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VIII. Earth Earns: Our Open Participatory Earthropocene to Ecosmocene CoCreativity

5. A Viable Gaia: A Sustainable, Familial Unity: Planetary Patriots and Matriots

Daly, Herman and Joshua Farley. Ecological Economics. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2011. Senior University of Maryland and University of Vermont social scholars here offer, in so many words, that humanity’s carrying capacity upon this finite orb has been reached and breached. Akin to an organism at adulthood, it is past time to shift to a mature sustainable life style. Part One lays out The Fundamental Vision, a paradigm shift to an economical commerce aware of and set within bioregional ecosystems. Part Two engages The Nature of Resources and the Resources of Nature, both Abiotic and Biotic, in an appropriate thermodynamic context. These thorough grounds lead to Microeconomic depths and Macroeconomic breadth from human scale habitations and trade to suitable international policies.

Deb, Debal. Beyond Developmentality: Constructing Inclusive Freedom and Sustainability. London: Earthscan, 2009. From the director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies, Barrackpore, India, a non-western evocation and course toward a social and ecological sanity. Of especial note is a Preface by Berkeley resource environmentalist Richard Norgaard who decries a need for just such “a new life story” from our rapacious consumption to a viable organic nurturance.

Dijkema, Gerard, et al. Complexity in Industrial Ecology. Journal of Industrial Ecology. 19/2, 2015. An introduction to an issue on Advances in Complex Adaptive Systems CAS which notes that nonlinear science, with a natural affinity to sustainability studies, has now attained a mature theoretical and practical applicability. In regard, has resurfaced and matured to an apt utility, while agent based modeling ABM has eased in interest. After nonequilbrium thermodynamics and agent-based modeling, the prime trend has been the recognition and avail of network phenomena which best characterize social, urban, technological, and informational “symbiotic metabolisms.” If human beings with respectful intention are to take over the organic maintenance of a precious biosphere and personsphere, it is vital to understand and apply evolutionary nature’s own wisdom and ways.

For sample articles, see A General Systems Structure and Accounting Framework for Socioeconomic Metabolism by Stefan Pauliuk, et al, Industrial Ecology: The View from Complex Systems by Luis Bettencourt and Christa Breisford, Why Do Cities Grow: Insights from Nonequilibrium Thermodynamics at the Urban and Global Scales by David Bristow and Christopher Kennedy, and IE = Industrial Evolution? by Igor Nikolic. The last three papers are reviewed separately in this Viable Gaia section.

The Journal of Industrial Ecology is an international, multi-disciplinary bimonthly designed to foster both understanding and practice in the emerging field of industrial ecology. Industrial ecology is a rapidly-growing field that systematically examines local, regional and global materials and energy uses and flows in products, processes, industrial sectors and economies. It focuses on the potential role of industry in reducing environmental burdens throughout the product life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials, to the production of goods, to the use of those goods and to the management of the resulting wastes. The journal is published by Wiley Blackwell for Yale University on behalf of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. It is the official journal of the International Society for Industrial Ecology.

Doll, William, et al, eds. Chaos, Complexity, Curriculum, and Culture. New York: Peter Lang, 2005. A unique work aimed at a redefinition and enhancement of education inspired by complex systems science. The core institution for the authors is Louisiana State University. But as expressed in an Introduction by Jayne Fleener, this new approach affirms postmodern views of an inherently fluid, relative, and ultimately unpredictable nature. Even with insights into nonlinear self-organization and emergence, with an emphasis on fractal self-similarity, universal commonalities are excluded. Notable papers are Chinese Aesthetics, Fractals, and the Tao of Curriculum by Hongyu Wang, and Interrupting Frameworks by Brent Davis.

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.

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