A Culture Dedicated to Life

Do we humans want to survive a long time on Earth (i.e. to live sustainably)? If the answer is yes, do we have the knowledge to be able to do it? What does sustainable life on Earth look like? What are its characteristics, its “rules of the game”?

There are examples to be seen. We find it “living in a dynamic equilibrium (or balance) where a diversity of plants and animals live cooperatively together in a particular climate,” for example tundra, taiga, desert, scrub forest (or chaparral), grasslands (or prairie), temperate deciduous forests, temperate or tropical rain forests, and coral reefs.

According to Janine Benyus in Biomimicry, species in a mature (or climax) ecosystem “live in elaborate synergy with the species around them and put their energy into optimizing their relationships. They:

  • Use waste as a resource
  • Diversify and cooperate to fully use the habitat
  • Gather and use energy efficiently
  • Optimize rather than maximize
  • Use materials sparingly
  • Don’t foul their own nests
  • Don’t draw down resources
  • Remain in balance with the bioshpere
  • Run on information
  • Shop locally”

These principles resonate with David Holmgren’s Permaculture Principles. (See earliest posts on the blog, or check them out at: http://www.holmgren.com.au/ or  http://www.permacultureprinciples.com/

Balance, diversity, sustainability, survival — what exactly do we mean? What must we do to create these conditions? And what would be the result?

I think William Koetke said it best in The Final Empire: “Creating a new Garden of Eden is our only hope. . . . We must create a positive, cooperative culture dedicated to life restoration and then accomplish that in perpetuity, or we as a species cannot be on Earth.”

Notice he said a culture, not a system of technologies (although technologies will be necessary, of course). Not only is it up to us, only we can do it — because a mature ecosystem is not run from above, but rather from “numerous, even redundant, messages coming from the grassroots, dispersed throughout the community structure and fed back through complex communications channels”. (Biomimicry)

So there it is: the great work of our times. Take up your own piece and carry it onward as you go. And remember to celebrate whenever you can.