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Entries in book excerpts (4)

Thursday
Jul052012

Worldviews, Not Just Godzilla Footprints, Determine Multi Earth Ways

Being a Multi Earther, I’ve come to see, is about much more than having an ecological footprint the size of Godzilla. More than just over-sized living, a Multi Earther lives an entire worldview that is bigger than our planet. Like all worldviews do, this one connects many parts into a big picture — the kind of picture an aerial view gives of a forest dotted with meadows. But if we limit ourselves to clicking our camera only at ground level, then we see only snapshots of beautiful trees and wildflowers. Great pictures! But not the same as aerial views. Similarly, a worldview also gives us the “big picture” in the microscopic world, making visible what our eyes cannot see. Whether telescopic or microscopic, a worldview shows countless interconnections between distinct parts. This is precisely where the Multi Earth worldview increasingly fails us. Earth, as it were, is showing us aerial view of what is happening. Scientists continually take the worldview-size pictures of all the changes underway on our planet. But others, those whose power and wealth depend on Multi Earth ways, shoot pictures with their cameras at ground level. Then they arrange those snapshots into the worldview they want us to believe because it best rewards their interests. Their result is predictable: a worldview that does not fit what is truly underway in Earth’s oceans, land masses, and atmosphere.

Monday
Jul022012

The Casino: Living on 1 Planet while Gambling as if We're on 5

Think of this! If all seven billion people on Earth lived according to the average American, five planets would be required. Go ahead! Check it out! Go to the Global Footprint Network website and use their calculator. Of the many footprint calculators on the web, the Global Footprint Network sets the standard.

The network tells us that in order for all of Earth’s people to achieve the standards of European societies, as many as four planets are required. Or if you lump our species all together globally, from richest to poorest, then we demand 1.4 times from nature what she annually regenerates. This means that by early fall of recent years we began using resources beyond what Earth’s ecosystems produced in that year. I was shocked to learn of a study published in 2011 in the Marine Ecology Progress Series that determined we will need 27 planets by 2050 if we cannot greatly improve on what our living practices were in 2011. My mind stumbles before these impacts on Earth’s ecosystems from human population, overconsumption, and inefficient resource use. Our species, so capable of enormous good, continues to play in a high stakes casino game headed for self-destruction.

Friday
Jun292012

Starting Point: Let's Calculate Our Ecological Footprints

No matter which ecological footprint calculator I use, the results come out the same: I use more of Earth’s ecosystems annually than what they generate. My lifestyle is too big for our one planet. So, I use more than my share, depriving others of theirs. I take advantage of the economic and political systems that privilege me over other people. But not only people, I also endanger the habitats of animals and plants. The Earth Day Network footprint calculator tells me I’m requiring 3.7 planets. Ouch! A similar calculator at the Center for Sustainable Economics doesn’t soothe me either. Its criteria calculate me at 3.59 Earths. Their website explains how science continually updates the metrics by which footprints are calculated to assure the greatest accuracy possible.

How can my footprint be so large? I’m trying so hard to reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink. A recent decision that my spouse, Juanita, and I made is just one example. When we faced $1000 or more of repairs to our 1998 Honda Civic, we opted for a previously owned 2004 Toyota Prius, upping our miles per gallon from 34 to 50. But there’s no getting around those footprint calculations. When I look at myself in their mirror, who do I see? I see a Multi Earther, a conqueror of Eden.

Deep within me lives the unshakeable conviction that Earth generates abundance for all life on the planet, not just for me, and not just for my family or my country — not even just for humans, but for all animals and plants. A share of that abundance belongs to each of us. It’s that share that I want to learn about and live with. Not 3.7 of the shares. How I’ve come to this point, and my quest to change, is what this blog is about.

Wednesday
Jun082011

Earth, Our One-Planet Home, Evolves Her Story

Here is excerpt #4 from the forthcoming book and media project on one-Earth living, namely, an economic model that fits within the resources of our one-planet home and how we can practice that now. Please offer your critiques to these excerpts.

Earth is our one-planet home. Whatever economy we design and use, sooner or later Earth will require it to fit her magnificent order.

Spinning and orbiting around a thermonuclear star every year, she holds us close in her gravitational love. Her mystery and math awaken our sense of the sacred. Divine Presence speaks and teaches through her, alternating explosive drama with silence and space. Her birth, about 4 billion years ago, brought forth a magnificent miracle in our universe. Since her birth, she has continued to create. Her evolution has not waned. Her capacities for abundance generate endless, varied cycles of life and death and life again…. As some forms wane and die, new forms emerge. Her patient, persistent generativity has overcome large extinctions as her deep sources to birth new creations reconfigure over millennia. Neither the language of science or poetry can say what she says in language older than words.

Homo Sapiens Emerge and “Fit in”

So where do we humans fit in? Pardon the ego-centric nature of the question. Yet, “fitting in” is what we humans have recently, meaning the past several millennia, done poorly. As wealth has increased, we humans have been very dissatisfied with Earth’s wardrobe. Her desire to clothe all has not matched the desires of humans with more power and affluence to be clothed in privileges amassed for themselves. We often behave more as misfits than good fits. So, “fitting in” is a universal issue for humans in the 21st century. Are we inside of Earth’s four billion year awe and wonder? Or, during this current geological epoch, have we used rational thinking to construct a platform outside of her truth? Have we now put our trust in a story of progress full of improvements on her evolutionary genius?

Earth’s story proceeds for over 3.5 billion years before it comes to the chapter in which humans evolved. Homo sapiens, the first human ancestors with anatomies like ours, emerged perhaps 200,000 years ago in the Omo River valley of what is today Ethiopia, though some students of fossil records propose the emergence happened in multiple areas, not only one. Either way, we humans do have a long story, but it is much shorter than the 4 billion year story of Earth. Even shorter is the time when what we call “culture” first appeared. Tool use is one of the indicators anthropologists use to determine that cultures were forming. Though in use for 2.5 million years, well before homo sapiens emerged, tool use increased greatly beginning about 50,000 years ago, or 150,000 after the emergence of homo sapiens. Verbal language, a very important indicator of culture, does not appear in the fossil record, of course, but it presumably was used a long time before the written languages that appear 5,000 to 6,000 years ago.

Geologists, anthropologists, and paleontologists continue to read the text of Earth written in a language older than words. Their careful and self-correcting readings and interpretations of Earth’s story, lavishly shared through many web articles, continually reveal the intricate interconnecting dynamics to all of us who want to know more about our one planet home.