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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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VIII. Pedia Sapiens: A New Genesis Future

6. A Viable Gaiasphere: Planetary Patriots and Matriots

Egmond, Klaas Van. Sustainable Civilization. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. The Utrecht University geoscientist and environmentalist offers an informed contribution, but with a unique difference. Worldwide peoples, me and We, will not be motivated to achieve any ecological remediation until a common, conceptual wisdom and guide is attained in practice. The once and future project is a distillation of an ancient and modern, West and East, South and North, integral philosophy. An initial basis is a 2006 Dutch personal and public values survey as depicted in a pie chart as a yin/yang image at once vertical – materialist/idealist - and horizontal – individual/communal. Thus put, they form eternal complementarities such as feminine/masculine, self/other, earth/heaven, conservative/progressive.

An affinity of this 21st century archetype is shown with traditional belief systems, Plato, Kant, and Hegel, and later to Carl Jung, Arnold Toynbee, Rudolf Steiner, Erich Fromm, Pitirim Sorokin, Richard Tarnas, Ken Wilber and others. Might we at last from our global vantage, it is wondered, be able to meld these reciprocal quadrants into a natural, holistic unity. Such perennial guidance, so absent today, can inform an organic democracy, local/global accords, stable economies, egalitarian communities, an appropriate education, and so on. Could a deep, saving message be availed whereof this planetary and cosmic realm we awaken to, abide in, and must sustain is meant to be understood by virtue of an iconic, complementary code?

Western civilization has entered a new fundamental crisis that can be explained by a very one-sided orientation of social values based on materialism and egocentrism, which is disrupting the delicate balance between the opposing forces of 'mind' and 'matter', and of 'I' and 'the others'. Many sources – from the great works of philosophy, religion, art and culture to social surveys and the course of history – qualify sustainability as the dynamic equilibrium between fundamental opposing forces. This insight and the ethical ability to better discriminate between stabilizing and destabilizing forces would allow further justification of human rights and new institutional arrangements in society at large and, in particular, in politics, economy and finance. It would enable a sustainable civilization to flourish within the boundaries of freedom and human dignity. (Publisher)

Everard, Mark. The Ecosystems Revolution. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. The University of the West of England environmentalist and author writes a blunt, well considered, manifesto for the imperative, overdue sustainability singularity if we are not to perish. It summarizes with a Co-Creating the Symbiocene chapter which calls for a novel emphatic We community as a vital reciprocity of all the diverse Me entities. And it amazes a few years after Lynn Margulis’ 2011 passing how much nature’s actual symbiosis that she championed now has popular acceptance. But our late election was a brutal, polarizing clash of gender opposites, a fatal antithesis of me + We = US, which now denies climate change.

This book explores humanity’s relationship with the natural world throughout evolutionary history, and the need to reorient this onto a symbiotic basis. It integrates the themes of natural and artificial selection, the characteristics of historic ‘revolutions’, and directed versus random change. Inspiring community-based projects, mainly from the developing world, show how ecosystem regeneration uplifts human livelihoods in a positively reinforcing cycle, embodying lessons germane to co-creating a Symbiocene era wherein humanity’s substantial influence (the Anthropocene) achieves increasing symbiosis with the natural processes shaping the former Holocene epoch. The Ecosystems Revolution provides practical, positive examples, highlighting the attainability of an ‘ecosystems revolution’.

Ferriere, Regis, et al, eds. Evolutionary Conservation Biology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. An attempt to provide a conservation genetics, demography and ecology for a remediation of human impacts (anthropogenic) on the environment within a previously neglected evolutionary dimension.

Francis, George. Striving for Environmental Sustainability in a Complex World. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2016. The University of Waterloo, Ontario emeritus environmentalist draws upon Canadian efforts, which seem to be taking a lead in this remediation, from an informed basis in complex systems theory. A notable theme is a viable participatory governance through networking and guided self-organization.

Franklin, Sarah, et al. Global Nature, Global Culture. London: SAGE Publications, 2000. As a counterpoint to a technology and market driven globalization, these essays evoke feminist images of a vibrantly diverse and organically unified earth. Rather than a machine, appropriate metaphors for a life and environment-friendly planet are the unitary cell, a developing foetus and the Gaian earth system.

Friedman, Thomas. The Lexus and the Olive Tree. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999. An evenhanded report on the rampant burst of a global economy which the author feels can only be achieved by a balance of cultural diversity and an Internet information accessible to everyone. With regard to this subject in general, a difference between globalization as helpful or impediment seems to be whether people or profits are the primary motive.

Georgeson, Lucien, et al. The Global Green Economy. Geo Geography and Environment. 4/1, 2017. In this new open journal, University College London geographers Georgeson, Mark Maslin (search) and Martyn Poessinouw seek to clarify, quantify, and advance this sprouting approach as a better, methodic way toward real sustainable Earth development.

Gorbachev, Mikhail. Manifesto for the Earth. East Sussex, UK: Clairview Books, 2006. One of the most visionary and indeed spiritual leaders of our time draws on his long experience to offer unique insights for a sustainable planetary future. Mikhail Gorbachev is disappointed that the Perestroika and Glasnost he so fostered to liberate the Soviet Union did not expand to a salutary global dimension. Alas, we are now beset by an interlinked plethora of crises: political, economic, social, ecological, terrorism. As a response he has actively initiated the Green Cross environmental movement, with a special emphasis on water use justice, and has been a prime source, with Maurice Strong and others, of the Earth Charter Initiative document. The first chapter, How I Became Green, is a remarkable story of his life, born in 1931, from agrarian peasantry, Stalinist oppression, World War II, and into later years when he became party chairman. Seeing battlefield carnage with his own eyes moved and inspired him to vigorously seek to end the cold war, a deep experience sorely lacking with superpower bosses today.

Gottlieb, Roger. Environmentalism Unbound. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001. An effort to bring necessary environmental values into the real world of households, communities, and industry.

Green, Stephen. Good Value: Reflections on Money, Morality, and an Uncertain World. New York: Grove Press, 2011. The author, a former CEO of HSBC bank, is presently British Minister for Trade, and also an Anglican priest who studied at Ming Hua Theological College in Hong Kong. While immersed in global affairs, he is acutely aware of financial impacts on indigenous peoples and lands. In this sensitive and erudite book, a Teilhardian spiritual expanse is offered to move beyond Tom Friedman’s well-meaning “the world is flat” to properly realize “the world is finitely round.” A novel “globalization” results as an evolutionary planetization, whose historical phase of commerce and consumption, while of palliative benefits, is in much need of wary constraint. In regard, Pierre Teilhard’s vision, which Green appreciates, can open to deeper, salutary answers and guidance not available anywhere else. And as someone who knows the ways of the world, the book closes with the crucial necessity to rectify the prevalence of men with a gender parity.

“Teilhard’s thought-world is not easy to enter. His vision of human development can easily seem nebulous. But I believe he has glimpsed something which few others have sensed so perceptively. He has seen that globalization is about something far deeper than economics, commerce and politics. It is an evolution of the human spirit. And, on this view, the end of globalization remains radically open precisely because of the ambiguities that seem to be intrinsic to the human spirit as it evolves.” (32) “John Donne’s famous phrase “No man is an island” spoke of the human condition in all its complexity – the complexity of the individual as part of the human tapestry, separate and yet part of the whole. Teilhard de Chardin’s vision was that only by oneness with the whole is there in fact any meaning or basis for the one. Yet at the heart of this Human condition is a capitalist commercial instinct that is profoundly ambiguous in its impact on human relationships.” (88-89)

There is no question that this is one of the most significant senses in which Teilhard de Chardin’s insight is true – that the human becomes a person not just as individual, but in community. Teilhard saw community as emerging through the growing global connectedness of humankind (not as a reversion to earlier, small-scale, communitarian living). This community is by definition borderless, and cannot be exclusive. And by definition it has to have the full participation of personalities made individual (and therefore open) by the same process of globalization. “No man is an island.” And no woman either. (227)

Guerry, Anne, et al. Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services Informing Decisions: From Promise to Practice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112/7348, 2015. As the long Abstract explains, twenty three environmentalists from the USA, UK, China, China, Sweden, and South Africa, including Jane Lubchenco, Stephen Polasky, and Gretchen Daily, carefully describe a vital transition from an industrial excesses to quantified appreciations of integral biosphere resources, if we are ever to achieve global sustainability.

The central challenge of the 21st century is to develop economic, social, and governance systems capable of ending poverty and achieving sustainable levels of population and consumption while securing the life-support systems underpinning current and future human well-being. Essential to meeting this challenge is the incorporation of natural capital and the ecosystem services it provides into decision-making. We explore progress and crucial gaps at this frontier, reflecting upon the 10 y since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. We focus on three key dimensions of progress and ongoing challenges: raising awareness of the interdependence of ecosystems and human well-being, advancing the fundamental interdisciplinary science of ecosystem services, and implementing this science in decisions to restore natural capital and use it sustainably.

Awareness of human dependence on nature is at an all-time high, the science of ecosystem services is rapidly advancing, and talk of natural capital is now common from governments to corporate boardrooms. However, successful implementation is still in early stages. We explore why ecosystem service information has yet to fundamentally change decision-making and suggest a path forward that emphasizes: (i) developing solid evidence linking decisions to impacts on natural capital and ecosystem services, and then to human well-being; (ii) working closely with leaders in government, business, and civil society to develop the knowledge, tools, and practices necessary to integrate natural capital and ecosystem services into everyday decision-making; and (iii) reforming institutions to change policy and practices to better align private short-term goals with societal long-term goals. (Abstract)

Harris, Graham. Seeking Sustainability in an Age of Complexity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. An Australian hydrologist makes this strong case: that complex adaptive systems science is presently articulating a new, inherently dynamical, animate nature. As a result, before undertaking any transitions to a sustainable abide, we ought to avail ourselves of how such bioregion networks proceed by such nested, recursive self-organization. So advised, human beings can intentionally carry on their viability to initiate a new phase of respectful facilitation. The book begins with a good intro to nonlinear and ecological theory, and goes on to suggests practical ways to preserve water resources and to achieve an environmentally frugal economics.

So the emerging solutions require a new world view. The first, and in my view the most important, change in world view has been the acceptance and understanding of a dynamic, non-linear, non-equilibrium view of complex systems; and the ways in which the actions of biological and social agents working with simple rules based on local information can produce emergent system-level properties. (309)

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