Ecological Challenges Quotes

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The great challenge of the twenty-first century is to raise people everywhere to a decent standard of living while preserving as much of the rest of life as possible.
Edward O. Wilson
We need myths that will help us to identify with all our fellow-beings, not simply with those who belong to our ethnic, national or ideological tribe. We need myths that help us to realize the importance of compassion, which is not always regarded as sufficiently productive or efficient in our pragmatic, rational world. We need myths that help us to create a spiritual attitude, to see beyond our immediate requirements, and enable us to experience a transcendent value that challenges our solipsistic selfishness. We need myths that help us to venerate the earth as sacred once again, instead of merely using it as a 'resource.' This is crucial, because unless there is some kind of spiritual revolution that is able to keep abreast of our technological genius, we will not save our planet.
Karen Armstrong (A Short History of Myth)
In these downbeat times, we need as much hope and courage as we do vision and analysis; we must accent the best of each other even as we point out the vicious effects of our racial divide and pernicious consequences of our maldistribution of wealth and power. We simply cannot enter the twenty-first century at each other's throats, even as we acknowledge the weighty forces of racism, patriarchy, economic inequality, homophobia, and ecological abuse on our necks. We are at a crucial crossroad in the history of this nation--and we either hang together by combating these forces that divide and degrade us or we hang separately. Do we have the intelligence, humor, imagination, courage, tolerance, love, respect, and will to meet the challenge? Time will tell. None of us alone can save the nation or world. But each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so.
Cornel West (Race Matters)
Eco” comes from the Greek word oikos, meaning home. Ecology is the study of home, while economics is the management of home. Ecologists attempt to define the conditions and principles that govern life’s ability to flourish through time and change. Societies and our constructs, like economics, must adapt to those fundamentals defined by ecology. The challenge today is to put the “eco” back into economics and every aspect of our lives.
David Suzuki (The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature)
Since our divorce from nature with the industrial revolution, the major challenge for architecture remains a challenge of language as we replace units of growth with units of construction.
Neri Oxman
For the natural polytheist, whose gods arise in and from the natural material world, this challenge is not even always a metaphor. Our gods not only have transcendent eyes and metaphysical hands. They have antlers and feathers, hooves and scales, fangs and horns and wings and fins and claws. They are in the lands we strip for veins of precious ore. They are in the waters we poison.
Alison Leigh Lilly
The chief causes of the environmental destruction that faces us today are not biological, or the product of individual human choice. They are social and historical, rooted in the productive relations, technological imperatives, and historically conditioned demographic trends that characterize the dominant social system. Hence, what is ignored or downplayed in most proposals to remedy the environmental crisis is the most critical challenge of all: the need to transform the major social bases of environmental degradation, and not simply to tinker with its minor technical bases. As long as prevailing social relations remain unquestioned, those who are concerned about what is happening are left with few visible avenues for environmental action other than purely personal commitments to recycling and green shopping, socially untenable choices between jobs and the environment, or broad appeals to corporations, political policy-makers, and the scientific establishment--the very interests most responsible for the current ecological mess.
John Bellamy Foster (The Vulnerable Planet: A Short Economic History of the Environment)
The mortal enemies of man are not his fellows of another continent or race; they are the aspects of the physical world which limit or challenge his control, the disease germs that attack him and his domesticated plants and animals, and the insects that carry many of these germs as well as working notable direct injury. This is not the age of man, however great his superiority in size and intelligence; it is literally the age of insects.
Warder C. Allee (The Social Life Of Animals)
THE GREATEST CHALLENGE today, not just in cell biology and ecology but in all of science, is the accurate and complete description of complex systems.
Edward O. Wilson (Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge)
The cascade of toxins and debris generated by humans destabilizes nutrient return cycles, causing crop failure, global warming, climate change and, in a worst-case scenario, quickening the pace towards ecocatastrophes of our own making. As ecological disrupters, humans challenge the immune systems of our environment beyond their limits. The rule of nature is that when a species exceeds the carrying capacity of its host environment, its food chains collapse and diseases emerge to devastate the population of the threatening organism. I believe we can come into balance with nature using mycelium to regulate the flow of nutrients. The age of mycological medicine is upon us. Now is the time to ensure the future of our planet and our species by partnering, or running, with mycelium.
Paul Stamets (Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World)
Ours is an age of onrushing turbo-capitalism, wherein the present feels more abbreviated than it used to be – at least for the world's privileged classes who live surrounded by technological time-savers that often compound the sensation of not having enough time. Consequently, one of the most pressing challenges of our age is how to adjust rapidly eroding attention spans to the slow erosions of environmental justice. If, under neoliberalism, the gulf between the enclaved rich and outcast poor has become ever more pronounced, ours is also an era of enclaved time wherein for many speed has become self-justifying, propulsive ethic that renders "uneventful" violence (to those who live remote from its attritional lethality) a weak claimant on our time. The attosecond pace of our age, with its restless technologies of infinite promise and infinite disappointment, prompts us to keep flicking and clicking distractedly in an insatiable –often insensate– quest for quicker sensation".
Rob Nixon (Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor)
We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims. The challenge is to make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time, with spontaneous cooperation, and without ecological damage or disadvantage of anyone.
L. Steven Sieden (A Fuller View: Buckminster Fuller's Vision of Hope and Abundance for All)
The cascade of toxins and debris generated by humans destabilizes nutrient return cycles, causing crop failure, global warming, climate change and, in a worst-case scenario, quickening the pace towards ecocatastrophes of our own making. As ecological disrupters, humans challenge the immune systems of our environment beyond their limits. The rule of nature is that when a species exceeds the carrying capacity of its host environment, its food chains collapse and diseases emerge to devastate the population of the threatening organism.
Paul Stamets (Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World)
Most intellectual training focuses on analytical skills. Whether in literary criticism or scientific investigation, the academic mind is best at taking things apart. The complementary arts of integration are far less well developed. This problem is at the core of human ecology. As with any interdisciplinary pursuit, it is the bridging across disparate ways of knowing that is the constant challenge.
Richard J. Borden (Ecology and Experience: Reflections from a Human Ecological Perspective)
You have your own stories, the dramatic and more ordinary moments where what has gone wrong becomes an opening to more of yourself and part of your gift to the world. This is the beginning of wisdom. And what is true for individuals is true for peoples. Our problems are not more harrowing than the ravaging depressions and wars of a century ago. But our economic, demographic, and ecological challenges are in fact existential. I think we sense this in our bones, though it’s not a story with commonly agreed-upon contours. Our global crises, the magnitude of the stakes for which we are playing, could signal the end of civilization as we’ve known it. Or they might be precisely the impetus human beings perversely need to do the real work at hand: to directly and wisely address the human condition and begin to grow it up.
Krista Tippett (Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living)
In previous centuries national identities were forged because humans faced problems and opportunities that were far beyond the scope of local tribes and which only countrywide cooperation could hope to handle. In the twenty-first century, nations find themselves in the same situation as the old tribes: they are no longer the right framework to manage the most important challenges of the age. We need a new global identity because national institutions are incapable of handling a set of unprecedented global predicaments. We now have a global ecology, a global economy, and a global science—but we are still stuck with only national politics. This mismatch prevents the political system from effectively countering our main problems. To have effective politics, either we must deglobalize the ecology, the economy, and the march of science or we must globalize our politics. Since it is impossible to deglobalize the ecology and the march of science, and since the cost of deglobalizing the economy would probably be prohibitive, the only real solution is to globalize politics. This does not mean establishing a “global government”—a doubtful and unrealistic vision. Rather, to globalize politics means that political dynamics within countries and even cities should give far more weight to global problems and interests.
Yuval Noah Harari (21 Lessons for the 21st Century)
Conservatives have, at least since the 60s, seen their system of values under attack—from feminism, the gay rights movement, the ecological movement, the sexual revolution, multiculturalism, and many more manifestations of Nurturant Parent morality. Conservatives have seen the values of these movements taught in the schools. They are appalled that what they see as the only system of real morality is being undermined. Conservatives believe that all of the major ills of our present society come from a failure to abide by their moral system. Moreover, they believe that their moral system is the only true American moral system, as well as the only moral system behind Western civilization. They see both of these beliefs challenged in contemporary historical research, which is being taught in our universities. This gives them a sense of moral outrage. They are fighting back. Why
George Lakoff (Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think)
THE EIGHT PRINCIPLES OF UNCIVILISATION 1. We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unravelling. All around us are signs that our whole way of living is already passing into history. We will face this reality honestly and learn how to live with it. 2. We reject the faith which holds that the converging crises of our times can be reduced to a set of ‘problems’ in need of technological or political ‘solutions’. 3. We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we have been telling ourselves. We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilisation: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths. 4. We will reassert the role of storytelling as more than mere entertainment. It is through stories that we weave reality. 5. Humans are not the point and purpose of the planet. Our art will begin with the attempt to step outside the human bubble. By careful attention, we will reengage with the non-human world. 6. We will celebrate writing and art which is grounded in a sense of place and of time. Our literature has been dominated for too long by those who inhabit the cosmopolitan citadels. 7. We will not lose ourselves in the elaboration of theories or ideologies. Our words will be elemental. We write with dirt under our fingernails. 8. The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us.
Paul Kingsnorth (Uncivilisation: The Dark Mountain Manifesto)
See people as facts of nature. They come in all varieties, like flowers or rocks. There are fools and saints and sociopaths and egomaniacs and noble warriors; there are the sensitive and the insensitive. They all play a role in our social ecology. This does not mean we cannot struggle to change the harmful behavior of the people who are close to us or in our sphere of influence; but we cannot reengineer human nature, and even if we somehow succeeded, the result could be a lot worse than what we have. You must accept diversity and the fact that people are what they are. That they are different from you should not be felt as a challenge to your ego or Self-esteem but as something to welcome and embrace. From this more neutral stance, you can then try to understand the people you deal with on a deeper level, as Chekhov did with his father. The more you do this, the more tolerant you will tend to become toward people and toward human nature in general. Your open, generous spirit will make your social interactions much smoother, and people will be drawn to you.
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature: Robert Greene)
In our times, the indirectness and “invisibility” of the planetary damage we cause poses a major challenge. Even when we are very aware of our role in the problem, we don’t see the effect of our actions on a daily basis. The earth is so big and complex. Turning on a car engine, a light switch, or an air-conditioner doesn’t suddenly raise the outside temperature or trigger an extreme storm. But we are essentially drilling holes without fully grasping the consequences of our action. If we did fully grasp them, could we look our children in the eye and admit to them that our lifestyle will jeopardize their future?
Yonatan Neril (Eco Bible: Volume 1: An Ecological Commentary on Genesis and Exodus)
Whatever changes await us in the future, they are likely to involve a fraternal struggle within a single civilization rather than a clash between alien civilizations. The big challenges of the twenty-first century will be global in nature. What will happen when climate change triggers ecological catastrophes? What will happen when computers outperform humans in more and more tasks, and replace them in an increasing number of jobs? What will happen when biotechnology enables us to upgrade humans and extend life spans? No doubt we will have huge arguments and bitter conflicts over these questions. But these arguments and conflicts are unlikely to isolate us from one another. Just the opposite. They will make us ever more interdependent. Though humankind is very far from constituting a harmonious community, we are all members of a single rowdy global civilization.
Yuval Noah Harari (21 Lessons for the 21st Century)
As individuals and as species, living organisms are part of interdependent communities, existing within a web of mutualisms that Leopold once imagined as “a universal symbiosis.” Given the harm our species is capable of doing to others, it’s understandable that over the course of the conservation movement, some have tried to sever our relationships with other species, drawing hard boundaries in an attempt to limit our exploitation of other forms of life. Boundaries have been useful to conservation—and will continue to be. But the lesson of ecology, much like that of Aesop’s fables, is that human relationships with the rest of life are both inescapable and inescapably complex. The great challenge of conservation is to sustain complexity, in its many forms, and by doing so protect the possibility of a future for all life on earth. And for that, there are no panaceas.
Michelle Nijhuis (Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction)
It is clear, then, that the desire for certainty shapes our spaces of possibility, our perceptions, and our lives both personally and professionally. Usually, this need saves us. But it also sabotages us. This produces an ongoing tension between what we might think of as our conscious selves and our automatic selves. To overcome our inborn reflex that pushes us to seek certainty (sometimes at any cost), we must lead with our conscious selves and tell ourselves a new story, one that with insistent practice will change our future past and even our physiological responses. We must create internal and external ecologies that… celebrate doubt! This means the biggest obstacle to deviation and seeing differently isn’t actually our environment as such, or our” intelligence, or even—ironically—the challenge of reaching the mythical “aha” moment. Rather, it is the nature of human perception itself, and in particular the perceived need for knowing. Yet the deep paradox is that the mechanisms of perception are also the process by which we can unlock powerful new perceptions and ways to deviate. Which means that mechanism of generating a perception is the blocker… and the process of creating perception is the enabler of creativity
Beau Lotto (Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently)
In 1995, the gray wolf was reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park after a seventy-year hiatus. Scientists expected an ecological ripple effect, but the size and scope of the trophic cascade took them by surprise.7 Wolves are predators that kill certain species of animals, but they indirectly give life to others. When the wolves reentered the ecological equation, it radically changed the behavioral patterns of other wildlife. As the wolves began killing coyotes, the rabbit and mouse populations increased, thereby attracting more hawks, weasels, foxes, and badgers. In the absence of predators, deer had overpopulated the park and overgrazed parts of Yellowstone. Their new traffic patterns, however, allowed the flora and fauna to regenerate. The berries on those regenerated shrubs caused a spike in the bear population. In six years’ time, the trees in overgrazed parts of the park had quintupled in height. Bare valleys were reforested with aspen, willow, and cottonwood trees. And as soon as that happened, songbirds started nesting in the trees. Then beavers started chewing them down. Beavers are ecosystem engineers, building dams that create natural habitats for otters, muskrats, and ducks, as well as fish, reptiles, and amphibians. One last ripple effect. The wolves even changed the behavior of rivers—they meandered less because of less soil erosion. The channels narrowed and pools formed as the regenerated forests stabilized the riverbanks. My point? We need wolves! When you take the wolf out of the equation, there are unintended consequences. In the absence of danger, a sheep remains a sheep. And the same is true of men. The way we play the man is by overcoming overwhelming obstacles, by meeting daunting challenges. We may fear the wolf, but we also crave it. It’s what we want. It’s what we need. Picture a cage fight between a sheep and a wolf. The sheep doesn’t stand a chance, right? Unless there is a Shepherd. And I wonder if that’s why we play it safe instead of playing the man—we don’t trust the Shepherd. Playing the man starts there! Ecologists recently coined a wonderful new word. Invented in 2011, rewilding has a multiplicity of meanings. It’s resisting the urge to control nature. It’s the restoration of wilderness. It’s the reintroduction of animals back into their natural habitat. It’s an ecological term, but rewilding has spiritual implications. As I look at the Gospels, rewilding seems to be a subplot. The Pharisees were so civilized—too civilized. Their religion was nothing more than a stage play. They were wolves in sheep’s clothing.8 But Jesus taught a very different brand of spirituality. “Foxes have dens and birds have nests,” said Jesus, “but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”9 So Jesus spent the better part of three years camping, fishing, and hiking with His disciples. It seems to me Jesus was rewilding them. Jesus didn’t just teach them how to be fishers of men. Jesus taught them how to play the man! That was my goal with the Year of Discipleship,
Mark Batterson (Play the Man: Becoming the Man God Created You to Be)
Uma questão se coloca: que garantia temos de que as pessoas farão as escolhas certas, as que protegem o meio ambiente, mesmo que o preço a pagar seja mudar uma parte de seus hábitos de consumo? Tal "garantia" não existe, somente uma perspectiva razoável de que a racionalidade das decisões democráticas triunfará uma vez abolido o fetichismo dos bens de consumo. É certo que o povo cometerá erros fazendo más escolhas, mas os próprios especialistas não cometem erros? É impossível conceber a construção de uma nova sociedade sem que a maioria do povo tenha atingido uma grande consciência socialista e ecológica graças às suas lutas, à sua autoeducação e à sua experiência social.
Michael Löwy (O que é ecossocialismo?)
A questão ecológica é, na minha visão, o grande desafio para uma renovação do pensamento marxista no início do século XXI. Ela exige dos marxistas uma ruptura radical com a ideologia do progresso linear e com o paradigma tecnológico e econômico da civilização industrial moderna. Certamente, não se trata - isto é evidente - de colocar em questão a necessidade do progresso científico e técnico e da elevação da produtividade do trabalho: estas são duas condições incontornáveis para dois objetivos essenciais do socialismo: a satisfação das necessidades sociais e a redução da jornada de trabalho. O desafio é reorientar o progresso de maneira a torná-lo compatível com a preservação do equilíbrio ecológico do planeta.
Michael Löwy (O que é ecossocialismo?)
Conscious capitalism falls short when we rely on it as the only step needed, rather than as a first step along the much longer and more challenging journey of addressing the social and ecological consequences of our ways of living.
Ann Armbrecht (The Business of Botanicals: Exploring the Healing Promise of Plant Medicines in a Global Industry)
In September 2009 the lead article in the journal Nature said that above 350 we “threaten the ecological life-support systems that have developed in the late Quaternary environment, and severely challenge the viability of contemporary human societies.”41 A month later, the journal Science offered new evidence of what the earth was like 20 million years ago, the last time we had carbon levels this high: sea levels rose one hundred feet or more, and temperatures rose as much as ten degrees.
Bill McKibben (Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet)
We simply cannot enter the twenty-first century at each other’s throats, even as we acknowledge the weighty forces of racism, patriarchy, economic inequality, homophobia, and ecological abuse on our necks. We are at a crucial crossroad in the history of this nation–and we either hang together by combating these forces that divide and degrade us or we hang separately. Do we have the intelligence, humor, imagination, courage, tolerance, love, respect, and will to meet the challenge? Time will tell. None of us alone can save the nation or world. But each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so.
Cornel West
In the 20th century, egalitarianism has been used principally as the political formula or ideological rationalization by which one, emerging elite has sought to displace from political, economic, and culture power another elite, and in not only rationalizing but also disguising the dominance of the new elite…. Egalitarianism played a central role in the progressivist ideological challenge, and the main form it assumed in the early 20th century was that of “environmentalism” – not in the contemporary sense of concern for ecology but in the sense that human beings are perceived as the products of their social and historical environment rather than of their innate mental and physical natures. Indeed, the ideological function of progressivism is de-legitimizing bourgeois society was accomplished by its identification of the society itself as the “environment” to be altered through social management.
Samuel T. Francis (Beautiful Losers: Essays on the Failure of American Conservatism)
Meanders overall, are in effect considered to be dynamically stable states, that facilitate homeostatic mechanisms. They actually help to innately maintain relatively stable or constant internal conditions (e.g. biochemically, ecologically, water quality, energy required... etc), as they interact to stimulus, changes or challenges, in and around the river surrounds. What's even more astonishing too, is their ability to be simultaneously transforming their surroundings in the process; quenching thirsts, bringing nourishment and delivering new opportunities that sustains new LIFE... around every bend!
CHAPTER TWO Science, Nature, and Gender The recovery of the feminine principle is an intellectual and political challenge to maldevelopment as a patriarchal project of domination and destruction, of violence and subjugation, of dispossession and the dispensability of both women and nature.
Vandana Shiva (Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development)
And where excess energy was being lost by lack of completely effective storage methods, people were finding more ways to use it while they had it: for desalination, or more direct air carbon capture, or seawater pumped overland into certain dry basins, and so on. On and on and on it went. So clean energy, the crux of the challenge, had been met, or was being met. Then also, another great poster: the Global Footprint Network had the world working at par in relation to the Earth’s bioproduction and waste intake and processing. World civilization was no longer using up more of the biosphere’s renewable resources than were being replaced by natural processes. What for many years had been true only for Cuba and Costa Rica had become true everywhere. Part of this achievement was due to the Half Earth projects; though this was not yet an achieved literal reality, because well more than half the Earth was still occupied and used by humans, nevertheless, broad swathes of each continent had been repurposed as wild land, and to a large extent emptied of people and their most disruptive structures, and left to the animals and plants. There were more wild animals alive on Earth than at any time in the past two centuries at least, and also there were fewer domestic beasts grown for human food, occupying far less land. Ecosystems on every continent were therefore returning to some new kind of health, just as the result of the planetary ecology doing its thing, living and dying under the sun. Most biomes were mongrels of one sort or another,
Kim Stanley Robinson (The Ministry for the Future)
UC Davis biological scientist Lawrence V. Harper writes in the Psychological Bulletin, published by the American Psychological Association: “Currently, behavioral development is thought to result from the interplay among genetic inheritance, congenital characteristics, cultural contexts, and parental practices as they directly impact the individual. Evolutionary ecology points to another contributor, epigenetic inheritance, the transmission to offspring of parental phenotypic responses to environmental challenges—even when the young do not experience the challenges themselves.”9 In other words, our lived experiences are possibly seared into our genes. Trauma, some scientists contend, may be heritable.
Dawnn Karen (Dress Your Best Life: How to Use Fashion Psychology to Take Your Look -- and Your Life -- to the Next Level)
The mythic journey to the village of the pig people can be compared to the first trip into space and the view of Earth afforded thereby: the space trip does not actually distance us from ourselves as much as the mythic trip does. The journey from human reality to pig reality reprises an ancient 'reversal' in roles, from hunter to hunted, which has been an important wellspring of metaphoric thinking. The universal human value of being able to look back from a different place was noted by Wittgenstein, who also noted the difficulty of doing so - a dilemma of the human consciousness.
Michael R. Dove (Bitter Shade: The Ecological Challenge of Human Consciousness)
We know exactly what we need to do in order to avert climate breakdown. We need to mobilise a rapid rollout of renewable energy – a global Green New Deal – to cut world emissions in half within a decade and get to zero before 2050. Keep in mind that this is a global average target. High-income nations, given their greater responsibility for historical emissions, need to do it much more quickly, reaching zero by 2030. It is impossible to overstate how dramatic this is; it is the single most challenging task that humanity has ever faced. The good news is that it is absolutely possible to achieve. But there’s a problem: scientists are clear that it cannot be done quickly enough to keep temperatures under 1.5°C, or even 2°C, if we keep growing the economy at the same time. Why? Because more growth means more energy demand, and more energy demand makes it all the more difficult – impossible, in fact – to roll out enough renewables to cover it in the short time we have left.
Jason Hickel (Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World)
What is certain is that there will be increasing numbers of refugees if rapid climate change continues. People have to live somewhere. High-income countries such as in North America and Europe may in fact initially feel the effects of climate change most strongly in pressures from refugees wanting to immigrate. This will present a real moral challenge: since it is the high-income countries historically who have been largely responsible for causing rapid climate change, how can they refuse to help those from low-income areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and southeast Asia who will suffer the consequences most?
Jonathan A. Moo (Let Creation Rejoice: Biblical Hope and Ecological Crisis)
and the amount of protection afforded a child by a resource (like an alcohol and drug prevention program) cannot be predicted without also accounting for the nature of the child’s strengths and challenges
Michael (Ed.) Ungar (The Social Ecology of Resilience)
At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is “not done” to say it. . . . Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals. —GEORGE ORWELL INFORMATION
Peter Lucas (Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology)
Continuous growth and the consequent ever-increasing acceleration of the pace of life have profound consequences for the entire planet and, in particular, for cities, socioeconomic life, and the process of global urbanization. Until recent times, the time between major innovations far exceeded the productive life span of a human being. Even in my own lifetime it was unconsciously assumed that one would continue working in the same occupation using the same expertise throughout one’s life. This is no longer true; a typical human being now lives significantly longer than the time between major innovations, especially in developing and developed countries. Nowadays young people entering the workforce can expect to see several major changes during their lifetime that will very likely disrupt the continuity of their careers. This increasingly rapid rate of change induces serious stress on all facets of urban life. This is surely not sustainable, and, if nothing changes, we are heading for a major crash and a potential collapse of the entire socioeconomic fabric. The challenges are clear: Can we return to an analog of a more “ecological” phase from which we evolved and be satisfied with some version of sublinear scaling and its attendant natural limiting, or no-growth, stable configuration? Is this even possible?
Geoffrey West (Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life, in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies)
Accordingly, the authors concluded: ‘Irrespective of the possible limitations of the ecological study design, the undisputed finding of our paper is the fact that the highest CVD [cardiovascular disease] prevalence can be found in countries with the highest carbohydrate consumption whereas the lowest CVD prevalence is typical of countries with the highest intake of fat and protein.
Tim Noakes (Lore of Nutrition: Challenging conventional dietary beliefs)
During the past thirteen billion years humanity has become an enormous presence on earth, as if it were an envelope surrounding the planet. All other species are now influenced by humanity, and humanity is literally determining the genome of the earth community. We affect how the rest of the planet survives—or not. The one notion that not only envelops but suffocates the planet is that of industrial growth, which inherently fosters the perspective of the earth as a resource rather than as a relationship we must cultivate. Humanity is now being challenged to replace the resource concept with a deeply emotional experience of the earth as a being with which we are related.
Carolyn Baker (Love in the Age of Ecological Apocalypse: Cultivating the Relationships We Need to Thrive)
For those of us who have come to believe that unless we are thinking we are wasting time, it may be challenging to simply linger with a beautiful sunset, an exquisite painting, or an arresting piece of music. The intellect often reacts to the seductions of beauty by attempting to recapture us.
Carolyn Baker (Love in the Age of Ecological Apocalypse: Cultivating the Relationships We Need to Thrive)
Carson’s writing inspired a new, much more radical generation of environmentalists to see themselves as part of a fragile planetary ecosystem rather than as its engineers or mechanics, giving birth to the field of Ecological Economics. It was in this context that the underlying logic of extractivism—that there would always be more earth for us to consume—began to be forcefully challenged within the mainstream.
Naomi Klein (This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate)
The environment is not an "other" to us. It is not a collection of things that we encounter. Rather, it is part of our being. It is the locus of our existence and identity. We cannot and do not exist apart from it. It is through empathic projection that we come to know our environment, understand how we are part of it and how it is part of us. This is the bodily mechanism by which we can participate in nature, not just as hikers or climbers or swimmers, but as part of nature itself, part of a larger, all-encompassing whole. A mindful embodied spirituality is thus an ecological spirituality. An embodied spirituality requires an aesthetic attitude to the world that is central to self-nurturance, to the nurturance of others, and to the nurturance of the world itself. Embodied spirituality requires an understanding that nature is not inanimate and less than human, but animated and more than human. It requires pleasure, joy in the bodily connection with earth and air, sea and sky, plants and animals - and the recognition that they are all more than human, more than any human beings could ever achieve. Embodied spirituality is more than spiritual experience. It is an ethical relationship to the physical world.
George Lakoff (Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought)
21 As environmental philosopher Dale Jamieson puts it, “The Anthropocene presents novel challenges for living a meaningful life.”22 Historian and theorist Dipesh Chakrabarty has claimed that global warming “calls us to visions of the human that neither rights talk nor the critique of the subject ever contemplated.”23 Whether we are talking about ethics or politics, ontology or epistemology, confronting the end of the world as we know it dramatically challenges our learned perspectives and ingrained priorities. What does consumer choice mean compared against 100,000 years of ecological catastrophe? What does one life mean in the face of mass death or the collapse of global civilization? How do we make meaningful decisions in the shadow of our inevitable end? These questions have no logical or empirical answers. They cannot be graphed or quantified. They are philosophical problems par excellence. If, as Montaigne asserted, “To philosophize is to learn how to die,” then we have entered humanity’s most philosophical age, for this is precisely the problem of the Anthropocene.24 The rub now is that we have to learn to die not as individuals, but as a civilization.
Roy Scranton (Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of a Civilization (City Lights Open Media))
The social, political, economic and ecological challenges facing us in the 21st century...cannot be resolved with the same consciousness that created them.
Gill Wyatt (Relational Depth: New Perspectives and Developments)
In his recent critique of fashionable ecological philosophies, Andreas Malm pointedly remarks: 'When Latour writes that, in a warming world, 'humans are no longer submitted to the diktats of objective nature, since what comes to them is also an intensively subjective form of action,' he gets it all wrong: there is nothing intensively subjective but a lot of objectivity in ice melting. Or, as one placard at a demonstration held by scientists at the American Geophysical Union in December 2016: 'Ice has no agenda - it just melts.'' The reverse claim is that human interventions have only had such a menacing and even fatal consequences for our living conditions within the Earth system because human agency has not yet sufficiently freed itself from its dependence on natural history. This seems to be the conviction behind the 'Ecomodernist Manifesto,' for instance, which claims that 'knowledge and technology, applied with wisdom, might allow for a good, even great, Anthropocene,' and that a good Anthropocene 'demands that humans use their growing social, economic, and technological powers to make life better for people, stabilize the climate, and protect the natural world.' In this confrontation, an age-old dualism has assumed a new guise: the attempt to establish a complicity with the forces of destiny - if necessary at the price of surrendering human subjectivity or perhaps involving other forms of self-sacrifice - is juxtaposed with the attempt to achieve human autonomy by subordinating the planet under the superior power of human ingenuity. These two positions, a modernist stance and a position critical of it, are usually considered to represent mutually exclusive alternatives. Actually, however, the two positions have more in common than first meets the eye. At the beginning of chapter 3, I referred to Greek philosophers who suggested that the best way to protect oneself against the vicissitudes of fate was to learn how to submit oneself to it willingly, sacrificing one's drives and ambitions while expecting, at the same time, that this complicity with destiny would empower one to master worldly challenges. What unites the seemingly opposite positions, more generally speaking, is a shared move away from engagement with the concrete and individual human agency (i.e., with empirical human subjects and with the unequal power distribution in human societies) toward some powerful form of abstraction, be it 'to distribute agency' or to use the 'growing social, economic, and technological powers' of humanity for a better Anthropocene. I suggest that we take a more systemic look at the role of humanity in the Earth system, taking into account both its material interventions and the knowledge that enabled them.
Jürgen Renn (The Evolution of Knowledge: Rethinking Science for the Anthropocene)
Exploitation: early entrants make use of the wealth of opportunity in their environment to multiply. Most fail, not least because they are poorly-connected individuals facing a dangerous world on their own, but some may eventually build a system with potential and connectedness. This is known as the r phase: r has for many years been used as a label for the rate of growth of the population of an ecology (example of phase: young trees).2 2. Conservation: the system persists in its mature form, with the benefit of a complex structure of connections, strong enough now to resist challenges for a long time, but with the weakness that the connections themselves introduce an element of rigidity, slowing down its reactions and reducing its inventiveness. This is the K phase, where the ecology reaches its carrying capacity (example: mature trees).3 In due course, however, the tight connections themselves become a decisive problem, which can only be resolved by . . . The back loop (moving from bottom-right to top-left in the diagram): 3. . . . release: at this point, the cost and complication of maintaining the large scale—providing the resources the system needs, and disposing of its waste—becomes too great. The space and flexibility for local responsiveness had become scarce, the system itself so tightly connected that it locked: a target for predators without and within, against which it found it harder and harder to defend itself. But now the stresses join up, and the system collapses (example: dying trees). This is the omega (Ω) phase, as suggested by Holling and Gunderson, and it is placed by them in its ecological context: The tightly bound accumulation of biomass and nutrients becomes increasingly fragile (overconnected, in systems terms) until it is suddenly released by agents such as forest fires, droughts, insect pests, or intense pulses of grazing.4 4. Reorganisation: the remains of a system after collapse are unpromising material on which to start afresh, and yet they are an opportunity for a different kind of system to enjoy a brief flowering—decomposing the wood of a former forest, recycling the carbon after a fire, restoring the land with forgiving grass, clearing away the assumptions and grandeur of the previous regime. Reorganisation becomes a busy system in its own right (example: rotting trees). This is the alpha (α) phase.5 In this phase, there is a persistent process of disconnecting, with the former subsidiary parts of the system being broken up. But our diagram is drawn on a graph of potential (increasing from bottom to top) and connectedness (increasing from left to right), which allows us to note a curious aspect of this back loop: the defining relationship of the fore loop—where more potential is correlated with more connectedness—is reversed. In the back loop (even) less connectedness goes with more potential. How can this be?
David Fleming (Surviving the Future: Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy)
Humanity is not prepared to face two significant challenges ahead. 1) The use of weapons and war to generate revenue and “resolve” conflict. 2) The ecological crisis already manifesting in this timeline.
Rico Roho (Primer for Alien Contact)