Tag Archives: sustainability

Deep Ecology Foundation

The Deep Ecology Platform

1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: inherent worth, intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.

2. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.

3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs.

4. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.

5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.

6. Policies must therefore be changed. The changes in policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.

7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent worth) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.

8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary changes.

—Arne Naess and George Sessions (1984)

Foundation for Deep Ecology

Leave a Comment

Filed under nature

Save the Planet

Dinosaur Musing

Dinosaur Musing

It doesn’t need saving. Earth will be here long after Homo Sapiens Sapiens has departed. Most likely it will teem with life for sometime–as in billions of years–after it no longer teems with us. This will be the case not matter what our last chapter is about.

…just my opinion, but all efforts to transform and develop the human situation in the biosphere, might better be oriented by a much more refined and grounded regard of what actually may come to be saved and needs to be saved.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Big Picture Maturation

“It is not the incarnate Sophia’s role to bind or connect us to the earth, but to help us recognize that our understanding of ourselves as separate from the earth is a delusion.” Henri Corbin

discovered in the article, SOPHIA AND SUSTAINABILITY; Bernice H. Hill; CG Jung Page

Ms. Hill writes in the closing paragraph,

Our way through the present environmental crisis requires that we mature; that we free ourselves from too local, too self-serving a perspective; that we move beyond our fear of life’s cycles to become “citizens of the world.”

This dovetails much with my own reflections about how to conceive of larger human systems which I would pose as ‘parents’ to the ‘child’ systems given by perspectival framings of sustainability.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Elephants, and, Almost the Ivan Illich Moment

Last night Entrepreneurs For Sustainability sponsored a daring program, in their monthly series. Titled Sustainability and Poverty, it was the first program over 12 years of the series, that primarily focused on the larger political-economic and social ‘human system.’

I’d count myself as a student of the network-centric development aesthetic that grounds E4S’s vision in a truly humane and feminine (in the archetypal sense,) view about connecting and supporting the empowerment of idealistic and committed entrepreneurial activists. Each in their way, is focused on decreasing the resource and waste footprint of northeast Ohio’s material and energy consumption. E4S does a phenomenal job, and its leader, one of my closest friends Holly, is a masterful maven.

At the same time, I cannot endorse the so-called Triple Bottom Line, (planet-people-profits.) Nor do I engage easily with activism overwhelmingly disposed toward instrumentalism, i.e. doing, when this is severed from any critical culture whatsoever. To me, the wedding of idealism and instrumentalism, can’t help but be often yoked to a refusal to understand the larger scale systems. This lack of a critical culture comes with the territory of doers and doing. This makes sense as a concomitant to so much action: why bother with perilous contradictions found in, and at the scale of, the larger system(s)?

The program, when announced, surprised me, because its implicit reach into the zones of economic devastation, potentially contextualize sustainability in complicated and contradictory ways.

This reach begs intense questions.

And, with one exception, those freighted questions did not get raised. One surfaced in the Q&A. This question, about how large institutions geared primarily toward profits could come to the ‘page’ of sustainability, was circumvented by an astonishingly disingenuous answer by a panelist.

This is okay. E4S isn’t configured to bring critical consciousness to bear upon contradictions and challenges implicit in the larger system that its business development mission takes place within. Still, the excitement generated at the program likely had something to do with its moment of opening up to the larger system and its big questions.

If you’re wondering what those questions are, I’ll pose them as equivalent to elephants in the room.

1st elephant: People in poverty most often represent the failure of the political-economic system, and predatory–if you will–bottom lines.

2nd elephant: People in poverty in Cleveland live lifestyles unimaginable to the 1 billion people who live on $3/day or less. The point here is not the relative well-being of Cleveland’s economically disadvantaged, but that elephant #1, much more abject poverty elsewhere, is due to the most horrific consequences of profit motive, resource inequity and failures of sustainability.

3rd elephant: The stand alone “truth” of sustainability is different at the different and enlarged scales of socio-economics.

(If one is to regard and analyze the sociological/economic system that encompasses the elongated cycles of development and degradation, dynamicism of structural opportunities, disinvestment and mobility of capital, and the literal classes of longitudinal outcome at the level of household and neighborhood, city and region, one will be compelled to turn an unsparing critical eye toward the problem, or shadow of, profitable instrumentalities, these too merged with the voracious onslaught given by capitalism and consumerism.)

4th elephant: A world-wide consumer middle class, the implication of ending poverty granted by a commitment to a hyper-materialistic finance-capitalized economics, is not sustainable.

Which brings us to:

5th elephant: the resource inequities given by the furious consumerism of the 1st world and, nowadays, by the economic growth of asia and latin america. The economic devastation in NEO is not due to other causes. Follow the gold over long cycles of expansion and contraction!

This last elephant presents the problem of unsustainable growth in its starkest terms, even as the trend toward greater poverty, has been largely reversed. (Except on the continent of Africa.)

Implication of elephant #5: It’s hard to valorize the triple bottom line, AND, not run the damn numbers. But, to run the numbers is to realize how nonsensical the triple bottom line is in the first place, and at the scale of the system where the ill consequences smack in the face.

I don’t see how the problem of poverty can be dragged very far into the perspective given by the current sustainable business system, and its blinded triple bottom line. After all, that same business system is not structured to not drive people into poverty. So it is also: the triple bottom line is rendered uncritically as a development model with basically zero regard (in its instrumental scheme,) for its being also an implicate feature of predatory finance capitalism.

Ironically, there is a long tradition of thought leading, predating the sustainability movement, that zeroes in on these contradictions. Schumacher, Bookchin, nowadays Bill Mckibbon, others, and especially Ivan Illich, unpacked the weighty contradictions of capital, consumerism, resource equity, wastefulness, and the institutionalization, (and for Illich, professionalization,) of the materialistic trance.

Although E4S is hardly configured to deal with any of this, and the fascinating monthly meeting didn’t approach elephant or contradiction, nevertheless, this was the first time in 12+ years that this fine and important local collaborative experiment dared to step toward its own Ivan Illich moment.

I have no idea how sustainability advocates who aren’t aware of aging, albeit sophisticated social critiques, might either reckon with or begin to reconcile the contradictions found in the larger system. Hopefully, turning a blind eye toward the bigger system will become more and more untenable.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized


it is quite possible for commonsense to join with an iconoclastic mission. My friend Alan Kuper, the father of a junior high classmate of forty years ago, and a retired professor of electrical engineering, is on such a mission. At the same time, his approach is commonsensical: he has devised a system of scoring U.S. Congress persons based in evaluating their voting records on environmental matters.

This would be the broad brush. What Dr. Kuper notes is that the United States is home to the biggest population problem on earth. Why? Because our resource hungry, wasteful, and polluting consumption grows as our population grows. As is well known, the U.S. is the world’s leading resource mongerer, consumer and polluter. And, as Illich pointed out, the earth itself cannot support a global consumer society on the U.S. model. There aren’t enough raw materials in the earth, nor reserve of fresh atmosphere, (etc.,) to fund a global consumer utopia.

Somebody has to take a stand; a lot of somebodies; and from a small home office in his home, Dr. Kuper has taken a stand. It provides for a good human interest story too. Alan Kuper is wholly devoted to the cause of connecting the dots between the big picture of consumption la-la lunacy and democratic policy making. In his eighties, he hasn’t shuffled off to the wings of oblivious retirement. Since I’ve known him for so long, but no better than I have only recently, I am pleased to state he is a delightful curmudgeon of the old school, speaking truth to power and to the people for that matter.

The point is to leverage the data he’s put together. …because we might all better evaluate the voting implication of those congress people who purport to be acting in the citizenry’s self-interest. Dr. Kuper’s mission is completely grassroots, hardscrabble, and, at the same time, relentless in its evaluation of congressional commitments.

He generates a scorecard of each congress and this scorecard is packed full of valuable, surprising, and, often, shocking data. Consider a donation too–you’ll receive CUSP’s booklet and a hardcopy scorecard.

CUSP: USCongress-Enviroscore

Leave a Comment

Filed under current events