I’d like to tell you about a book I’ve just had published. Why I wrote the book. Coming blogs will discuss various themes of the book. It’s entitled, In the Light of Humane Nature: Human Values, Nature, the Green Economy, and Environmental Salvation. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know, please read on.
I have been in the environmental field for more years than I care to say – not just because I am reticent about my age, but because the environmental movement over this time hasn’t succeeded in forestalling environmental demise. Despite many environmental laws, regulations, and incentive programs and the growth of the “green economy” in recent years, most of our vital indicators continue to spiral downward. That is why I wrote the book, unashamedly and perhaps grandiosely: to try through another channel to help turn the tide.
In the preface to the book I talk about the specific antecedents that prompted me to write the book. But the overarching one comes down to frustration – a deep frustration with our progress on the environment – and a stubborn hope that somehow we can turn things around.
I make clear that the work Green Seal and many others have done over the years has been critical in keeping environmental deterioration from getting worse and in initiating progress toward a more sustainable society. But it has not sufficed.
We continue to experience disruptive and potentially catastrophic climate change, pervasive toxic pollution with adverse health effects for all living things, widespread loss of habitat with concomitant unprecedented loss of species, and increasing shortages of basic resources like water and arable land.
So what is the hope?
It is really quite simple, though ambitious and possibly overreaching. It is to get in touch with the human values that we most cherish, those that make the human species truly sapiens and humane, so that we will treat others and the rest of the world with the care they require.
I will talk more about these themes of the book in future posts. For now I want to explain what I hope the book will do.
The book’s concluding chapter describes how I expect people might act on the exhortations of the book. It was probably the most challenging part of the book to write. It is far easier to suggest how our values and outlook should change than to describe persuasively how such a fundamental shift might come to pass. After all, religious, philosophical, and political movements over millennia have tried – mostly unsuccessfully – to do just this. Nevertheless, it was a logical and necessary next step in the discussion.
I appeal to everyone in our economic and social system to embrace the change in outlook required to make our world sustainable and livable for all creatures.
All of us play a role, and all are responsible to varying degrees. I urge society to make this a priority and forego its endless wars and armaments in order to focus on it. Then I make a special appeal to the younger generation to use its signature social media on behalf of this cause, pointing out that social media networking inherently provides the potential for exponential increases in numbers of people to whom these ideas can be communicated and who can become the phalanx for needed social and environmental change.
Yes, it’s ambitious, all of this. But we are at a moment in human and earth history where nothing less will suffice. And, marvelously, it is all within our grasp – deep down, within each of us.