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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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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

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)

Gros, Claudius. Developing Ecospheres on Transiently Habitable Planets: The Genesis Project. arXiv:1608.06087. For this section broadly about future organic seedings and spreadings by our decisively self-sustained EarthKinder, here is an ideal example and proposal by the Goethe University, Frankfurt, systems physicist. (Johann would be pleased.) Drawing upon advances in the creation of minimal synthetic biological cells, along with findings of profligate exoplanets, a detailed pathway is laid out, albeit with novel starship ventures, which could begin to sow biochemical and cellular starters on near and farther suitable worlds.

It is often presumed, that life evolves relatively fast on planets with clement conditions, at least in its basic forms, and that extended periods of habitability are subsequently needed for the evolution of higher life forms. Many planets are however expected to be only transiently habitable. On a large set of otherwise suitable planets life will therefore just not have the time to develop on its own to a complexity level as it did arise on earth with the cambrian explosion. The equivalent of a cambrian explosion may however have the chance to unfold on transiently habitable planets if it would be possible to fast forward evolution by 3-4 billion years (with respect to terrestrial timescales). We argue here, that this is indeed possible when seeding the candidate planet with the microbial lifeforms, bacteria and unicellular eukaryotes alike, characterizing earth before the cambrian explosion. An interstellar mission of this kind, denoted the `Genesis project', could be carried out by a relatively low-cost robotic microcraft equipped with a on-board gene laboratory for the in situ synthesis of the microbes. We review here our current understanding of the processes determining the timescales shaping the geo-evolution of an earth-like planet, the prospect of finding Genesis candidate planets and selected issues regarding the mission layout. (Abstract)

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)

Harris, Jonathan, et al, eds. A Survey of Sustainable Development. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2001. An extensive source on social, economic, agriculture, North vs. South, population and urban dimensions.

Haussler, David. Odds for an Enlightened Rather than Barren Future. arXiv:1608.05776. The UC Santa Cruz, Genomics Institute senior bioinformatician expands his innovative thought onto a cosmic scale as an alternative to gloom and doom as planetary and interstellar intelligences may proceed to spread salutary knowledge across the galactic reaches. Thus, while we don’t have answers about the future fate of life, we do have hints, and these hints suggest there may be something extraordinary to come.

We are at a stage in our evolution where we do not yet know if we will ever communicate with intelligent beings that have evolved on other planets, yet we are intelligent and curious enough to wonder about this. We find ourselves wondering about this at the very beginning of a long era in which stellar luminosity warms many planets, and by our best models, continues to provide equally good opportunities for intelligent life to evolve. By simple Bayesian reasoning, if, as we believe, intelligent life forms have the same propensity to evolve later on other planets as we had to evolve on ours, it follows that they will likely not pass through a similar wondering stage in their evolution. This suggests that the future holds some kind of interstellar communication that will serve to inform newly evolved intelligent life forms that they are not alone before they become curious. (Abstract)

Hawken, Paul, et al. Natural Capitalism. Boston: Little Brown, 1999. A prescription for the organic, ecological transformation of production and commerce.

Hester, Randolph. Design for Ecological Democracy. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006. A consummate illustrated volume from a professor of landscape architecture at the University of California, Berkeley about practical ways to reinhabit viable communities. We quote from the publisher’s website.

Over the last fifty years, the process of community building has been lost in the process of city building. City and suburban design divides us from others in our communities, destroys natural habitats, and fails to provide a joyful context for our lives. In Design for Ecological Democracy, Randolph Hester proposes a remedy for our urban anomie. He outlines new principles for urban design….showing how we can design cities that are ecologically resilient, that enhance community, and that give us pleasure. Hester argues that it is only by combining the powerful forces of ecology and democracy that the needed revolution in design will take place. Democracy bestows freedom; ecology creates responsible freedom by explaining our interconnectedness with all creatures.

Hester's new design principles are founded on three fundamental issues that integrate democracy and ecology: enabling form, resilient form, and impelling form. Urban design must enable us to be communities rather than zoning-segregated enclaves and to function as informed democracies. A simple bench at a centrally located post office, for example, provides an opportunity for connection and shared experience. Cities must be ecologically resilient rather than ecologically imperiled, adaptable to the surrounding ecology rather than dependent on technological fixes. Resilient form turns increased urban density, for example, into an advantage. And cities should impel us by joy rather than compel us by fear; good cities enrich us rather than limit us.

Horne, J. and M. McDermott. The Next Green Revolution. Binghampton, NY: Haworth Press, 2002. As opposed to the 1960’s genetics project, a new agriculture ought to be based on the natural principles of organic farming.

Hunt, Dexter, et al. Scenario Archetypes: Converging Rather than Diverging Themes. Sustainability. 4/4, 2012. A 27 member team mostly from the University of Birmingham, UK, assemble and document a comprehensive array of futures from worst to best case, as the Abstract notes. Similar papers in this journal could be “Sustainable Development: A Bird’s Eye View” by Tom Waas, et al, (3/10, 2011) and “Contours of a Resilient Global Future” by Michael Gerst, et al (6/1, 2014) which, with coauthors Paul Raskin and Johan Rockstrom, pursues the “Great Transitions” moment of the Tellus Institute. Surely thoughtful, sincere endeavors to think about and seek solutions at our sustainability singularity, but each effort goes on without any thought or inquiry, as so alien to our culture, to perceive biosphere and personsphere as a natural phenomenon of a greater genesis.

Future scenarios provide challenging, plausible and relevant stories about how the future could unfold. Urban Futures (UF) research has identified a substantial set (>450) of seemingly disparate scenarios published over the period 1997–2011 and within this research, a sub-set of >160 scenarios has been identified (and categorized) based on their narratives according to the structure first proposed by the Global Scenario Group (GSG) in 1997; three world types (Business as Usual, Barbarization, and Great Transitions) and six scenarios, two for each world type (Policy Reform—PR, Market Forces—MF, Breakdown—B, Fortress World—FW, Eco-Communalism—EC and New Sustainability Paradigm—NSP). It is suggested that four of these scenario archetypes (MF, PR, NSP and FW) are sufficiently distinct to facilitate active stakeholder engagement in futures thinking. Moreover they are accompanied by a well-established, internally consistent set of narratives that provide a deeper understanding of the key fundamental drivers (e.g., STEEP—Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental and Political) that could bring about realistic world changes through a push or a pull effect. This is testament to the original concept of the GSG scenarios and their development and refinement over a 16 year period. (Abstract)

Hynes, H. Patricia. Beyond War. Women’s Studies International Forum. 30/4, 2007. A professor of environmental health at Boston University argues that the present “demand side of war,” a global political and economic society driven by obsessive weaponry and conflict, which exacts a harsh toll on children, women and the environment, will persist unless a deliberate change takes place to a peace-based culture. This will not happen until voices are raised by “prophets of peace,” along with real democratic initiatives, to counter our inane glorification and perpetuation of military carnage.

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