The Cliff Edge: Generating Political Will for the Required Level of Change
By Randy Hayes
FOUNDATION EARTH – Rethinking society from the ground up!
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In the high desert near the Grand Canyon is one of the oldest tribes in the Western Hemisphere, the Hopi. The old people there say that we newcomers need to get our industrial foot off the throat of nature and allow their people to live.
Some of us, from many walks of life, get the urgency of the impending ecological collapse. We know as well that major change must happen now and that we must build a new way of living on this planet. We also know that there isn’t the political will in society to do what needs to be done.
How do we generate greater political will? We start by sharing our message with many. Demand attention to this on all fronts. Provide a comprehensive plan to get people started.
In the 1970s I lived off and on with the Hopi and worked to support the elders. These eighty, ninety, and over a hundred-year-old women and men talked to us newcomers about their ways. Much of their daily lives, their economies, came from their own biologically diverse regions. They knew their neighboring tribes well. They traveled and traded far and wide. The stories were fascinating; but as a newcomer I kept coming back to two key lessons from these native elders: Get the industrial society foot off the throat of nature. Whether natives or newcomers, we must all live the natural way.
Where do we begin? How do we get BIG with footstep removal? To many, it is foolish to talk of shifting to a continental network of bioregional economies with green infrastructure servicing all. Suggestions of low impact living, using much less energy, and giving up high consumption high tech economies go nowhere with most business leaders and political “servants”. The sad truth remains: the required level of change in humanity’s damaging industrial operating systems is far greater than most are willing to face. Yet, without quick massive change to societal operating systems, our damaging economy will lead to greater breakdowns. Think of the 2008 economic spasm only worse. Think of a six year drought lasting twenty.
Business as usual is oriented to short-term profit. Vested interests, particularly in commerce, will keep fighting major change. Remember the saying that power concedes nothing without a fight. It never did and it never will.
However, with the next set of economic down-steps, more minds will open. Telling the story of the ecological truth of these times may help garner the much-needed political will for decisive action. So, get out there and make noise in every sector of society. Sound the alarm with these points:
The reality of our situation is dire and urgent.
Industrial technologies, modern chemistry, and billions of over-consuming wasteful people are destroying Earth’s life support systems. Weather pattern deterioration and extinction of pollinators are just two major examples. Synthetic chemicals poison food and our body tissues. We must stop shredding the interconnected unity of the biosphere, if humanity is to survive, because natural systems sustain all life on earth.
Call out to advance major changes.
These points are offered to provide a sample holistic approach for the transition (Foundation Earth’s seven-point new green deal has greater details on this action agenda).
- Promote a True Cost Economy. This is a steady state circular economy that structurally eliminates pollution externalities. We must replace the current polluting model.
- Quickly achieve 100% renewable energy, while using less and wasting none. Quid pro quo, shut down a gigawatt of fossil energy with every gigawatt of renewable energy.
- Quickly achieve 100% ecological farming. Remove fossil fertilizers and other toxics. Shift to a plant-based diet.
- Halt the extinction crisis. Protect and restore damaged natural systems. Remove the funding for ecologically damaging infrastructure projects. Honor biological diversity everywhere.
- Shift to low-impact lifestyles. Along with how we live, we need smaller numbers and a population educated about the ways of the biosphere, our life-support system. Remove the foot of ignorance and unthinking lifestyles.
- Ensure appropriate technology policy. Study unintended consequences. Remove technologies causing more problems than they solve.
- Other! This list can’t account for all that is important and needed. We trust you will help cover other vital issues, solutions, and foot removals.
Every sector of society must engage. All must speak out for high-level action. The hour is late, and we only have time for big steps in the right direction. What “leaders” can you write a letter to today? Such acts make you a kindhearted revolutionary in the love letter army.
Teach compassion to combat anger and fear. We need broad empathy for our world to change and survive. We don’t need to follow the path of strongman leaders and fascism. Cooperative community survival is the key to individual survival.
Bring your awareness into a bioregional community and take collective action. Fortify disaster response safety nets, especially first responders. Stockpile some food for yourself and some neighbors.
Develop a deep understanding of and respect for nature’s ways. Protected and restored natural systems locally, continentally, and globally are key to our medium-term survival and the long-term survival of web of life. Get to know your bioregional neighbors.
A transition is coming – which may include catastrophic disruptions and then having to rebuild. Some neighbors are already working for continental networks of bioregional economies and the green infrastructure for a better world.
Foster compassion as did the Hopi elders. At some point the unobservant and the denial types will realize that the “alarmists” were right. We should then welcome their newly offered support.
To conclude, in most places globally, there were the natives and now there are the newcomers. The current migrants into Europe are yet another such wave. No matter one’s ancestral origin, we must all learn to live a deeply natural way. It is the path to authentic hope.
Randy Hayes has been described in the Wall Street Journal as “an environmental pit bull.” He is Executive Director of Foundation Earth, a new organization fostering the big rethink to help protect the planet’s life support systems. Hayes, a former filmmaker, then founder of Rainforest Action Network, is a veteran of many high-visibility corporate accountability campaigns and has advocated for the rights of Indigenous peoples throughout the world.
A longer version of this essay ran in the MAHB Blog, a venture of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere. For information on MAHB, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rewilding Institute (TRI) mission is to explore and share tactics and strategies to advance continental-scale conservation and restoration in North America and beyond. We focus on the need for large carnivores and protected wildways for their movement; and we offer a bold, scientifically credible, practically achievable, and hopeful vision for the future of wild Nature and human civilization on planet Earth. |Subscribe | Join The Movement |