The Cliff Edge: Generating Political Will for the Required Level of Change
By Randy Hayes
FOUNDATION EARTH – Rethinking society from the ground up!
660 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E., Suite 402
Washington, DC 20003
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 jo**@ma********.org.
Contact: Amy Lewis Tel. 303-442-8811, ext. 227 Email: am*@wi**.org
ANNOUNCING THE 11th WORLD WILDERNESS CONGRESS: ADVANCING NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS
FOR CLIMATE & HUMAN LIVELIHOODS
BOULDER, COLORADO, May 13, 2019 — Wilderness Foundation Global and the WILD Foundation, in partnership with the Sanctuary Nature Foundation and the Government of Rajasthan, India, announced today a new opportunity for the public to influence and take part in a growing international movement to defend Earth’s remaining wilderness.
The 11th World Wilderness Congress (WILD11) will address the essential role of wild nature in providing for human well-being, and highlight powerful policy and on-the-ground tools to preserve natural, life-giving processes. It will convene in Jaipur, India between March 19-26, 2020, around the theme of “For life, livelihoods, and love.”
The World Wilderness Congress is the world’s longest-running, public, environmental forum. It gathers leaders from all sectors of society – science, the arts, business and finance, activism, government, and Indigenous Peoples – to coordinate on new solutions and common objectives for the defense of Earth’s wilderness. Its 45 years of conservation accomplishments are found here.
WILD11 convenes in 2020 – an historic year for wilderness conservation – in advance of two United Nations’ conventions on the climate and biodiversity crises. WILD11 serves as a vigorous channel to these events, energizing and mobilizing global publics around the urgently needed policies required to end the Sixth Extinction and address the climate crisis.
WILD11 aims to influence the global conservation agenda, encouraging world leaders to fully embrace this critical moment in history, and take the ambitious and necessary step of agreeing to protect and interconnect at least 50% of Earth’s land and seas.
At this critical juncture in the environmental movement India has been selected as the host country for WILD11 because of the inspirational leadership of Indian conservationists in restoring wildlands to save the tiger. Half of the world’s nearly 4,000 remaining tigers are in India, and even though they still need much more natural habitat to thrive and support Indian ecology, Indian tiger conservation is a noteworthy success story.
India continues to pioneer effective new solutions to restore wildlands and reintroduce animal and plant species, working hand-in-hand with local communities to also rejuvenate human livelihoods.
WILD11 advances its programmatic mission of nature-based solutions for wilderness, climate, and community with two streams that focus on global and regional conservation goals. While the global program will build and strengthen leadership for the protection of Earth’s biosphere, the regional program will elevate important issues that are often overlooked in wilderness conservation. From the protection of grasslands and deserts to the preservation of the quickly dwindling Great Indian Bustard (less than 150 remain), WILD11 will advance knowledge and coordination for a more comprehensive approach to the conservation of all wildlands.
For more information about WILD11, please contact Vance G. Martin, President of Wilderness Foundation Global, at va***@wi**.org.
ABOUT WILDERNESS FOUNDATION GLOBAL
Focused on developing leadership and implementing effective action for protecting wilderness and wildlife while meeting the needs of human communities, WFG is the only global conservation organization born and based in Africa. As a founding member of WFG, WILD Foundation has continuing operational responsibility for the World Wilderness Congress since its inception in 1977.
ABOUT SANCTUARY NATURE FOUNDATION
With India’s most established, nation-wide experience and network in conservation communications and media, Sanctuary’s flagship publication is Sanctuary Asia, India’s premiere monthly conservation publication. Considered the main “crossroads for conservation” in India, Sanctuary works at the interface of biodiversity, economics and climate change. Of its many programs, Sanctuary’s Kids for Tigers Program is a +1 million network of youth, advocating constantly for outreach, and protection of the Bengal tiger and its wild home. The Sanctuary Community Owned Community Operated Nature (COCOON) Conservancy is a rewilding program, nested within the larger Nature Needs Half/WILD Foundation umbrella.
ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT OF RAJASTHAN, INDIA
Represented by The Honorable Ashok Gehlot, Chief Minister; Ms Shreya Guha; Principal Secretary: Department of Tourism, Art and Culture; and, Forest, Environment, and Tourism.
Randy Hayes has been described in the Wall Street Journal as “an environmental pit bull.” He is Executive Director of Foundation Earth, an organization fostering the big rethink from the ground up 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 biocentric worldviews and Indigenous peoples throughout the world.