidification over the last forty years.
Scientists currently fear that an increase of 2 Celsius temperature will lead to positive feedback loops causing runaway climate change. It is estimated that we have a remaining CO2 "budget" of 860 Gigatons, before this rise in temperature becomes inescapable. At present rates of use, this CO2 budget will be exhausted within 17 years. This gives us a short window of time to engineer a profound transformation.
Due to the current state of our media and education systems, most people are dangerously under-informed about the severity of the ecological crisis and the possibility of any alternative to the current geopolitical order. Coordinating a global response to climate change is extremely challenging. Industrial progress has brought material gains to a huge proportion of the Earth's population, as basic sanitation and vaccinations have increased the basic lifespan all over the world. At the same time, more than a billion people are hungry each day, 1.2 billion live in extreme poverty, 2.6 billion lack access to clean drinking water and sanitation, and almost three billion burn harmful materials inside their homes to keep warm. A rapid response to climate change must address these issues also, through a new social model and voluntary infrastructure.
Most Significant and Immediate Danger: Methane Release
Humanity confronts a significant and immediate danger from the vast stores of methane beneath the Arctic. Methane is 20 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas than Carbon Dioxide. According to Arctic News Blogspot :
"In 2010, team members Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov estimated the accumulated methane potential for the Eastern Siberian Arctic Shelf alone to be as follows: - organic carbon in permafrost of about 500 Gt; - about 1000 Gt in hydrate deposits; and - about 700 Gt in free gas beneath the gas hydrate stability zone."
According to the Arctic Methane Emergency Group :
"The Arctic methane potential is a global warming carbon bomb (as has been recognized for many years). Previous estimates of Arctic carbon have doubled making the Arctic the site of 40% of all the planet's carbon. Latest research finds the Arctic is already a substantial source of methane to the atmosphere: 50 million metric tons of methane is released per year from the East Siberian Arctic shelf alone.
Arctic methane emissions are increasing as the Arctic warms several times faster than the rest of our planet. There are three huge reservoirs of Arctic methane till recently safely controlled by the Arctic freezing cold environment. They are now all releasing additional methane to the atmosphere as the Arctic rapidly warms (carbon feedback). The more the temperature increases and the longer the Arctic warms the more methane these sources will emit. That much is certain.
The most catastrophically dangerous methane source is Arctic sea floor methane hydrate. This is frozen solid methane gas under pressure in sea floor sediments. The largest source of Arctic methane hydrate is the East Siberian Arctic shelf (ESAS), the largest continental shelf in the world. Methane is now venting to the atmosphere from under the shelf. All the evidence indicates that an abrupt massive release of methane gas from Arctic hydrates could happen which most likely would be catastrophe to the global climate and our planet.
The next great immediate danger are the vast regions of Arctic and subarctic wetlands. These are peat lands that hold the most carbon of any of the world’s soils. They naturally emit some methane but as they warm they put out more methane. They can respond rapidly to a jump in Arctic warming putting out much more methane. The third huge methane source is the vast regions of permafrost. As the world warms the permafrost is thawing and is emitting methane. Permafrost can’t respond very rapidly to a jump in warming but its thawing at some point becomes irreversible.
It is certain if the Arctic is not cooled these Arctic methane sources will greatly increase with global warming and that will greatly increase the rate of global warming. Unstoppable runaway Arctic warming will lead to unstoppable runaway global warming. To prevent runaway Arctic warming the Arctic must be cooled."
The Arctic Methane Emergency Group proposes rapid and immediate geo-engineering as the only solution to Arctic warming: "Techniques exist for cooling on the necessary scale. Both the brightening of low-level clouds and the production of a reflective haze in the stratosphere are techniques based on natural phenomena which have been studied extensively. Various methane suppression techniques have been proposed. However, all these techniques require technology development and testing before deployment."
When we accept the very real and legitimate potential for a massive release of methane from the Arctic over the next decades, we must consider rapid, emergency measures to reduce CO2 levels while cooling the Arctic and accelerating development of appropriate and non-destructive geo-engineering technologies. According to the Climate Plan  blog: "While Earth as a whole is experiencing global warming, warming in the Arctic is taking place much more rapidly. Accelerated warming in the Arctic threatens to destabilize methane stored in the form of hydrates and free gas in sediments underneath the Arctic Ocean, in a vicious spiral triggering further methane releases and escalating into a third kind of warming: runaway global warming." Their site offers a comprehensive plan for immediate action.
Economic Inequality and Social Injustice
The ecological crisis appears to be linked, in many ways, to the increasing levels of economic inequality and social injustice that characterize global society. On the one hand, a small group of "haves" often seek to protect their private interests against the collective good. On the other hand, a large multitude of the "have nots" feel alienated by society. Their opinions formed by mass media, they have little interest in the health of the collective.
For some theorists, capitalism itself poses a threat to the survival of humanity and the biosphere, as a whole. They believe a new paradigm or operating system must emerge quickly. Social ecologist Murray Bookchin writes, in The Ecology of Freedom: "The private ownership of the planet by elite strata must be brought to an end if we are to survive the afflictions it has imposed on the biotic world, particularly as a result of a society structured around limitless growth. Free nature, in my view, can only begin to emerge when we live in a fully participatory society literally free of privilege and domination." This perspective is now filtering into progressive circles, from respected figures like James Gustave Speth, the former environmental adviser to President Jimmy Carter.
The United States is particularly problematic: Its policies are heavily influenced and even shaped by a small corporate and financial elite that controls a disproportionate share of the country's wealth and resources. The US government has refused to ratify climate treaties and has been the main obstacle in the global effort to reduce use of fossil fuels.
Poverty is increasing rapidly in America. In 2008, almost one in every seven Americans lives below the poverty line. In 2010, close to one person in six. In 2010 the official poverty line was family income below $2249 for a family of four - but more than 40 percent of poor US families have incomes of less than half the poverty line. From 2000 - 2005, the severely poor grew by 26 percent. The poverty rate among blacks is almost three times that of whites. "The reason for the high rates of poverty in the US is because the US does less than other countries to reduce it," notes Speth. In fact, income inequality is exacerbated by an unjust tax system and subsidies for multinational corporations.
According to Jacob Hacker’s The Great Risk Shift (2006), “more and more economic risk has been offloaded by government and corporations onto the increasingly fragile balance sheets of workers and their families.” In 2011, The Wall Street Journal reported that nearly half of Americans are “financially fragile” - unable to come up with $2,000 in thirty days. While a small proportion of the elite has seen a tremendous rise in wealth, average incomes have hardly increased since 1980, from $30,941 to $31,244 in 2008 - a gain of $303 in twenty-eight years.
In America the Possible, Speth writes, “What America has done in the past few decades, instead of addressing the needs of the desperately poor and its shrinking middle class, is to take the lion’s share of its impressive GDP and productivity gains and engage in a far-reaching project of income redistribution upward, to the rich.” Today, the richest 10 percent of Americans own 80 to 90 percent of all US financial wealth, assets such as stocks, bonds, business equity, commercial real estate, and trusts. CEOs earn more than 500 times the pay of the average worker, up from forty-two times in 1980. The effective federal tax rate for the top four hundred US taxpayers dropped from 42 percent in 1961 to 17 percent in 2007.
Over the last decades, Robert Reich notes, the US government deregulated and privatized. “Companies were allowed to slash jobs and wages, cut benefits and shift risks to employees… They busted unions and threatened employees who tried to organize. The biggest companies went global with no more loyalty or connection to the United States than a GPS device. Washington deregulated Wall Street while insuring it against major losses, turning finance - which until recently had been the servant of American industry - into its master, demanding short-term profits over long-term growth and raking ig an ever larger portion of the nation’s profits.” The result has been grotesque inequality, endemic mistrust, social immiseration, debt, and retreat into denial.
As political scientist Thomas Dye identified in Who’s Running America (2006), 7,314 individuals in the US out of a population of 288 million control “almost three-quarters of the nation’s industrial (non-financial) assets, almost two-thirds of all banking assets, and more than three-quarters of all insurance assets.” This tiny elite directs the investment firms, commands “over half of all assets of private foundations and universities,” controls “the television networks, the national press, and the major newspaper chains. They dominate “the nation’s top law firms and the most prestigious civic and cultural associations,” and occupy “key federal government posts in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches and the top military commands.”
A number of futurists, philosophers, and thinkers have analyzed near-term threats to human continuity. In Our Final Hour: A Scientist's Warning: How Terror, Error, and Environmental Disaster Threaten Humankind's Future In This Century - On Earth and Beyond, British Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees argues that the rapid development of technology has led to new dangers and unforeseen threats. Evaluating the risks, he gives humanity a 50% chance of surviving the 21st Century. In this report, Cambridge philosopher Nick Bostrom explored the concept of "existential risk," including the possibility of nanotechnology turning the universe into "grey goo," and the possibility that if the universe is a simulation, it might be suddenly shut down.
The greatest danger to near-term human continuity is due to likely consequences of the ecological crisis, particularly climate change. One serious threat is the vast deposits of methane which have recently been discovered beneath the Siberian permafrost and the Arctic. According to estimates, more than 1,400 Gt of Carbon is presently locked up as methane and methane hydrates under the Arctic submarine permafrost. From studying previous epochs of climate change, scientists have learned that a temperature rise of 6 - 8 degrees Celsius can happen within a single decade.
A preponderance of scientific evidence appears to reveal that our planet is reaching a critical threshold. “The Earth is wearing out and will soon become exhausted, incapable of supporting life as we know it,” writes Paul Hawken, author of books including Blessed Unrest and Natural Capitalism (with Amory Lowens of the Rocky Mountain Institute) and founder of Smith & Hawken, a garden supply company. “Ecosystems, like all nonlinear systems, do not necessarily wind down gradually when under assault but may reach triggering thresholds, ecological heart attacks, where they suddenly collapse and die. … We are on the brink of disaster.” Hawkens is hardly an alarmist - and he is not alone.
James Lovelock developed the Gaia Hypothesis, proposing the Earth to be a self-regulating system that functions like a vast organism. Analyzing the data on accelerating climate change, loss of biodiversity, atmospheric pollution, depletion of basic resources such as fuel and water, and population growth, Lovelock became increasingly pessimistic, at one point predicting that humanity would definitely undergo a cataclysmic contraction in the next decades. In The Revenge of Gaia (2006), he foresaw a few hundred million people left alive on Earth at the end of this century, at maximum, due to “an imminent shift in our climate towards one that could easily be described as Hell: so hot, so deadly that only a handful of the teeming billions now alive will survive.”
Glaciologists found that “roughly half of the entire warming between the ice ages and the postglacial world took place in only a decade,” writes Fred Pearce in With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change, with a temperature increase of nine degrees during that time. In the past two centuries, humanity has increased levels of carbon in the atmosphere by about a third. We currently release roughly one million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every hour. While nonhuman factors may also contribute to global warming, our continued tinkering runs the risk “of producing a runaway change — the climactic equivalent of a squawk on a sound system.”
Climate Change Denial
Despite the urgency of our situation and the rapid changes happening all over the world, there remains a great deal of climate change denial and popular skepticism of scientific claims. This remains the case even though we know the world has warmed considerably over the last century. Today, the Earth is as much as 1.2 Celsius degrees warmer than it was in pre-industrial times, with the warmest years occurring over the last few decades. We are seeing melting ice caps and massive droughts across the planet. We also know from studying ice core samples that there is a direct relationship between parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere and atmospheric warming. We have now gone past 400 ppm of atmospheric CO2. The last time this happened was over 65 million years ago, when the climate was xx warmer than today, and inhospitable for large mammalian life like ourselves.
One reason for climate change skepticism is that the warming of the atmosphere has temporarily ceased over the last decade. There are many theoretical reasons for this. It is important to understand that a large percentage of the excess heat is transferred to the oceans, which absorb a large proportion of the excess CO2 emitted by our factories and cars. According to The New York Times, "In fact, global warming has not stopped. The greenhouse gases released by humans are still trapping heat, and the vast bulk of it is being absorbed by the ocean, as has always been the case."
We emit more than one million tons of CO2 per hour, and more than 40% of that is absorbed by the oceans. We now know that the oceans are warming rapidly. They are also becoming acidic, as they absorb excess carbon, threatening the world’s coral reefs with disintegration by 2050. Another theory as to why surface temperatures have not increased as much as anticipated in the last decade includes the possibility that China's rapidly increasing use of coal is temporarily lowering the temperature, through coal particulates in the atmosphere, that reflect the Sun. Changes in the Gulf Stream, and the effects of El Niño, are other possibilities. "The cycling between El Niño and La Niña conditions is one of those oscillations, and over the past decade or so, La Niña, which has a cooling influence on global climate, has predominated."
Reasons for climate change denial include the following:
- A vast amount of money has been spent by the oil and gas companies to foment disinformation through a variety of means, including influencing media, creating websites, think tanks, and so on. The energy companies have used sophisticated techniques of social psychology to maintain mass ignorance and restrict public awareness. As we discuss later, there is no point in blaming the energy companies for this behavior: Systemically, corporations are forced to maximize share holder value to succeed in the human-designed stock market. Therefore, they must do anything they can to evade environmental regulations, corrupt public policy, and keep the public distracted and misinformed.
- A natural human inclination is to question authority. A minority believe that any form of large-scale scientific consensus must represent a conspiracy on the part of the elite rulers of the New World Order. They believe that global warming is actually a ruse on the part of the elite to institute a condition of authoritarian control or regimes based on “eco fascism.”
- One popular theory is that climate change is a result of changes to the Sun, rather than anything happening here on Earth. Proponents of this theory often note that there are changes happening throughout the Solar System right now. While this appears to be the case, it doesn't change the measurable impact that human activity is having on the biosphere, as we emit one million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each hour.
- Self-categorization theory : The tendency of groups to define themselves in distinction to other groups is more powerful than rational or logical thought.
George Marshall runs the Climate Denial Blog . He writes, "Environmentalists and scientists alike continue to assume that climate change denial can be overcome with more reports and data. They are wrong: this has to be understood as an appeal to values and identities." He considers the Right Wing rhetoric which denies climate data as an example of social group formation by defining in groups versus out groups: "According to self-categorization theory we seek to achieve closeness and similarity with people with whom we feel an identity and kinship: our in-group. Then we seek to establish our differences from the people who are not like us: the out-groups. Our attitudes are shaped by both the people around us who we want to be like and by the people beyond us who we want to be unlike."
He quotes a recent Op Ed from Owen Paterson, former environmental secretary for the English Prime Minister, who criticizes "the mutually supportive network of environmental pressure groups, renewable energy companies and some public officials who keep each other well supplied with lavish funds, scare stories and green tape. This tangled triangle of unelected busybodies claims to have the interests of the planet and the countryside at heart, but it is increasingly clear that it is focusing on the wrong issues and doing real harm while profiting handsomely. "
Marshall proposes defining a rhetoric that presents the data on climate change within a narrative that meshes with Right Wing ideology. "This is not the place for a culture war and we must, at every opportunity, recognize our differences but speak over them to common values and shared concerns. More than any other issue climate change requires a sense of shared humanity and we must not let that be poisoned by the divisiveness of a failed politician preparing his speech for the dinner circuit."
Marshall also runs the Climate Outreach and Information Network in the UK. Working with the Royal Academy of Sciences, COIN has announced a new project: "The project develops the idea that the climate change challenge is not only (or even mostly) about ‘saving the environment’ and all the clichéd ideas that come with it. Instead, it should be viewed as a multi-faceted challenge with seven main dimensions, all of which speak to a different aspect of human existence: science, technology, law, economy, democracy, culture and behavior." The goal of the project is to develop a new public discourse that embraces all seven categories and speaks universally to the human community.
"If we can create a new social contract between science and society, confront the pervasiveness of stealth denial, work for deep decarbonization at scale, break climate silence, devise effective constraints on extraction, invest in the future and escape from the governance trap between the public and politicians, then we might really be getting somewhere on climate change. Nobody said it was going to be easy…"
This section is a work in progress.
9 Planetary Boundaries Model
At a 2009 conference in Sweden sponsored by the Stockholm Resilience Center, environmental scientists defined nine planetary boundaries which we cannot cross without endangering the future of humanity and the integrity of the earth as a whole system: climate change, reduction of biodiversity, nitrogen runoff, land use, consumption of freshwater, acidification of the oceans, thinning of the ozone layer, the level of aerosol pollution, and the amount of atmospheric toxins. Currently, we have crossed at least three of these boundaries: climate change, loss of biodiversity, and nitrogen pollution. In one area – the ozone layer - we overshot the boundary but were able, through a globally coordinated effort, to turn back toward a safe level, although we still remain over it.
There are a number of unresolved issues with the planetary boundaries model. One problem is that scientists don’t know the limits of the boundaries in a number of areas, such as the atmospheric level of aerosols and toxins. We also don’t know how the different areas interact with each other. One benefit of the approach, according to supporters, is that it provides a model for planetary management that is not intrinsically averse to technological progress, modern civilization, or population growth.
Mark Lynas writes in The God Species: “Unlike, say, the 1972 Limits to Growth report produced by the Club of Rome, the planetary boundaries concept does not necessarily imply any limit to human economic growth or productivity. “Instead, it seeks to identify a safe space in the planetary system within which humans can operate and flourish indefinitely in whatever way they choose.” While we have to avoid disturbing key processes of the ecosystem, “this need constrain neither humanity’s potential nor its ambition,” he believes. It seems unlikely we can continue the current model of economic development and restrain our impact on the biosphere.
The task of managing the Earth’s ecosystems has to be balanced with the real needs and authentic situation of humanity today. As technologists and neo-environmentalists like Lynas propose, we have to accept our God-like powers to transform our environment. “Until now, environmentalism has been mostly about reducing our interference with nature,” Lynas writes. “We cannot afford to foreclose powerful technological options like nuclear, synthetic biology, and GE because of Luddite prejudice and ideological inertia.” On the other hand, these hyper-intensive technologies may not be the only, or best, approach to our current predicaments. We have learned over time that new technologies often create new problems without effectively solving old ones. This tendency has been called "the progress trap."
Biodiversity is the first planetary boundary. We are in the Sixth Great Extinction in Earth’s history. Earth is losing 100 to 1000 species per million a year, where ten species per million a year is the limit proposed by the boundary group. There are 30 % less wild animals in the world today than there were 40 years ago. We are in the process of eliminating many large mammals, driving the tigers and all other big cats to extinction, as well as all of the great apes. Human expansion and overconsumption of nature is the cause of this.
We have learned that ecosystems function as complex networks in which the different forms and varieties of life support each other – when any tier is taken away, the entire system may change. It may rearrange itself or it may become radically simplified, with one or a handful of species proliferating. When too many species are removed, an entire ecosystem may collapse. This can happen on a local or global level.
“Ecologists now understand a fundamental principle of biodiversity: that the greater the number of species, the more resilient and stable an ecosystem can be. The same, of course, applies to the biosphere as a whole,” Lynas writes. The legitimate danger is that there is an unforeseen tipping point beyond which a global shift takes place and the planet becomes uninhabitable for large mammals such as ourselves. “If the Sixth Mass Extinction is allowed to continue – or still worse, accelerate further – then the chance of a global-scale ecosystem collapse can only continue to grow.”
The second planetary boundary is the one that has become most familiar - but it still doesn’t focus mass interest, and demands our collective response. That is the climate change boundary. The discovery of fossil fuels such as oil and coal powered the industrial revolution and transformed the entire world. Unfortunately, the unleashing of huge amounts of CO2 over the last centuries has already impacted the climate of the earth and is on course to bring about a possible 6 degrees Celsius rise in temperature by the end of this century, according to recent World Bank and UN reports. Even these estimates may be conservative.
“On average the carbon dioxide concentration of the atmosphere rises by about 2 parts per million (ppm) every year, from a pre-industrial level of 278 ppm to about 390 ppm today,” Lynas writes. We currently release about ten billion tons of carbon dioxide, as well as many other gasses, into the atmosphere every year – around 1 million tons per hour. Up until five years ago, the conventional wisdom was that 450 ppm – causing an estimated two degree temperature rise – was the necessary limit. Recent scientific data pushed that limit down, significantly. It is now commonly understood that 350 ppm is the safe boundary – and we are already far beyond that. At this level of carbon concentration, the ice caps will eventually melt, and sea levels will rise 80 feet, or more. What we don’t know is the timetable for this transition.
Climate change is not something to worry about for the future. We know it is already having a drastic impact across the planet, far beyond what scientists imagined or projected even five years ago. The three hottest years on record have all been in the last decade. The US was one degree warmer in 2012 than in any previous year. The American South West and most of Australia have shifted into drought conditions that appear to be permanent. Glaciers that provide fresh water to hundreds of millions of people are melting rapidly, and may be gone within a decade. There is similar data from every continent and every bioregion.
In Eaarth, Bill McKibben makes it clear we are “not going to get back the planet we used to have, the one on which civilization developed.” Unless we develop new techniques that are currently unknown, almost inconceivable in scope, it will be impossible to reverse much of the damage we are causing. As a 2009 study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, representing the latest understanding of ocean physics, discovered, “changes in surface temperature, rainfall and sea level are largely irreversible for more than a thousand years after carbon emissions are completely stopped.”
Lynas is astonished by “the sheer rapidity of change already under way in the Earth system, changes I never dreamt I would see so quickly when I started working on this subject more than ten years ago. These warn of looming danger.” Through studying the climate record, geologists have learned that dramatic episodes of climate change in the past happened in an extremely rapid timeframe, with a 9 degree Celsius warming taking place in less than a decade, in one case. This is because the climate system contains many feedback loops that work together to accelerate warming, once they are activated. For instance, as the melting Arctic ice loses its albedo, its reflective sheen, it begins to absorb more sunlight, which speeds up the warming process. As forests dry out in the heat, large-scale fires become more common, releasing more carbon. All of these processes are quickly accelerating.
We have already exceeded third planetary boundary: nitrogen pollution. The exponential growth of the human population over the last century, from 1.6 billion people on the earth in 1900 to more than 7 billion today, is credited to the invention of the Haber-Bosch process, in 1909, for synthesizing ammonia, which made it possible to add nitrogen to crops, by producing artificial fertilizer, using petrochemicals. Nitrogen “makes leaves green, constitutes an essential part of all proteins, forms enzymes and helps encode genetic information in DNA and RNA,” Lynas writes. It is in short supply in nature – nitrates are produced by lightning, and also by a number of legumes able to fix nitrogen through a symbiotic partnership with microbes that live in their roots.
Nitrogen runoff – along with phosphorous pollution – from agriculture creates enormous dead zones in lakes, oceans, and wetlands. “The latest scientific count found a worrying 400 separate dead zones spreading out from the world’s most densely populated coastal regions, from Shanghai to the mouth of the Mississippi,” Lynas writes. “The Gulf of Mexico dead zone now affects an average of 20,000 square kilometers each summer.” The production of nitrogen has a destructive effect on biodiversity and accelerates climate change, as the industrial process to produce it emits greenhouse gasses like nitrous oxide, which is 300 times more potent than CO2. According to the planetary boundary experts, the amount of nitrogen released into the environment should be reduced to about a third of current amounts, from 100 million to 35 million tons per year. This will be difficult, considering that the current food production system depends upon inputs of fertilizer for agriculture.
The land use boundary seeks to put a limit on how much of the earth’s surface we can devote to human needs, in order to protect land for wilderness and biodiversity. Currently, 12 percent of the Earth’s surface is used for agriculture. According to the planetary boundaries group, 15 percent would be the maximum amount of cropland the earth can tolerate. Lynas also notes that the greatest amount of species diversity – “an incredible 44 percent of plants and 35 percent of animals” - is contained in “25 hotspots covering only 1.4 per cent of the total land area.” Preserving these hotspots should be a major priority, although today, parks and reserves “do not necessarily correlate with areas of high biodiversity or unique and threatened species.”
The freshwater boundary seeks to limit and perhaps reverse the changes humanity has made to the natural course of rivers and drainage basins: “worldwide 60 per cent of the 227 largest rivers have been fragmented by man-made infrastructure, and the total number of dams blocking the natural flow of the planet’s watercourses is estimated at 800,000,” Lynas writes. “These impound approximately 10,000 cubic kilometers of water – a quantity so substantial that it measurably reduces the rate of sea level rise (by about half a millimeter a year for the last half-century) and even changes the mass distribution of the planet sufficiently to alter its axis and slightly increase the speed of its rotation.” The human engineering of waterways has been a massive undertaking: “on average, we have constructed two large dams per day over the last fifty years, half of those in China alone.” Even so, over a billion people lack access to reliable sources of clean water, and 2.6 billion people lack proper sanitation. The planetary boundary group proposes that human use of freshwater should not exceed 4,000 kilometers per year, of which we use an estimated 2,600 today – still within the limits, despite the myriad other impacts of our hydro-engineering practices.
The ocean acidification boundary is another very serious threshold that “could represent an equal (or perhaps even greater) threat to the biology of our planet” than climate change alone, according to scientists. Up to 40 percent of the ten billion tons of carbon we release into the atmosphere each year ends up in the oceans, causing a change to their chemical composition, where it has a devastating impact on coral reefs, as well as creating other problems. “At the end of the eighteenth century, the pre-industrial world oceans had a pH of about 8.2. Today ocean pH has dropped to 8.1 units and continues to fall. This may not seem like a big deal, but the pH scale (like the Richter scale for earthquakes) is logorhythmic, so this small-sounding tenth-of-a-unit change translates into a 30 per cent rise in acidity in our seas,” Lynas writes.
Coral reefs are largely made of calcium carbonate, which is extremely susceptible to acidity. As the oceans grow more acidic, the coral reefs will first die, then “physically dissolve in the corrosive water around them, and eventually disappear completely.” Not just coral reefs, but “the entire marine ecosystem is at risk from acidification, from the tropics to the poles.” According to a Royal Society meeting of marine biologists in 2009, by 2030 coral reefs “will be in rapid and terminal decline world-wide.” With them will go much of the ocean’s biodiversity.
The level of environmental toxins and pollutants the Earth can absorb has not been established as a set limit. We know that plastics and other industrial compounds infiltrate every ecosystem on the planet and also concentrate through the food chain, and in our tissues, where they cause cancers, reproductive disorders, and other averse health effects. “The natural world has no way of biologically decomposing artificially manufactured polymers. Humans have now devised countless thousands of novel substances, never before seen on Earth, and released them into the natural environment.” Man-made chemicals and substances have been shown to have devastating effect on wildlife and on the health and integrity of ecosystems. Perhaps evolution - or future technologies - will find a way to make use of our synthetic polymers, but the process of breaking them down naturally would take millions of years.
We continue to create new compounds and add them to the exotic bouquet of chemicals we have already unleashed on the environment. Even where there have been studies of the effect on human health of these compounds individually, there are no studies of the potential impact of multiple new chemicals when combined. A 2009 study of US drinking water, testing for pharmaceuticals and endocrine-disrupting chemicals, found 34 contaminants in just one sample, including atrazine, a herbicide, diazepam (Valium), risperidone (an anti-psychotic), and fluoxetine, “though none at levels deemed unsafe.” Potentially, environmental contamination is responsible for the sudden “enigmatic decline” of some species around the world, including amphibians, butterflies, and bats.
The aerosols boundary – “anthropogenic airborne particulates” such as sulfur and soot that permeate our atmosphere - is similarly unknown. However, Lynas dryly notes, “It is clear that having clean air will produce a lot more benefits than drawbacks.” Airborne pollutants are responsible for 411,000 premature deaths each year in China alone, according to the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning – probably a deliberate underestimate. The developed world of the West has cleaned up its air over the last decades, largely by relocating factory production, mining, and smelting to the developing world of the South and to Asia. Aerosol pollution has a significant effect on the climate: “Because of their global distribution and effects on solar-heat absorption and distribution, atmospheric aerosols are having major impacts on the Earth’s hydrological cycle,” he writes. Smokestack pollution from the North is thought to have contributed to a major decades-long drought in the Sahel region of Africa in the 1970s and 80s. Aerosol emissions are impacting the monsoon season in Asia: “Over much of India, Burma and Thailand summer monsoon rainfall has been declining, as brown-cloud aerosols weaken circulation patterns that sustain the food production and livelihoods of over a billion people across the subcontinent.”
Our power to impact the earth and directly affect its life processes is a brand new phenomenon in the life of our species. It is only over the course of the last two centuries that we discovered our power to alter the geochemical environment and irrevocably disrupt our planet’s cycles and processes. This has happened so fast that we have not caught up with ourselves. Right now, we remain trapped in outmoded systems, patterns of thoughts, and forms of behavior that are destructive - no longer appropriate to the fragile world we inhabit. If we are going to survive as a species, we must fundamentally reset our way of thinking and our priorities. And we must do this in a very short timeframe.
The delicacy of our situation is illustrated by the fact that one man was nearly responsible for making the entire planet unlivable, albeit inadvertently. The American chemist Thomas Midgley, working for General Motors in the 1920s and 30s, was “seeking non-flammable coolants for the company’s Frigidaire division.” Midgley discovered Freon, “a non-flammable synthesis of chlorine, fluorine, and carbon. Today we know it better as chlorofluorocarbon, or CFC.” In the 1970s, scientists discovered that CFCs were circulating throughout the earth’s atmosphere, where they were breaking down ozone, causing a thinning of the ozone layer, which protects the earth from dangerous ultraviolet radiation. In the 1980s, a major international effort led to the Montreal Protocol, which phased out the use of CFCs. Due to the slow circulation of gasses already released, the ozone layer is still thinning, but at a slower rate. It is estimated that the ozone layer could return to its pre-industrial level of ozone concentration by 2075, barring further tampering.
This summarizes the current condition of the nine planetary boundaries defined by the Stockholm Resilience Center. While we know we have trespassed the boundaries in at least three critical areas – biodiversity, climate change, and nitrogen pollution - we are struggling with all of them. According to all measurements, the ecological health of the earth is deteriorating rapidly, due to the impact of human industry and activity. Critical thresholds - such as the disappearance of all the world’s coral reefs, the loss of 25% of all current species, the melting of the polar ice caps, a 2 – 6 degree Celsius temperature increase – do not lie in some far distant future, but are only a few decades away from today.
This section is a work in progress.
UN Millenium Ecosystem Assessment (2005)
A massive four year effort involving 1,360 scientists and other experts worldwide to assess conditions and trends regarding the world’s ecosystems. In 2005, the assessment concluded: “Nearly two thirds of the services provided by nature to humankind are found to be in decline worldwide. In effect, the benefits reaped from our engineering of the planet have been achieved by running down natural capital assets. In many cases, it is literally a matter of living on borrowed time.”
“Unless we acknowledge the debt and prevent it from growing, we place in jeopardy the dreams of citizens everywhere to rid the world of hunger, extreme poverty, and avoidable disease - as well as increasing the risk of sudden changes to the planet’s life support systems from which even the wealthiest may not be shielded.”
IPCC Report, Fifth Assessment (2014)
Commissioned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. The Working Group II contribution considers the vulnerability and exposure of human and natural systems, the observed impacts and future risks of climate change, and the potential for and limits to adaptation. The chapters of the report assess risks and opportunities for societies, economies, and ecosystems around the world.
Climate change has caused impacts on natural and human systems. Evidence of climate-change impacts is strongest and most comprehensive for natural systems. Some impacts on human systems have also been attributed to climate change, with a major or minor contribution of climate change distinguishable from other influences. See Figure SPM.2. Attribution of observed impacts in the WGII AR5 generally links responses of natural and human systems to observed climate change, regardless of its cause.
Changing precipitation is altering hydrological systems. Glaciers continue to shrink almost worldwide due to climate change (high confidence), affecting runoff and water resources downstream (medium confidence). Climate change is causing permafrost warming and thawing in high- latitude regions and in high-elevation regions (high confidence).
Many marine species have shifted their natural activities in response to ongoing climate change. While only a few recent species extinctions have been attributed as yet to climate change (high confidence), natural global climate change at rates slower than current anthropogenic climate change caused significant ecosystem shifts and species extinctions during the past millions of years.
Negative impacts of climate change on crop yields have been more common than positive impacts. The smaller number of studies showing positive impacts relate mainly to high-latitude regions, though it is not yet clear whether the balance of impacts has been negative or positive in these regions (high confidence).Climate change has negatively affected wheat and maize yields for many regions and in the global aggregate (medium confidence). Effects on rice and soybean yield have been smaller in major production regions and globally, with a median change of zero across all available data, which are fewer for soy compared to the other crops. Observed impacts relate mainly to production aspects of food security rather than access or other components of food security.
Impacts from climate extremes reveal vulnerability of some ecosystems and many human systems. Impacts of such climate-related extremes include alteration of ecosystems, disruption of food production and water supply, damage to infrastructure and settlements, morbidity and mortality, and consequences for mental health and human well-being. For countries at all levels of development, these impacts are consistent with a significant lack of preparedness for current climate variability in some sectors.
Climate-related hazards increase negative outcomes for livelihoods, especially for people living in poverty. Climate-related hazards affect poor people’s lives directly through impacts on livelihoods, reductions in crop yields, or destruction of homes and indirectly through, for example, increased food prices and food insecurity. Observed positive effects for poor and marginalized people, which are limited and often indirect, include examples such as diversification of social networks and of agricultural practices.
Violent conflict increases vulnerability to climate change. Large-scale violent conflict harms assets that facilitate adaptation, including infrastructure, institutions, natural resources, social capital, and livelihood opportunities.
<ref>Ipcc.ch, (2014). Fifth Assessment Report - Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. [online] Available at: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/ [Accessed 7 Aug. 2014].</ref>
National Academy of Sciences, “Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change” (2013)
The National Academy of Sciences report, Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises (2013), notes that until recently, even in the 1980s, “he typical view of major climate change was one of slow shifts, paced by the changes in solar energy that accompany predictable variations in the Earth’s orbit around the sun over thousands to tens of thousands of years.” Earlier studies “lacked the temporal resolution” now available to researchers, through study of ice core samples. Through this process, scientists discovered rapid climate change in short periods, such as the Younger Dryas event 12,000 years ago, which killed off more than 70% of land mammals within a few decades.
According to the report, “The rate of climate change now underway is probably as fast as any warming event in the past 65 million years, and it is projected that its pace over the next 30 to 80 years will continue to be faster and more intense. These rapidly changing conditions make survival difficult for many species. … If unchecked, habitat destruction, fragmentation, and over-exploitation, even without climate change, could result in a mass extinction within the next few centuries equivalent in magnitude to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. With the ongoing pressures of climate change, comparable levels of extinction conceivably could occur before the year 2100; indeed, some models show a crash of coral reefs from climate change alone as early as 2060 under certain scenarios.”
The report also notes that certain abrupt changes are “unlikely to occur in this century,” including large-scale release of methane from beneath the Arctic: “According to current scientific understanding, Arctic carbon stores are poised to play a significant amplifying role in the century-scale buildup of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere, but are unlikely to do so abruptly, i.e., on a timescale of one or a few decades. Although comforting, this conclusion is based on immature science and sparse monitoring capabilities. Basic research is required to assess the long-term stability of currently frozen Arctic and sub-Arctic soil stocks, and of the possibility of increasing the release of methane gas bubbles from currently frozen marine and terrestrial sediments, as temperatures rise.”
Questions the report explores: “What is known about the likelihood and timing of abrupt changes in the climate system over decadal timescales? Are any of the phenomena considered by the committee currently embodied in computational climate models? The committee could consider relevant physical and biological phenomena such as:
- large, abrupt changes in ocean circulation and regional climate;
- reduced ice in the Arctic Ocean and permafrost regions;
- large-scale clathrate release;
- changes in ice sheets;
- large, rapid global sea-level rise;
- growing frequency and length of heat waves and droughts;
- effects on biological systems of permafrost/ground thawing (carbon cycle effects);
- phase changes such as cloud formation processes; and
- changes in weather patterns, such as changes in snowpack, increased frequency and magnitude of heavy rainfall events and floods, or changes in monsoon patterns and modes of interannual or decadal variability. “
Proposals: Abrupt Change Early Warning System
As part of an overall risk management strategy, the report “recommends development of an Abrupt Change Early Warning System (ACEWS). Surprises in the climate system are inevitable: an early warning system could allow for the prediction and possible mitigation of such changes before their societal impacts are severe. Identifying key vulnerabilities can help guide efforts to increase resiliency and avoid large damages from abrupt change in the climate system, or in abrupt impacts of gradual changes in the climate system, and facilitate more informed decisions on the proper balance between mitigation and adaptation.” The ACEWS would monitor variables of abrupt change, model to project future abrupt changes, and synthesize existing knowledge while continuing research and ongoing data collection.
Club of Rome "Limits to Growth
"The Club of Rome was founded in 1968 as an informal association of independent leading personalities from politics, business and science, men and women who are long-term thinkers interested in contributing in a systemic interdisciplinary and holistic manner to a better world. The Club of Rome members share a common concern for the future of humanity and the planet."
In 1971, the Club of Rome published a controversial report, Limits to Growth, which argued that human development was putting tremendous stresses on the natural environment that could lead to a rapid collapse of civilization. The authors wrote: "We cannot say with certainty how much longer mankind can postpone initiating deliberate control of his growth before he will have lost the chance for control. We suspect on the basis of present knowledge of the physical constraints of the planet that the growth phase cannot continue for another one hundred years. Again, because of the delays in the system, if the global society waits until those constraints are unmistakably apparent, it will have waited too long."
When the collapse that the Club of Rome feared did not happen in the next decades, many commentators, particularly conservative commentators, attacked and mocked the Limits to Growth report as alarmist. Recently, an updated version of the original report has demonstrated that the same factors are still present, and that urgent change is still required.
Reviewing the original report in 2000, investment banker Matthew Simmons noted, “The most amazing aspect of the book is how accurate many of the basic trend extrapolation worries which ultimately give raise to the limits this book expresses still are, some 30 years later. In fact, for a work that has been derisively attacked by so many energy economists, a group whose own forecasting record has not stood the test of time very well, there was nothing that I could find in the book which has so far been even vaguely invalidated. To the contrary, the chilling warnings of how powerful exponential growth rate can be are right on track.”
Over the last years, awareness that we are reaching crucial tipping points has reached even our most conservative social institutions. The Vatican sponsored a May, 2014 workshop on sustainable responsibility that mapped the current growth levels of our society against nature’s limits. "During the 20th century world population grew by a factor of four (to more than 6 billion) and world output by 14, industrial output increased by a multiple of 40 and the use of energy by 16, methane-producing cattle population grew in pace with human population, fish catch increased by a multiple of 35, and carbon and sulfur dioxide emissions by more than 10. The application of nitrogen to the terrestrial environment from the use of fertilizers, fossil fuels, and leguminous crops is now at least as great as that from all natural sources combined. about 45 per cent of the 45- 60 billion metric tons of carbon that are harnessed annually by terrestrial photosynthesis (net primary production of the biosphere) is currently being appropriated for human use. These are rough estimates, but the figures do put the scale of the human presence on the planet in perspective. Humanity is hitting against nature's constraints both locally and globally. It is not without cause that our current era, starting some 200 years ago, has been named the Anthropocene." <ref>http://www.casinapioiv.va/content/dam/accademia/booklet/booklet_sustainable.pdf </ref>
According to the report, “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change,” written by 12 retired military leaders and published by the Center for Naval Analyses, a national security analysis nonprofit, the U.S. armed forces must create a 30- to 40-year plan to address the risks of climate chang. “Failure to think about how climate change might impact globally interrelated systems could be stovepipe thinking, while failure to consider how climate change might impact all elements of U.S. National Power and security is a failure of imagination.” - <ref>http://www.cna.org/reports/accelerating-risks </ref>
- climate change is worse than we thought, it is either a catalyst for change and cooperation, or an acceleration of conflict .
- “People are saying they want to be convinced, perfectly … We never have 100 percent certainty. We never have it. If you wait until you have 100 percent certainty, something bad is going to happen on the battlefield.”
- great infographic page 16, as population grows it stresses resources & pressures mount
Great Transition Initiative
A venture of the Tellus Institute, launched by futurist Paul Raskin, the Great Transition Initiative explores several possible paths of development over the next decades. Their report, the Great Transition: The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead was co-authored by Paul Raskin, Founding Director of Tellus Institute, Tariq Anuri, Associate Fellow with Tellus Institute and Professor of Department of City and Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah, Gilberto Gallopin, Regional Adviser on Environmental Policies at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Pablo Gutman, Senior Director Environmental Economics at World Wildlife Fund, Al Hammond, Professor of Law at Santa Clara University, and Robert Kates, Professor (Emeritus) at Brown University and researcher of hunger, environment, and natural hazards. It was commissioned by the Stockholm Environment Institute to examine requirements for a transition to sustainability. The GTI approach is laid out in “Contours of a Resilient Global Future”, published in Sustainability 2014, and explored in depth on their website, www.gti.org .
The report states that humanity is now in the midst of a historical transition towards what is referred to as the Planetary Phase of civilization. Human society has reached a new degree of complexity and scope, in which the transformation of nature and the interconnectedness of human affairs has grown to the scale of the planet itself. As globalization has created vast social and technological expansion, human population and economies are butting against the limited resources of this finite planet. In fact, we are now at the point where the scale of society may reach that of the planet itself. An accelerating change in humanity is occurring, inevitably creating turbulence, but the form of the resulting global system cannot be predicted. The ultimate shape of things to come depends to a great extent on human choices yet to be made and actions yet to be taken. This means that if the urgency of this rapid transition period to come together and form multinational engagement on a wide range of key issues today is utilized for beneficial change, a Great Transition is possible.The authors offer scenario analysis as a method of enabling informed change by providing several possible alternatives of the future, as it is impossible to know the specific details of what will take place. Three main scenarios (and their most important variants) are outlined:
- Conventional Worlds: the global system continues, but incremental adjustments are made to deal with issues as they arise
- Market Forces: competitive, open and integrated global markets drive world development, where social and environmental concerns are secondary
- Policy Reform: comprehensive and coordinated government action is taken to aid social and environmental concerns
- Barbarism: issues are not managed, and society descends into anarchy or tyranny
- Fortress World: authoritarian response occurs to the threat of breakdown, resulting in a dominating elite and an impoverished majority
- The Great Transition: the world transforms and changes its fundamental ways of being
- New Sustainability Paradigm: “global solidarity, cultural cross-fertilization and economic connectedness while seeking a liberatory, humanistic and ecological transition.”
Conventional Development leads, in theory, to a highly environmentally stressed world of 9.5 billion people by 2100: “ Despite the potential for catastrophic impacts and social unrest, society relies on unprecedented technological change and market adaptation to replace degraded ecosystem services and mend social tensions. Down this path, the real danger looms: as gathering crises overwhelm incremental responses, development veers toward darker futures, even a descent into societal breakdown, and civilized norms erode.” According to projections of accelerated climate change, the uncontrolled release of methane from the beneath the Arctic, and the potential for civic unrest as resources become depleted, Conventional Development projections seem optimistic.
In the Policy Reform scenario, global civilization overcomes its current inertia to address ecological and social pressures through coordinated legislative action: “Informed by planetary boundary metrics as the basis for widely adopted global sustainable development goals, together with widely-held social targets, strong policy instruments, such as eco-taxes, market mechanisms, regulation, social programs, and technology development and deployment are introduced, periodically monitored for effectiveness in meeting goals, and adjusted accordingly throughout the century.” A smaller population of 8.5 billion is projected by 2100, with “a rapid transition in energy-related technologies, end-use efficiencies, and land-use practices.”
The alternative of the Great Transition scenario leads to a “wide-spread re-assessment of lifestyle, values, and human well-being.” The current models of economic development and ever-increasing consumption are displaced by new metrics, where development becomes “a means for providing material sufficiency for all, the basis for a fulfilling life rooted in leisure time, family, and community.” Global income is distributed far more equitably, with the goal of establishing “a global society of strengthened international governance rooted in human fulfillment, social justice, and respect for nature.” In this alternative, humanity works collectively to establish a “stable Earth system for human resilience and well-being.”The report then provides a vision for the future through discussing the four great aspirations for human society, those being peace, freedom, material well-being, and environmental health. More specifically, a world that provides all of these for its inhabitants possesses:
- Universal human rights, the meeting of basic human needs, education for everyone,and proper maintenance of the environment (which can all be fulfilled by 2050).
- Policy reform that provides peace, freedom, development, and environmental health.
- Decrease in poverty which results in greater social cohesion and a resilient basis for global peace.
- Increasing efficiency of energy, water, and resource use in conjunction with accelerating transition to renewable energy.
While Great Transitions takes into account the importance of political, social, and economic reforms, it acknowledges that to make these theories a reality, fundamental values must be questioned and shifted. To make reform desirable, the “central theme of human development” must be the “search for a deeper basis for human happiness and fulfillment,” the “desire for a rich quality of life, strong human ties and a resonant connection to nature.”With this greater vision in mind, the authors address the issue of how to guarantee safe passage to a sustainable and desirable global society. Some concerns raised are the possibility that the Market Forces scenario could fail, resulting in a barbaric Fortress Worlds reality, and that the Policy Reform scenario would be swamped by global economic growth, leaving consumer culture to prevail. To effectively navigate this Great Transition, the authors recommend:
- A profound shift in values away from those of individualism and consumerism to those rooted in the connectedness of people to each other and to life.
- A unified movement on a global scale, in which NGOs, business, and intergovernmental organizations that are backed by an engaged and aware public.
- A greater understanding of holistic systems that adds onto the prevailing reductionistic scientific model to change ways problems are defined and solved.
- Respect and agreement upon universal human rights.
- An economy that eradicates human deprivation, reduces inequality, stays within environmental carrying capacity, and maintains innovation, backed with the understanding that it is a means, not an end.
- Sustainable businesses that help the world, and partner up with governments and citizens’ groups to establish rigorous standards.
After laying out a thorough overview what it takes to implement the Great Transition, the authors provide a narrative of how this transformation could emerge by writing a “history of the future” from the vantage point of the year 2068. The many scenarios and sequences interweave over a period of decades to realign human activity with a healthy environment and society, showing that “momentum toward an unsustainable future can be reversed, but only with great difficulty.” Initially, Market Forces dominates the global scene until its internal contradictions lead to a crisis, resulting in the brief and ineffective surge of the Fortress World forces. Policy Reform then gains popularity in the wake of the crisis, but eventually the Great Transition era begins as the long-brewing popular desire for fundamental change surges. Ultimately, the shift begins with a radical revision of technological means, but must be completed by a “fundamental reconsideration of human goals.”
Zero Carbon Britain
Commissioned by the Centre for Alternative Technology at Machynthlleth in 2010, Zero Carbon Britain: Rethinking the Future shows in detail how Britain can completely eliminate emissions from fossil fuels in 20 years and break the country's dependence on imported energy. This optimistic report looks at the policy framework that can drive this rapid shift, and explores the technologies and lifestyle changes required in the next two decades. Zero Carbon Britain describes a scenario in which the UK has risen to the challenges of the 21st century: "It is 2030. We have acknowledged our historical responsibility as a long-industrialized nation and made our contribution to addressing climate change by reducing UK greenhouse gas emissions rapidly to net zero."
In their scenario GHG emissions have decreased from 652 MtCO2e (Million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent)to just 38 MtCO2e. This is a reduction of 94%. Small reductions in GHG emissions have been made in non-energy emissions from households, business and industry and from waste management, largely through changes to industrial processes, diversion of waste from landfill and the conversion of landfill sites to storage silos. These emissions together are reduced by just over 60%.
Use of energy, as well as demand for it, has been reduced by about 60% from 1,750 TWh (Thermal Watt Hours) today to 665 TWh through a number of energy saving measures, and also through changing the way and the amount we travel and move goods. We produce 1,160 TWh of energy to supply our needs. This is produced completely using renewable energy and carbon neutral energy sources, meaning that GHG emissions from energy use are zero.
GHG emissions from agriculture have decreased substantially – by roughly 73%. This is largely due to changes in diet, including significant decreases in the consumption of meat and dairy, plus changes in management practices and the elimination of the need to use ever-more land for agricultural purposes. Another significant change to the English landscape would be a doubling of the area of forest. A larger proportion of this – 30% – is unharvested, meaning there is more space for biodiversity. These changes to the way we use land, the increased area of forest, the restoration of 50% of our peatlands, and the use of more plant-based products made mainly from harvest wood, allow us to capture about 45 MtCO2e every year.
This scenario is estimated to produce over 1.5 million new jobs. "Power Up": 1.33 million jobs; to provide 100% of UK current primary energy from renewable sources by 2030 would create some 2.67 million jobs. However, energy production (due to decreased demand) in this scenario is estimated at around half of the current level. The number of jobs in the energy sector (and supporting services) in our scenario would therefore be approximately 1.33 million jobs.
Power Down Power Down is reduction of energy demand by using efficient technology and making changes to the way people live. To make a zero carbon Britain a reality, we will need to reduce the energy demand from our buildings and industry, and put in place systems that allow us to meet this reduced energy demand with renewable energy and carbon neutral fuels. Changes are also needed to our transport system to make our urban environments more pleasant places to live and work, and to help us be more active and healthier. The Zero Carbon Britain 2030 report estimates that some 170 jobs should be created per TWh in energy saved. With about 900 TWh of energy demand reduction measures in this scenario, roughly 150,000 jobs might be created.
Power Up Power Up outlines how renewable energy sources can meet 100% of this energy demand, reducing the GHG emissions from our energy production to zero. In our scenario, the largest contribution will come from offshore wind turbines, which can produce around half of the energy we need. Energy supply from fossil fuels can be replaced with a variety of renewable energy sources that do not emit GHGs. These are: wind power, Wave and tidal power, Hydropower, Solar photovoltaics (PV) and solar thermal, Geothermal electricity and heat, Ambient heat for heat pumps, and Biomass.
Emissions from non-energy sources accounted for just over 8% of UK GHG emissions in 2010 – 54.4 MtCO2e. These came from urban expansion, industrial processes, leakage of some GHGs in industry, businesses and households (for example in gas pipelines), and from waste management – mainly landfills. These emissions are reduced to about 21 MtCO2e in our scenario – a 61% reduction. There is a 75% reduction in emissions from landfills (91% reduction from 1990 levels are assumed feasible by AEA Technology Environment (1998a)). Emissions from burning waste are assumed to remain the same and Methane emissions from wastewater processing are used to produce energy, and N2O emissions are reduced by 25%. The number of jobs in the energy sector (and supporting services) in our scenario would be approximately 1.33 million jobs.
Land Use Our use of land in the UK will provide food, energy resources and carbon capture, which allows the UK to be truly net zero carbon. In Zero Carbon Britain’s scenario, emissions from food production (‘on the farm’) are reduced to 17 MtCO2e per year – about 27% of what they were in 2010 and this will be due to changes in diet, including significant decreases in the consumption of meat and dairy. Imports are reduced from 42% to 17%. Land used for food production is reduced from about 78% of total UK land to about a third, freeing up space – all grassland – for other uses. Doubling the forested area of the UK, harvesting more timber to use in buildings and infrastructure, restoring 50% of our peatlands, and converting waste wood either into biochar or leaving it in ‘silo stores’, we capture the required 45 MtCO2e per year (on average), making our scenario net zero carbon. Changes in Land use patterns would create 40,000 jobs, the scenario envisages more than a doubling of forested area. The report estimates the creation of about 40,000 additional jobs in forestry and the primary processing of wood products.
Conclusion In conclusion, changing what we eat through reduction in meat and dairy products, coupled with increases in various other food sources means we eat a more healthy and balanced diet than we do today while our agricultural system emits fewer greenhouse gases and uses less land. Capturing carbon by restoring important habitats such as peatland, and by substantially expanding forested areas, we not only capture carbon but also provide wood products for buildings and infrastructure. Closing the gap in politics, between current ‘politics as usual’ and what is physically necessary to address climate change will require cross-sector collaboration and public engagement, framed by robust international agreements to foster high-level all-party political commitment.
Supplementary Report Supplementary report: People, Plate and Planet (2014): Published in July 2014, this supplementary report originated from the Zero Carbon Britain research. Adapting the model developed for the scenario in Zero Carbon Britain: Rethinking the Future, the report details the impact of various dietary choices on health, greenhouse gas emissions and land use today. This report was launched in conjunction with Laura's Larder, an online tool developed to explore the impact of your diet on greenhouse gas emissions and health.
Reviews "Zero Carbon Britain shows that the solutions to our problems do exist... Not only is this essential for a sustainable future but vital for our sense of wellbeing." Joan Walley MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group <ref>http://zerocarbonbritain.org/index.php/zcb-about/zcb-publications</ref> 'a book every budding physicist should read - and perhaps also ... the one every working physicist would like to have written.' 'the book would be a good way of introducing teenagers to how real physicists work — all the more so because MacKay's treatment of energy is much more positive and empowering than either the school physics curriculum or most environmental literature.' Physics World <ref>http://physicsworld.com/</ref>
Read the report here.
Climate Change and Transboundary Waters (Pacific Institute)
“Global climate change will increase the risk of conflict over shared international freshwater resources.” Water and Conflict Chronology reveals “a growing incidence of disputes over water allocations leading to conflict across local borders, ethnic boundaries, or between economic groups, as well as in international conflicts. Climate change will only make these problems worse.”
The Pathways to Deep Decarbonization Interim 2014 Report, published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), is a collaborative effort between 15 Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) Country Research Teams to come up with different methodologies in order to remain below a 2°C global temperature increase. It was presented to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon on July 8, 2014, in anticipation of the UN Climate Summit taking place in New York in September 2014, prior to which the complete 2014 DDPP Report will be issued. A more detailed version will be delivered to the French government in early 2015, for the 21st Conference of the Parties at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Paris December of 2015.
Approach This report uses the “backcasting” approach, where a target is set for a future date and steps toward a solution are found by looking back in time. In setting long-term goals and referencing historical data, the authors emphasize the importance of not getting caught up with with meticulously dividing up numbers between countries, but instead focusing on big picture actions that all countries can take, albeit to different extents. In the actual process of goal-setting, the level of per capita emissions should also be seen as benchmarks rather than targets, since the current 50% chance of staying within the 2°C threshold could increase with further developed decarbonization technologies. The sectoral performance indicators should be seen in the same light as well: despite the fact that they are a good way to distinguish structural differences between countries, combined with the per capita emissions, crucial limitations still exist.
On the other end of the spectrum, the findings in this report caution against taking the “business-as-usual” stance on climate change mitigation, in which individuals and corporations (especially from the oil and gas industry) assume a baseline of a 4°C global temperature increase, ultimately allowing for an increase up to 7.8°C. Even the 2°C scenario is on the upper limit of safety: it is a condition that, when reached, could cause the Amazon rainforest to die from drought, a sea level rise of 6 m (20 ft), and large quantities of ancient methane and CO2 buried in the tundra to be released into the air.
In the specific process of developing potential solutions, the Country Research Teams took a bottom-up approach and assumed maximum deployment of existing technologies, and that down the line the public and private sectors will invest heavily in the development of more advanced technology.
Potential Outcomes As of right now, there are three potential outcomes in terms of how much the planet will increase in temperature: 6DS (6°C Scenario): If current trends continue and efforts are not made to significantly decrease GHG emissions, the planet is projected to warm by 6°C. 4DS (4°C Scenario): This scenario takes into account recent pledges by individual countries, and if they are sustained. It reaches the primary benchmark outlined by the IEA Energy Technology Perspectives 2014. 2DS (2°C Scenario): If drastic measures, such as the ones outlined in this report, are taken, climate researchers predict a 50% chance of being able to limit the temperature increase to 2°C. It is the long term goal of ETP 2014. These preliminary DDPs will cause the carbon emissions to lower to 12.3 Gt by 2050, down from 22.3 Gt in 2010. They still do not satisfy the criteria to the 2DS, but further strategies are to be developed in the 2015 report.
The 3 Pillars of Deep Decarbonization All 3 pillars must be implemented in order to be able to make significant progress in deep decarbonization. No single pillar is able to stand alone, given the urgency and magnitude of the issue, but they can be implemented to different extents, depending on the internal infrastructure of each country. Energy Efficiency and Conservation - “Greatly improved energy efficiency in all energy end-use sectors including passenger and goods transportation, through improved vehicle technologies, smart urban design, and optimized value chains; residential and commercial buildings, through improved end-use equipment, architectural design, building practices, and construction materials; and industry, through improved equipment, production processes, material efficiency, and reuse of waste heat.” Low-Carbon Electricity - “Decarbonization of electricity generation through the replacement of existing fossil-fuel-based generation with renewable energy (e.g. hydro, wind, solar, and geothermal), nuclear power, and/or fossil fuels (coal, gas) with carbon capture and storage (CCS).” Fuel Switching - “Switching end-use energy supplies from highly carbon-intensive fossil fuels in transportation, buildings, and industry to lower carbon fuels, including low-carbon electricity, other low-carbon energy carriers synthesized from electricity generation of sustainable biomass, or lower-carbon fossil fuels.”
Recommendations & Solutions Different solutions are put forth by taking the following equation and dependencies into account: CO2 Emissions = Population x (GDP/Population) x (Energy/GDP) x (CO2/Energy) where GDP/Population represents GDP per capita, Energy/GDP represents energy intensity, and CO2/Energy represents carbon intensity. The individual recommendations are as follows: Follow the energy budget in order to make the 2DS a reality Set as 950 Gt for 2011-2100, 825 Gt of which accounts for the remaining first half of the century (2011-2050). By the second half of the century, systems that lead to net negative emissions will have been implemented. However, these numbers only cover emissions from land use, fossil fuels, and industrial processes, so lots of assumptions have to be made. According to climate researchers, this plan creates a 50% likelihood of staying within the 2°C threshold. Countries need to strand resources and account for potential income loss: “Total reserves and resources exceed the CO2-energy budget by some 35-60 times. The conclusion is stark: there are vastly more reserves and resources than the world can use safely” (10). Further areas for RDD&D: CCS: Individual components of CCS are being implemented on a small scale, and bigger projects are in the stages of development. The largest opportunity for CCS will be in the electric power market, where it can be used to offset the large carbon footprint of coal-burning plants. Challenges will lie in scale, cost, and verification. Energy Storage & Grid Management: Focusing on systems that prioritize demand response/flexible load, as well as methods for short term and long term storage. Advanced Nuclear Power: There is concern that there will be a repeat of Fukishima, but a fourth generation of nuclear focuses on increased simplicity and less vulnerability. It will implement technological advances that involve modularity of production systems, smaller scale units, alternative systems for fuel reprocessing, alternative fuels (eg. thorium), and better (automatic, passive) safety systems. Vehicles & Advanced Biofuels: More complex battery systems are required in order to successfully implement electric vehicles on a large scale. Another option is to substitute diesel for biofuels. Current biofuels, such as ethanol, raise the issue of land use, but by bioengineering organisms (algae, bacteria) that can make fuel out of sun, water, and CO2, advanced biofuels will overcome competition between biofuels, food, and the ecosystem. Industrial Processes: Efficiency can be increased through directed heating technology by electrifying processes or using fuel cells. This is an area that requires more research. Negative Emissions Technologies: A couple of ideas include BECCS (merging biomass energy with CCS), as well as direct air capture of CO2. Both need to be investigated in more depth.
Challenges The success of the DDPP requires a global technology push involving business, academia, and government. The situation from country to country differs, and while basic technologies exist, there needs to be a rapid movement towards systems of higher complexity. Main challenges pertain to freight and industry, where situations differ on a case-by-case basis and many assumptions have to be made. Potential solutions will be included in more detail in 2015 version.
Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises has been commissioned by the Governing Board of the National Research Council. It was supprted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, the United States intelligence community, and the National Academies. The study was authored by members of the Committee on Understanding and Monitoring Abrupt Climate Change and Its Impacts, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC), Division on Earth and Life Studies (DELS), and the National Research Council.
This report was written to explain that the history of climate on the planet has shown that large changes have often occurred rapidly, showing that surprises are inevitable. It outlines several abrupt changes that are already occurring, such as the disappearance of late-summer Arctic sea ice, and the increases in extinction threat for marine and terrestrial species. Some changes are of unknown probability, such as the destabilization of the west Antarctic ice sheet. Additionally, there are certain abrupt changes, such as the disruption to the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and changes that arise due to high-latitude methane, that are unlikely to occur in this century. However, while these changes are considered unlikely to appear during this century, abrupt impacts can be rapidly triggered by continuing current habits until the “tipping point” is reached. Fortunately, not all abrupt changes must be surprises, and with thorough research regarding natural and human systems, the development of an abrupt change early warning system can help society to anticipate major changes before they occur.Abrupt climate change is defined not just as abrupt changes in climate, but also as abrupt shifts in the human or natural world that occurs as a result of gradual climate change. Climate change can affect the human or natural world in three main ways:
- Crossing ecologically important threshold values in certain climatic parameters result in the rapid disappearance of certain species.
- Extreme events can trigger sudden regional catastrophes that wipe out natural ecosystems or human-controlled ones.
- Cascading effects of abrupt changes can cause abrupt transformation in widespread ecosystems.
Additionally, food production already is labored by challenges such as poverty, the lack of access to food, and poor institutions. Even a slight added impact from climate change, therefore, could lead to significant, abrupt, and problematic food shortages. Increasing demands on water (estimated from population growth and economic development) will greatly exceed expected changes from climate change. The increasing scarcity of water also dramatically impacts food production. As sea levels rise, structures near coasts such as roads, power lines, sewage treatment plants, and subway systems located close enough to the ocean and at a low enough elevation to be impacted by rise in sea levels are at risk. This would affect the Arctic as well, due to the fact that there is more maritime access in seasonally frozen rivers and seas but declining overland access to seasonally frozen ground. Climate change also affects human health, as is evident by the increase in heat waves, vector-borne and zoonotic diseases, and water-borne diseases. The impacts from reduced air quality impacts human health and development, mental health, and neurological diseases.To reduce consequences resulting from abrupt changes, the report recommends the creation of an Abrupt Change Early Warning System (ACEWS), whose duties are to:
- identify and quantify social and natural vulnerabilities and ensure long-term, stable observations of key environmental and economic parameters through enhanced and targeted monitoring;
- integrate new knowledge into numerical models for enhanced understanding and predictive capability
- synthesize new learning and advance the understanding of the Earth system, taking advantage of collaborations and new analysis tools.
To start, coordination, integration, and expansion of existing and planned smaller programs are suggested. Some ideas are the implementation of a steering group that could provide efficient guidance, in addition to subgroups or working groups may be able to bring focus to specific issues that require more attention as needed such as water or food.Finally, this report makes many recommendations for further study to be able to predict and ameliorate the potential effects of abrupt changes. Some of these are:
- To have a greater understanding of the chemistry of the world’s oceans, new and standardized methods to document oxygen data are necessary.
- To understand abrupt changes in and due to atmospheric circulation.
- To engage in interdisciplinary research to determine the importance of atmospheric changes in certain regions of “vulnerability” in terms of food production or ecosystem habitat.
- To create a “global service” network that makes comprehensive monitoring and early detection its main focus in the near future, which includes a well-structured organization with long-term funding, broad international participation, and quality controlled data that enter the public domain.
- To better understand which species are most at risk as a result of climate change.
A Solar Transition is Possible
A Solar Transition is Possible (2011) was commissioned by the IPRD (Institute for Policy Research and Development), and is authored by Peter D. Schwartzman, Associate Professor (and Chair) in the Department of Environmental Studies at Knox College, and David W. Schwartzman, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biology at Howard University.
The report proposes that the road to a sustainable future for our planet is quite plausible, through a concerted effort to shift from fossil fuels to renewable wind and solar energy sources. This transition can occur in two or three decades and can be successfully executed with the resources and technology that exist at this point in time. The authors conclude that creating and sustaining a renewable infrastructure “can be done with merely 40% of the present annual consumption of global fossil fuel spread out over the entire period.” As these conclusions are considered to be a conservative estimate, it is likely that “the true renewable potential that is available to our society may be even more optimistic than we show.”
To support a transition to a world that sustains itself on renewable energy, the authors’ recommendations are to:
- Create new renewable energy infrastructure that uses a fraction of the fossil fuels, and primarily depends on the use of solar and wind power.
- Implement an aggressive energy conservation program in the US, which would further accelerate the transition to solar power.
- Reduce primary energy usage in developed countries such as the US by 25-35%, and increasing energy usage in places that have a low energy consumption per person.
- Demilitarize the global economy to help free up resources and alleviate the climate before it is too late.
- Facilitate a state of peace in the world, which would be the only way to secure a healthy climate.
The report also lists potential obstacles (and their respective solutions) that would potentially occur during this transition, which are:
- The world governments’ lack of motivation to support a timely overhaul of the global fossil-fuel based economy.
- However, it is possible to overcome this resistance through sufficient political will and determination, “just as in earlier eras when the stakes were set high enough."
- The potential limitations in the materials readily available and necessary to build all the new wind turbines and other solar technologies that will be needed.
- The challenge of adequate supply of concrete and steel (for turbines and their platforms) is not insurmountable, particularly because both materials are nearly fully recyclable.
- The concern regarding how energy will be made available at all the points where it is needed.
- The authors propose the construction of a “new direct-current (DC) distribution network, as a means for moving solar-generated electricity around the country.” They believe this is “achievable and economically feasible.”
- A “smart balance of renewable resources” is recommended through “using geothermal as base supply wind at night, solar during the day, and hydropower at peak hours of need.”
- The possible decrease of petroleum EROI (Energy Return on Investment, or the ratio of the amount of usable energy acquired from a particular energy resource to the amount of energy expended to obtain that energy resource), which would severely lessen the viability of using this fuel for transition.
- The authors state that the rise of solar power will dramatically decrease the demand for petroleum in the global economy, which coupled with advances in technology, will result in stabilized or increased EROI of mined petroleum.
- Aggressive energy conservation in the beginning times of this solar transition will free up additional petroleum of the highest available EROI levels.
The report ends by concluding that shifting to solar power can fulfill the energy needs of humanity and provide a high quality of life for all.
Reconciling anthropogenic climate change with observed temperature 1998–2008
Commisioned by: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2014)
Given the widely noted increase in the warming effects of rising greenhouse gas concentrations, it has been unclear why global surface temperatures did not rise between 1998 and 2008. We find that this pause in warming coincides with a period of little increase in the sum of anthropogenic and natural forcing’s.
Declining solar insolation as part of a normal eleven-year cycle, and a cyclical change from an El Nino to a La Nina (El Niño and La Niña are opposite phases of what is known as the ENSO cycle. The ENSO describes the fluctuations in temperature between the ocean and atmosphere in the east-central Equatorial Pacific) dominate our measure of anthropogenic effects because rapid growth in short-lived sulfur emissions partially offsets rising greenhouse gas concentrations. As such, the report finds that the recent global temperature records are consistent with the existing understanding of the relationship among global surface temperature, internal variability, and radiative forcing, which includes anthropogenic factors with well-known warming and cooling effects.
Conclusion The finding that the recent pause in warming is driven largely by natural factors does not contradict the hypothesis: “most of the observed increase in global average temperature since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. Anthropogenic activities that warm and cool the planet largely cancels after 1998, which allows natural variables to play a more significant role.
In-sample simulations indicate that temperature does not rise between the 1940’s and 1970’s because the cooling effects of sulphur emissions rise slightly faster than the warming effect of greenhouse gases. The post 1970 period of warming, which constitutes a significant portion of the increase in global surface temperature since the mid-20th century, is driven by efforts to reduce air pollution in general and acid deposition in particular, which cause sulphur emissions to decline while the concentration of greenhouse gases continues to rise.
For full report click here <ref>http://www.pnas.org/content/108/29/11790</ref>
James Edward Hansen (born March 29, 1941) is an American adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. Hansen is best known for his research in the field of climatology, his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in 1988 that helped raise broad awareness of global warming, and his advocacy of action to avoid dangerous climate change. In recent years, Hansen has become an activist for action to mitigate the effects of climate change, which on a few occasions has led to his arrest.
After graduate school, Hansen continued his work with radiative transfer models, attempting to understand the Venusian atmosphere. Later he applied and refined these models to understand the Earth's atmosphere, in particular, the effects that aerosols and trace gases have on Earth's climate. Hansen's development and use of global climate models has contributed to the further understanding of the Earth's climate. In 2009 his first book, Storms of My Grandchildren, was published.
From 1981 to 2013, he was the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, a part of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
William Ernest "Bill" McKibben (born 1960) is an American environmentalist, author, and journalist who has written extensively on the impact of global warming. He is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College and leader of the anti-carbon campaign group 350.org. He has authored a dozen books about the environment, including his first (The End of Nature) in 1989 about climate change.
In 2009, he led 350.org's organization of 5,200 simultaneous demonstrations in 181 countries. In 2010, McKibben and 350.org conceived the 10/10/10 Global Work Party, which convened more than 7,000 events in 188 countries as he had told a large gathering at Warren Wilson College shortly before the event. In December 2010, 350.org coordinated a planet-scale art project, with many of the 20 works visible from satellites. In 2011 and 2012 he led the environmental campaign against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project and spent three days in jail in Washington, D.C. It was one of the largest civil disobedience actions in America for decades. Two weeks later he was inducted into the literature section of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
He was awarded the Gandhi Peace Award in 2013. Foreign Policy magazine named him to its inaugural list of the 100 most important global thinkers in 2009 and MSN named him one of the dozen most influential men of 2009. In 2010, the Boston Globe called him "probably the nation's leading environmentalist" and Time magazine book reviewer Bryan Walsh described him as "the world's best green journalist".
Elizabeth Kolbert (born 1961) is an American journalist and author. She is best known for her 2006 book Field Notes from a Catastrophe, and as an observer and commentator on environmentalism for The New Yorker magazine. Her recent book “The Sixth Extinction" situates the current climate change crisis within a human-induced species eradication period.
Elizabeth Kolbert has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1999. Her 3-part 2005 New Yorker series on global warming, "The Climate of Man,” won a National Magazine Award and was extended into a book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe, which was published in 2006. Prior to joining the staff of The New Yorker, she was a political reporter for The New York Times, where she wrote on subjects ranging from the use of focus groups in elections to the New York water supply. Her New Yorker pieces have included political profiles, book reviews, Comment essays, and extensive writing on climate change. She received a Lannan Literary Fellowship in 2006 and a Heinz Award in 2010, and won the 2010 National Magazine Award for Reviews and Criticism. She is the editor of “The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2009” and the author of “The Prophet of Love: And Other Tales of Power and Deceit”; “Field Notes from a Catastrophe,” which is now available in paperback; and “The Sixth Extinction.”
Fred Pearce (born 1951) is a British journalist, author and environmental consultant. Pearce consults to New Scientist magazine and his fortnightly environment blog, 'Footprint' appears on its website. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph, the Independent, Guardian, Times Higher Education Supplement and Country Living. He has also written for several US publications including Foreign Policy, Audubon magazine, Seed, Popular Science and Time. He has also wititten a wide range of books on environment and development issues published in both the UK and US. His books have been translated into ten languages including French, German, Portuguese, Japanese and Spanish.
Pearce is a regular broadcaster and international speaker on environmental issues, and has given public presentations on all six continents in the past two years. Among his engagements have been the Edinburgh, Hay and Salisbury Book Festivals, the Ottawa and Melbourne International Writers Festivals, the Brisbane River Symposium in 2006, Yale and Cambridge Universities, a speaking tour for the British Council in India, and presentations to business and financial groups, such as AngloAmerican in South Africa, Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong and UBS in London.
Pearce has also written reports and extended journalism for WWF, the UN Environment Programme, the Red Cross, UNESCO, the World Bank, the European Environment Agency and the UK Environment Agency. He is a trustee of the Integrated Water Resources International. <ref>http://www.cisl.cam.ac.uk/Resources/Videos/Fred-Pearce.aspx#sthash.Mb1Wnk13.dpuf</ref>
Jason Eric Box, PhD is professor in glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. He was for 10 years (2002-2012) at Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University, eventually a tenured physical climatology and geography associate professor in the department of geography. He has made more than 20 expeditions to Greenland since 1994, has spent more than one year on Greenland ice as a result of these expeditions, was for five consecutive years (2008-2012) the lead author of the Greenland section of NOAA's annual State of the Climate report, was a contributing author to the IPCC AR4, and has authored more than 60 peer-reviewed publications focused on ice climate interactions. He is also one of the members of the team doing field work for the Extreme Ice Survey and has led the Dark Snow Project, the first Internet crowd-funded Arctic expedition. In addition, he is the former chair of the cryosphere focus group of the American Geophysical Union, of which he is a member. Scientists he has worked with include Eric Rignot. He has gone on record saying that humanity has likely already set in motion 21 m (69 feet) of sea level rise as a result of the burning of fossil fuels. He has also protested against the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in 2011, and also signed a letter to President Obama urging him not to approve it, which was sent earlier that year and was also signed by James Hansen and Peter Gleick, among others. His work is featured in the movie Chasing Ice. Box began his expeditions to Greenland as an undergraduate at the University of Colorado Boulder, helping his professor, Konrad Steffen, install automated weather stations. Thomas Painter of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has said that Box "...has one very important quality as a scientist,” namely that he "is willing to say crazy stuff and push the boundaries of conventional wisdom.”
On his blog, Nature Bats Last, Guy McPherson argues that human-induced climate change has already triggered a likely extinction-level event for humanity, as feedback loops in the climate system lead to runaway warming. "On a planet 4 C hotter than baseline, all we can prepare for is human extinction (from Oliver Tickell’s 2008 synthesis in the Guardian). Tickell is taking a conservative approach, considering humans have not been present at 3.5 C above baseline (i.e., the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, commonly accepted as 1750). I cannot imagine a scenario involving a rapid rise in global-average temperature and also habitat for humans. ... According to the World Bank’s 2012 report, “Turn down the heat: why a 4°C warmer world must be avoided” and an informed assessment of “BP Energy Outlook 2030” put together by Barry Saxifrage for the Vancouver Observer, our path leads directly to the 4 C mark."
He regularly updates his long post, "Climate Change Summary and Update.". McPherson is not a trained scientist, but argues that this gives him an advantage in presenting data and evidence on climate change: "Mainstream scientists minimize the message at every turn, with expected results. As we’ve known for years, scientists almost invariably underplay climate impacts (James Hansen referred to the phenomenon at “scientific reticence” in his 24 May 2007 paper about sea-level rise in Environmental Research Letters. And in some cases, scientists are aggressively muzzled by their governments."
McPherson's work has been criticized as extremist, based on cherry-picking data. Scott K Johnson, a geoscientist and contributor to Ars Technica, writes on his personal blog that McPherson "leans heavily on claims ... about a catastrophic, runaway release of methane that supposedly is already underway in the Arctic. Unfortunately (or, rather, fortunately), the data don’t match their assertions. The latest IPCC and NAS assessment reports, in fact, deemed such a release “very unlikely” this century. One reason for that is that the Arctic has been this warm or warmer a couple times in the last 200,000 years, yet that methane stayed in the ground. Another reason is that scientists actually bother to study and model the processes involved. One thing McPherson and others like to point to is the recent work by Natalia Shakhova’s group observing bubbling plumes of methane coming up from the seafloor on the Siberian Shelf. Since we’ve only been sampling these plumes for a few years, we have no idea whether that release of methane is increasing or if these are long-term features. Similar plumes off Svalbard, for example, appear to be thousands of years old."
Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.
Carson began her career as an aquatic biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries,<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> and became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s. Her widely praised 1951 bestseller The Sea Around Us won her a U.S. National Book Award, <ref name=nba1952/> recognition as a gifted writer, and financial security. Her next book, The Edge of the Sea, and the reissued version of her first book, Under the Sea Wind, were also bestsellers. This sea trilogy explores the whole of ocean life from the shores to the depths.
Late in the 1950s, Carson turned her attention to conservation, especially environmental problems that she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides. The result was Silent Spring (1962), which brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented share of the American people. Although Silent Spring was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, which led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides, and it inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.<ref name=CarsonPaull/> Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter.
Peter Matthiessen (May 22, 1927 – April 5, 2014) was an American novelist, naturalist, wilderness writer and CIA agent. A co-founder of the literary magazine The Paris Review, he was a three-time National Book Award winner. He was also a prominent environmental activist. His nonfiction featured nature and travel, notably The Snow Leopard (1978) and American Indian issues and history, such as a detailed and controversial study of the Leonard Peltier case, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (1983). His fiction was adapted for film: the early story "Travelin' Man" was made into The Young One (1960) by Luis Buñuel<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and the novel At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1965) into the 1991 film of the same name.
In 2008, at age 81, Matthiessen received the National Book Award for Fiction for Shadow Country, a one-volume, 890-page revision of his three novels set in frontier Florida that had been published in the 1990s. <ref name=nba2008>"National Book Awards – 2008". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-09. (With interview, acceptance speech by Matthiessen, and essay by Harold Augenbraum from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.)</ref><ref name=augenbraum>Template:Cite web</ref> According to critic Michael Dirda, "No one writes more lyrically [than Matthiessen] about animals or describes more movingly the spiritual experience of mountaintops, savannas, and the sea." <ref>Dirda, Michael “An Epic of the Everglades”, The New York Review of Books, May 15, 2008.</ref>
Wendell Berry (born August 5, 1934) is an American novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer.
A prolific author, Berry's fiction to date consists of eight novels and forty-four short stories (forty-three of which are collected in That Distant Land(2004) and A Place in Time (2012) which, when read as a whole, form a chronicle of the fictional small Kentucky town of Port William. The effect of profound shifts in the agricultural practices of the United States, and the disappearance of traditional agrarian life,<ref>Cochrane, Willard Wesley. The Development of American Agriculture: A Historical Analysis. U of Minnesota P, 1993. 122–149.</ref> are some of the major concerns of the Port William fiction, though the theme is often only a background or subtext to the stories themselves. The Port William fiction attempts to portray, on a local scale, what "a human economy ... conducted with reverence"<ref>Berry, Wendell. "Imagination in Place." The Way of Ignorance. Washington, D. C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005. 50.</ref> looked like in the past—and what civic, domestic, and personal virtues might be evoked by such an economy were it pursued today. Social as well as seasonal changes mark the passage of time. The Port William stories allow Berry to explore the human dimensions of the decline of the family farm and farm community, under the influence of expanding post-World War II agribusiness. But these works rarely fall into simple didacticism, and are never merely tales of decline. Each is grounded in a realistic depiction of character and community. In A Place on Earth (1967), for example, farmer Mat Feltner comes to terms with the loss of his only son, Virgil. In the course of the novel, we see how not only Mat but the entire community wrestles with the acute costs of World War II.
Berry's nonfiction serves as an extended conversation about the life he values. According to him, the good life includes sustainable agriculture, appropriate technologies, healthy rural communities, connection to place, the pleasures of good food, husbandry, good work, local economics, the miracle of life, fidelity, frugality, reverence, and the interconnectedness of life. The threats Berry finds to this good simple life include: industrial farming and the industrialization of life, ignorance, hubris, greed, violence against others and against the natural world, the eroding topsoil in the United States, global economics, and environmental destruction. As a prominent defender of agrarian values, Berry's appreciation for traditional farming techniques, such as those of the Amish, grew in the 1970s, due in part to exchanges with Draft Horse Journal publisher Maurice Telleen. Berry has long been friendly to and supportive of Wes Jackson, believing that Jackson's agricultural research at The Land Institute lives out the promise of "solving for pattern" and using "nature as model."
Stewart Brand (born December 14, 1938) is an American writer, best known as editor of the Whole Earth Catalog. He founded a number of organizations, including The WELL, the Global Business Network, and the Long Now Foundation. He is the author of several books, most recently Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto, published by Viking in the US and Atlantic in the UK. His work calls for the employment of nuclear power and genetic engineering as the most viable methods for confronting climate change.
His other books include The Clock of the Long Now; How Buildings Learn; and The Media Lab. He graduated in Biology from Stanford and served as an Infantry officer.
Ramez Naam is a professional technologist and science fiction writer. He was involved in the development of widely used software products such as Microsoft Internet Explorer and Microsoft Outlook. His last role at Microsoft was as a Partner Group Program Manager in Search Relevance for Live Search.
He was the CEO of Apex Nanotechnologies, a company involved in developing nanotechnology research software before returning to Microsoft.
Naam currently holds a seat on the advisory board of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, is a member of the World Future Society, a Senior Associate of the Foresight Institute, and a fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.
He is the author of More Than Human: Embracing the promise of biological enhancement, which reviews new technologies and makes a case for embracing human enhancement, showing readers how new technologies are powerful new tools in humanity’s quest to improve ourselves, our offspring and our world.
Naam is also the recipient of the 2005 HG Wells Award for Contributions to Transhumanism, awarded by the World Transhumanist Association.
Naam began publishing science fiction in 2012, with Nexus, from Angry Robot Books. It centers around an experimental nano-drug by that name. Nexus won the 2014 Prometheus Award. The sequel was Crux.
In 2013, Naam published The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet.
He holds almost 20 patents in areas of email, web browsing, search, and artificial intelligence.
In 2014, he was nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.
Mark Lynas (born 1973) is a British author, journalist and environmental activist who focuses on climate change. He is a contributor to New Statesman, Ecologist, Granta and Geographical magazines, and The Guardian and The Observer newspapers in the UK; he also worked on the film The Age of Stupid. He was born in Fiji, grew up in Peru and the United Kingdom and holds a degree in history and politics from the University of Edinburgh. He lives in Oxford, England. He has published several books including Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet (2007) and The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans (2011). He has stated "I think there is a 50–50 chance we can avoid a devastating rise in global temperature."
Lynas argues that as Earth has entered the Anthropocene, and as such humanity is changing the planet's climate, its bio-geochemical cycles, the chemistry of the oceans and the colour of the sky, as well as reducing the number of species. Based on the planetary boundaries concept, he proposes several strategies that are controversial among the environmental community, such as using nuclear power to reduce carbon emissions and geoengineering to mitigate inevitable global warming; or genetic engineering (transgenics) to feed the world and reduce the environmental impact of agriculture.
In a January 2013 lecture to the Oxford Farming Conference, Lynas detailed his conversion from an organizer of the anti-GMO food movement in Europe to becoming a supporter of the technology.<ref>http://www.forbes.com/sites/richardlevick/2013/01/17/i-was-wrong-how-one-activists-apology-changes-the-gmo-debate/</ref>
n January 2012, Lynas published an article titled In defence of nuclear power, in which he states that "nuclear provides the vast majority of the UK’s current low-carbon electricity – as much as 70%, whilst avoiding the emission of 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. This is why I want to see more nuclear power in the UK and elsewhere, in order to avoid more carbon emissions". In September 2012, Lynas wrote a follow-up article in the Guardian entitled "Without nuclear, the battle against global warming is as good as lost."<ref>http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/sep/14/nuclear-global-warming</ref>
Bjørn Lomborg (born 6 January 1965) is a Danish writer. He is an adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre and a former director of the Environmental Assessment Institute in Copenhagen. He became internationally known for his best-selling and controversial book The Skeptical Environmentalist (2001). In 2002, Lomborg and the Environmental Assessment Institute founded the Copenhagen Consensus, which seeks to establish priorities for advancing global welfare using methodologies based on the theory of welfare economics.
Lomborg campaigned against the Kyoto Protocol and other measures to cut carbon emissions in the short-term, and argued for adaptation to short-term temperature rises as they are inevitable, and for spending money on research and development for longer-term environmental solutions, and on other important world problems such as AIDS, malaria and malnutrition. In his critique of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Lomborg stated: "Global warming is by no means our main environmental threat."<ref>http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/wrongheaded-in-rio</ref>
In the chapter on climate change in his 2001 book A Skeptical Environmentalist he states; "This chapter accepts the reality of man-made global warming but questions the way in which future scenarios have been arrived at and finds that forecasts of climate change of 6 degrees by the end of the century are not plausible".<ref>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bj%C3%B8rn_Lomborg#CITEREFLomborg2001</ref> Cost–benefit analyses, calculated by the Copenhagen Consensus, ranked climate mitigation initiatives low on a list of international development initiatives when first done in 2004.[verification needed] In a 2010 interview with the New Statesman, Lomborg summarized his position on climate change: "Global warming is real – it is man-made and it is an important problem. But it is not the end of the world."<Ref>http://www.newstatesman.com/environment/2010/09/interview-gay-climate</ref>
When it comes to envisioning the future from where we are now, we find ourselves considering projections that are so disparate as to induce a kind of psychological aporia or mental meltdown. Some thinkers - such as Peter Diamandis, creator of The X Price and coauthor of Abundance, or Ray Kurzweil, Google Director of Engineering and author of The Singularity Is Near - believe that the rapid evolution of technology will solve all of our current social and ecological issues within the next decades. “Within a generation, we will be able to provide goods and services, once reserved for the wealthy few, to any and all who need them. Or desire them,” write Peter H. Diamandis, and Steven Kotler, in Abundance. “Abundance for all is actually within our grasp.”
Neo-environmentalists like Stewart Brand and Ramez Naam are also techno-positivists. While they recognize that the problems we have unleashed through the last centuries of industrial development and capitalist expansion do not have easy or immediate solutions, they believe that innovation can lead to a managed society where economic growth and development continue.
The most dire projections from climate scientists suggest that we might be approaching an extinction-level event for humanity. If global warming increases by another degree, which is predicted to happen in the next decades, positive feedback loops in the climate system could lead to rapid warming of 4 or 6 degrees Celsius, or more, in a telescoped time-frame. From observing past epochs of climate change, scientists have learned that warming of several degrees or more can occur in only a decade. According to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in December 2013: “The history of climate on the planet — as read in archives such as tree rings, ocean sediments, and ice cores — is punctuated with large changes that occurred rapidly, over the course of decades to as little as a few years.”
Oliver Tickell has produced the Kyoto2.org website. He is one of many analysts who believe that a predicted 4 degrees temperature Celsius rise would be catastrophic: "The collapse of the polar ice caps would become inevitable, bringing long-term sea level rises of 70-80 metres. All the world's coastal plains would be lost, complete with ports, cities, transport and industrial infrastructure, and much of the world's most productive farmland. The world's geography would be transformed much as it was at the end of the last ice age, when sea levels rose by about 120 metres to create the Channel, the North Sea and Cardigan Bay out of dry land. Weather would become extreme and unpredictable, with more frequent and severe droughts, floods and hurricanes. The Earth's carrying capacity would be hugely reduced. Billions would undoubtedly die."
We are facing an unknown time-frame to bring about a rapid change of direction for human society. Technological innovation needs to be encouraged. At the same time, a global shift toward reducing dependence on nonrenewable energy sources is necessary, along with conservation and transition to renewable sources, particularly solar energy, which can be rapidly scaled up. A model of relocalization, decentralization, deindustrialization, degrowth, could be accompanied with a liberation of the creative and intellectual commons for humanity, and a transition in social and economic paradigm.
The alternative, journalist Nafeez Ahmed writes, includes “distributed clean energy production, decentralized farming, and participatory economic cooperation,” offering “a model of development free from the imperative of endless growth for its own sake.” The new paradigm is “a new model of democracy, based not on large-scale, hierarchical-control, but on the wholesale decentralisation of power, towards smaller, local ownership and decision-making.”
Toward Regenerative Society
Regenerative Society: Basic Principles
"Relocalization is a strategy to build societies based on the local production of food, energy and goods, and the local development of currency, governance and culture. The main goals of relocalization are to increase community energy security, to strengthen local economies, and to improve environmental conditions and social equity. The relocalization strategy developed in response to the environmental, social, political and economic impacts of global over-reliance on cheap energy." 
Degrowth (in French: décroissance, in Spanish: decrecimiento, in Italian: decrescita) is a political, economic, and social movement based on ecological economics and anti-consumerist and anti-capitalist ideas. It is also considered an essential economic strategy responding to the limits-to-growth dilemma (see The Path to Degrowth in Overdeveloped Countries and Post growth). Degrowth thinkers and activists advocate for the downscaling of production and consumption—the contraction of economies—arguing that overconsumption lies at the root of long term environmental issues and social inequalities. Key to the concept of degrowth is that reducing consumption does not require individual martyring and a decrease in well-being. Rather, 'degrowthists' aim to maximize happiness and well-being through non-consumptive means—sharing work, consuming less, while devoting more time to art, music, family, culture and community.
Degrowth is a powerful concept - it seems necessary to address current conditions - but it conflicts with the foundations of today's economic system, which is based on constant expansion. As Gail Tverberg writes in "Energy and the Economy: Twelve Basic Principles , published in resilience.org , One major reasons "that the economy cannot shrink is because of the large amount of debt in place. If the economy shrinks, the number of debt defaults will soar, and many banks and insurance companies will find themselves in financial difficulty. Lack of banking and insurance services will adversely affect both local and international trade."
To bring about degrowth, on a large scale, will require a new operating system for the global economy - a forgiveness of current debts, and a transition to new instruments for exchanging value that support small-scale local initiatives, and account for externalities such as pollution and resource-consumption.
Decentralization is the process of redistributing or dispersing functions, powers, people or things away from a central location or authority. Decentralization in any area is a response to the problems of centralized systems. Decentralization in government, the topic most studied, has been seen as a solution to problems like economic decline, government inability to fund services and their general decline in performance of overloaded services, the demands of minorities for a greater say in local governance, the general weakening legitimacy of the public sector and global and international pressure on countries with inefficient, undemocratic, overly centralized systems.
Those studying the goals and processes of implementing decentralization often use a systems theory approach. The United Nations Development Programme report applies to the topic of decentralization "a whole systems perspective, including levels, spheres, sectors and functions and seeing the community level as the entry point at which holistic definitions of development goals are most likely to emerge from the people themselves and where it is most practical to support them. It involves seeing multi-level frameworks and continuous, synergistic processes of interaction and iteration of cycles as critical for achieving wholeness in a decentralized system and for sustaining its development.”
The term environmental justice "describes a social movement in the United States whose focus is on the fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens... Proponents of environmental justice generally view the environment as encompassing "where we live, work, and play" (some definitions also include 'pray' and 'learn') and seek to redress inequitable distributions of environmental burdens (such as pollution, industrial facilities, and crime)."
In the midst of the global economic meltdown of the existing financial system, there is a new economy emerging. This economy is called the “Shared Economy” and is based upon “Collaborative Consumption.” “Collaborative Consumption” describes the rapid explosion in traditional sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, and swapping reinvented through network technologies on a scale and in ways never possible before. From enormous marketplaces such as eBay and Craigslist, to emerging sectors such as social lending (e.g., Zopa), peer-to-peer travel (e.g., Airbnb), car sharing (e.g., Zipcar) and the growth of Intentional Communities (e.g., ic.org), Collaborative Consumption is disrupting previous modes of business and reinventing not just what we consume, but how we consume. The EuroRSCG reports, “New Consumers crave the freedom and flexibility of living simply and distancing themselves from the burdens of ownership – from depreciation and maintenance to the sheer psychological weight of keeping track of all that stuff.“ New Consumers want “the freedom of owning less, while promoting access to new experiences that help build a sense of community, trust and optimism as they turn to one another to live more sustainably.”
Interdependence describes relationships in which members of the group are mutually dependent on the others. This concept differs from a dependent relationship, where some members are dependent and some are not.
In an interdependent relationship, participants may be emotionally, economically, ecologically and/or morally reliant on and responsible to each other. An interdependent relationship can arise between two or more cooperative autonomous participants (e.g. - co-op). Some people advocate freedom or independence as the ultimate good; others do the same with devotion to one's family, community, or society. Interdependence can be a common ground between these aspirations.
Nonviolence is the personal practice of being harmless to self and others under every condition. It comes from the belief that hurting people, animals or the environment is unnecessary to achieve an outcome and refers to a general philosophy of abstention from violence based on moral, religious or spiritual principles.
For some, the philosophy of nonviolence is rooted in the simple belief that God is harmless. Mahavira (599 BCE–527 BCE), the twenty-fourth "tirthankara" of the Jain religion, was the torch-bearer of "ahimsa" and introduced the word to the world and applied the concept in his own life. He taught that to more strongly connect with God, one must likewise be harmless. Nonviolence also has 'active' or 'activist' elements, in that believers accept the need for nonviolence as a means to achieve political and social change. Thus, for example, the Tolstoy and Gandhian nonviolence is a philosophy and strategy for social change that rejects the use of violence, but at the same time sees nonviolent action (also called civil resistance) as an alternative to passive acceptance of oppression or armed struggle against it.
In the 1960s, Buckminster Fuller advocated for a universal subsidy - a "research grant for life" for everyone not gainfully employed. Today, a Degrowth movement is developing in Europe. This movement does not only aim at protecting the environment from the pillages imposed upon the planet by the productivist system. It aims at proposing the bases for a convivial society that can be summed up by Paul Ariès phrase. “Less goods, more links”.
Degrowth advocates seek to establish an Unconditional Autonomy Allowance (UAA), which implies: “that people will be guaranteed the means to lead a frugal and dignified life (lodging, food, clothing, water, energy and transport) throughout their entire life”. This allowance would be primarily distributed as right of usage on water, electricity and housing. Each person would receive free quotas for water, electricity and housing and will be charged for any excess usage. The point is to allow everyone to have free access to resources she/he needs to survive whilst taxing misuse.
These usage rights would be complemented by a monetary allowance in local currencies enabling the purchase of locally produced goods, mainly food, produced by local producers respecting man and nature. The remaining part would be paid in Euros, so exchange can take place beyond local boundaries.
Social equality is a state of affairs in which all people within a specific society or isolated group have the same status in certain respects. At the very least, social equality includes equal rights under the law, such as security, voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, property rights, and equal access to social goods and services. However, it also includes concepts of health equity, economic equity and other social securities. It also includes equal opportunities and obligations, and so involves the whole of society.
Social equality requires the absence of legally enforced social class or caste boundaries and the absence of discrimination motivated by an inalienable part of a person's identity. For example, sex, gender, race, age, sexual orientation, origin, caste or class, income or property, language, religion, convictions, opinions, health or disability must not result in unequal treatment under the law and should not reduce opportunities unjustifiably.
Social equality refers to social, rather than economic, or income equality. "Equal opportunities" is interpreted as being judged by ability, which is compatible with a free-market economy. A problem is horizontal inequality, the inequality of two persons of same origin and ability.
In complexity economics, it has been found that horizontal inequality arises in complex systems, and thus equality may be unattainable. It has been speculated by some conservatives like David Horowitz that socialism, a system advocating social equality, played a significant part in 20th Century murder and torture under dictators in the USSR, Maoist China and Cambodia.
Georgy Katsiaficas summarizes the forms of autonomous movements saying that "In contrast to the centralized decisions and hierarchical authority structures of modern institutions, autonomous social movements involve people directly in decisions affecting their everyday lives. They seek to expand democracy and to help individuals break free of political structures and behavior patterns imposed from the outside."
Autonomy (Ancient Greek: αὐτονομία autonomia from αὐτόνομος autonomos from αὐτο- auto- "self" and νόμος nomos, "law", hence when combined understood to mean "one who gives oneself one's own law") is a concept found in moral, political, and bioethical philosophy. Within these contexts, it is the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision. In moral and political philosophy, autonomy is often used as the basis for determining moral responsibility and accountability for one's actions. One of the best known philosophical theories of autonomy was developed by Kant. In medicine, respect for the autonomy of patients is an important goal, though it can conflict with a competing ethical principle, namely beneficence. Autonomy is also used to refer to the self-government of the people.
Whole Systems Thinking
Systems Thinking has at least some roots in the General System Theory that was advanced by Ludwig von Bertalanffy in the 1940s and furthered by Ross Ashby in the 1950s. The term Systems Thinking is sometimes used as a broad catch-all heading for the process of understanding how systems behave, interact with their environment and influence each other. The term is also used more narrowly as a heading for thinking about social organisations, be they natural or designed, healthy or unhealthy. Often the focus is on a government or business organisation that is viewed as containing people, processes and technologies.
Systems thinking has been applied to problem solving, by viewing "problems" as parts of an overall system, rather than reacting to specific parts, outcomes or events and potentially contributing to further development of unintended consequences. Systems thinking is not one thing but a set of habits or practices <ref>http://www.watersfoundation.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=materials.main</ref> within a framework that is based on the belief that the component parts of a system can best be understood in the context of relationships with each other and with other systems, rather than in isolation. Systems thinking focuses on cyclical rather than linear cause and effect.
In systems science, it is argued that the only way to fully understand why a problem or element occurs and persists is to understand the parts in relation to the whole. <ref>Capra, F. (1996) The web of life: a new scientific understanding of living systems (1st Anchor Books ed). New York: Anchor Books. p. 30</ref> Standing in contrast to Descartes's scientific reductionism and philosophical analysis, it proposes to view systems in a holistic manner. Consistent with systems philosophy, systems thinking concerns an understanding of a system by examining the linkages and interactions between the elements that compose the entirety of the system.
Systems science thinking attempts to illustrate how small catalytic events that are separated by distance and time can be the cause of significant changes in complex systems. Acknowledging that an improvement in one area of a system can adversely affect another area of the system, it promotes organizational communication at all levels in order to avoid the silo effect. Systems thinking techniques may be used to study any kind of system — physical, biological, social, scientific, engineered, human, or conceptual.
Participatory democracy is a process emphasizing the broad participation of constituents in the direction and operation of political systems. Etymological roots of democracy (Greek demos and kratos) imply that the people are in power and thus that all democracies are participatory. However, participatory democracy tends to advocate more involved forms of citizen participation and greater political representation than traditional representative democracy.
Participatory democracy strives to create opportunities for all members of a population to make meaningful contributions to decision-making, and seeks to broaden the range of people who have access to such opportunities. Since so much information must be gathered for the overall decision-making process to succeed, technology may provide important forces leading to the type of empowerment needed for participatory models, especially those technological tools that enable community narratives and correspond to the accretion of knowledge. Effectively increasing the scale of participation, and translating small but effective participation groups into small world networks, are areas currently being studied. Other advocates have emphasised the importance of face to face meetings, warning that an overreliance on technology can be harmful.
Some scholars argue for refocusing the term on community-based activity within the domain of civil society, based on the belief that a strong non-governmental public sphere is a precondition for the emergence of a strong liberal democracy. These scholars tend to stress the value of separation between the realm of civil society and the formal political realm. In 2011, considerable grassroots interest in participatory democracy was generated by the Occupy movement.
Peer production (also known by the term mass collaboration) is a way of producing goods and services that relies on self-organizing communities of individuals who come together to produce a shared outcome. The content is produced by the general public rather than by paid professionals and experts in the field. In these communities, the efforts of a large number of people are coordinated to create meaningful projects. The information age, especially the Internet, has provided the peer production process with new collaborative possibilities and has become a dominant and important mode of producing information. Free and open source software are two examples of modern processes of peer production.
Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of the landscape with people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.
Summary and Conclusion
Social Change Dynamics
In order to build an effective movement of civil society, it is necessary to analyze recent projects for social change. Some tactics have proven effective, while others have failed to achieve necessary results.
Movements for Social Change
Berlin Wall: Revolutions of 1989
The Revolutions of 1989 were part of a revolutionary wave that resulted in the Fall of Communism in the communist states of Central and Eastern Europe. The period is sometimes called the Autumn of Nations, a play on the term "Spring of Nations", used to describe the Revolutions of 1848.
The events began in Poland in 1989, and continued in Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. One feature common to most of these developments was the extensive use of campaigns of civil resistance demonstrating popular opposition to the continuation of one-party rule and contributing to the pressure for change. Romania was the only Eastern Bloc country whose people overthrew its Communist regime violently; however, in Romania itself and in some other places, there was some violence inflicted by the regime upon the population. The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 failed to stimulate major political changes in China. However, powerful images of courageous defiance during that protest helped to spark a precipitation of events in other parts of the globe. Among the famous anti-Communist revolutions was the fall of the Berlin Wall, which served as the symbolic gateway to German reunification in 1990.
Velvet Revolution, Czechoslovakia
The Velvet Revolution (Czech: sametová revoluce) or Gentle Revolution (Slovak: nežná revolúcia) was a non-violent transition of power in what was then Czechoslovakia. The period of upheaval and transition took place from November 16/17 to December 29, 1989. Popular demonstrations against the one-party government of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia combined students and older dissidents. The final result was the end of 41 years of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia, and the subsequent conversion to a parliamentary republic.
The Arab Spring was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions that spread across the Middle East in early 2011. But their purpose, relative success and outcome remain hotly disputed in Arab countries, among foreign observers, and between world powers looking to cash in on the changing map of the Middle East.
The protest movement of 2011 was at its core an expression of deep-seated resentment at the ageing Arab dictatorships (some glossed over with rigged elections), anger at the brutality of the security apparatus, unemployment, rising prices, and corruption that followed the privatization of state assets in some countries.
But unlike the Communist Eastern Europe in 1989, there was no consensus on the political and economic model that existing systems should be replaced with. Protesters in monarchies like Jordan and Morocco wanted to reform the system under the current rulers, some calling for an immediate transition to constitutional monarchy, others content with gradual reform. People in republican regimes like Egypt and Tunisia wanted to overthrow the president, but other than free elections they had little idea on what to do next.
And, beyond calls for greater social justice there was no magic wand for the economy. Leftist groups and unions wanted higher wages and a reversal of dodgy privatization deals, others wanted liberal reforms to make more room for the private sector. Some hardline Islamists were more concerned with enforcing strict religious norms. All political parties promised more jobs but none came close to developing a program with concrete economic policies.
Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is the name given to a protest movement that began on September 17, 2011, in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City's Wall Street financial district, receiving global attention and spawning the Occupy movement against social and economic inequality worldwide.
The Canadian, anti-consumerist, pro-environment group/magazine Adbusters initiated the call for a protest.
The main issues raised by Occupy Wall Street were social and economic inequality, greed, corruption and the perceived undue influence of corporations on government—particularly from the financial services sector. The OWS slogan, "We are the 99%", refers to income inequality and wealth distribution in the U.S. between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population. To achieve their goals, protesters acted on consensus-based decisions made in general assemblies which emphasized direct action over petitioning authorities for redress.
The protesters were forced out of Zuccotti Park on November 15, 2011. After several unsuccessful attempts to re-occupy the original location, protesters turned their focus to occupying banks, corporate headquarters, board meetings, foreclosed homes, and college and university campuses.
On December 29, 2012, Naomi Wolf of The Guardian newspaper provided U.S. government documents which revealed that the FBI and DHS had monitored Occupy Wall Street through its Joint Terrorism Task Force, despite labeling it a peaceful movement. The New York Times reported in May 2014 that declassified documents showed extensive surveillance and infiltration of OWS-related groups across the country
Pots and Pans Revolution: Iceland, 2008-2013
"One of the few, and by far the most innovative and interesting attempts by the former left wing government to restructure the system was the Constitutional Council. Alas, although the basic idea - that the general public should be actively involved in creating a new constitution - was indubitably right, the implementation had many flaws that were soon exploited by those against this radical proposal. Ultimately, the attempt failed as Althingi (the Icelandic parliament) could not reach a majority to follow through the proposals of the Council - even though a referendum was held and a two-third majority of voters supported the Council's proposals."
Indigenous Resistance Movements
The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), often referred to as the Zapatistas, is a revolutionary leftist group based in Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico.
Since 1994, the group has been in a declared war "against the Mexican state", although this war has been primarily defensive, against military, paramilitary and corporate incursions into Chiapas. In recent years, it has been focused on a strategy of civil resistance. The Zapatistas' physical base is made up of mostly rural indigenous people but includes some supporters in urban areas and internationally. Their main spokesperson is Subcomandante Marcos (currently a.k.a. Delegate Zero in relation to "the Other Campaign"). Unlike other Zapatista spokespeople, Marcos is not an indigenous Maya.
The group takes its name from Emiliano Zapata, the agrarian reformer and commander of the Liberation Army of the South during the Mexican Revolution, and sees itself as his ideological heir. In reference to inspirational figures, nearly all EZLN villages contain murals with images of Zapata, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, and Subcomandante Marcos.
Although the ideology of the EZLN is reflective of libertarian socialism, paralleling both anarchist and libertarian Marxist thought in many respects, the EZLN has rejected and defied political classification, retaining its distinctiveness due in part to the importance of indigenous Mayan beliefs in Zapatismo thought. The EZLN aligns itself with the wider alter-globalization, anti-neoliberal social movement, seeking indigenous control over their local resources, especially land.
Since their 1994 uprising was countered by the Mexican army, the EZLN has abstained from using weapons and adopted a new strategy that attempts to garner Mexican and international support. Through an Internet campaign, the EZLN was successful in disseminating an understanding of their plight and intentions to the public. With this change in tactics, the EZLN has received greater support from a variety of NGOs. The Zapatistas have achieved documented improvements in Chiapas in the areas of gender equality and public health, although they remain unable to establish political autonomy for the province.
Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People
In the 1990s, the Ogoni - a small indigenous group in Niger Delta - organized the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), led by activist and playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa. As Naomi Klein writes in This Changes Everything: “The group took particular aim at Shell which had extracted $5.2 billion from Ogoniland between 1958 and 1993.”
According to Nigerian ecologist and activist Godwin Uyi Ojo, on January 4, 1993, “an estimated 300,000 Ogoni, including women and children, staged a historic non-violent protest, and marched against Shell’s ‘ecological wars.’” Shell was “forced to pull out of Ogoni territory, forsaking significant revenues… To this day, oil production has ceased in Ogoniland - a fact that remains one of the most significant achievements of grassroots activism anywhere in the world.”
The Nigerian government perceived MOSOP as a threat. “As the region mobilized to take its land back from Shell, thousands of Delta residents were tortured and killed and dozens of Ogoni villages were razed. In 1995, the military regime of General Sani Abacha tried Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his compatriots on trumped-up charges. And then all nine men were hanged, fulfilling Saro-Wiwa’s prediction that “they are going to arrest us all and execute us. All for Shell.”
Idle No More
Idle No More is a protest movement which began in December 2012, originating among the Aboriginal peoples in Canada comprising the First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and their non-Aboriginal supporters in Canada, and to a lesser extent, internationally. It has consisted of a number of political actions worldwide, inspired in part by the liquid diet of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence and further coordinated via social media. A reaction to alleged legislative abuses of indigenous treaty rights by the Stephen Harper Conservative federal government, the movement takes particular issue with the recent omnibus bill Bill C-45.
The Unity Concert is a gathering of members of the Great Sioux Nation, artists, performers and concerned global citizens committed to educating and raising support for the Black Hills Initiative. It will occur on Sept 13 - 14 2014, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, also known also as the “Heart of Everything That Is” by the Lakota Nation. It is a significant gesture as the ceremonial beginning of the unification process of the nine tribes of the Great Sioux Nation, leading to a greater sense of unity among all people.
The Great Sioux Nation is asking for the return of the Black Hills to its rightful guardians, so that the spiritual heart of the United States can be restored and re-activated with Native Ceremony. This would also serve as a catalyst for the return of sacred sites all over the world, which would be a vital step forward towards restoring the planet .
In 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, the US government guaranteed the Sioux tribes’ right to their lands’ “undisturbed use and occupation.” However, when gold was discovered in this area, in 1874 Congress declared that the treaties would no longer be valid, permitting gold seekers to lay their claim to the land. Until 2005, when the last gold mine was shut down, it is estimated that approximately $9 trillion worth of gold was extracted.
On June 30, 1980, the Supreme Court concluded that the United States had violated the agreement made in the treaty, but refused to give back the land. Instead, $102 million was set aside as compensation, and the trust’s value has significantly grown to an amount of $1.3 billion, but the Sioux have refrained from accepting the money.
Sioux leaders claim that the payment is invalid because the land was never for sale and receiving it would essentially be akin to selling the Black Hills. While $1.3 billion sounds like a large amount, it is in fact a pittance compared to the monetary value of natural resources that have been extracted, in addition to being based on the value at the time of the treaty. If this money is distributed across nine tribes, the money would soon be gone and not provide much benefit to the recipients.
In 2008, on a campaign stop in the reservations in South Dakota, Barack Obama offered to meet with the tribes if they could come up with a unified proposal to settle the issue in Congress. Tribal council leaders are holding meetings this summer and fall to draft a unified, comprehensive Wizipan Ognake Management Plan that explains how the Great Sioux Nation will sustainably and justly administer, manage, conserve and steward their sacred lands. They will present this unified plan to the Obama Administration, along with their petition that he return jurisdiction over the Black Hills to the Great Sioux Nation. The Great Sioux Nation will drive this work forward, led by their own strong and trusted leaders and guided by their own Indigenous wisdom, the wisdom of Spirit and of their Ancestors.
Spanish Indignados/Fifth of May
The 2011–present Spanish protests, also referred to as the 15-M Movement (Spanish: Movimiento 15-M), the Indignants Movement, and Take the Square #spanishrevolution, are a series of ongoing demonstrations in Spain whose origin can be traced to social networks such as Real Democracy NOW (Spanish: Democracia Real YA) or Youth Without a Future (Spanish: Juventud Sin Futuro), among other civilian digital platforms and 200 other small associations. The protests started on May 15, 2011, with an initial call in 58 Spanish cities.
The series of protests demand a radical change in Spanish politics, as protesters do not consider themselves to be represented by any traditional party nor favored by the measures approved by politicians. Spanish media has related the protests to the economic crisis, Stéphane Hessel's Time for Outrage!, the NEET-troubled generation and current protests in the Middle East and North Africa, Iran, Greece, and Portugal, as well as the Icelandic protest and riots in 2009. The movement drew inspiration from 2011 revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and uprisings in France in 1968, Greece in 2008, and South Korea in 1980 and 1987. The protests were staged close to the local and regional elections, held on May 22.
Even though protesters form a heterogeneous and ambiguous group, they share a strong rejection of unemployment, welfare cuts, Spanish politicians, and the current two-party system in Spain between the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party and the People's Party. Their sentiments also encompass the rejection of the current political system, capitalism, banks and political corruption. Many call for basic rights, which consist of home, work, culture, health and education rights.
According to statistics published by RTVE, the Spanish public broadcasting company, between 6.5 and 8 million Spaniards have participated in these protests.
Satyagraha (/ˌsætɪəˈɡrɑːhɑː/; Sanskrit: सत्याग्रह satyāgraha), loosely translated as "insistence on truth" (satya "truth"; agraha "insistence") or soul force or truth force, is a particular philosophy and practice within the broader overall category generally known as nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. The term satyagraha was coined and developed by Mahatma Gandhi. He deployed satyagraha in the Indian independence movement and also during his earlier struggles in South Africa for Indian rights. Satyagraha theory influenced Nelson Mandela's struggle in South Africa under apartheid, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s and James Bevel's campaigns during the civil rights movement in the United States, and many other social justice and similar movements. Someone who practices satyagraha is a satyagrahi.
The theory of satyagraha sees means and ends as inseparable. The means used to obtain an end are wrapped up in and attached to that end. Therefore, it is contradictory to try to use unjust means to obtain justice or to try to use violence to obtain peace. As Gandhi wrote: “They say, 'means are, after all, means'. I would say, 'means are, after all, everything'. As the means so the end...”
Gandhi used an example to explain this: If I want to deprive you of your watch, I shall certainly have to fight for it; if I want to buy your watch, I shall have to pay for it; and if I want a gift, I shall have to plead for it; and, according to the means I employ, the watch is stolen property, my own property, or a donation.
Gandhi rejected the idea that injustice should, or even could, be fought against “by any means necessary” – if you use violent, coercive, unjust means, whatever ends you produce will necessarily embed that injustice. To those who preached violence and called nonviolent actionists cowards, he replied: “I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence....I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour....But I believe that nonviolence is infinitely superior to violence, forgiveness is more manly than punishment.”
Summary and Conclusion
An analysis of recent movements for social justice and ecological responsibility suggests that the most effective model would be not confrontational, but symbiotic. The inability of the present political economic system to protect natural resources or threatened populations is, in itself, an indictment of this system. The fact that our current civilization threatens the immediate future of our human community is something that all classes and levels of the current human population are recognizing. As we enter new levels of crisis over the coming years, there may be an opportunity to present a coherent alternative: A new social model based on ecological design or permaculture principles. Our current virtual technologies can allow us to model this alternative, as we also develop living examples of it to present to the global population. Today, it is necessary to demonstrate that "another world is possible," not in some abstract or theoretical way, but through practical, successful examples.
Human civilization currently confronts a global ecological emergency, with the possibility of runaway climate change, as well as loss of biodiversity, increasing ocean acidification leading to disintegration of the coral reefs, and other threats. We cannot continue business as usual - the current model, based on economic growth and linear progress, could lead to catastrophic loss of life and potentially, our self-extinction, within a compressed time frame. In a very short period of time, we must define an alternative paradigm to the capitalist industrial system, awaken the mass consciousness of humanity, and transform our social and political systems to bring about a rapid change in human activity.
According to most researchers and climate scientists, a safe level of CO2 in the atmosphere is 350ppm. The current levels is over 400ppm. At this level, we will inevitably experience a 4 - 6 degree Celsius temperature rise. Scientists have recently discovered vast stores of methane beneath the Arctic that is 20 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas than CO2. As the Arctic warms, this methane could begin to erupt in large quantities, accelerating climate change. We do not know when a tipping point will be reached - in many areas.
As an alternative to the current capitalist or post-industrial model, we propose Regenerative Society as a goal. A regenerative society will be one where human activity meshes with the natural process of the Earth or the biosphere. Our industrial technology will be reinvented to be neutral or even benevolent in its impact on natural systems. Humanity will transition from a worldview that seeks to dominate or control natural processes to satisfy human needs, to a paradigm which recognizes that we are part of nature, and as the cutting-edge of physical and biological evolution, with sentience and self-awareness, we have a responsibility to be stewards of life and guardians of Creation. In a sense, we will conceive of ourselves much as our indigenous ancestors did, with the benefit of advanced science and technology to help us perform our proper role.
A regenerative society will be, in a sense, "post-technological": We will no longer pursue technological progress for its own sake, but realize that all progress has consequences, and much innovation has little benefit to the deeper aspects of our soul nature. A truly regenerative society will also be post-war, pacifist. Military activity has only detrimental effects on human beings and their natural environment, causing trauma, death, pain, and devastation, as well as psychological wounds that can persist for many generations. A major focus of the regenerative society will be healing from the wounds of the past - the physical destruction we have unleashed on the Earth - which indigenous people see as our mother - as well as the psychological trauma suffered by human beings who have been distorted and constrained, unable to reach or fulfill their true potential, to express or unfold their unique individuality.
In ecology, resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to respond to a perturbation or disturbance by resisting damage and recovering quickly. Such perturbations and disturbances can include stochastic events such as fires, flooding, windstorms, insect population explosions, and human activities such as deforestation and the introduction of exotic plant or animal species. Disturbances of sufficient magnitude or duration can profoundly affect an ecosystem and may force an ecosystem to reach a threshold beyond which a different regime of processes and structures predominates. Human activities that adversely affect ecosystem resilience such as reduction of biodiversity, exploitation of natural resources, pollution, land-use, and anthropogenic climate change are increasingly causing regime shifts in ecosystems, often to less desirable and degraded conditions. Interdisciplinary discourse on resilience now includes consideration of the interactions of humans and ecosystems via socio-ecological systems, and the need for shift from the maximum sustainable yield paradigm to environmental resource management which aims to build ecological resilience through "resilience analysis, adaptive resource management, and adaptive governance".
Conservation is an ethic of resource use, allocation, and protection. Its primary focus is upon maintaining the health of the natural world, its fisheries, habitats, and biological diversity. Secondary focus is on materials conservation and energy conservation, which are seen as important to protect the natural world. Those who follow the conservation ethic and, especially, those who advocate or work toward conservation goals are termed conservationists.
To conserve habitat in terrestrial ecoregions and stop deforestation is a goal widely shared by many groups with a wide variety of motivations.
To protect sea life from extinction due to overfishing is another commonly stated goal of conservation — ensuring that "some will be available for our children" to continue a way of life.
The consumer conservation ethic is sometimes expressed by the four R's: " Rethink, Reduce, Recycle, Repair" This social ethic primarily relates to local purchasing, moral purchasing, the sustained, and efficient use of renewable resources, the moderation of destructive use of finite resources, and the prevention of harm to common resources such as air and water quality, the natural functions of a living earth, and cultural values in a built environment.
The principal value underlying most expressions of the conservation ethic is that the natural world has intrinsic and intangible worth along with utilitarian value — a view carried forward by the scientific conservation movement and some of the older Romantic schools of ecology movement.
Climate change mitigation' are actions to limit the magnitude and/or rate of long-term climate change.<ref> Template:Citation, in Template:Harvnb </ref> Climate change mitigation generally involves reductions in human (anthropogenic) emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs).<ref name="ipcc mitigation options"> Template:Citation, in Template:Harvnb </ref> Mitigation may also be achieved by increasing the capacity of carbon sinks, e.g., through reforestation.<ref name="ipcc mitigation options"/> By contrast, adaptation to global warming are actions taken to manage the eventual (or unavoidable) impacts of global warming,<ref> "Adaptation", in Template:Harvnb </ref> e.g., by building levee|dikes in response to current sea level rise|sea level rise.<ref> Template:Citation, in Template:Harvnb </ref>
Examples of mitigation include switching to low-carbon power|low-carbon energy sources, such as renewable energy and nuclear power, and expanding forests and other "sinks" to remove greater amounts of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere from the atmosphere.<ref name="ipcc mitigation options"/> efficient energy use may also play a role,<ref> Template:Citation, in Template:Harvnb </ref> for example, through improving the building insulation|insulation of buildings.<ref> Template:Citation, in Template:Harvnb </ref> Another approach to climate change mitigation is climate engineering.<ref> Template:Harvnb</ref>
The main international treaty on climate change is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),<ref> Template:Citation </ref> which in 2002 adopted the objective to "prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."<ref> Template:Citation </ref> In 2010, Parties to the UNFCCC agreed that future global warming should be limited to below 2.0 °C (3.6 °F) relative to the pre-Industrial Revolution|industrial level.<ref> Template:Citation, p.3, paragraph 4. Document available in UN languages and text format. </ref> Some analyses suggest that staying within the 2 °C guardrail would require annual global emissions of greenhouse gases<ref>The "Kyoto Protocol|Kyoto" basket of greenhouse gases, measured in carbon dioxide equivalents. These gases are carbon dioxide (Template:CO2), methane (Template:Chem), nitrous oxide (Template:Chem), sulphur hexafluoride (Template:Chem), and two groups of gases: hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs). Template:Harv.</ref> to peak before the year 2020, and decline significantly thereafter,<ref> Template:Citation, in Template:Harvnb. </ref> with emissions in 2050 reduced by 30-50% compared to 1990 levels.<ref> Based on UNEP (2012) data. Based on expert judgement, this reduction would give a greater than 66% chance of limiting warming to below 2.0 °C relative to the pre-industrial level. Estimates of the reductions required vary between models. The median estimate is 16 gigatonnes (Gt) Template:CO2e, which is equivalent to a reduction of about 43% compared to the 1990 level (median emissions in 1990 = 37 GtTemplate:CO2e) . The 20th-80th percentile range is a reduction of between 12-19 GtTemplate:CO2e (~51-32%). The full range is a reduction of between 5-25 GtTemplate:CO2e (~14-68%). Template:Citation, in Template:Harvnb. </ref> Recent analyses by the United Nations Environment Programme<ref> Template:Citation, in Template:Harvnb. </ref> and International Energy Agency<ref> Template:Citation, p.1. Executive summaries in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish. </ref><ref>http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/12/scientists-current-warming-threshold-would-be-disastrous</ref><ref>https://insideclimatenews.org/news/20140213/climate-change-science-carbon-budget-nature-global-warming-2-degrees-bill-mckibben-fossil-fuels-keystone-xl-oil?page=show</ref> suggest that current policies (as of 2013) are too weak to follow that pathway for staying within the 2 °C guardrail. Other recent analyses challenge both that pathway (as being inadequate to stay within the guardrail) and the 2 °C guardrail itself (as being inadequate for the needed degree and timeliness of mitigation).<ref>The Radical Emissions Reduction Conference, 2013. Held at the Royal Society, Carlton House Terrace, London. 10-11 Dec.</ref><ref>The Guardian, 2013. 'Every little helps' is a dangerous mantra for climate change. By Adam Corner, 13 Dec.</ref><ref>New Statesman, 2013. How science is telling us all to revolt. By Naomi Klein, 29 Oct.</ref><ref>Anderson, K. & Bows, A., 2011. Beyond 'dangerous' climate change: emission scenarios for a new world. Philos. Trans. Royal Society A.</ref><ref>Anderson K. (2011, July). Climate Change: Going beyond dangerous -- Brutal numbers, tenuous hope, or cognitive dissonance? Video of presentation made to UK Dept. for Internal Development.</ref><ref>4 Degrees and Beyond Conference, official website: Programme, abstracts, presentations, and audio recordings.</ref>
Resilient responses to accelerated climate change must also undertake efforts to reverse it. Our strategy of adaptation and mitigation prioritizes a global reduction of this 50ppm.
In 2013, the global economy emitted 36 billion metric tons of carbon pollution (US: 5.5 billion, China: 8.7 billion, England: .5 tons, Germany: .7 tons, France: .4 tons, Brazil: .5 tons.
In US the largest emissions come from vehicle tailpipe emissions (1.9 billion tons) and electric power plants (2.8 billion tons).
According to the U.S. Climate Plan, an independent research group, President Obama’s plan, if implemented properly, would only reduce emissions 9-17% from 2005 levels by 2020. In order to stay within the limits of a 2 degree Celsius rise, the deemed safe upper limit from most scientists, the US must reduce emissions from 36-49%. <ref>http://media.wix.com/ugd/7f4c6d_2be370e9cd4f8db2068039448462da31.pdf</ref>
As these emissions are deeply intertwined in our global economic and political systems, changes must be accompanied by rapid reforms in these practices to spawn resiliency.
A classic example of adaptation and natural selection that evolutionary biologists use is the peppered moth: http://www.techapps.net/interactives/pepperMoths.swf
Cooperation (sometimes written as co-operation or coöperation<ref>http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/coöperation</ref>) is the process of groups of organisms working or acting together for their common/mutual benefit, as opposed to working in competition for selfish benefit. Many animal and plant species cooperate both with other members of their own species and with members of other species (symbiosis or mutualism (biology)|mutualism).<ref>Template:Cite book</ref>
Cooperation is a process by which the components of a system work together to achieve the global properties. In other words, individual components that appear to be “selfish” and independent work together to create a highly complex, greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts system. Examples:
- The components in a cell work together to keep it living.
- Neurons create thought and consciousness, other cells work together and communicate to produce multicellular organisms.
- Organisms form food chains and ecosystems.
- People form families, tribes, cities and nations.
- Atoms cooperate in a simple way, by combining to make up molecules.
- Understanding the mechanisms that create cooperating agents in a system is one of the most important and least well understood phenomena in nature, though there has not been a lack of effort.
Individual action on behalf of a larger system may be coerced (forced), voluntary (freely chosen), or even unintentional, and consequently individuals and groups might act in concert even though they have almost nothing in common as regards interests or goals. Examples of that can be found in market trade, military wars, families, workplaces, schools and prisons, and more generally any institution or organization of which individuals are part (out of own choice, by law, or forced).
Bioremediation' is a waste management technique that involves the use of organisms to remove or neutralize pollutants from a contaminated site.<ref>http://ei.cornell.edu/biodeg/bioremed/</ref> According to the EPA, bioremediation is a “treatment that uses naturally occurring organisms to break down hazardous substances into less toxic or non toxic substances”. Technologies can be generally classified as in situ or ex situ. In situ bioremediation involves treating the contaminated material at the site, while ex situ involves the removal of the contaminated material to be treated elsewhere. Some examples of bioremediation related technologies are phytoremediation, bioventing, bioleaching, and farming, bioreactor, composting, bioaugmentation, rhizofiltration, and biostimulation.
Bioremediation may occur on its own (natural attenuation or intrinsic bioremediation) or may only effectively occur through the addition of fertilizers, oxygen, etc., that help encourage the growth of the pollution-eating microbes within the medium (biostimulation). For example, the US Army Corps of Engineers demonstrated that windrowing and aeration of petroleum-contaminated soils enhanced bioremediation using the technique of landfarming.<ref>Mann, D. K., T. M. Hurt, E. Malkos, J. Sims, S. Twait and G. Wachter. 1996. Onsite treatment of petroleum, oil, and lubricant (POL)-contaminated soils at Illinois Corps of Engineers lake sites. US Army Corps of Engineers Technical Report No. A862603 (71pages).</ref> Depleted soil nitrogen status may encourage biodegradation of some nitrogenous organic chemicals,<ref>Sims, G.K. 2006. Nitrogen Starvation Promotes Biodegradation of N-Heterocyclic Compounds in Soil. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 38:2478-2480.</ref> and soil materials with a high capacity to adsorb pollutants may slow down biodegradation owing to limited bioavailability of the chemicals to microbes.<ref>O'Loughlin, E. J, S. J. Traina, and G. K. Sims. 2000. Effects of sorption on the biodegradation of 2-methylpyridine in aqueous suspensions of reference clay minerals. Environ. Toxicol. and Chem. 19:2168-2174.</ref> Recent advancements have also proven successful via the addition of matched microbe strains to the medium to enhance the resident microbe population's ability to break down contaminants. Microorganisms used to perform the function of bioremediation are known as bioremediators.
However, not all contaminants are easily treated by bioremediation using microorganisms. For example, heavy metals such as cadmium and lead are not readily absorbed or captured by microorganisms. A recent experiment, however, suggests that fish bones have some success absorbing lead from contaminated soil.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref> http://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2012/07/battling-lead-contamination-one-fish-bone-at-a-time/ </ref> Bone char has been shown to bioremediate small amounts of cadmium, copper, and zinc.<ref> Template:Cite web</ref> The assimilation of metals such as mercury into the food chain may worsen matters. Phytoremediation is useful in these circumstances because natural plants or transgenic plants are able to bioaccumulate these toxins in their above-ground parts, which are then harvested for removal.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> The heavy metals in the harvested biomass may be further concentrated by incineration or even recycled for industrial use. Some damaged artifacts at museums contain microbes which could be specified as bio remediating agents.<ref> Template:Citejournal </ref>
The elimination of a wide range of pollutants and wastes from the environment requires increasing our understanding of the relative importance of different pathways and regulatory networks to carbon flux in particular environments and for particular compounds, and they will certainly accelerate the development of bioremediation technologies and biotransformation processes.<ref name=Diaz>Template:Cite book</ref>
Humans unify to create a principles-based regenerative society and economy whose objective is to restore, respect and regenerate the earth’s ecosystems and create a world that creates ecosystemic thriving and beauty for all of earth’s interconnected stakeholders.
Regenerative Approaches and Prototypes
Visionaries and Authors
The philosophical basis for a transformation of worldviews and a shift in global consciousness has been laid down by many authors, from many cultures and disciplines. What unites these authors, visionaries, and activists is their penetrating critique of modern civilization, their awareness of its transience, and their courage in pointing toward new social models as well as hidden dimensions of human experience.
Buckminster Fuller is a renowned inventor and visionary who dedicated his life to solving global problems regarding a wide variety of issues such as housing, shelter, transportation, education, energy, ecological destruction, and poverty <ref> Bfi.org, (2014). About Fuller | The Buckminster Fuller Institute. [online] Available at: https://bfi.org/about-fuller [Accessed 31 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. He had a very prolific career, as he held 28 patents, wrote 28 books, and received 47 honorary degrees.
Fuller was far ahead of his time, providing the analysis and ingredients we need today to move forward as a regenerative society decades in advance. In his book Utopia or Oblivion, Fuller argued that humanity would either design a world that worked for everyone or we would not survive as a species. He envisioned "utopia" as the institution of a planetary community where the people of the world share resources rationally, using technical efficiency to benefit the human community as a whole. “We now know scientifically that for the first time in history there can be enough to support continually all of expanding humanity at previously undreamed-of and ever-advancing standards of living and intellectual satisfaction in effective participation in the evolutionary processes,” he wrote. The only way to this, he proposed, was to supersede the outmoded political structure - not through political means, but through a design science revolution.
Noting our need to question the unsustainable values that drive our consumerist systems today, Fuller wrote, “Our innocent, trial-and-error-sustaining nutriment is exhausted. We are faced with an entirely new relationship to the universe. We are going to have to spread our wings of intellect and fly, or perish; that is, we must dare immediately to fly by the generalized principles governing universe and not by the ground rules of yesterday’s superstitious and erroneously conditioned reflexes.”
Fuller recognized that our tendency in design was to fight against nature rather than learning from nature and following its principles. These notions of following and living with harmony with nature are incredibly crucial to prevent destruction of humanity and transition into a thriving, regenerative society. He noted that nature never used right angles in construction, and developed a new geometrical approach to building structures based on triangles and hexagons. With these principles in mind Fuller invented sustainable technologies that could aid the planet while improving the living conditions of humanity. His most renowned design was the geodesic dome, which he created as a solution for the shelter problems that existed in the 20th century. He employed his principle of “doing more with less” and designed a structure that enclosed the largest volume of interior space with the least amount of surface area, greatly reducing the materials and cost <ref> Bfi.org, (2014). Geodesic Domes | The Buckminster Fuller Institute. [online] Available at: https://bfi.org/about-fuller/big-ideas/geodesic-domes [Accessed 31 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. Not only was it very light and strong, but its shape also makes the dome one of the most energetically efficient structures existing today. His system of synergetics endeavored to understand the principles of nature that drive the universe, both physically and metaphysically, thereby linking the spiritual and scientific realms as a way of improving the quality of life <ref> Bfi.org, (2014). Synergetics | The Buckminster Fuller Institute. [online] Available at: https://bfi.org/about-fuller/big-ideas/synergetics [Accessed 31 Jul. 2014]. </ref>.
On the social level, he considered humanity to be on a “Earth spaceship,” which reflected his view that a systems approach involving the whole world as one unit was necessary to make the world work for everybody<ref> Bfi.org, (2014). World Game | The Buckminster Fuller Institute. [online] Available at: https://bfi.org/about-fuller/big-ideas/world-game [Accessed 31 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. To emphasize this fact, he created a Dymaxion map, a flat map of the entire world that connects the land of the Earth into one greater island <ref> Bfi.org, (2014). Dymaxion Map | The Buckminster Fuller Institute. [online] Available at: https://bfi.org/about-fuller/big-ideas/dymaxion-world/dymaxion-map [Accessed 31 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. To foster social and political change, he proposed a “World Game,” which would make data regarding resources, trends, and global solutions accessible to everyone through a free press, which would spread through the masses and change the political landscape to move in a direction that is in sustainable for all <ref> Bfi.org, (2014). World Game | The Buckminster Fuller Institute. [online] Available at: https://bfi.org/about-fuller/big-ideas/world-game [Accessed 31 Jul. 2014]. </ref>.
Jacques Fresco, The Venus Project
Jacques Fresco is a Futurist whose life work is dedicated to integrating the best of science and technology into a vision for a new society that is based upon human and environmental concern <ref> Thevenusproject.com, (2014). Jacque Fresco. [online] Available at: http://www.thevenusproject.com/about/resume [Accessed 31 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. His work challenges us to envision a new way of being that benefits mankind's quality of life and the planet, providing an example of what a regenerative society could look like. Throughout his long career, he has worked as a designer and inventor on projects in a wide variety of fields such as biomedical innovations and integrated social systems.
He is the founder of The Venus Project, an organization that proposes an alternative plan of social change to create a peaceful and sustainable world. It explains that a global society that will survive and thrive is one that considers the land to be the common heritage of all people <ref> The Venus Project, (2014). The Venus Project. [online] Available at: http://www.thevenusproject.com/about/the-venus-project [Accessed 31 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. A crucial tenet of this project is the resource-based economy, in which all goods and services are available for free, eliminating any need for money. There are more than enough resources on the planet to provide all people a high quality of life, in addition to the fact that human technology today has reached a point where it is more than capable of fulfilling humans’ basic needs. The intelligent and humane use of technology would enable equitable distribution of such resources, rendering human labor unnecessary. The elimination of the monetary system, which currently is regulated for the benefit of a few, would increase the quality of life for all beings and allow people to realize their infinite potential. Issues prevalent today such as poverty, war, hunger, crime, and suffering would be totally eliminated and considered to be unacceptable.
Fritjof Capra (born February 1, 1939) is an Austrian-born American physicist. He is a founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, California, which promotes ecology and systems thinking in primary and secondary education.
He is also on the faculty of Schumacher College. Capra is the author of several books, including The Tao of Physics (1975), The Turning Point (1982), Uncommon Wisdom (1988), The Web of Life (1996) and The Hidden Connections (2002).
Born in Vienna, Austria, Capra attended the University of Vienna, where he earned his Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1966. He conducted research in particle physics and systems theory at the University of Paris (1966–1968), the University of California, Santa Cruz (1968–1970), the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (1970), Imperial College, London (1971–1974) and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (1975–1988). While at Berkeley, he was a member of the Fundamental Fysiks Group, founded in May 1975 by Elizabeth Rauscher and George Weissmann, which met weekly to discuss philosophy and quantum physics. He also taught at U.C. Santa Cruz, U.C. Berkeley, and San Francisco State University.
He has written popular books on the implications of science, notably The Tao of Physics, subtitled An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism. The Tao of Physics asserts that both physics and metaphysics lead inexorably to the same knowledge. After touring Germany in the early 1980s, Capra co-wrote Green Politics with ecofeminist author Charlene Spretnak in 1984.
In 1991 Capra co-authored Belonging to the Universe with David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk. Using Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions as a stepping stone, the book explores parallels between new paradigm thinking in science and in religion; the authors posit that, together, these new paradigms offer remarkably compatible views about the universe.
Capra advocates that Western culture abandon conventional linear thought and the mechanistic views of Descartes. Critiquing the reductionistic Cartesian view that everything can be studied in parts to understand the whole, he encourages a holistic approach. In The Web of Life, Capra focuses on systemic information generated by the relationships among all parts as a significant additional factor in understanding the character of the whole, emphasizing the web-like structure of all systems and the interconnectedness of all parts. This analysis of science that merges consciousness with physicality is the shift in worldview necessary in order to transition to a regenerative society that sees all humans and the planet as one greater, connected whole, ending the reign of destructive consumerist practices.
Barbara Marx Hubbard
Barbara Marx Hubbard (born Barbara Marx; December 22, 1929) is a futurist, author and public speaker. She is credited with the concepts of ‘The Synergy Engine’ and the 'birthing' of humanity.
Barbara Marx Hubbard is a noted futurist, evolutionary thought leader, author of seven books, social innovator and public speaker. She is president of The Foundation for Conscious Evolution, and co-founder of many organizations including The World Future Society and The Association for Global New Thought. She is the producer and narrator of the award-winning documentary series entitled “Humanity Ascending: A New Way through Together. She partnered with The Shift Network, launching the Birth 2012 movement on her birthday, December 22, 2012. She teaches thousands of students online on The Shift Network in a variety of courses on the theme of conscious evolution.
In 1984 her name was placed in nomination for the Vice Presidency of the United States on the Democratic ticket, calling for an office for the Future and a Peace Room in the White House to scan for, map, connect, and communicate what is working in the world. As co-founder of The Committee for the Future in Washington DC in the 1970’s she developed The Theater for the Future, and the SYNCON process for synergistic convergence, bringing opposing groups together in 25 conferences, as well as in several Soviet-American Summits during the Cold War. She produced a 14-part television series, Potentials, interviewing some of our greatest futurists, including Buckminster Fuller, Norman Cousins, Gene Roddenberry, Willis Harmon, Marilyn Ferguson and others.
Hubbard provides an apt analysis of our current condition by explaining the need for humanity to evolve consciously, rather than unconsciously, in order to stop the destruction of our planet and create a society that that thrives. She writes, "Our conscious evolution is an invitation to ourselves, to open to that positive future, to see ourselves as one planet, and to learn to use our powers wisely and ethically for the enhancement of all life on Earth." The crises our planet faces today, which are mostly of an environmental nature, provide potent conditions for a macroshift, either leading to destruction and chaos or to a higher evolution of more complex order. Our society does possess the advances in technology necessary in order to make the shift to a regenerative, global society that works with nature rather than against it.
John Polk Allen (born 6 May 1929, Carnegie, Oklahoma) is a systems ecologist and engineer, metallurgist, adventurer and writer. He is best known as the inventor and Director of Research of Biosphere 2, the world's largest laboratory of global ecology, and was the founder of Synergia Ranch. Allen is a proponent of the science of biospherics. Biosphere 2 set a number of world records in closed life system work including degree of sealing tightness, 100% waste recycle and water recycle, and duration of human residence within a closed system (eight people for two years). Allen has also conceived and co-founded nine other projects around the world, pioneering in sustainable co-evolutionary development.
Allen began the first manned Biosphere Test Module experiment in September 1988, residing in the almost fully recyclable closed ecological system environment for three days and setting a world record at that time, proving that closed ecological systems would work with humans inside. As the vice-president of Biospheric Development for the project, as well as Executive Chairman, Allen was responsible for the science and engineering that created the materially closed life system, as well as the development of spin-off technologies.
He is currently the Chairman of Global Ecotechnics Corporation (www.globalecotechnics.com). This is an international project development and management company with a Biospheric Design Division engaged in designing and preparing to build the second generation of advanced materially closed biospheric systems and ecologically enriched biomic systems (www.biospheres.com); and an EcoFrontiers Division which owns and operates innovative sustainable ecological projects of which he was the co-founder and chief designer in France, Australia (5000 acre savannah regeneration project), Puerto Rico (1000 acre sustainable rainforest project) and England (www.ecotechnics.edu).
Marija Gimbutas, The Chalice and the Blade
Marija Gimbutas (Lithuanian: Marija Gimbutienė; January 23, 1921 – February 2, 1994), was a Lithuanian-American archaeologist known for her research into the Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures of "Old Europe" and for her widely accepted Kurgan hypothesis, which located the Proto-Indo-European homeland in the Pontic Steppe. Gimbutas's assertion that Neolithic sites in Lithuania and across Europe provided evidence for matriarchal pre-Indo-European societies was not well received in scholarly circles, but became a keystone of the Goddess movement.
In 1956 Gimbutas introduced her Kurgan hypothesis, which combined archaeological study of the distinctive Kurgan burial mounds with linguistics to unravel some problems in the study of the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) speaking peoples, whom she dubbed the "Kurgans"; namely, to account for their origin and to trace their migrations into Europe. This hypothesis, and the act of bridging the disciplines, has had a significant impact on Indo-European studies.
During the 1950s and early 1960s, Gimbutas earned a reputation as a world-class specialist on the Indo-European Bronze Age, as well as on Lithuanian folk art and the prehistory of the Balts and Slavs, partly summed up in her definitive opus, Bronze Age Cultures of Central and Eastern Europe (1965). In her work she reinterpreted European prehistory in light of her backgrounds in linguistics, ethnology, and the history of religions, and challenged many traditional assumptions about the beginnings of European civilization.
As a Professor of European Archaeology and Indo-European Studies at UCLA from 1963 to 1989, Gimbutas directed major excavations of Neolithic sites in southeastern Europe between 1967 and 1980, including Anzabegovo, near Štip, Republic of Macedonia and Sitagroi and Achilleion in Thessaly (Greece). Digging through layers of earth representing a period of time before contemporary estimates for Neolithic habitation in Europe — where other archaeologists would not have expected further finds — she unearthed a great number of artifacts of daily life and of religious cults, which she researched and documented throughout her career. A statement made by Marija Gimbutas during her successful career states that : After a millennium when the Hun Empire collapsed, a distinct Slavic culture re-emerged and spread rapidly. Gimbutas wrote: "Neither Bulgars nor Avars colonized the Balkan Peninsula, after storming Thrace, Illyria and Greece they went back to their territory north of the Danube. It was the Slavs who did the colonizing.
Late archaeology Gimbutas gained fame — and notoriety — with her last three books: The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe (1974); The Language of the Goddess (1989), which inspired an exhibition in Wiesbaden, 1993/94; and her final book, The Civilization of the Goddess (1991), which based on her documented archeological findings presented an overview of her conclusions about Neolithic cultures across Europe: housing patterns, social structure, art, religion, and the nature of literacy.
The Civilization of the Goddess articulated what Gimbutas saw as the differences between the Old European system, which she considered goddess- and woman-centered (gynocentric), and the Bronze Age Indo-European patriarchal ("androcratic") culture which supplanted it. According to her interpretations, gynocentric (or matristic) societies were peaceful, they honored homosexuals, and they espoused economic equality.
The "androcratic", or male-dominated, Kurgan peoples, on the other hand, invaded Europe and imposed upon its natives the hierarchical rule of male warriors. Gimbutas' work is housed at OPUS Archives and Research Center, along with those of her colleague, mythologist Joseph Campbell, at the Joseph Campbell and Marija Gimbutas Library on the campus of Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, just south of Santa Barbara, California. The library includes Gimbutas' extensive collection on the topics of archaeology, mythology, folklore, art and linguistics. The Gimbutas Archives house over 12,000 images personally taken by Gimbutas of sacred figures, as well as research files on Neolithic cultures of Old Europe.
Dieter Duhm and Sabine Lichtenfels, Tamera
Dieter Duhm, sociologist, psychoanalyst, art historian and author, is one of the co-founders of Tamera, a peace research center in southwestern Portugal, with his partner Sabine Lichtenfelds.
In 1978 Duhm began to put his political theories into practise. First he created an interdisciplinary research center with a dozen experts from various fields, called the “Bauhuette,” located in southern Germany. Their goal was to find workable answers to the ecological and technological problems facing the human species at that time. However, within a few years they discovered that if their project had any chance of surviving, they first had to research more deeply into the core human relationship questions that lay hidden under all issues – such as competition, greed, and jealousy. So Duhm traveled around Germany, Austria, and Switzerland for a year, finding fifty willing participants who began a social community experiment in 1983 to research the possibilities of dissolving internal group conflicts concerning power, money, sexuality and love; and they spent three years in a remote area of the Black Forest under Duhm’s guidance.
But in 1984 a slanderous campaign in the media began against Duhm and his projects, both in Germany and Switzerland. This increasingly impeded the research work in the Black Forest, and finally disrupted it totally. The group’s attempt to have the information about them corrected remained unsuccessful, and the community finally had to disband. Tamera.
So in 1989 Dieter Duhm moved to Lanzarote, together with his life partner, Sabine Lichtenfels, and several friends. For the next six years he dedicated his time to painting and writing, and found the peace and quiet he needed to research and prepare his next project.
In 1995, Duhm co-founded the Tamera Peace Research Center in southwestern Portugal together with Sabine Lichtenfels and Rainer Ehrenpreis. It was finally his chance to create a working model that put all his research into action, which he called “The Political Theory,” based in part on such concepts as holography, chaos theory, systems theory, and morphogenetic fields.
Duhm’s political theory contends that the basic building blocks of matter are not atoms, but instead are energy, frequency, and information. Earth with its atmosphere and magnetic field, with its waters and landscapes, with its creatures, biotopes and human societies, is an integral, oscillating and living body that can be healed, just as a human body can be healed if the appropriate “medicine,” i.e. the appropriate information, is administered, Duhm believes.
This healing information, Duhm says, is wanted most at the points where new wars are created daily: in the cohabitation of human beings. In this area far reaching change is necessary. Duhm feels that the peace information needed will emerge from social structures whose ethical basic values of compassion, trust, mutual support and solidarity are no longer being destroyed, but rather are generated and maintained; and Tamera is just one of several places necessary where the conditions for peaceful co-habitation are researched and put into practice.
Duhm calls these places “Healing Biotopes” or "Peace Research Villages,” which act somewhat like acupuncture points to foster a new future in the body of Earth. His theory postulates that only a few such centers will be sufficient worldwide to tip over the “information field” of violence, for together these few centers will create the microscopically small change needed to have a large effect on the “Whole.”
Rudolf Steiner was an occult philosopher who, through the field of anthroposophy, sought to find a synthesis between science and spirituality <ref> Waldorfanswers.com, (2014). What is anthroposophy?. [online] Available at: http://www.waldorfanswers.com/Anthroposophy.htm [Accessed 29 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. He posited that thinking is a spiritual activity, and as a result consciousness can be expanded to incorporate the perception of the spiritual realm. This innovative epistemology transforms how the natural world is perceived by imbuing physical life, typically limited by the senses, with a spiritual understanding. The accessibility of the spiritual forces provides greater freedom and knowledge to people by enabling them to channel and use the spiritual force that lies inside of them, resulting in a better humanity for all. <ref>Waldorfanswers.com, (2014). Rudolf Steiner on the essence of anthroposophy. [online] Available at: http://www.waldorfanswers.com/Anthroposophy3.htm [Accessed 29 Jul. 2014]. </ref>.
His anthroposophical ideas that reflect a deep understanding of life have been applied through innovative contributions in a wide range of fields. The education philosophy of the Waldorf Schools aims to provide an education for students that reflects a deep understanding human development <ref>Whywaldorfworks.org, (2014). Why Waldorf Works - What is Waldorf Education?. [online] Available at: http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/02_W_Education/index.asp [Accessed 29 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. The highlights of this form of education is that students are taught to cultivate social and emotional intelligence, connect with nature, and become free thinkers <ref> Whywaldorfworks.org, (2014). Why Waldorf Works - Why Waldorf Works. [online] Available at: http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/01_WhyWaldorf/index.asp [Accessed 29 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. He was one of the first to champion organic farming through his system of biodynamic agriculture, which seeks to create a diversified and balanced ecosystem within the farm <ref> Biodynamics.com, (2014). What Is Biodynamics? | Biodynamic Association. [online] Available at: https://www.biodynamics.com/biodynamics.html [Accessed 29 Jul. 2014].</ref>. His holistic system of anthroposophical medicine acknowledges that healing diseases requires the inclusion of the individuality of the patient, in addition to the physical symptoms of an illness <ref> Steinerhealth.org, (2014). Anthroposophical Medicine | Rudolf Steiner Health Center. [online] Available at: http://www.steinerhealth.org/about/anthroposophical-medicine/ [Accessed 29 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. He also has made many contributions to the fields of architecture, eurythmym, and art <ref>Waldorfanswers.com, (2014). Waldorf answers - Who was Rudolf Steiner?. [online] Available at: http://www.waldorfanswers.com/RudolfSteiner.htm [Accessed 29 Jul. 2014].</ref>.
His visionary ideas and applications thereof are strong examples of how a shift in the reductionist worldview to a more integrative one not only changes the way we perceive the world, but also how we create with it. By implementing a mystical perspective, physicality starts to transform as we become equipped with the skills to create systems that are regenerative, rather than destructive, improving the quality of life for everyone involved.
Teilhard de Chardin
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ (French: [pjɛʁ tejaʁ də ʃaʁdɛ̃]; May 1, 1881 – April 10, 1955) was a French philosopher and Jesuit priest who trained as a paleontologist and geologist and took part in the discovery of Peking Man. He conceived the idea of the Omega Point (a maximum level of complexity and consciousness towards which he believed the universe was evolving) and developed Vladimir Vernadsky's concept of noosphere.
Teilhard de Chardin has two comprehensive works. The first, The Phenomenon of Man, sets forth a sweeping account of the unfolding of the cosmos and the evolution of matter to humanity to ultimately a reunion with Christ. Following the leads of St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, he abandoned literal interpretations of creation in the Book of Genesis in favor of allegorical and theological interpretations.
His second comprehensive work is The Divine Milieu, in which he attempted to do two things. First, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, there was a belief among some Catholics and other Christians that in order to be “holy” one had to devote oneself to purely religious activity and that secular work had no lasting value. Teilhard de Chardin, consistent with the Jesuit motto of “finding God in all things”, wanted to demonstrate that secular work (including his own scientific work) was an integral element of creation and the Incarnation, so that for religious reasons, Christians should be committed to whatever work they were doing and offering it up for the service of God. Teilhard wants to show how all human activities and efforts toward personal growth and human progress can be used to help the growth and development of the Body of Christ. Not only are human efforts useful in this regard, but they are also somehow necessary. Even though people perform these actions as ordinary human beings, and they look like ordinary human actions, they are simultaneously being transformed in the divine milieu and become actions done in, with, and through Christ.
Some of Teilhard de Chardin's ideas came into conflict with some officials in the Roman Curia and in his own Jesuit order. Specifically, Teilhard's superiors thought that Teilhard's views on original sin were contrary to Catholic doctrine. As a result, many of Teilhard's writings were censored by the Church during his lifetime. However, in July 2009, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said: "By now, no one would dream of saying that [Teilhard] is a heterodox author who shouldn’t be studied."
Sri Aurobindo and The Mother
Sri Aurobindo (Sri Ôrobindo), (15 August 1872 – 5 December 1950), born Aurobindo Ghose, was an Indian nationalist, philosopher, yogi, guru, and poet. He joined the Indian movement for independence from British rule, for a while became one of its influential leaders and then became a spiritual reformer, introducing his visions on human progress and spiritual evolution. Aurobindo studied for the Indian Civil Service at King's College, Cambridge, England. After returning to India he took up various civil service works under the Maharaja of the princely state of Baroda and began to involve himself in politics. He was imprisoned by the British for writing articles against British rule in India. He was released when no evidence was provided. During his stay in the jail he had mystical and spiritual experiences, after which he moved to Pondicherry, leaving politics for spiritual work.
During his stay in Pondicherry, Aurobindo developed a method of spiritual practice, which he called Integral Yoga. The central theme of his vision was the evolution of human life into a life divine. He believed in a spiritual realisation that not only liberated man but also transformed his nature, enabling a divine life on earth. In 1926, with the help of his spiritual collaborator, Mirra Alfassa ("The Mother"), he founded the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. He died on 5 December 1950 in Pondicherry.
His main literary works are The Life Divine, which deals with theoretical aspects of Integral Yoga; Synthesis of Yoga, which deals with practical guidance to Integral Yoga; and Savitri, an epic poem which refers to a passage in the Mahabharata, where its characters actualise integral yoga in their lives. His works also include philosophy, poetry, translations and commentaries on the Vedas, Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.
Ken Wilber is a philosopher who has developed the innovative Integral Theory, which integrates theoretical frameworks from a wide variety of fields such as cultural anthropology, biology, spirituality, and developmental psychology, into a cohesive ‘theory of everything’ <ref> Integral Life, (2014). Ken Wilber. [online] Available at: https://integrallife.com/contributors/ken-wilber [Accessed 29 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. His approach is unique as he sees all fields as being complementary, rather than contradictory, and his great accomplishment is the ability to understand how and where they fit in together as a whole <ref>Integral Life, (2014). Ken Wilber. [online] Available at: https://integrallife.com/contributors/ken-wilber [Accessed 29 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. He claims that nobody is 100% wrong, as everybody possesses a certain piece of the truth that is needed for that particular level of consciousness <ref> Manson, M. (2012). The Rise And Fall of Ken Wilber - Mark Manson. [online] Mark Manson. Available at: http://markmanson.net/ken-wilber [Accessed 29 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. As man’s state of consciousness evolves, ideas that possess less truth are transcended by being included, not annihilated, in a more expanded worldview <ref> Manson, M. (2012). The Rise And Fall of Ken Wilber - Mark Manson. [online] Mark Manson. Available at: http://markmanson.net/ken-wilber [Accessed 29 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. This inclusive world philosophy is described as an effective way to create a framework that makes possible the creation of a more harmonious world.
Wilber’s 1995 magnum opus Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality delineates the biological, mental, spiritual, and metaphysical evolutionary process of mankind, which culminates in his integrated theory. In 1998, he founded a think-tank called the Integral Institute, which sought to apply the Integral Approach in relation to contemporary global issues. It sought to synthesize the various viewpoints that exist throughout the major fields of knowledge by supporting collaboration between scholars and experts <ref> Integral Life, (2014). Ken Wilber. [online] Available at: https://integrallife.com/contributors/ken-wilber [Accessed 29 Jul. 2014]. </ref> . He also co-founded Integral Life in 2007, which is a hub on the Internet bringing the Integral Approach to the world.
Joseph Chilton Pearce
Joseph Chilton Pearce is an American author who has written many books on the subject of human and child development. He is best known for his books, The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, Magical Child and The Bond of Power: Meditation and Wholeness. Through his research, he has been able to challenge the limiting academic paradigm that dims the spirit, and gain insight regarding the remarkable human potential that lies beyond conditioned limitations <ref>Ttfuture.org, (2014). Introduction | Touch The Future. [online] Available at: http://www.ttfuture.org/jcp/introduction [Accessed 7 Aug. 2014].</ref>.
He stresses the importance of the intelligence of the heart, and that the heart is the “major center of intelligence in human beings.” <ref> Iamheart.org, (2014). IAM Interview. [online] Available at: https://iamheart.org/the_heart/articles_joseph_chilton_pearce.shtml [Accessed 7 Aug. 2014]. </ref> There is a “brain” in the heart, considering that 60 to 65% of the cells are neural cells, which in turn profoundly affects every major organ of the body. The heart and the brain are constantly interacting, and the heart is especially linked to the limbic structure, also known as the “emotional brain,” which influences memory, learning, and the hormonal system. Consequently, the heart dramatically impacts everybody’s emotional response to the world, thereby affecting the material the brain uses to create appropriate responses to life <ref> Iamheart.org, (2014). IAM Interview. [online] Available at: https://iamheart.org/the_heart/articles_joseph_chilton_pearce.shtml [Accessed 7 Aug. 2014]. </ref>. He calls for the merging of the intellect with the intelligence of the heart, so that human beings can reach their true potential, as was originally intended by nature <ref>Ratical.org, (2014). BOOK: we are "Evolution's End," what she was after, her summation. [online] Available at: http://www.ratical.org/ratville/EE.html [Accessed 7 Aug. 2014].</ref>.
He is also a vocal critic of how children are brought up in American culture, noting the hugely negative effect these have on the brain, and therefore children’s development. The intelligence of the heart is, for example, hugely important in the process of bringing children into the world. The natural way to approach newborn babies is to leave the umbilical cord connected for an extended duration, and bring the baby up to the mother’s left breast, so that their hearts can connect, and bring out the intelligence needed from the mother to care for her child <ref>Touch the Future, (2014). Pregnancy, Birth & Bonding. [online] Available at: http://www.ttfuture.org/files/2/members/sym_jcp_birth.pdf [Accessed 7 Aug. 2014].</ref>. In addition, a nurturing and safe home environment that allows a child to feel unconditionally accepted promotes healthy brain development, while an unhealthy one stunts it <ref> Iamheart.org, (2014). IAM Interview. [online] Available at: https://iamheart.org/the_heart/articles_joseph_chilton_pearce.shtml [Accessed 7 Aug. 2014].</ref>. He notes how the advent of television dramatically damages the brain’s ability to cross index its sensory system, making it act more as isolated components than as a whole system, damaging children’s sensory awareness and memory retention <ref> Iamheart.org, (2014). IAM Interview. [online] Available at: https://iamheart.org/the_heart/articles_joseph_chilton_pearce.shtml [Accessed 7 Aug. 2014].</ref>. The education system, which is more conditioning than it is education, involves the reptilian brain, which is the survival brain that responds as if it is threatened, and is associated with the emotions of hostility, anger and anxiety. The higher frontal lobes, the place of the intellectual, creative-brain, is what is stimulated by a true sense of learning that prepares children to be present to life <ref> Iamheart.org, (2014). IAM Interview. [online] Available at: https://iamheart.org/the_heart/articles_joseph_chilton_pearce.shtml [Accessed 7 Aug. 2014].</ref>. Playing is the natural and only way a child really learns, consolidating the foundation for later forms of intelligence, and education must be set up to meet the child at the proper stage of development <ref>Touch the Future. (2014). [online] Available at: http://www.ttfuture.org/files/2/members/int_jcp_play.pdf [Accessed 7 Aug. 2014].</ref>. All of these factors create the conditions for a child to grow into a healthy adult who can realize his or her full spiritual potential, which further unlocks the untapped parts of the human brain and body.
William Irwin Thompson
William Irwin Thompson (born July 1938) is known primarily as a social philosopher and cultural critic, but he has also been writing and publishing poetry throughout his career and received the Oslo International Poetry Festival Award in 1986. He describes his writing and speaking style as "mind-jazz on ancient texts". Thompson founded the Lindisfarne Association in an attempt to help usher in what Jean Gebser referred to as the integral structure of consciousness, and to serve as an alternative to the forces of cultural disintegration that could take civilization into a dark age. (Lindisfarne takes its name from a Viking-threatened Irish monastery of the Western European Dark Ages.) In recent books, he has expressed doubt that a Dark Age has been avoided.
Thompson is influenced by British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, Swiss cultural historian Jean Gebser, mystic Rudolf Steiner, the Vedic philosopher Sri Aurobindo Ghose, the famous Kriya Yoga proponent Paramahansa Yogananda with his introduction of Hindu Vedic principles and practices (such as yoga) to the Western populace, and media ecologist Marshall McLuhan. Thompson engages a diverse set of traditions, including the autopoetic epistemology of Francisco Varela, the endosymbiotic theory of evolution of Lynn Margulis, the Gaia Theory of James Lovelock, the complex systems thought of Ralph Abraham, the novels of Thomas Pynchon, and mystic David Spangler.
Performance is central to Thompson's approach. Performances either open new horizons for the future or close them down, and should be judged on that basis. Thompson thought that with the emergence of the integral era and its electronic media expressions that a new mode of discourse was required. He sought "to turn non-fiction into a work of art on its own terms. Rather than trying to be a scholar or a journalist writing on the political and cultural news of the day, I worked to become a poetic reporter on the evolutionary news of the epoch". He espoused the notion that one must express an integral approach not just in content but in the very means of expressing it. Thompson did this in the way he approached teaching: "The traditional academic lecture also became for me an occasion to transform the genre, to present not an academic reading of a paper, but a form of Bardic performance–not stories of battles but of the new ideas that were emerging around the world...The course was meant to be a performance of the very reality it sought to describe".
"Wissenskunst" (literally, "knowledge-art") is a German term that Thompson coined to describe his own work. Contrasting it with Wissenschaft, the German term for science, Thompson defines Wissenskunst as "the play of knowledge in a world of serious data-processors."
José Argüelles, born Joseph Anthony Arguelles (/ɑrˈɡweɪ.ɨs/; Rochester, Minnesota January 24, 1939 – March 23, 2011), was an American New Age author and artist. He was the founder of Planet Art Network and the Foundation for the Law of Time. He held a Ph.D. in Art History and Aesthetics from the University of Chicago and taught at numerous colleges, including Princeton University, the University of California, Davis, the San Francisco Art Institute, and Evergreen State College. As one of the originators of the Earth Day concept (due in part to the influence of astrologer Dane Rudhyar), Argüelles founded the first Whole Earth Festival in 1970, at Davis, California. He is best known for his leading role in organizing the 1987 Harmonic Convergence event, for inventing (with the assistance of his wife Lloydine) the perpetual Dreamspell calendar in 1992, and for the central role that he played in the emergence of the 2012 phenomenon. Towards the end of his life, Argüelles focused on issue of consciousness, elaborating the concept of a noosphere (based on the work of Teilhard de Chardin and Vladimir Vernadsky) as a global work of art. Specifically, he envisioned a "rainbow bridge" encircling the Earth.
José Argüelles was the principal organizer of the Harmonic Convergence event on August 16–17, 1987, said to have been the first globally synchronized meditation event. It focused on dates that had been identified by Tony Shearer in his book Lord of the Dawn (1971), a collection of poems in honor of the Aztec deity Quetzalcoatl (associated with the planet Venus) and describing major cycles of time. Argüelles' The Mayan Factor: Path Beyond Technology (1987), was published in conjunction with the Harmonic Convergence. In it, Argüelles described a numerological system combining elements taken from the pre-Columbian Maya calendar with the I Ching and elements of shamanism. These were interspersed with parallel concepts drawn from modern sciences such as "genetic codes" and "galactic convergences". The book popularized the concept of Hunab Ku, associating the Colonial Maya concept of "One God" with an Aztec design from a woven rug Argüelles had obtained in a marketplace in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Argüelles (who called himself Valum Votan), working together with his wife Lloydine (a.k.a. Bolon Ik), produced a calendar and divination system Dreamspell: The Journey of Timeship Earth 2013 and a game/tool Telektonon: The Talking Stone of Prophecy. The former, based on the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar with special emphasis on the 260-day tzolk'in count, was the source of Argüelles' 13 Moon/28 Day Calendar. This calendar begins on July 26 (heliacal rising of the star Sirius) and runs for 364 days. The remaining date, July 25, is celebrated in some quarters as the "Day out of Time/Peace through Culture Festival". - celebrated in over 90 countries around the world. Argüelles attributed the origins of the calendar to "Galactic Mayas," who he believed were ancient astronauts that had visited the ancient Mayas and taught them elements of civilization. One of their leaders was an individual he called Pacal Votan, known to Mayanists as K'inich Janaab' Pakal, who was buried in an elaborate tomb at the site of Palenque. (Telektonon was Argüelles' term for a stone speaking tube in the pyramid where Pakal is entombed.)
In Time and the Technosphere (2002), Argüelles devises and promotes a notion that he calls the "Law of Time", in part framed by his interpretations of how Maya calendrical mathematics functioned. In this notional framework Argüelles claims to have identified a "fundamental law" involving two timing frequencies: one he calls "mechanised time" with a "12:60 frequency", and the other "natural [time] codified by the Maya [that is] understood to be the frequency 13:20". To Argüelles, "the irregular 12-month [Gregorian] calendar and artificial, mechanised 60-minute hour" is a construct that artificially regulates human affairs, and is out-of-step with the natural "synchronic order". He proposes the universal abandonment of the Gregorian calendar and its replacement with a thirteen moon, 28 day calendar, in order to "get the human race back on course" by the adoption of this calendar of perfect harmony so the human race could straighten its mind out again."
Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist who created the field of psychoanalysis, and was a pioneer in providing a deeper understanding of the human psyche. He stressed the concept of the unconscious mind, stating that this was in actuality the driving force of much of human behavior, as the conscious mind was only the tip of the iceberg <ref>Thornton, S. (2010). Freud, Sigmund. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. [online] Available at: http://www.iep.utm.edu/freud/#H2 [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>. His psychoanalysis practice aided people in gaining greater awareness of unhealthy unconscious patterns, and in doing so ultimately releasing them <ref> Thornton, S. (2010). Freud, Sigmund. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. [online] Available at: http://www.iep.utm.edu/freud/#H2 [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>.
Freud sought to create his own science regarding the many aspects of the unconscious mind that drove human behavior. One such aspect was his theory of human development, which heavily emphasized the role of infantile sexuality as a crucial factor influencing adult behavior, especially the Oedipus complex <ref> Thornton, S. (2010). Freud, Sigmund. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. [online] Available at: http://www.iep.utm.edu/freud/#H2 [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>. This showed that sexual conflicts were seen as being experiences common to all humans, and the proper resolution of these were essential to possess mental health. The lack of resolution would result in a disruption of typical human progression, resulting in mental disorders and neuroses <ref> Thornton, S. (2010). Freud, Sigmund. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. [online] Available at: http://www.iep.utm.edu/freud/#H2 [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>. His tripartite model of the ego, id, and the superego, also involves the notion of harmony between all forces of the mind. He points out an important function of the mind, that being repression, that occurs when the ego wants to avoid pain <ref> Thornton, S. (2010). Freud, Sigmund. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. [online] Available at: http://www.iep.utm.edu/freud/#H2 [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>. His views on sexuality further contributed to his notion of dreams as vehicles of wish-fulfillment, through which unexpressed instinctual drives would make themselves known <ref> McLeod, S. (2014). Sigmund Freud's Theories | Simply Psychology. [online] Simplypsychology.org. Available at: http://www.simplypsychology.org/Sigmund-Freud.html [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>. He also devised the method of free-association, which the patient speaks of whatever comes in his or her mind, in a stream of consciousness fashion, which helped unearth contents of the subconscious <ref> McLeod, S. (2014). Psychoanalysis | Simply Psychology. [online] Simplypsychology.org. Available at: http://www.simplypsychology.org/psychoanalysis.html#free [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>.
He applied his understanding of the psyche to the spheres of society, culture, and religion. In his book Society and its Discontents, he explains that man must refrain from fulfilling his desires and instincts in order to fit in with society, making it virtually impossible to attain happiness. In Totem and Taboo, religion is described as a manifestation of the neurotic tendencies of the mind. He links the Oedipus complex to the creation of a patriarchal deity figure, by positing that in the times of the tribe, the father possessed sexual control, and out of jealousy his sons got together to kill him. To compensate for the guilt that ensued, the Father Figure was created, which explains why religion has such a huge effect on people <ref>Jewishworldreview.com, (2014). FREUD AND BELIEF IN THE CREATOR. [online] Available at: http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0601/freud.asp [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>. He also discusses Judaism in this context in Moses and Monotheism, which explains the Jewish faith to be founded upon a sense of guilt from the murder of Moses <ref> Theotokos.org.uk, (2014). Christianity according to Sigmund Freud. [online] Available at: http://www.theotokos.org.uk/pages/churpsyc/freud.html [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>.
Carl Jung is a Swiss psychiatrist and psychologist who is well-known for his development of analytical psychology. His system reflects an understanding that the primary motivating force of human behavior to be a spiritual one <ref> Nndb.com, (2014). Carl Jung. [online] Available at: http://www.nndb.com/people/910/000031817/ [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>, and as a result emphasizes cultivating the wholeness of the human psyche through the process of individuation, by which the conscious and unconscious aspects of the mind are integrated <ref>Frager, R. and Fadiman, J. (2005). Personality and Personal Growth. 6th ed. New York: Pearson, p.56. </ref>. This process additionally is seen as the journey depicted in religious and spiritual traditions, due to the fact that individuation leads one to the realization that the self is a reality greater than the ego <ref> Nichols, W. (2014). Jung Lexicon. [online] Cgjungpage.org. Available at: http://www.cgjungpage.org/learn/jung-lexicon#individuation [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>. His model of the mind was unique in its inclusion of the collective unconscious in addition to the ego and the personal unconscious, which “contains the whole spiritual heritage of mankind's evolution, born anew in the brain structure of every individual.” <ref> Nichols, W. (2014). Jung Lexicon. [online] Cgjungpage.org. Available at: http://www.cgjungpage.org/learn/jung-lexicon#collectiveunconscious [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>. While all individuals are greatly influenced by their personal lives, on a deeper level the unconscious of the collective drive human behavior, linking humanity together into one greater soul, and ultimately to a higher intelligence <ref>. Nndb.com, (2014). Carl Jung. [online] Available at: http://www.nndb.com/people/910/000031817/ [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref> This concept also made sense of human experiences previously unexplained such as psychic phenomena and cross-cultural similarities in mythology <ref>. Nndb.com, (2014). Carl Jung. [online] Available at: http://www.nndb.com/people/910/000031817/ [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>.
One crucial way to integrate the unconscious was through understanding archetypes, “primordial, structural elements of the human psyche” <ref> Nichols, W. (2014). Jung Lexicon. [online] Cgjungpage.org. Available at: http://www.cgjungpage.org/learn/jung-lexicon#archetype [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>. These occur on both the level of the individual and the collective, which make themselves manifest through forms of human expression such as mythology, and it is important to learn their meanings and effects, as they are integral parts of the human being <ref> Nichols, W. (2014). Jung Lexicon. [online] Cgjungpage.org. Available at: http://www.cgjungpage.org/learn/jung-lexicon#archetype [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>. While they are not representable in and of themselves, their effects can be comprehended in their manifestations as images and motifs that represent the instinctual urges of the human psyche <ref> Nichols, W. (2014). Jung Lexicon. [online] Cgjungpage.org. Available at: http://www.cgjungpage.org/learn/jung-lexicon#archetype [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>. Some notable examples of archetypes are the mother, the father, the child, the wise old man or woman, and the shadow <ref>Frager, R. and Fadiman, J. (2005). Personality and Personal Growth. 6th ed. New York: Pearson, p.56. </ref>.
Jung was also famous for dream work, a key part of his individuation process. He viewed dreams as spontaneous, natural expressions of the unconscious that functions to express parts of the mind that are not known or understood by the ego <ref> Nichols, W. (2014). Jung Lexicon. [online] Cgjungpage.org. Available at: http://www.cgjungpage.org/learn/jung-lexicon#dreams [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>. They therefore have a compensatory function, revealing what is out of balance. To understand dreams, a subjective interpretation is necessary, as all dreams elements are representations of the self <ref>Nichols, W. (2014). Jung Lexicon. [online] Cgjungpage.org. Available at: http://www.cgjungpage.org/learn/jung-lexicon#dreams [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>. Additionally, Jung’s notion of the collective unconscious was applied to the realm of dreams, as he claimed that dreams did not just express the personal unconscious, but they expressed the collective unconscious as well, attributing greater spiritual significance to this phenomena <ref>Members.core.com, (2014). [online] Available at: http://members.core.com/~ascensus/docs/jung1.html [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014]. </ref>.
Don Beck is a theorist who specializes in applying large scale psychology to human systems. He co-authored the book Spiral Dynamics with Christopher Cowan, which offers an innovative theoretical approach to human evolution, in addition to solutions for global change.
Spiral Dynamics is a model that “‘describes and makes sense of the enormous complexity of human existence, and then shows how to craft elegant, systemic problem – solutions that meet people and address situations where they are.” <ref> Spiraldynamics.net, (2014). (cont.) The Heart and Soul of the Spiral Dynamics Movement | Spiral Dynamics Integral (SDi). [online] Available at: http://www.spiraldynamics.net/spiral-dynamics-integral-sdi/spiral-dynamics-integral.html [Accessed 29 Jul. 2014]. </ref> With an understanding of the core intelligences and deep values underlying the various paradigms existent throughout the world, it explains how values arise and spread, why people make different decisions, and how to use these differences to create effective solutions <ref> Humanemergencemiddleeast.org, (2014). Human Emergence Middle East. [online] Available at: http://www.humanemergencemiddleeast.org/technologies.html [Accessed 31 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. To do this, the authors presents eight levels of value memes, or broad world view paradigms, starting from the Beige level of Semi-Stone Age survival instincts, to the Turquoise level of a holistic, spiritual society based upon the interconnectedness of all life <ref> Dinan, S. (2014). Summary of Spiral Dynamics by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan by SteveDinan. [online] Spiraldynamics.com. Available at: http://www.spiraldynamics.com/book/SDreview_Dinan.htm [Accessed 29 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. These levels, however, do not possess the rigid and hierarchical character characteristic of many step models. While levels are organized according to their appropriate sophistication and complexity, a healthy expression of all levels is necessary depending upon the person and situation <ref> Dinan, S. (2014). Summary of Spiral Dynamics by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan by SteveDinan. [online] Spiraldynamics.com. Available at: http://www.spiraldynamics.com/book/SDreview_Dinan.htm [Accessed 29 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. This allows for the appreciation of each level, resulting in the ability to better help people by meeting people where they are at, and taking steps forward from there. From this framework, Beck and Cowan propose global solutions by suggesting that a step-by-step process tailored to an individual nation is much more effective than imposing an idealized structure that is a leap from the present situation <ref> Dinan, S. (2014). Summary of Spiral Dynamics by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan by SteveDinan. [online] Spiraldynamics.com. Available at: http://www.spiraldynamics.com/book/SDreview_Dinan.htm [Accessed 29 Jul. 2014]. </ref>.
Don Beck has also been very active in applying Spiral Dynamics in global situations. He was involved in the design of post-apartheid South Africa. He co-founded the Spiral Dynamics Integral, which is an online resource for publications and trainings. With several important figures such as Ken Wilber, he co-founded The Center for Human Emergence, a think tank aiming to support a conscious evolution in the world by focusing on the deeper codes that underlie our worldviews, belief systems, and behaviors <ref> Humanemergence.org, (2014). CHE. [online] Available at: http://www.humanemergence.org/home.html [Accessed 31 Jul. 2014]. </ref>. It strives to generate electronic maps that monitor the patterns of our collective selves to propose solutions for moving forward <ref>Humanemergence.org, (2014). CHE. [online] Available at: http://www.humanemergence.org/home.html [Accessed 31 Jul. 2014].</ref>. He has also co-founded the Build Palestine Initiative with Elza Maalouf to bring about cultural transformation in the Middle East.
Frankfort School philosopher Herbert Marcuse believed that civilization was haunted by “guilt over a deed that has not been accomplished,” the deed of “liberation.”
Herbert Marcuse (German: [maʁˈkuːzə]; July 19, 1898 – July 29, 1979) was a German American philosopher, sociologist, and political theorist, associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory. Born in Berlin, Marcuse studied at the universities of Berlin and then at Freiburg, where he received his Ph.D.<ref>Lemert, Charles. Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings. Westview Press, Boulder, CO. 2010.</ref> He was a prominent figure in the Frankfurt-based Institute for Social Research – what later became known as the Frankfurt School. He was married to Sophie Wertheim (1924–1951), Inge Neumann (1955–1972), and Erica Sherover (1976–1979). <ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Active in the United States after 1934, his intellectual concerns were the dehumanizing effects of capitalism and modern technology. He offers a powerful critique of modern industrial societies and the material and entertainment cultures they manufacture, arguing that they use new forms of social control to dupe the masses into accepting the ways things are.<ref>Mann, Douglas. "A Survey of Modern Social Theory". Oxford University Press. 2008.</ref>
After his studies, in the late 1960s and the 1970s he became known as the preeminent theorist of the New Left and the student movements of Germany, France, and the US. Between 1943 and 1950, Marcuse worked in US Government Service, which helped form the basis of his book Soviet Marxism (1964). Celebrated as the "Father of the New Left",<ref name=kellner12>Template:Cite web</ref> his best known works are Eros and Civilization (1955) and One-Dimensional Man (1964). His Marxist scholarship inspired many radical intellectuals and political activists in the 1960s and 1970s, both in the U.S. and internationally.
Stanislav Grof (born July 1, 1931) is a psychiatrist, one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology and a pioneering researcher into the use of non-ordinary states of consciousness for purposes of exploring, healing, and obtaining growth and insights into the human psyche. Grof received the VISION 97 award granted by the Foundation of Dagmar and Václav Havel in Prague on October 5, 2007.
Grof is known for his early studies of LSD and its effects on the psyche—the field of psychedelic therapy. Building on his observations while conducting LSD research and on Otto Rank's theory of birth trauma, Grof constructed a theoretical framework for prenatal and perinatal psychology and transpersonal psychology in which LSD trips and other powerfully emotional experiences were mapped onto a person's early fetal and neonatal experiences. <ref>Template:Cite book</ref> Over time, this theory developed into an in-depth "cartography" of the deep human psyche. Following the suppression of legal LSD use in the late 1960s, Grof went on to discover that many of these states of mind could be explored without drugs by using certain breathing techniques in a supportive environment. <ref name="Cortright">Template:Cite book</ref> He continues this work today under the title "Holotropic Breathwork".
As founding president of the International Transpersonal Association (founded in 1977), he went on to become distinguished adjunct faculty member of the Department of Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies, a position he remains in today.
Henry FitzGerald Heard<ref>Official Website - Christened as Henry Fitz Gerald Heard</ref> commonly called Gerald Heard (October 6, 1889 - August 14, 1971) was an historian, science writer, educator, and philosopher. He wrote many articles and over 35 books. Heard was a guide and mentor to numerous well-known Americans, including Clare Boothe Luce and Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, in the 1950s and 1960s. His work was a forerunner of, and influence on, the consciousness development movement that has spread in the Western world since the 1960s.
In 1963, what some consider to be Heard's magnum opus, a book titled The Five Ages of Man, was published. According to Heard, the prevalent developmental stage among humans in today’s well-industrialized societies (especially in the West) should be regarded as the fourth: the "humanic stage" of the “total individual,” who is mentally dominated, feeling him- or herself to be autonomous, separate from other persons. Heard writes (p. 226) this stage is characterized by "the basic humanic concept of a mankind that is completely self-seeking because it is completely individualized into separate physiques that can have direct knowledge of only their own private pain and pleasure, inferring but faintly the feelings of others. Such a race of ingenious animals, each able to see and to seek his own advantage, must be kept in combination with each other by appealing to their separate interests."
In modern industrial societies, a person, especially if educated, has the opportunity to begin entering the “first maturity” of the humanic “total individual” in his or her mid teens. However, according to Heard — based on his decades of studies, his intuition, and his many years of reflection — a fifth stage is in the process of emerging: a post-individual psychological phase of persons and therefore of culture. According to Heard, the second maturity can be one that lies beyond "personal success, economic mastery, and the psychophysical capacity to enjoy life" (p. 240)
Heard termed this phase "Leptoid Man" (from the Greek word lepsis: "to leap") because humans increasingly face the opportunity to "take a leap" into a considerably expanded consciousness, in which the various aspects of the psyche will be integrated, without any aspects being repressed or seeming foreign. A society that recognizes this stage of development will honor and support individuals in a "second maturity" who wish to resolve their inner conflicts and dissolve their inner blockages and become the sages of the modern world. Further, instead of simply enjoying biological and psychological health, as Freud and other important psychiatric or psychological philosophers of the “total-individual” phase conceived, Leptoid man will not only have entered a meaningful “second maturity” recognized by his or her society, but can then become a human of developed spirituality, similar to the mystics of the past; and a person of wisdom.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref>
But collectively and culturally we are still in the transitional phase, not really recognizing an identity beyond the super-individualistic fourth, "humanic" phase. Heard's views were cautionary about developments in society that were not balanced, about inappropriate aims of our use of technological power. He wrote: "we are aware of our precarious imbalance: of our persistent and ever-increasing production of power and our inadequacy of purpose; of our critical analytic ability and our creative paucity; of our triumphantly efficient technical education and our ineffective, irrelevant education for values, for meaning, for the training of the will, the lifting of the heart, and the illumination of the mind."<ref>Template:Cite book</ref>
Lewis Mumford, KBE (October 19, 1895 – January 26, 1990) was an American historian, sociologist, philosopher of technology, and literary critic. Particularly noted for his study of cities and urban architecture, he had a broad career as a writer. Mumford was influenced by the work of Scottish theorist Sir Patrick Geddes and worked closely with his associate the British sociologist Victor Branford.
Mumford was also a contemporary and friend of Frank Lloyd Wright, Clarence Stein, Frederic Osborn, Edmund N. Bacon, and Vannevar Bush.
Mumford believed that what defined humanity, what set human beings apart from other animals, was not primarily our use of tools (technology) but our use of language (symbols). He was convinced that the sharing of information and ideas amongst participants of primitive societies was completely natural to early humanity, and had obviously been the foundation of society as it became more sophisticated and complex. He had hopes for a continuation of this process of information “pooling” in the world as humanity moved into the future.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>
Mumford's choice of the word "technics" throughout his work was deliberate. For Mumford, technology is one part of technics. Using the broader definition of the Greek tekhne, which means not only technology but also art, skill and dexterity, technics refers to the interplay of a social milieu and technological innovation—the "wishes, habits, ideas, goals" as well as "industrial processes" of a society. As Mumford writes at the beginning of Technics and Civilization, "other civilizations reached a high degree of technical proficiency without, apparently, being profoundly influenced by the methods and aims of technics."
Megatechnics In The Myth of the Machine Vol II: The Pentagon of Power (Chapter 12) (1970), Mumford criticizes the modern trend of technology, which emphasizes constant, unrestricted expansion, production, and replacement. He contends that these goals work against technical perfection, durability, social efficiency, and overall human satisfaction. Modern technology—which he calls 'megatechnics'—fails to produce lasting, quality products by using devices such as consumer credit, installment buying, non-functioning and defective designs, built-in fragility, and frequent superficial "fashion" changes. "Without constant enticement by advertising," he writes, "production would slow down and level off to normal replacement demand. Otherwise many products could reach a plateau of efficient design which would call for only minimal changes from year to year."
Biotechnics Mumford describes an organic model of technology, or biotechnics, as a contrast to megatechnics. Organic systems direct themselves to "qualitative richness, amplitude, spaciousness, and freedom from quantitative pressures and crowding. Self-regulation, self-correction, and self-propulsion are as much an integral property of organisms as nutrition, reproduction, growth, and repair." Biotechnics models life in seeking balance, wholeness, and completeness.
Urban Civilization The City in History won the 1962 U.S. National Book Award for Nonfiction.<ref name=nba1962>"National Book Awards – 1962". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-19.</ref> In this influential book Mumford explored the development of urban civilizations. Harshly critical of urban sprawl, Mumford argues that the structure of modern cities is partially responsible for many social problems seen in western society. While pessimistic in tone, Mumford argues that urban planning should emphasize an organic relationship between people and their living spaces.
Mumford uses the example of the medieval city as the basis for the "ideal city," and claims that the modern city is too close to the Roman city (the sprawling megalopolis) which ended in collapse; if the modern city carries on in the same vein, Mumford argues, then it will meet the same fate as the Roman city.
Mumford wrote critically of urban culture believing the city is "a product of earth ... a fact of nature ... man's method of expression."<ref>Mumford, The Culture of Cities, 1938</ref> Further, Mumford recognized the crises facing urban culture, distrusting of the growing finance industry, political structures, fearful that a local community culture was not being fostered by these institutions. Mumford feared "metropolitan finance," urbanisation, politics, and alienation. Mumford wrote: "The physical design of cities and their economic functions are secondary to their relationship to the natural environment and to the spiritual values of human community."
Murray Bookchin (January 14, 1921 – July 30, 2006) was an American anarchist and libertarian socialist author, orator, historian, and political theoretician. A pioneer in the ecology movement, Bookchin initiated the critical theory of social ecology within anarchist, libertarian socialist, and ecological thought. He was the author of two dozen books on politics, philosophy, history, and urban affairs as well as ecology among which the most important were Our Synthetic Environment, Post-Scarcity Anarchism and The Ecology of Freedom. In the late 1990s he became disenchanted with the increasingly apolitical lifestylism of the contemporary anarchist movement and stopped referring to himself as an anarchist. Instead, he founded his own libertarian socialist ideology called Communalism. <ref>Biehl, Janet. ‘’Bookchin Breaks with Anarchism’’. ‘’Communalism’’ October 2007: 1.</ref>
Bookchin was an anti-capitalist and vocal advocate of the decentralisation of society along ecological and democratic lines. His writings on libertarian municipalism, a theory of face-to-face, assembly democracy, had an influence on the Green movement and anti-capitalist direct action groups such as Reclaim the Streets.
Gregory Bateson (9 May 1904 – 4 July 1980) was an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, visual anthropologist, semiotician and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other fields. In the 1940s he helped extend systems theory/cybernetics to the social/behavioral sciences, and spent the last decade of his life developing a "meta-science" of epistemology to bring together the various early forms of systems theory developing in various fields of science.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> Some of his most noted writings are to be found in his books, Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972) and Mind and Nature (1979). Angels Fear (published posthumously in 1987) was co-authored by his daughter Mary Catherine Bateson.
The Role of Somatic Change in Evolution According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary the term somatic is basically defined as the body or body cells of change distinguished from germplasm or psyche/mind. Gregory Bateson writes about how the actual physical changes in the body occur within evolutionary processes. He describes this through the introduction of the concept of “economics of flexibility”. In his conclusion he makes seven statements or theoretical positions which may be supported by his ideology. The first is the idea that although environmental stresses have theoretically been believed to guide or dictate the changes in the soma (physical body), the introduction of new stresses do not automatically result in the physical changes necessary for survival as suggested by original evolutionary theory.<ref name="Bateson 1963">Template:Cite book</ref> In fact the introduction of these stresses can greatly weaken the organism. An example that he gives is the sheltering of a sick person from the weather or the fact that someone who works in an office would have a hard time working as a rock climber and vice versa. The second position states that though “the economics of flexibility has a logical structure-each successive demand upon flexibility fractioning the set of available possibilities”.<ref name="Bateson 1963">Template:Cite book</ref> This means that theoretically speaking each demand or variable creates a new set of possibilities. Bateson’s third conclusion is “that the genotypic change commonly makes demand upon the adjustive ability of the soma”.<ref name="Bateson 1963">Template:Cite book</ref> This, he states, is the commonly held belief among biologists although there is no evidence to support the claim. Added demands are made on the soma by sequential genotypic modifications is the fourth position. Through this he suggests the following three expectations:<ref name="Bateson 1963">Template:Cite book</ref>
- The idea that organisms that have been through recent modifications will be delicate.
- The belief that these organisms will become progressively harmful or dangerous.
- That over time these new “breeds” will become more resistant to the stresses of the environment and change in genetic traits.
The fifth theoretical position which Bateson believes is supported by his data is that characteristics within an organism that have been modified due to environmental stresses may coincide with genetically determined attributes.<ref name="Bateson 1963">Template:Cite book</ref> His sixth position is that it takes less economic flexibility to create somatic change than it does to cause a genotypic modification. The seventh and final theory he believes to be supported is the idea that in rare occasions there will be populations whose changes will not be in accordance with the thesis presented within this paper. According to Bateson, none of these positions (at the time) could be tested but he called for the creation of a test which could possibly prove or disprove the theoretical positions suggested within.<ref name="Bateson 1963">Template:Cite book</ref>
Ecological anthropology and cybernetics In his book Steps to an Ecology of Mind, Bateson applied cybernetics to the field of ecological anthropology and the concept of homeostasis.<ref name="Bateson 1972">Template:Cite book</ref> He saw the world as a series of systems containing those of individuals, societies and ecosystems. Within each system is found competition and dependency. Each of these systems has adaptive changes which depend upon feedback loops to control balance by changing multiple variables. Bateson believed that these self-correcting systems were conservative by controlling exponential slippage. He saw the natural ecological system as innately good as long as it was allowed to maintain homeostasis<ref name="Bateson 1972"/> and that the key unit of survival in evolution was an organism and its environment.<ref name="Bateson 1972"/>
Bateson also viewed that all three systems of the individual, society and ecosystem were all together a part of one supreme cybernetic system that controls everything instead of just interacting systems.<ref name="Bateson 1972"/> This supreme cybernetic system is beyond the self of the individual and could be equated to what many people refer to as God, though Bateson referred to it as Mind.<ref name="Bateson 1972"/> While Mind is a cybernetic system, it can only be distinguished as a whole and not parts. Bateson felt Mind was immanent in the messages and pathways of the supreme cybernetic system. He saw the root of system collapses as a result of Occidental or Western epistemology. According to Bateson, consciousness is the bridge between the cybernetic networks of individual, society and ecology and that the mismatch between the systems due to improper understanding will be result in the degradation of the entire supreme cybernetic system or Mind. Bateson saw consciousness as developed through Occidental epistemology was at direct odds with Mind.<ref name="Bateson 1972"/>
At the heart of the matter is scientific hubris. Bateson argues that Occidental epistemology perpetuates a system of understanding which is purpose or means-to-an-end driven.<ref name="Bateson 1972"/> Purpose controls attention and narrows perception, thus limiting what comes into consciousness and therefore limiting the amount of wisdom that can be generated from the perception. Additionally Occidental epistemology propagates the false notion that man exists outside Mind and this leads man to believe in what Bateson calls the philosophy of control based upon false knowledge.<ref name="Bateson 1972"/>
Bateson presents Occidental epistemology as a method of thinking that leads to a mindset in which man exerts an autocratic rule over all cybernetic systems.<ref name="Bateson 1972"/> In exerting his autocratic rule man changes the environment to suit him and in doing so he unbalances the natural cybernetic system of controlled competition and mutual dependency. The purpose-driven accumulation of knowledge ignores the supreme cybernetic system and leads to the eventual breakdown of the entire system. Bateson claims that man will never be able to control the whole system because it does not operate in a linear fashion and if man creates his own rules for the system, he opens himself up to becoming a slave to the self-made system due to the non-linear nature of cybernetics. Lastly, man’s technological prowess combined with his scientific hubris gives him the potential to irrevocably damage and destroy the supreme cybernetic system, instead of just disrupting the system temporally until the system can self-correct.<ref name="Bateson 1972"/>
Bateson argues for a position of humility and acceptance of the natural cybernetic system instead of scientific arrogance as a solution.<ref name="Bateson 1972"/> He believes that humility can come about by abandoning the view of operating through consciousness alone. Consciousness is only one way in which to obtain knowledge and without complete knowledge of the entire cybernetic system disaster is inevitable. The limited conscious must be combined with the unconscious in complete synthesis. Only when thought and emotion are combined in whole is man able to obtain complete knowledge. He believed that religion and art are some of the few areas in which a man is acting as a whole individual in complete consciousness. By acting with this greater wisdom of the supreme cybernetic system as a whole man can change his relationship to Mind from one of schism, in which he is endlessly tied up in constant competition, to one of complementarity. Bateson argues for a culture that promotes the most general wisdom and is able to flexibly change within the supreme cybernetic system.<ref name="Bateson 1972"/>
Joel Kovel (born 27 August 1936) is an American scholar and author.
Kovel became involved in political activism in the 1960s as a result of the Vietnam War. He began to study Marx which created a "conflict with his identity as a Freudian psychoanalyst" (he would eventually abandon medicine, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis in 1985). He also worked in defense of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. By the late 1980s, he became involved with the Environmental movement. He then had a brief career with the Green Party of the US, under which he ran for the U.S. Senate in 1998 and "sought the party’s presidential nomination in Denver in 2000."<ref name="KovelSite">Template:Cite web</ref>
Kovel is an advisory editor of Socialist Resistance.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
Kovel advocates the non-violent dismantling of capitalism and the state, focusing on collective ownership of the means of production by freely associated producers and restoration of the Commons.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
Eco-socialist revolution Kovel uses the term “Eco-socialist revolution” to describe the transition to an eco-socialist world society. In the immediate socio-political transition, he believes that four groups will emerge from the revolution – revolutionaries, those “whose productive activity is directly compatible with ecological production” (such as nurses, schoolteachers, librarians, independent farmers and many other examples), those “whose pre-revolutionary practice was given over to capital” (including the bourgeoisie, advertising executives and more) and “the workers whose activity added surplus value to capitalist commodities”. In terms of political organisation, he advocates an “interim assembly” made up of the revolutionaries that can “devise incentives to make sure that vital functions are maintained” (such as short-term continuation of “differential remuneration” for labor), “handle the redistribution of social roles and assets”, convene “in widespread locations”, and send delegates to regional, state, national and international organisations, where every level has an “executive council” that is rotated and can be recalled. From there, he asserts that “productive communities” will “form the political as well as economic unit of society” and “organize others” to make a transition to eco-socialist production; he adds that people will be allowed to be members of any community they choose with “associate membership” of others, such as a doctor having main membership of healthcare communities as a doctor and associate membership of child-rearing communities as a father. Each locality would, in Kovel’s eyes, require one community that administered the areas of jurisdiction through an elected assembly. High-level assemblies would have additional “supervisory” roles over localities to monitor the development of ecosystemic integrity, and administer “society-wide services” like transport in “state-like functions”, before the interim assembly can transfer responsibilities to “the level of the society as a whole through appropriate and democratically responsive committees”.<ref name=Kovel>Kovel, J., The Enemy of Nature, 2002.</ref>
Antonio "Toni" Negri (born 1 August 1933) is an Italian Marxist sociologist and political philosopher, best known for his co-authorship of Empire, and secondarily for his work on Spinoza.
Born in Padua, he became a political philosophy professor in his hometown university. Negri founded the Potere Operaio (Worker Power) group in 1969 and was a leading member of Autonomia Operaia.<ref name="bioegs">Template:Cite web</ref> As one of the most popular theorists of Autonomism, he has published hugely influential books urging "revolutionary consciousness."
He was accused in the late 1970s of various charges including being the mastermind of the left-wing terrorist group Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse or BR), involved in the May 1978 assassination of Aldo Moro, two-time Prime Minister of Italy, and leader of the Christian-Democrat Party, among others. Voice evidence suggested Negri made a threatening phone call on behalf of the BR, but the court was unable to conclusively prove his ties. <ref name="portelli">Template:Cite journal</ref> The question of Negri's complicity with left-wing terrorism is a controversial subject. <ref name=drake>Drake, Richard. "The Red and the Black: Terrorism in Contemporary Italy", International Political Science Review / Revue internationale de science politique, Vol. 5, No. 3, Political Crises (1984), pp. 279–298. Quote: "The debate over Toni Negri's complicity in left-wing terrorism has already resulted in the publication of several thick polemical volumes, as well as a huge number of op-ed pieces."</ref> He was indicted on a number of charges, including "association and insurrection against the state" (a charge which was later dropped), and sentenced for involvement in two murders.
Negri fled to France where, protected by the Mitterrand doctrine, he taught at the Université de Vincennes (Paris-VIII) and the Collège International de philosophie, along with Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze.<ref name="bioegs"/> In 1997, after a plea-bargain that reduced his prison time from 30 to 13 years,<ref name=windschuttle>Windschuttle, Keith. "Tutorials in Terrorism" The Australian, 16 March 2005 Template:Dead link</ref> he returned to Italy to serve the end of his sentence. Many of his most influential books were published while he was behind bars. He now lives in Venice and Paris with his partner, the French philosopher Judith Revel.
Lynn Margulis, Microcosmos
Lynn Margulis (born Lynn Alexander;<ref name="obit">Template:Cite journal</ref> March 5, 1938 – November 22, 2011)<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> was an American biologist and University Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.<ref>Lynn Margulis biography at U. Mass. (Accessed July 15, 2006)</ref> She developed a theory of the origin of eukaryotic organelles, and contributed to the endosymbiotic theory, which is now generally accepted for how certain organelles were formed. She showed that animals, plants, and fungi all originated from Protists. She is also associated with the Gaia hypothesis, based on an idea developed by the English environmental scientist James Lovelock.
Her book Microcosmos tells the story of life on Earth from its origins down to the present, with a focus on what Stephen Jay Gould calls "the modal bacter", on the central role played by bacteria and other microbes<ref>Yee, D. (1997). Microcosmos (Lynn Margulis, Dorion Sagan) - book review. [online] Dannyreviews.com. Available at: http://dannyreviews.com/h/Microcosmos.html [Accessed 12 Aug. 2014].</ref>. It brings together the remarkable discoveries of microbiology of the past two decades and the pioneering research of Dr. Margulis to create a vivid new picture of the world that is crucial to our understanding of the future of the planet. Addressed to general readers, the book provides a beautifully written view of evolution as a process based on interdependency and thei nterconnectedness of all life on the planet. As well as looking at things from a microbial perspective, Margulis and Sagan place a stress on the role of symbiosis and cooperation in evolution <ref>Amazon.com, (2014). Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution: Lynn Margulis, Dorion Sagan, Lewis Thomas: 9780520210646: Amazon.com: Books. [online] Available at: http://www.amazon.com/Microcosmos-Billion-Years-Microbial-Evolution/dp/0520210646 [Accessed 12 Aug. 2014].</ref>. Margulis was largely responsible for reviving the now generally accepted endosymbiotic theory for the origin of mitochondria and chloroplasts, and that is one of the topics covered<ref>Yee, D. (1997). Microcosmos (Lynn Margulis, Dorion Sagan) - book review. [online] Dannyreviews.com. Available at: http://dannyreviews.com/h/Microcosmos.html [Accessed 12 Aug. 2014].</ref>.
EO Wilson, The Social Conquest of Earth
Edward Osborne "E. O." Wilson FMLS (born June 10, 1929) is an American biologist, researcher (sociobiology, biodiversity), theorist (consilience, biophilia), naturalist (conservationist) and author. His biological specialty is myrmecology, the study of ants, on which he is considered to be the world's leading authority.<ref>Template:Cite news</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
Wilson is known for his scientific career, his role as "the father of sociobiology" and "the father of biodiversity", his environmental advocacy, and his secular-humanist and deist ideas pertaining to religious and ethical matters.<ref name="cnn">Template:Cite news</ref>
Wilson is currently the Pellegrino University Research Professor, Emeritus in Entomology for the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, a lecturer at Duke University,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>and a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is a Humanist Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism.<ref>"E.O. Wilson Profile" - Comprehensive list of Degrees, Awards and Positions</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref> He is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and a New York Times bestseller for The Social Conquest of Earth and Letters to a Young Scientist.
His book The Social Conquest of Earth seeks to answer the fundamental questions: Where did we come from?, What are we?, and Where are we going?. Refashioning the story of human evolution Wilson draws on his knowledge of biology and social behavior to show that group selection, not kin selection, is the primary driving force of human evolution. <ref>Google Books, (2014). The Social Conquest of Earth. [online] Available at: http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Social_Conquest_of_Earth.html?id=mbqlmgEACAAJ [Accessed 12 Aug. 2014].</ref> He explains that by being super-cooperators willing to set aside selfish desires, ants have been able to gain power over the insect world<ref>Angier, N. (2012). Edward O. Wilson’s New Take on Human Nature. [online] Smithsonian. Available at: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/edward-o-wilsons-new-take-on-human-nature-160810520/?no-ist [Accessed 12 Aug. 2014].</ref>. Humans, too, have acted similarly to dominate the macroworld. Wilson additionally considers humans and ants as being eusocial, as they live in multigenerational communities, practice division of labor and behave altruistically, ready to sacrifice some personal interests for the group<ref>Angier, N. (2012). Edward O. Wilson’s New Take on Human Nature. [online] Smithsonian. Available at: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/edward-o-wilsons-new-take-on-human-nature-160810520/?no-ist [Accessed 12 Aug. 2014].</ref>. However, man’s eusocial quality is different than that of ants, as they are influenced by their unique anatomy, intellect, emotions, and free will. While this eusocial quality have allowed humans to live in a greater state of complexity than other species, it is also a curse as is evident from mankind's destructive behaviors, resulting in violent conflict between different groups, and tension between the individual and the collective <ref>Angier, N. (2012). Edward O. Wilson’s New Take on Human Nature. [online] Smithsonian. Available at: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/edward-o-wilsons-new-take-on-human-nature-160810520/?no-ist [Accessed 12 Aug. 2014].</ref>.
Bruce H. Lipton, PhD is an internationally recognized leader in bridging science and spirit. Stem cell biologist, bestselling author of The Biology of Belief and recipient of the 2009 Goi Peace Award, he has been a guest speaker on hundreds of TV and radio shows, as well as keynote presenter for national and international conferences <ref>BruceLipton.com, (2014). About Bruce Lipton. [online] Available at: https://www.brucelipton.com/about [Accessed 14 Aug. 2014].</ref>.
Dr. Lipton began his scientific career as a cell biologist. He received his Ph.D. Degree from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville before joining the Department of Anatomy at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine in 1973. In 1982, Dr. Lipton began examining the principles of quantum physics and how they might be integrated into his understanding of the cell’s information processing systems. He produced breakthrough studies on the cell membrane, which revealed that this outer layer of the cell was an organic homologue of a computer chip, the cell’s equivalent of a brain. His research at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, between 1987 and 1992, revealed that the environment, operating though the membrane, controlled the behavior and physiology of the cell, turning genes on and off. His discoveries, which ran counter to the established scientific view that life is controlled by the genes, presaged one of today’s most important fields of study, the science of epigenetics. Two major scientific publications derived from these studies defined the molecular pathways connecting the mind and body. Many subsequent papers by other researchers have since validated his concepts and ideas.
Dr. Lipton’s novel scientific approach transformed his personal life as well. His deepened understanding of cell biology highlighted the mechanisms by which the mind controls bodily functions, and implied the existence of an immortal spirit. He applied this science to his personal biology, and discovered that his physical well-being improved, and the quality and character of his daily life was greatly enhanced.
Robert Wright, Nonzero
Robert Wright (born 1957) is an American journalist, scholar, and prize-winning author of best-selling books about science, evolutionary psychology, history, religion, and game theory, including The Evolution of God, Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, The Moral Animal, and Three Scientists and Their Gods: Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information. He is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Bloggingheads.tv. He is a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, <ref name=NAprofile>Template:Cite web</ref> a think tank that has been described as radical centrist in orientation.<ref>Morin, Richard; Deane, Claudia (10 December 2001). "Big Thinker. Ted Halstead’s New America Foundation Has It All: Money, Brains and Buzz". The Washington Post, Style section, p. 1.</ref> Additionally, Wright teaches an undergraduate seminar at Princeton University on the connections between modern cognitive science and Buddhism, in addition to an online course on the same subject.
Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny is a book by Robert Wright originally published in 2000. The principal argument of Nonzero is to demonstrate that natural selection results in increasing complexity within the world and greater rewards for cooperation. Since, as Wright puts it, the realization of such prospects is dependent upon increased levels of globalization, communication, cooperation, and trust, what is thought of as human intelligence is really just a long step in an evolutionary process of organisms (as well as their networks and individual parts) getting better at processing information.<ref name=NZ-B-H-01/>
Through this lens, and an overview of human and global history, Wright typifies the argument against the views of noted paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould. Gould wrote that "Humans are here by the luck of the draw." Wright acknowledges one aspect of Gould's argument—that the evolutionary process was not such that it would inevitably create humans as we know them today ("five fingers, five toes, and so on") but that evolution would almost certainly result in the creation of highly intelligent, communicating organisms, who would in turn develop tools and advanced technologies.
Evidence for natural selection driving improvements in information processing is given throughout, including the case of the bombardier beetle, an insect that developed the ability to spray its attackers with harsh chemicals. This, in turn, favored predators via natural selection who had techniques to avoid the spray. As Wright puts it, "complexity breeds complexity." This is the often referred to evolutionary phenomenon of the "arms race," wherein competing organisms stack up their developments in competition with one another.
Via this increasing complexity, according to Nonzero, higher intelligence was thus destined to happen, perhaps even "inevitable" (see discussion of inevitability below). Though the stated thesis is that evolution is headed in the direction of "non-zero-sumness," Wright argues that the realization of such prospects is dependent upon improvements in information processing, thus neatly carving out a reason for the creation and cultural evolution of the human species.
An internationally recognized proponent and practitioner of sustainability, Bill is president of the Integrative Design Collaborative - a consulting organization working to evolve green building design practice into an approach that is fully integrated with living systems. He is a principal of the regenerative planning firm Regenesis and the strategic environmental planning firm Integrative Design. His work centers on managing and creating frameworks for integrative, whole-systems design processes. His larger vocation is to grow new capability in the design and construction industries to engage regeneratively with our environment. . Ultimately, his objective is to improve the overall quality of the physical, social and spiritual life of our living places.
Bill served as co-chair of the LEED Technical Committee from its inception in 1994 through 2003; is a member of the LEED Advanced faculty and one of the first of twelve USGBC trainers of the LEED Rating System; a founding Board Member of the US Green Building Council; and served on the national executive committee of the AIA Committee On The Environment. He currently serves on the Board of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, as an advisor to Environmental Building News, and on the board of CitiLog.
Bill is a consultant, design process facilitator, and lecturer. He has participated in over 200 presentations and workshops relating to Sustainable and Regenerative Design. He has consulted on dozens of LEED projects - achieving many certifications - Certified to Platinum. He is a guest lecturer at Universities from Harvard to University of British Columbia. His clients range from New York City Department of Design and Construction, U.S. General Services Administration, Loreto Bay, Baja, Mexico, Sidwell Friends School, US Green Building Council, Genzyme Corporation, Teknion, LLC, the Willow School, various city planning agencies on the East and West coast, and many private development companies in the US, Canada, and Mexico.
James Gustave Speth
James Gustave Speth: America the Possible
Once dubbed the “ultimate insider” by Time Magazine, Speth was Jimmy Carter’s economic adviser in the late 70s, helped started several major environmental groups in the US, and served as dean of Yale University’s environmental school. In 2011, he was arrested in front of the White House protesting the Keystone XL pipeline, spending two nights in jail. He concludes that “working inside the system is insufficient. We have to step outside America’s broken system of political economy and begin the difficult job of transforming it.”
In America the Possible, he argues that reform is not enough. We require a reinvention of our political and economic order - a new operating system for our civilization. He advocates that we build a broad-based movement of progressive citizens, using civil disobedience on a large scale to fight against the ruinous effects of our current system. In the US over the last decades, we have seen a massive transfer of wealth to a small, insulated elite. At the same time, global capitalism ravages the environment, potentially leading to climate catastrophe, in a never-ending search for new markets and further growth.
Speth notes that the American system is failing its people. Among First World countries, America has the highest poverty rate, greatest income inequality, lowest social mobility, highest homicide rate, highest prison population (24% of the world’s prisoners are in the US), highest military spending in total and as percentage of GDP with up to a thousand military bases around the globe. The American “political economy - the basic operating system of our society - rewards the pursuit of profit, growth, and power and does little to encourage a concern for people, place and planet.”
A system based on economic growth at all cost has become destructive to human society and threatens the natural world with decimation. “Today, the big banks are financing… the destruction of the planet’s climate.” Progressive efforts to enact reforms have failed badly.
Reviewing the overwhelming power of the current order, Speth argues we need a “new operating system,” but does not believe this can happen right away. “The new values, priorities, policies, and institutions that would constitute a new political economy are not at hand and won’t be for many years. The truth is we are still mostly in the design stage of a new operating system.”
This perspective contrasts with Speth’s accurate analysis of our current ecological plight, particularly the immediate danger of runaway climate change, which underlines the urgent need for rapid change. Without a rapid transition, he argues, our world will soon disintegrate into “climate chaos,” and “the wreckage of a planetary civilization run amok.”
It is only a matter of time before a new movement emerges. “The persistence of our many problems will progressively delegitimize the current order,” he writes. People will eventually rise up: “Protests can quickly grow to become a national and global movement for transformation, demanding a better world.”
He notes we are already seeing the development of many new and innovative models - “local living economies,” transition towns, social enterprises, and so on - which point in the direction of a new political economy: a new American Dream rooted in sustainability , community, solidarity, and respect for nature.
Economic Inequality in the US
Poverty is increasing rapidly in America. In 2008, almost one in every seven Americans lives below the poverty line. In 2010, close to one person in six. In 2010 the official poverty line was family income below $2249 for a family of four - but more than 40 percent of poor US families have incomes of less than half the poverty line. From 2000 - 2005, the severely poor grew by 26 percent. The poverty rate among blacks is almost three times that of whites. The reason for the high rates of poverty in the US is because the US does less than other countries to reduce it.
According to Jacob Hacker’s The Great Risk Shift (2006), “more and more economic risk has been offloaded by government and corporations onto the increasingly fragile balance sheets of workers and their families.” In 2011, The Wall Street Journal reported that nearly half of Americans are “financially fragile” - unable to come up with $2,000 in thirty days. While a small proportion of the elite has seen a tremendous rise in wealth, average incomes have hardly increased since 1980, from $30,941 to $31,244 in 2008 - a gain of $303 in twenty-eight years.
Speth writes, “What America has done in the past few decades, instead of addressing the needs of the desperately poor and its shrinking middle class, is to take the lion’s share of its impressive GDP and productivity gains and engage in a far-reaching project of income redistribution upward, to the rich.” Today, the richest 10 percent of Americans own 80 to 90 percent of all US financial wealth, assets such as stocks, bonds, business equity, commercial real estate, and trusts. CEOs earn more than 500 times the pay of the average worker, up from forty-two times in 1980. The effective federal tax rate for the top four hundred US taxpayers dropped from 42 percent in 1961 to 17 percent in 2007.
Over the last decades, Robert Reich notes, the US government deregulated and privatized. “Companies were allowed to slash jobs and wages, cut benefits and shift risks to employees… They busted unions and threatened employees who tried to organize. The biggest companies went global with no more loyalty or connection to the United States than a GPS device. Washington deregulated Wall Street while insuring it against major losses, turning finance - which until recently had been the servant of American industry - into its master, demanding short-term profits over long-term growth and raking ig an ever larger portion of the nation’s profits.” The result has been grotesque inequality, endemic mistrust, social immiseration, debt, and retreat into denial.
Rapid Environmental Decline
“Half of the world’s tropical and temperate forests have disappeared, and a high rate of deforestation in the tropic continues. About half the wetlands and a third of the mangroves are gone. An estimated 90 percent of the large predator fish are gone, and 75 to 80 percent of marine fisheries are now overfished or fished to capacity. Twenty percent of the corals are gone, and another 20 percent are damaged or threatened. Species are disappearing about a thousand times faster than normal. The planet has not seen such a spasm of extinction in 65 million years - not since the dinosaurs disappeared… We have pushed atmospheric carbon dioxide up by more than a third. The earth’s ice fields are melting almost everywhere.”
“Emissions of greenhouse gases have already committed the planet to a global average warming of 1.4 degree Celsius over the preindustrial (1880) level. Even if all the emission cuts pledged by governments in Copenhagen in 2009 are met, it is estimated that global average temperatures will rise betwen 2.5 o C and 5 o C over the preindustrial level by 2100.”
Other aspects of climate change include:
- extensive droughts - increasingly severe drought conditions over much of the world by 2030
- a projected sea level rise of 2- 3 feet in this century, and possibly up to 5 feet. “Greenland’s ice sheets hold enough water to raise sea levels by seven yards. It is melting and its glaciers are moving much faster than predicted.”
- Extensive loss of forests - with four degrees temperature rise, “over 80 percent of the
Amazon forests could be destroyed by 2100.”
- Killer heat waves - “long and extreme heat waves could be commonplace in thirty years”
- Millions of climate refugees - already happening in African region of Sahel, which is becoming uninhabitable
- More intense hurricanes and floods - “Category 4 and 5 storms which can do the most damage, are projected to double in frequency in the Atlantic in this century.”
- Decline in agricultural yields even as world population and demand for food grows
- Potential for abrupt climate change: “The possibility of abrupt climate change is linked to what may be the most problematic possibility of all - “positive” feedback effects wherein the initial warming generates more warming. First, the land’s ability to store carbon could weaken. Soils and forests can dry out or burn, thereby releasing carbon. Less plant growth reduces nature’s ability to remove carbon from the air. Ocean warming could also lead to a reduction of carbon sinks in the oceans. … the potent greenhouse gas methane could be released from peat bogs, wetlands, and thawing permafrost, and even from the methane hydrates in the oceans. Finally, the earth’s albedo, the reflectivity of the earth’s surface, will be compromised… All these effects would tend to make warming self-reinforcing, greatly amplifying the greenhouse effect.”
Transition in Energy Paradigm
Speth notes, “The scale of the energy transformation needed in the United States and globally is staggering.” He recalls that carbon dioxide pollution and global warming were recognized as problems all the way back in 1981. “The ensuing thirty years of neglect now weigh heavily on us and the world… We have failed so utterly to act at home and to give leadership abroad that the world is firmly on the path to a ruined planet in the lives of our children.”
A New Operating System
Speth proposes that the most benevolent possible future for America is a movement toward a steady-state and post-growth system based on local economies, which would engender a different way of living that is more satisfying than our current winner-take-all growth-at-all-cost model. Elements of this new paradigm include:
Relocalization: “Economic and social life will be rooted in the community and the region. More production will be local and regional, with shorter, less-complex supply chains… Energy production will be distributed and decentralized, and predominantly renewable.” The commons will be extended through “community land trusts” and cooperatives.
New business models: “Locally owned businesses, including worker-, customer-, and community-owned firrms, will be prominent.”
Plenitude: “Consumerism will be supplanted by the search for abundance in things that truly bring happiness and joy - family, friends, the natural world, meaningful work.”
More Equality: “measures will be implemented to insure much greater equality not only of opportunity but also of outcome.”
Time regained: shorter working hours, more family and community time.
New goods and services: “Products will be more durable, versatile, and easy to repair, with components that can be reused or recycled.”
Resonance with nature: “Energy will be used with maximum efficiency. Zero discharge of traditional pollutants… Organic farming will eliminate pesticide and herbicide use.”
Degrowth or Post-growth: Children’s education, health, and general happiness will be seen as measures of progress, not the GDP.
Glocalism: Local connectivity and global citizenship
Speth believes that it is only a matter of time before collective awareness develops and realizes the necessity of moving in this direction. Changes that seem unrealistic today will become practical tomorrow. “It will be clear before long that system change is not starry-eyed but the only way forward.” Systemic change will come when those who realize its necessity create compelling myths and narratives of a better future.
Amory Bloch Lovins (born November 13, 1947) is an American physicist, environmental scientist, writer, and Chairman/Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute. He has worked in the field of energy policy and related areas for four decades. He was named by Time magazine one of the World's 100 most influential people in 2009.
Lovins worked professionally as an environmentalist in the 1970s and since then as an analyst of a "soft energy path" for the United States and other nations. He has promoted energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy sources, and the generation of energy at or near the site where the energy is actually used. Lovins has also advocated a "negawatt revolution" arguing that utility customers don’t want kilowatt-hours of electricity; they want energy services. In the 1990s, his work with Rocky Mountain Institute included the design of an ultra-efficient automobile, the Hypercar.
Lovins has received ten honorary doctorates and won many awards. He has provided expert testimony in eight countries, briefed 19 heads of state, and published 29 books. These books include Reinventing Fire, Winning the Oil Endgame, Small is Profitable, Brittle Power, and Natural Capitalism.
L. Hunter Lovins (née Sheldon, born 1950) is an author and a promoter of sustainable development for over 30 years, is president of Natural Capitalism Solutions, a 501(c)3 non-profit in Longmont, Colorado and the Chief Insurgent of the Madrone Project. She teaches sustainable business management at Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Seattle, Washington and at Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. She was a founding professor at Presidio Graduate School's MBA in Sustainable Management program (2002-2010). She also has taught at various universities, consulted for many citizens’ groups, governments and corporations. She co-founded with her then-husband Amory Lovins the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) which she led for 20 years.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> In demand as a speaker and consultant, she has addressed the World Economic Forum, the U.S. Congress, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and hundreds of major conferences. Named a "green business icon" by Newsweek, a millennium "Hero of the Planet" by Time Magazine, she has also received the Right Livelihood Award, the Leadership in Business Award and dozens of other honors.<ref name="natcap">Template:Cite web Template:Dead link</ref>
Paul Raskin, Tellus and GTI
Paul Raskin is the Founding Director of the Tellus Institute, which has conducted over 3,500 research and policy projects throughout the world on environmental issues, resource planning, scenario analysis, and sustainable development.
Since 1976 Tellus has conducted over 3,500 resource management and environmental strategy projects throughout the world.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The Institute is well known in the environmental strategies domain for its many studies on state and municipality recycling programs,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref> including its 1992 Packaging study,<ref>Tellus Packaging Study - P2 InfoHouse Reference Collection</ref> the 2008 Assessment of Options for Massachusetts' Solid Waste Master Plan,<ref>Tellus Packaging Study - P2 InfoHouse Reference Collection</ref> the Preliminary Analysis of the Costs and Benefits of Bottle Bills study done for the US EPA,<ref>EPA Online Library System Reference</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and the 2000 study "Measuring Waste Prevention in New York City", conducted jointly with the SAIC (U.S. company).<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
Through the years Tellus has created numerous scientific tools and reports in many different areas, including energy, water, sustainable communities, corporate social responsibility, and climate change; however, since 2005 the Institute has shifted its focus to developing a Great Transition vision for a sustainable future.<ref>Tellus Institute - About</ref>
The conceptual point of departure of Dr. Raskin's Great Transition essay is that humanity is in the midst of a profound transition, which the essay refers to as the Planetary Phase of Civilization. According to this perspective, a form of global society will consolidate in the coming decades but its ultimate character remains fundamentally and inherently uncertain. The development of the global system can branch in different directions, depending on the ways ecological systems respond to anthropogenic stresses, such as climate change and how social institutions evolve and conflicts are resolved. Most fundamentally, the form of twenty-first century society that emerges will depend on human consciousness and the choices people make in the critical years ahead. The essay envisions three broad types of possible twenty-first century scenarios — Conventional Worlds, Barbarization, and Great Transitions — and a number of variations within each category.
This scenario framework been used in numerous global, regional and national scenario assessments, such as UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> A recent comprehensive review of over 450 global scenarios found the GSG's framework to be the most useful and archetypal, "a testament to the original concept of the GSG scenarios and their development and refinement over a 16 year period"..<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>
Dr. Raskin has also served as a lead author on the National Academy of Science's Board on Sustainability, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, UNEP's Global Environmental Outlook, and the Earth Charter. He was also lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and professional reviewer of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.
John B. Fullerton is the Founder and President of Capital Institute,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> "a collaborative working to explore and effect economic transition to a more just, regenerative, and thus sustainable way of living on this earth through the transformation of finance." Through the work of Capital Institute, regular public speaking engagements, and university lectures, John has become a recognized thought leader in the New Economy space generally, and the financial system transformation challenge in particular.
John is also a recognized “impact investment” practitioner as the Principal of Level 3 Capital Advisors.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Level 3’s direct investments are primarily focused on sustainable, regenerative land use, food, and water issues. Through both Capital Institute and Level 3, John brings a unique theory and practice approach to financial system transformation.
John was a member of the Long Term Capital Oversight Committee<ref>Template:Cite news</ref> that managed the $3.6 Billion rescue of the distressed hedge fund in 1998. He is a Co-Founder and Director of Grasslands, LLC, <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>a holistic ranch management company in partnership with Savory Institute, and a Director of New Day Farms, Inc., New Economy Coalition,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and Savory Institute. He is also an Advisor to Armonia, LLC,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> a Belgian family office focused on impact investments, RSF Social Finance, and to Richard Branson’s Business Leader’s initiative ("B Team").<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> In spring 2014, John was humbled to receive a nomination to the Club of Rome; he is now a full member.
John writes the "Future of Finance" blog,<ref>Template:Cite news</ref> which is widely syndicated on platforms such as The Guardian,<ref>Template:Cite news</ref> The Huffington Post,<ref>Template:Cite news</ref> CSRWire,<ref>Template:Cite news</ref> the New York Society of Security Analysts’ blog,<ref>Template:Cite news</ref> and other publications. He has appeared on PBS Frontline,<ref>Template:Cite news</ref> and been featured in pieces by the New York Times,<ref>Template:Cite news</ref> Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal,<ref>Template:Cite news</ref> Barrons,<ref>Template:Cite news</ref> WOR radio, Real News Network, INET, Think Progress, The Laura Flanders Show on GRITtv,<ref>Template:Cite news</ref> and The Free Forum Show with Terrence NcNally.
In Future Scenarios: How Communities Can Adapt to Peak Oil and Climate Change, David Holmgren argues that energy and climate constraints are so strict that the only plausible scenario is “energy descent,” a vision that requires “a relocalization of economies, simplified technology, a ruralization of populations away from very large cities, and a reduction in total population.”
What is the Earth Charter?
"The Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental ethical principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. It seeks to inspire in all people a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the whole human family, the greater community of life, and future generations. It is a vision of hope and a call to action.
The Earth Charter is centrally concerned with the transition to sustainable ways of living and sustainable human development. Ecological integrity is one major theme. However, the Earth Charter recognizes that the goals of ecological protection, the eradication of poverty, equitable economic development, respect for human rights, democracy, and peace are interdependent and indivisible. It provides, therefore, a new, inclusive, integrated ethical framework to guide the transition to a sustainable future.
The Earth Charter is a product of a decade-long, worldwide, cross-cultural dialogue on common goals and shared values. The Earth Charter project began as a United Nations initiative, but it was carried forward and completed by a global civil society initiative.
The Earth Charter was finalized and then launched as a people’s charter on 29 June, 2000 by the Earth Charter Commission, an independent international entity, in a ceremony at the Peace Palace, in The Hague.
The drafting of the Earth Charter involved the most inclusive and participatory process ever associated with the creation of an international declaration. This process is the primary source of its legitimacy as a guiding ethical framework. The legitimacy of the document has been further enhanced by its endorsement by over 6,000 organizations, including many governments and international organizations.
In light of this legitimacy, an increasing number of international lawyers recognize that the Earth Charter is acquiring the status of a soft law document. Soft law documents like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are considered to be morally, but not legally, binding on state governments that agree to endorse and adopt them, and they often form the basis for the development of hard law.
Major changes in how we think and live are urgently needed, the Earth Charter challenges us to examine our values and to choose a better way. The Earth Charter provides a very valuable educational instrument. It encourages us to search for common ground in the midst of our diversity and to embrace a global ethic that is shared by an ever-growing number of people throughout the world."
Text of the Earth Charter
We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations. Earth, Our Home
Humanity is part of a vast evolving universe. Earth, our home, is alive with a unique community of life. The forces of nature make existence a demanding and uncertain adventure, but Earth has provided the conditions essential to life's evolution. The resilience of the community of life and the well-being of humanity depend upon preserving a healthy biosphere with all its ecological systems, a rich variety of plants and animals, fertile soils, pure waters, and clean air. The global environment with its finite resources is a common concern of all peoples. The protection of Earth's vitality, diversity, and beauty is a sacred trust.
The Global Situation
The dominant patterns of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, the depletion of resources, and a massive extinction of species. Communities are being undermined. The benefits of development are not shared equitably and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Injustice, poverty, ignorance, and violent conflict are widespread and the cause of great suffering. An unprecedented rise in human population has overburdened ecological and social systems. The foundations of global security are threatened. These trends are perilous—but not inevitable.
The Challenges Ahead
The choice is ours: form a global partnership to care for Earth and one another or risk the destruction of ourselves and the diversity of life. Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions, and ways of living. We must realize that when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more. We have the knowledge and technology to provide for all and to reduce our impacts on the environment. The emergence of a global civil society is creating new opportunities to build a democratic and humane world. Our environmental, economic, political, social, and spiritual challenges are interconnected, and together we can forge inclusive solutions.
To realize these aspirations, we must decide to live with a sense of universal responsibility, identifying ourselves with the whole Earth community as well as our local communities. We are at once citizens of different nations and of one world in which the local and global are linked. Everyone shares responsibility for the present and future well-being of the human family and the larger living world. The spirit of human solidarity and kinship with all life is strengthened when we live with reverence for the mystery of being, gratitude for the gift of life, and humility regarding the human place in nature.
We urgently need a shared vision of basic values to provide an ethical foundation for the emerging world community. Therefore, together in hope we affirm the following interdependent principles for a sustainable way of life as a common standard by which the conduct of all individuals, organizations, businesses, governments, and transnational institutions is to be guided and assessed.
I. RESPECT AND CARE FOR THE COMMUNITY OF LIFE
1. Respect Earth and life in all its diversity. a. Recognize that all beings are interdependent and every form of life has value regardless of its worth to human beings. b. Affirm faith in the inherent dignity of all human beings and in the intellectual, artistic, ethical, and spiritual potential of humanity.
2. Care for the community of life with understanding, compassion, and love. a. Accept that with the right to own, manage, and use natural resources comes the duty to prevent environmental harm and to protect the rights of people. b. Affirm that with increased freedom, knowledge, and power comes increased responsibility to promote the common good.
3. Build democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable, and peaceful. a. Ensure that communities at all levels guarantee human rights and fundamental freedoms and provide everyone an opportunity to realize his or her full potential. b. Promote social and economic justice, enabling all to achieve a secure and meaningful livelihood that is ecologically responsible.
4. Secure Earth's bounty and beauty for present and future generations. a. Recognize that the freedom of action of each generation is qualified by the needs of future generations. b. Transmit to future generations values, traditions, and institutions that support the long-term flourishing of Earth's human and ecological communities.
In order to fulfill these four broad commitments, it is necessary to:
II. ECOLOGICAL INTEGRITY
5. Protect and restore the integrity of Earth's ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life.
a. Adopt at all levels sustainable development plans and regulations that make environmental conservation and rehabilitation integral to all development initiatives. b. Establish and safeguard viable nature and biosphere reserves, including wild lands and marine areas, to protect Earth's life support systems, maintain biodiversity, and preserve our natural heritage. c. Promote the recovery of endangered species and ecosystems. d. Control and eradicate non-native or genetically modified organisms harmful to native species and the environment, and prevent introduction of such harmful organisms. e. Manage the use of renewable resources such as water, soil, forest products, and marine life in ways that do not exceed rates of regeneration and that protect the health of ecosystems. f. Manage the extraction and use of non-renewable resources such as minerals and fossil fuels in ways that minimize depletion and cause no serious environmental damage.
6. Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach. a. Take action to avoid the possibility of serious or irreversible environmental harm even when scientific knowledge is incomplete or inconclusive. b. Place the burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for environmental harm. c. Ensure that decision making addresses the cumulative, long-term, indirect, long distance, and global consequences of human activities. d. Prevent pollution of any part of the environment and allow no build-up of radioactive, toxic, or other hazardous substances. e. Avoid military activities damaging to the environment.
7. Adopt patterns of production, consumption, and reproduction that safeguard Earth's regenerative capacities, human rights, and community well-being. a. Reduce, reuse, and recycle the materials used in production and consumption systems, and ensure that residual waste can be assimilated by ecological systems. b. Act with restraint and efficiency when using energy, and rely increasingly on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. c. Promote the development, adoption, and equitable transfer of environmentally sound technologies. d. Internalize the full environmental and social costs of goods and services in the selling price, and enable consumers to identify products that meet the highest social and environmental standards. e. Ensure universal access to health care that fosters reproductive health and responsible reproduction. f. Adopt lifestyles that emphasize the quality of life and material sufficiency in a finite world.
8. Advance the study of ecological sustainability and promote the open exchange and wide application of the knowledge acquired. a. Support international scientific and technical cooperation on sustainability, with special attention to the needs of developing nations. b. Recognize and preserve the traditional knowledge and spiritual wisdom in all cultures that contribute to environmental protection and human well-being. c. Ensure that information of vital importance to human health and environmental protection, including genetic information, remains available in the public domain.
III. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE
9. Eradicate poverty as an ethical, social, and environmental imperative. a. Guarantee the right to potable water, clean air, food security, uncontaminated soil, shelter, and safe sanitation, allocating the national and international resources required. b. Empower every human being with the education and resources to secure a sustainable livelihood, and provide social security and safety nets for those who are unable to support themselves. c. Recognize the ignored, protect the vulnerable, serve those who suffer, and enable them to develop their capacities and to pursue their aspirations.
10. Ensure that economic activities and institutions at all levels promote human development in an equitable and sustainable manner. a. Promote the equitable distribution of wealth within nations and among nations. b. Enhance the intellectual, financial, technical, and social resources of developing nations, and relieve them of onerous international debt. c. Ensure that all trade supports sustainable resource use, environmental protection, and progressive labor standards. d. Require multinational corporations and international financial organizations to act transparently in the public good, and hold them accountable for the consequences of their activities.
11. Affirm gender equality and equity as prerequisites to sustainable development and ensure universal access to education, health care, and economic opportunity. a. Secure the human rights of women and girls and end all violence against them. b. Promote the active participation of women in all aspects of economic, political, civil, social, and cultural life as full and equal partners, decision makers, leaders, and beneficiaries. c. Strengthen families and ensure the safety and loving nurture of all family members.
12. Uphold the right of all, without discrimination, to a natural and social environment supportive of human dignity, bodily health, and spiritual well-being, with special attention to the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities. a. Eliminate discrimination in all its forms, such as that based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, language, and national, ethnic or social origin. b. Affirm the right of indigenous peoples to their spirituality, knowledge, lands and resources and to their related practice of sustainable livelihoods. c. Honor and support the young people of our communities, enabling them to fulfill their essential role in creating sustainable societies. d. Protect and restore outstanding places of cultural and spiritual significance.
IV. DEMOCRACY, NONVIOLENCE, AND PEACE
13. Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and provide transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision making, and access to justice. a. Uphold the right of everyone to receive clear and timely information on environmental matters and all development plans and activities which are likely to affect them or in which they have an interest. b. Support local, regional and global civil society, and promote the meaningful participation of all interested individuals and organizations in decision making. c. Protect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly, association, and dissent. d. Institute effective and efficient access to administrative and independent judicial procedures, including remedies and redress for environmental harm and the threat of such harm. e. Eliminate corruption in all public and private institutions. f. Strengthen local communities, enabling them to care for their environments, and assign environmental responsibilities to the levels of government where they can be carried out most effectively.
14. Integrate into formal education and life-long learning the knowledge, values, and skills needed for a sustainable way of life. a. Provide all, especially children and youth, with educational opportunities that empower them to contribute actively to sustainable development. b. Promote the contribution of the arts and humanities as well as the sciences in sustainability education. c. Enhance the role of the mass media in raising awareness of ecological and social challenges. d. Recognize the importance of moral and spiritual education for sustainable living.
15. Treat all living beings with respect and consideration. a. Prevent cruelty to animals kept in human societies and protect them from suffering. b. Protect wild animals from methods of hunting, trapping, and fishing that cause extreme, prolonged, or avoidable suffering. c. Avoid or eliminate to the full extent possible the taking or destruction of non-targeted species.
16. Promote a culture of tolerance, nonviolence, and peace. a. Encourage and support mutual understanding, solidarity, and cooperation among all peoples and within and among nations. b. Implement comprehensive strategies to prevent violent conflict and use collaborative problem solving to manage and resolve environmental conflicts and other disputes. c. Demilitarize national security systems to the level of a non-provocative defense posture, and convert military resources to peaceful purposes, including ecological restoration. d. Eliminate nuclear, biological, and toxic weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. e. Ensure that the use of orbital and outer space supports environmental protection and peace. f. Recognize that peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are a part.
The Way Forward
As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning. Such renewal is the promise of these Earth Charter principles. To fulfill this promise, we must commit ourselves to adopt and promote the values and objectives of the Charter.
This requires a change of mind and heart. It requires a new sense of global interdependence and universal responsibility. We must imaginatively develop and apply the vision of a sustainable way of life locally, nationally, regionally, and globally. Our cultural diversity is a precious heritage and different cultures will find their own distinctive ways to realize the vision. We must deepen and expand the global dialogue that generated the Earth Charter, for we have much to learn from the ongoing collaborative search for truth and wisdom.
Life often involves tensions between important values. This can mean difficult choices. However, we must find ways to harmonize diversity with unity, the exercise of freedom with the common good, short-term objectives with long-term goals. Every individual, family, organization, and community has a vital role to play. The arts, sciences, religions, educational institutions, media, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and governments are all called to offer creative leadership. The partnership of government, civil society, and business is essential for effective governance.
In order to build a sustainable global community, the nations of the world must renew their commitment to the United Nations, fulfill their obligations under existing international agreements, and support the implementation of Earth Charter principles with an international legally binding instrument on environment and development.
Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.
History of the Earth Charter
In 1987 The World Commission on Environment and Development (known as "the Brundtland Commission") launched Our Common Future Report with a call for a “new charter” to set “new norms” to guide the transition to sustainable development.
Following that discussion about an Earth Charter took place in the process leading to the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, but the time for such a declaration was not right. The Rio Declaration became the statement of the achievable consensus at that time.
In 1994, Maurice Strong (Secretary-General of the Rio Summit) and Mikhail Gorbachev, working through organizations they each founded (Earth Council and Green Cross International respectively), launched an initiative (with the support from the Dutch Government) to develop an Earth Charter as a civil society initiative. The initial drafting and consultation process drew on hundreds of international documents.
An independent Earth Charter Commission was formed in 1997 to oversee the development of the text, analyze the outcomes of a world-wide consultation process and to come to agreement on a global consensus document.
In March 1997 at the Rio+5 Forum, a first Benchmark Draft of the Earth Charter is released as a “document in progress”. Ongoing international consultations were encouraged and organized. Please see "Influencies shaping the Earth Charter".
In April 1999 a Benchmark Draft II of the Earth Charter is released and international consultations continue particularly through Earth Charter National Committees and international dialogues..
After numerous drafts and after considering the input of people from all regions of the world, the Earth Charter Commission came to consensus on the Earth Charter in March, 2000, at a meeting held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The Earth Charter was later formally launched in ceremonies at The Peace Palace in The Hague.
Over the following five years, a formal endorsement campaign attracted over 2,000 organizational endorsements, representing millions of people, including numerous national and international associations, and ultimately global institutions such as UNESCO and IUCN – The World Conservation Union. Many thousands of individuals also endorsed the Earth Charter.
Efforts to have the Earth Charter formally recognized at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, 2002, came very close to success, resulting in numerous public statements of support from world leaders and heads of state.
Intentional Communities Movement
New Earth Nation
New Earth Communities is currently a speculative project in its developmental phase. It has gained a great deal of attention across New Age and transformational culture for its presentation, ethos, and the scope of the project. The New Earth Nation promotes the creation of a network of intentional communities around the world, utilizing advanced or speculative energy systems, and cooperative or "degrowth" economic principles.
According to their website:
New Earth Communities offer a dynamic and realistic path towards the most monumental reclamation project in the history of our species. As truly sovereign men and women, residents of new earth communities are invited to participate in a real-time experiment in conscious evolution; to push the boundaries of human expression and creativity, and explore new and innovative means of peaceful cooperation and harmonious living.
Permanent Residents are those people and families who live full-time in one or more communities. They may either purchase or build a home in a New Earth Community, or the New Earth Trust may provide subsidies to enable potential permanent residents who could otherwise not afford to build a home in a New Earth Community to join the New Earth family. Transient residents are people who, whilst not being ready to fully plug in permanently to a New Earth Community, have nonetheless chosen to live within a community, initially for 1 month of each year. They are able to absorb themselves in the philosophy and wisdom of the communities and share that wisdom with the greater world, whilst also providing a constant flow of new energy, skills and ideas to maintain a flow of creativity. All New Earth Residents benefit from: • homes and communities designed and built in alignment with the principles of sacred geometry and crystal spiral dynamics • all built environments facilitating a return of the body/mind/spirit to its natural state • full energy independence • full access to new earth technologies • zero-point economics modelling • full access to New Earth Institute resources
New Earth Community Farms operate as Organic Permaculture Cooperatives, serving as nationwide exemplars of traditional and permaculture farming and husbandry methods. In addition to servicing the needs of the Communities, Institutes and Retreats, the Farms maintain regional Organic Farmers Markets where organic producers from across the region are able to trade their produce. Each Cooperative maintains an organic native variety seed bank which it makes available to the greater world, securing the future of native fruit, vegetable and plant species in all New Earth locations.
Funds which are required to develop New Earth Communities, are obtained from three primary sources: • by permanent residents who possess the financial capacity to do so; • by the New Earth Trust on behalf of those permanent residents who do not possess the financial capacity to do so; and • by transient residents, whose residencies arise out of their contribution to a community or the network of communities generally. Transient residencies are initially available for a flat-rate contribution of $10,000.00, regardless of location, which entitles the contributor (and their partner/family) to one month's use of a New Earth Community dome home every year for life.
The goal of the Communities is to transition, within a relatively short space of time, to a fully zero-point economy where no one charges their fellow human beings for their time or labour - everything is free. There is no impediment to this being implemented from the outset within each individual community. Residents have free, unlimited access to the HumaniSpheres New Earth Banking and Auction House facilities, where they can gift and receive items and where their New Earth Sovereigns can be used to obtain any goods & services they require. The HumaniSphere includes a currency exchanger should the need arise to obtain other currencies for whatever reason.
- Energy & technology
Energy: Plasma and hydroxy power generators – rotary and propane platforms converted to run on distilled water and plasma. Quantum Field Generators - non-mechanical devices which harness energy directly from the quantum field. Power Amplifiers - non-mechanical transformer based devices which deliver a ten-fold over unity power output which, when coupled with a power storage device, allows the device to become a self-powering zero-point power generator.
Waste: Municipal waste & waste-water treatment system - a clean trash-to-energy-to-food system. MSW, or trash, is converted into a multitude of valuable commodities. includes separation for recyclables, bio-digestion, bio-composting, vermiculture, algae-culture, closed looped reduction of inorganics, clean generation of electric power, and capturing and cleaning gases and fuels.
Water: Purification – new earth technologies incorporate a range of purification technologies that range from state-of-the-art water desalination, sterilization, bacteria and virus elimination systems to naturally occurring effective microorganisms and vermicultures. Re-structuring - new earth architecture incorporates water collection facilities which employ geometry, vortices and charged crystals to restructure water. Vortex treatment - the imploder is a specially designed vortex nozzle, which energizes any water back to its natural state. Multiple experiments have shown vortex treated water to bring health and longevity to plant life, animals and humans alike.
Food: Q-Permaculture - food and other agricultural products are produced using a hybrid of quantum technologies and permaculture principles. Hydroponics and aquaponics - redesigns of existing hydroponic and aquaponic systems, establishing new systems as part of an integrated permaculture strategy to achieve truly organic and natural hydroponic and aquaponic operations.
- Land owner participation
New Earth is constantly evolving the many ways in which Landowners may participate in the Project. Currently those wishing to do so may participate in one or more of the following ways: • Donate land to New Earth • Participate in a Commercial undertaking with New Earth Retreats • Sell land to New Earth • Deposit land in the New Earth Mutual Fund and become a beneficiary • Create your own Community within the New Earth • Create your own Retreat within the New Earth To understand the New Earth land transfer process, please see: http://www.newearthnation.org/locations/landowners/
- New earth retreats
New Earth Retreats are fully sustainable/regenerative, conscious resorts with residences that produce their own food and energy. Places where students, visitors and visionary patrons alike can experience the world's most advanced educational, technological, rejuvenating and healing facilities in flourishing natural biospheres.
<ref>Newearthnation.org, (2014). New Earth Nation. [online] Available at: http://www.newearthnation.org/ [Accessed 4 Aug. 2014].</ref>
Tamera is a School and Research Station for Realistic Utopia. The project was founded in Germany in 1978. In 1995 it moved to Portugal. Today 170 people live and work on a property of 330 acres. Through the Global Campus and the Terra Nova School we are working within a global network on the social, ecological and ethical foundations for a new Earth – Terra Nova.
- The Founders
Dr. Dieter Duhm – Psychoanalyst, Art Historian, Prolific Author and one of the Leading Figures in the 1968 Students Movement in Germany, Visionary and Head of the Department for Art and Healing in Tamera. Sabine Lichtenfels – Peace Ambassador, Author, Theologian, Head of the Global Love School and of the Spiritual Research in Tamera.
Verlag Meiga is a vessel for, and a public representative of, healing information from the areas of water, food and energy autonomy to new thoughts on illness and healing, all the way to a global peace plan and a new way of life based on free love and autonomous thinking. Grace Foundation,the Grace Foundation gives the opportunity to people with money and other resources to support a global system change by investing in a new planetary culture.
- What is Tamera
Tamera is a School and Research Station for Realistic Utopia. The project was founded in Germany in 1978. In 1995 it moved to Portugal. Today 170 people live and work on a property of 330 acres. Through the Global Campus and the Terra Nova School we are working within a global network on the social, ecological and ethical foundations for a new Earth – Terra Nova.
Creating a material basis of life that is no longer connected with the destruction of nature, exploitation or the exhaustion of natural resources, providing regional food autonomy and ecological subsistence.
- The Site
Tamera is located 20kms off the west coast on 134 hectares of slightly hilly land in southern Portugal. The land of Tamera now has a guest and education area, including a campsite, guesthouse, seminar rooms and an auditorium with 400 seats.
- General Information
There are several ways to get to know Tamera: 1. Studying the core topics; Basic Education, Love School, International Summer University, and ecological education seminars 2. Introductory Events We recommend participation in one of the introduction weeks, seed or olive harvest, or horse courses for initial insights into the overall concept of Tamera. 3. Practical Work – Á Votre Service. We invite you to support us for practical work, for example in the guest kitchen on the premises and community facilities, for example in the self-sufficiency gardens. We ask the participants to pay a fee of €20 per day. Unfortunately we cannot offer free board and lodging. 4. Short Visit, short visits are only possible on the weekend. An overnight stay costs €30 (in dormitories).
- Economic Structure
Tamera is based on a community of trust. This is also reflected in its economic structure. Money is, like everything in a community of trust, subject to the communitarian ethics: transparency, mutual support and responsible participation. We are currently navigating through a system of both communal and private property with the increasing orientation towards a communitarian economy.
- Basic Household
Basic Household covers all basic costs of the place and the people including services, repairs, maintenance, and supply. The Basic Household is funded by guests and the revenue from seminars, and from the Book Shop, as well as the by the community itself through the Support Circle and direct donations. The co-workers of Tamera take the responsibility for any financial deficits. They are therefore required to earn money outside of Tamera to compensate for any shortage in the Basic Household
- Loan Budget
The purchase of Tamera’s land and the initial investment were financed in part with loans. For several years we have frozen the Loan Household and, for political reasons, began actively repaying the bank loans while we are taking steps to repay all private loans.
- Investment Budget
Funds donated here will go towards peace investments for the individual project groups. The "silent" costs incurred for each new investment – operating costs, costs for maintenance, spending on infrastructure, cooperation, planning and preparing projects – are not charged extra each time but are set at 30% of the incoming donations.
- The Legal Figure
In the existing legal system, there is so far no elaborate legal form, which really captures the complex structure of a community. We have therefore developed a structure combining the form of companies and associations for our communitarian framework. The property of Tamera and its infrastructure is owned by the company ILOs Peace Research Center, Lda. ILOS is equally owned by the registered associations “G.R.A.C.E.” and “Associação para um Mundo Humanitario” (AMH). The active members of the associations are the community members of Tamera.
- Free Sexuality and Partnership
Free sexuality is no mandate, but an offer. People may experience free sexuality and then decide whether they want to live in monogamy, polygamy… or any other “gamy.” The crucial point is that the experience happens in a social and ethical milieu of trust Free sexuality is bound to three principles, without which it can never function: contact, trust and solidarity.
- Healing Biotopes
The 'Healing Biotopes Plan' is a global strategy for peace which has been developed in theory and practice for over 30 years by Dr. Dieter Duhm, Sabine Lichtenfels, Charly Rainer Ehrenpreis and others, with the aim of bringing about a global process of healing on Earth a future without war.
<ref>Tamera.org, (2014). Relocate. [online] Available at: http://www.tamera.org [Accessed 4 Aug. 2014].</ref>
- What is Damenhur
Damanhur is a collective dream transformed into reality thanks to the creative power of positive thought. It is a laboratory for the future, a seed that has been growing for over thirty years, constantly transforming and renewing itself so as to bring to life the reality its citizens together dreamed of and built.
Damanhur is located in Northwestern Italy, Piedmont, 40 km north of Turin, 15 km from Ivrea.
Falco was born in 1950 in Balangero, near Turin, from Dovilia and Giovanni. Falco, Oberto Airaudi, founder and inspiration of Damanhur, passed away on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 11:12pm (23.12). He lived together with other Damanhurian citizens since 1980. Falco was 63 years old, and for some months had been suffering from a cancer to the right colon which spread to the liver.
- The Federation of Damanhur
Founded in 1975, the Federation of Damanhur is an eco-society: a federation of communities and eco-villages with their own social and political structure in continual evolution. The Federation of Damanhur is a centre for spiritual, artistic and social research known throughout the whole world. Its philosphy is based on action, optimism and upon the idea that every human being lives to leave something of themselves to the others and to contribute towards the growth and evolution of the whole of humanity.
- The Constitution
1) The citizens are brothers and sisters who help one another through trust, respect, clarity, acceptance, solidarity and continuous inner transformation. Everyone is committed to always giving others the opportunity to aim higher. 2) Every citizen makes a commitment to spread positive, harmonious thoughts and to direct every action and thought towards spiritual growth, placing ideals above personal interest. Each person is spiritually and socially responsible for everything they do, knowing that it is multiplied and reflected all over the world through the Synchronic Lines. 3) Through community life, Damanhur aims to develop individuals whose relationships with one another are regulated by Knowledge and Consciousness. The fundamental rules of life are common sense, thinking well of others, kindness, a sense of humour, optimism and welcoming and valuing diversity. Every citizen is required to have the ability for self-control, purity and maturity in their choices.
- Commitment for a sustainable world
The practical application of Damanhur principles demonstrates sustainable choices and models on all levels: social, political, economic and spiritual. This message spurs taking action to create a completely different world, no longer based on nations, but rather the wisdom and self-determination of the people.
- Daily Life
Daily Life is based upon sharing, on exchange with others and on the commitment of everyone to bring alive their own dreams and their shared one. The social structure and the political system have been changed many times over the course of the years, from the first communities up to the present Federation, giving rise to a democratic system with representatives and elected bodies based upon the active participation of all the citizens in public debate.
- The economic system in Damanhur
The Damanhurian economic system blends free enterprise with solidarity and communal sharing, with the objective of creating the most advantages and wealth possible at an individual and collective level. This “richness” is expressed in houses and land, schools and services, art and gardens, forests and meeting spaces, health and wellness, as well as a sense of belonging and security, and attention for the individual, from an economic and human point of view. This quality of life rivitalizes the Damanhurian territories, and in addition to the citizens of the Federation, everyone can enjoy the services and activities that exist here.
- Damanhurian Philosophy
The philosophy of Damanhur is based upon positive thought as an element capable of directing the best of people’s energies, tracing the road between people, their dreams and their human and spiritual growth. The path to understanding the deepest and most spiritual part of human nature is based upon harmonious, continuous inner transformation, overcoming the limits of individuality and egotism, measuring oneself through practical works and a respect for all living forms, whether physical or subtle.
The New Life project sees that interested people enter into community life in the nucleos of Damanhur for a period of three months, participating in the same activities as Damanhurian citizens. At the end of the three months, you may enter into a trial period to become a resident citizen, or move on to your next journey in life. This is a new experience for Damanhur as well. Until now, becoming a Damanhurian citizen has been a gradual process, with integration happening in steps.
<ref>Damanhur.org, (2014). Damanhur Home Page. [online] Available at: http://www.damanhur.org/ [Accessed 6 Aug. 2014].</ref>
Essene: Live as Nature Intended
<ref>Essene.me, (2014). (no title). [online] Available at: http://essene.me/ [Accessed 26 Sep. 2014].</ref>
Through a relentless investigation to find the answer, Disruption takes an unflinching look at the devastating consequences of our inaction.
The exploration lays bare the terrifying science, the shattered political process, the unrelenting industry special interests and the civic stasis that have brought us to this social, moral and ecological crossroads.The film also takes us behind-the-scenes of the efforts to organize the largest climate rally in the history of the planet during the UN world climate summit.
This is the story of our unique moment in history. We are living through an age of tipping points and rapid social and planetary change. We’re the first generation to feel the impacts of climate disruption, and the last generation that can do something about it. The film enlarges the issue beyond climate impacts and makes a compelling call for bold action that is strong enough to tip the balance to build a clean energy future.
Films For Action is a community-powered learning library for people who want to change the world. Film offers us a powerful tool to raise awareness of important issues not covered by the mainstream news. Their goal is to provide citizens with the information and perspectives essential to creating a more just, sustainable, and democratic society. Their website has cataloged over 2500 of the best films and videos that can be watched free online, sorted into 40 subjects related to changing the world. At the local level, City Chapters are working to create alternative media channels that will inform, connect, and inspire action at a community level.
A transition town is a grass roots community project that seeks to build resilience in response to peak oil, climate destruction, and economic instability. Local projects are usually based on the model's initial '12 ingredients' and later 'revised ingredients'. The first initiative to use the name was Transition Town Totnes, founded in 2006. The socioeconomic movement is an example of fiscal localism.[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transition_Towns_%28network%29
You can learn about transition towns and join this movement at Transition Town Network (http://www.transitionnetwork.org). From their website:
What is a Transition Initiative?
It's a place where there's a community-led process that helps that town/village/city/neighbourhood become stronger and happier.
It's happening in well over a thousand highly diverse communities across the world - from towns in Australia to neighbourhoods in Portugal, from cities in Brazil to rural communities in Slovenia, from urban locations in Britain to islands off the coast of Canada. Many of these initiatives are registered on the Transition Network website.
These communities have started up projects in areas of food, transport, energy, education, housing, waste, arts etc. as small-scale local responses to the global challenges of climate change, economic hardship and shrinking supplies of cheap energy. Together, these small-scale responses make up something much bigger, and help show the way forward for governments, business and the rest of us.
Really, it's the opposite of us sitting in our armchairs complaining about what's wrong, and instead, it's about getting up and doing something constructive about it alongside our neighbours and fellow townsfolk. And people tell us that as a result of being involved in their local "transition initiative", they're happier, their community feels more robust and they have made a lot of new friends.
From the Resilience.org website:
Resilience.org is both an information clearinghouse and a network of action-oriented groups. Our focus is on building community resilience in a world of multiple emerging challenges: the decline of cheap energy, the depletion of critical resources like water, complex environmental crises like climate change and biodiversity loss, and the social and economic issues which are linked to these. We like to think of the site as a community library with space to read and think, but also as a vibrant café in which to meet people, discuss ideas and projects, and pick up and share tips on how to build the resilience of your community, your household, or yourself.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is a rich and complex concept. It has roots in systems theory, and it has a variety of interpretations and applications including for ecosystems management, disaster preparedness, and even community planning. Our interpretation is based on the work of the Resilience Alliance, the leading scholarly body working on the resilience of social-ecological systems. In that field, resilience is commonly defined as the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and re-organize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks.
US BlueGreen Alliance
“Today, the BlueGreen Alliance unites 15 of our country’s largest unions and environmental organizations. Acting together, through nearly 16 million members and supporters, we are a powerful voice for building a cleaner, fairer and more competitive American economy.
The BlueGreen Alliance advocates the growth in the number and quality of jobs in the clean economy by expanding a broad range of industries, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, the substitution of safer, cleaner chemicals, modern transportation systems and advanced vehicle technology, domestic manufacturing, high-speed Internet and a smart, efficient electrical grid, green schools and other public buildings, improving our nation’s water infrastructure, recycling, and sustainable agriculture.”
From Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything: "A body that brings together unions and environmentalists, US BlueGreen Alliance has estimated that a $40 billion annual investment in public transit and high-speed rail for six years would produce more than 3.7 million jobs during that period."
Building Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE)
From the BALLE website :
Within a generation, we envision a global system of human-scale, interconnected local economies that function in harmony with local ecosystems to meet the basic needs of all people, support just and democratic societies, and foster joyful community life.
At the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, BALLE [bawl-EE], our work is focused on creating real prosperity by connecting leaders, spreading solutions that work, and driving investment toward local economies.
BALLE equips entrepreneurs with tools and strategies for local success, and we provide the national forum for the most visionary local economy leaders and funders to connect, build their capacity and innovate.
Underlying all our work is a strong belief in “Prosperity for All.” The foundation of a new economy is an equitable society that values everyone. Localists know this requires working on multiple fronts. And after more than a decade of doing this work, we focus on the highest impact strategies: we call them our Core Four. You’ll see a focus on Prosperity for All and the following Core Four throughout our webinars, toolkits and resources.
Increasing demand for locally owned, made and grown businesses, goods and services. We showcase effective models, campaigns, policies and programs that expand business ownership opportunities to more people, and shift purchasing towards locals first.
Sharing lessons learned from 'Do It Yourself' entrepreneurs who look for entrepreneurial opportunities to make, grow and serve their own community – whether it's vegetables, furniture or energy. Showcasing the business models for economic self-reliance, we offer a national offering of Localist success stories.
Unleashing local money to finance healthy, diversified local economies. Featuring promising new models in crowdfunding, community supported enterprise, triple bottom line banking, local investment clubs, and so many more ways to connect your local businesses with local lenders, investors and donors.
There is no such thing as a ‘sustainable business’ in isolation. Learn about the best models for linking local businesses to leverage purchasing power, policy change, sustainable impact, marketing dollars and more. By working together we can accomplish so much more.
The Great Transition Initiative is an international online forum and, since its relaunch in 2014, a formal journal of ideas, concepts, strategies, and visions for a transition to a future of better quality lives, more solidarity between human kind and a resilient biosphere. The Global Transition Network plays host to hundreds of scholars and activists with a common goal, publishing essays, interviews and viewpoints. GTI promotes scholarly discourse as well as public awareness of possibilities, and aims to contribute to "a new praxis" for global transformation. "GTI gives voice to diverse contributors motivated by both ethical and pragmatic concerns about the need for revised ways of thinking, learning, acting, and being. It aims to deepen understanding of values and cultural dimensions of global change, along with social, economic, political, and scientific aspects of a Great Transition."
Greattransition.org, (2014). Aims and Background. [online] Available at: http://greattransition.org/about/aims-and-background [Accessed 30 Jul. 2014].
Great Transition Stories an open sourced collaboration project intending to collect and make available a range of life-affirming stories. GTS is based on the idea that the stories we tell shape our experience and that different stories can lead to different outcomes. The stories that frame our experience and that we tell during this time will greatly influence the path we take through the Great Transition. We have the ability to consciously choose the story that guides our future, and thus influence, the outcome of the Great Transition. In most cases, such leading-edge wisdom cannot be found on mainstream media and exists elsewhere only in fragments. Thus the goal of the Great Transition Stories project is to assist humanity at this critical juncture by making these powerful stories, and related resources, readily accessible to mainstream culture.
Greattransitionstories.org, (2014). About Great Transition Stories - Great Transition Stories. [online] Available at: http://www.greattransitionstories.org/wiki/About [Accessed 30 Jul. 2014].
Foundation for Conscious Evolution is the foundation of visionary thinker, Barbara Marx Hubbard, an author and educator who has been called "the voice for conscious evolution” by Deepak Chopra. The Foundation for Conscious Evolution works to connect and empower the arising global movement for positive change and aims to increase coherence and synergy. The Foundations aims to build "a golden bridge" to the next stage of human evolution, enabling humanity to rise and cocreate a future equal to our vast potential. The foundation focuses on education and networking.
Foundation for Conscious Evolution, (2013). Foundation for Conscious Evolution - Foundation for Conscious Evolution. [online] Available at: http://barbaramarxhubbard.com/foundation-forconscious-evolution/ [Accessed 30 Jul. 2014].
Institute of Ecotechnics was formed in 1973 to initiate and develop the new discipline of Ecotechnics, which intends to harmonise ecology & technology by means of hands-on educational programmes and the research & development of demonstration projects and products.Landmark programmes which the Institute of Ecotechnics has facilitated include: (1) field research programmes enable students, artists and public to gain ecological experience in such complex areas as rainforests, coral reefs, savannahs, and deserts, (2) the development of agriculture, wastewater, air purification, and closed life system technologies, (3) participation in cultures, art and theatre, (4) publishing books relating to critical ecological and cultural issues, and (5) creating workshops, programs and conferences to further and promote public awareness of the developing discipline of Ecotechnics.Lindisfarne Association (1972-2012) was a group of intellectuals of diverse interests organized by cultural historian William Irwin Thompson for the "study and realization of a new planetary culture". It was inspired by the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead's idea of an integral philosophy of organism, and by Teilhard de Chardin's idea of planetization.<ref>
Dr. Thompson served as the founding director of the wellknown Lindisfarne Association, which his biographical blurb describes as a contemplative education community devoted to the study and realization of a new planetary culture.NYT review of THE TIME FALLING BODIES TAKE TO LIGHT. Mythology, Sexuality, and the Origins of Culture by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt </ref><ref>Lindisfarne's original incorporation statement from 1972</ref> In his book Reimagination of the World, Thompson described his reasons for naming his group after Lindisfarne, an island with a famous monastery (once inhabited by Saint Cuthbert) just off the coast of Northumberland in the North East of England:
"Although I used the word as a symbol of a small group of people effecting a transformation from one system to another, the word also brought with it the archetypical associations of a small group of monks holding onto ancient knowledge in a fallen world, a world that would soon overrun them during the Viking terror."<ref>p5</ref>
According to the Lindisfarne Association website, Lindisfarne's fourfold goals are: The Planetization of the Esoteric The realization of the inner harmony of all the great universal religions and the spiritual traditions of the tribal peoples of the world. The fostering of a new and healthier balance between nature and culture through the research and development of appropriate technologies, architectural settlements and compassionate economies for meta-industrial villages and convivial cities. The illumination of the spiritual foundations of political governance through scholarship and artistic communications that foster a global ecology of consciousness beyond the present ideological systems of warring industrial nation-states, outraged traditional societies, and ravaged lands and seas.
For 30 years, Buckminster Fuller Institute has served the international network of Fuller-inspired innovators through the maintenance of a comprehensive Information Clearinghouse on R.B Fuller, including a detailed inventory of the practices and principles informing Fuller's approach to design innovation; articles featuring contemporary applications of Fuller's approach published in BFI's newsletter, monthly e-bulletin, web-site, and on-line books; audio and video archives; and Dymaxion Artifacts, BFI's online store featuring educational tools.
FI has a rich history of producing a number of leading-edge educational experiences across the media spectrum, these include:
- Produced and recorded a series of all-day public presentations by Buckminster Fuller to over 5,000 in Los Angeles, 1983.
- Co-produced and provided research for multiple exhibitions from the Fuller Archive, including a 4,000 sq. ft. exhibition that traveled to Europe and Japan for 3 years.
- Co-produced an American Master's film for PBS on Buckminster Fuller, Thinking Out Loud.
- Developed and delivered for Pacific Bell Corporation the Dymaxion Laboratory college accredited course on the principles of breakthrough design strategies, to over 2,000 employees.
- Conceived and developed the EARTHscope™ online geo-story-telling tool and EARTHscope™ Library.
- Produced and published numerous articles, papers, booklets and maps including three versions of the Dymaxion map and two versions of the Fuller Projection Dymaxion Fold-up Globe.
BFI continues to create educational platforms for today's design science pioneers. Notably, the Design Science Lab (2005 - 2007) and the Buckminster Fuller Challenge (2008 - present). C
Post Carbon Institute is a think tank which provides information and analysis on climate change, energy scarcity, and other issues related to sustainability and long term social resilience. Post Carbon's Fellows specialize in various fields related to the organization's mission, such as fossil fuels, renewable energy, food, water, and population. Post Carbon is incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and is based in Santa Rosa, California, USA.
Post Carbon Institute largely publishes and promotes the work of its Fellows and allies. It maintains two major websites, Postcarbon.org for material from its staff and Fellows, and Resilience.org for material from allies. Since 2009 it has focused on: publishing articles, reports, and books; running issue-oriented promotional campaigns; and serving as a speakers' bureau for some of its Fellows.
The Climate Council is an Australian independent non-profit organisation formed to provide Australians with clear, easy to understand facts on climate change. It was formed by former members of the Climate Commission after it was abolished by the government. It is funded by donations from the public.
Former Chief Commissioner Tim Flannery is frequently cited as having stated that: "Our independence is central to our credibility, so if people do donate, don't try to influence what we do". <ref name="abc.net.au">http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-24/tim-flannery-to-relaunch-climate-commission/4976608</ref> This is the most controversial aspect of the newly formed organisation, a point alluded to by Flannery on countless occasions. <ref>http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-24/climate-change-tim-flannery-environment/4977452</ref> In just one example of how poorly this is understood by supporters, Mark Wooton of the Climate Institute, speaking in support of the Climate Council, cited the need for an organisation to "hold account perhaps the government at times". <ref name="abc.net.au">http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-24/tim-flannery-to-relaunch-climate-commission/4976608</ref> Yet Flannery has denied any intention to campaign, saying: "We won't be running any political campaigns, we won't be running any agendas." <ref>http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-24/climate-change-tim-flannery-environment/4977452</ref>
Our mission is to inform, inspire and engage individual and collective participation in a global shift that reconnects the objective world of global realities with the inner world of humanity’s highest principles: compassion, integrity, wisdom, and sharing. Kosmos is an ancient Greek term meaning the harmony and beauty of the universe wherein all parts have their place within the whole. It signifies humanity’s alignment with the evolutionary organic forces of Nature. This integral concept is at the heart of our work at Kosmos Associates.
We encourage the conscious participation of all people to co-create new models in areas of economics, governance, education, media, justice, ecology and more. We awaken together to the radical realization of our interconnectedness and collective power by offering new ways of thinking about our commonality and diversity; sharing our stories and aesthetic wisdom; and integrating body, mind, soul and spirit.
Kosmos gives special thanks to Kalliopeia Foundation for their continued support of Kosmos and its mission. To learn more about Kalliopeia please visit www.kalliopeia.org. We also wish to express our thanks to the Betsy Gordon Foundation, Fetzer Foundation, Fenwick Foundation, Lifebridge Foundation and numerous individuals who have also helped fund Kosmos. Goals
- Elevate and deepen discourse and dialogue on the role of humanity in a planetary era
- Encourage the growth of Global Citizenship and an informed Global Civil Society
- Support cooperative world efforts that lead to the common good
- Deepen and strengthen the inner life and its interconnectedness to the whole
- Deal with complexity through an Integral Worldview
- Enhance human solidarity through honoring cultural and developmental differences
Climate Reality Project is a non-profit organization involved in education and advocacy related to climate change. The project was established in July 2011 after the joining of two environmental groups, The Alliance for Climate Protection and The Climate Project, which were both founded in 2006 by Al Gore. Among its activities, The Climate Reality Project hosts an annual event called 24 Hours of Reality and, in 2013, launched Reality Drop, a social media tool.
Climate Reality Project focuses on climate change education and countering climate change denial campaigns worldwide. Since its establishment, The Climate Reality Project has trained approximately 6,000 people across 100 countries as volunteers for the project. As of 2013, the organization operates 8 offices worldwide and is active in over 30 countries.
Regenerative Strategy: Summary
Humanity faces the dire possibility that we may soon cross an ecological tipping point due to a combination of accelerated global warming, mass extinction, ocean acidification, and other factors. It seems clear that neither global institutions like the UN and World Bank, nor nation-state governments, nor multinational corporations have the capacity to engineer a rapid transition toward renewable energy sources and regenerative practices in the time available. We therefore need a broad-based civil society movement - a movement of movements - on a scale beyond what we have ever seen before. The incredible power and immediacy of global communications networks provides the potential scaffold for such a movement to self-organize, to gather, and to act in a unified way.
As a strategy, we must work within the system - using traditional means to pressure governments, pass legislation that slows or interrupts environmental degradation and speeds the transition toward solar and other renewable energy sources. At the same time, we must work outside of the system, by developing viable alternatives to today's political, economic, and technical arrangements, such as land-based communities applying permaculture principles. The alternative to the present model of economic development and unrestricted technological progress would be a model of "degrowth" and "de-industrialization." We need a rapid transition to "cradle to cradle" practices, in all areas of industry.
Rather than accepting all progress as beneficial, the human population can be educated and invited into a participatory process to explore and evaluate the value of technological innovations. In fact, a transition from representative governments to direct and participatory forms of democracy is one possibility. Similarly, new instruments for exchanging value might supplant or supersede the current monetary system - the recent success of Bitcoin reveals that a banking system is not necessary for the secure storage and transmission of currencies.
We can expect radical innovations over the next decades in almost every field of human endeavor, as humanity makes a choice between continuing the current system of centralized control and authoritarian hierarchy, or decides to transition to a cooperative and symbiotic system that will support regenerative practices in all areas.