Keith Hunt - Good News for Planet Earth - Page Twohundred- twentyseven   Restitution of All Things

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Good News for Planet Earth!

We are showing the will to do it!

                         THE BOOK "MORE GOOD NEWS"


From authors David Suzuki and Holly Dressel - Greystone Books.

An updated book on the good news of real solutions to the global
eco-crisis.

This book should be compulsory reading for all High School
students, maybe even from grade 4. If your home schooling, this
book should be in your library. Here's the first number pages
from a great 440 page book - Keith Hunt


ON THE BACK COVER

In this revised and updated edition of their bestselling "Good
News for a Change," David Suzuki and Holly Dressel provide the
latest inspiring stories about sustainable solutions to our
planet's problems, including the newly defined problem of ocean
acidification. Suzuki and Dressel see great promise in the
increased support for green economies since the 2008 global
financial collapse, and, most promising of all, they see more
people than ever before working to heal the biosphere and live
within the limits of nature's bounty.

"The stories of people's struggles around the world glow on these
pages." MAUDE BARLOW, cofounder of the Blue Planet Project

"The authors have uncovered hundreds of solutions that can help
all of us to imagine and achieve a new and happier future." THE
NEW TIMES

"Take heart and catch the wave of the New Industrial Revolution.
Read this book and pass it on." ROBERT BATEMAN

DAVID SUZUKI is an acclaimed geneticist and environmentalist. He
has written more than forty books and has received the United
Nations Environment Program Medal, the UNESco Kalinga Prize for
Science, and the Right Livelihood Award. Suzuki lives in
Vancouver, British Columbia.

HOLLY DRESSEL is the author of "Who Killed the Queen?" and
coauthor of "From Naked Ape to Superspecies." She is an adjunct
professor at the School of the Environment at McGill University,
as well as a researcher and writer for television, radio, and
print. Dressel lives on a farm near Montreal, Quebec.

David Suzuki Foundation
GREYSTONE BOOKS
D&M PUBLISHERS INC. Vancouver/Toronto/Berkeley
www.greystonebooks.com


INTRODUCTION

     Are there real alternatives to the human activities that
undermine the biosphere's life-supporting systems-alternatives
that are not just about recycling and riding the bus but that
represent substantive shifts in our perspectives, values, and
goals?
     That's what we set out to discover when we began work on
Good News for a Change back in 2000. At that time we worked hard
to discover examples of the changes the world needed and to
outline real sustainability criteria: principles that people
could follow to devise and recognize solutions to environmental
problems. Since then reports of ecological collapse have
increased in number, capturing public attention and urging people
and governments to more quickly adopt the existing solutions. We
have now combined those original sustainability principles with
new examples in order to impel faster movement along a clear
path.
     Although people must continue acting to save the planet's
failing ecosystems, it is just as vital to distinguish actions
that are theoretically helpful from actions that truly benefit
natural systems. Sometimes exciting "green solutions," such as
biofuel production, can cause more harm than good.
     Conservationists and concerned citizens everywhere must use
clear criteria to judge what actually keeps a particular
ecosystem in balance, given each one's staggering complexity.
Unlike most books about environmental solutions written at that
time, ours was not enthusiastic about agricultural biofuels,
because growing fuel on finite agricultural land to feed infinite
human desires for energy did not (and still does not) fit our
sustainability criteria. Within only two crop seasons, subsidies
favoring biofuels began to destabilize food prices and destroy
ecosystems around the world.
     Our recommendations now, as in the first edition of this
book, are based on science, which acknowledges that natural
systems are not part of human culture; we are part of natural
systems. The ecosystems that keep us alive pay no attention to
human aspirations, needs, or laws. A nation might work out the
most elegant carbon-trading program imaginable, one that takes
into account all the necessary political and economic realities.
Yet if that program doesn't lower greenhouse gas emissions fast
enough, the climate won't pay any attention to such efforts. That
hard fact means that we must try to understand what forests and
water bodies really need in order to maintain their ability to
regulate this planet's atmosphere and climate.
     As well as using the best available scientific research, we
have turned to the most established experts on the biosphere's
needsthe local people who depend upon, live within, and therefore
have paid very close attention to natural ecosystems. It is in
the work done by scientists and local people that the most hope
for saving the planet is growing. More scientists are recognizing
natural complexity and, with it, the fact that humans do not
understand ecosystems well enough to manage them sustainably. So
far science hasn't been able to isolate or understand most of the
components of healthy ecosystems, let alone comprehend how they
are interconnected. The entire science of conservation is
learning humility, and that includes turning to history to see
what human groups have done in the past that was demonstrably
successful. Today academic and governmental experts are
acknowledging that the local, traditional, and aboriginal peoples
who still live within the planet's remaining functioning
ecosystems are most able to tell us what these systems require.
     These groups talk about "respect," "restraint," and
"listening to the land." Research is confirming that this is very
good advice for saving the biosphere-that people have a better
chance of learning to manage human behavior than they have of
managing the infinitely linked ecosystems that support us. This
is a lesson that both authors of More Good News have learned
firsthand.

     When Holly was a child, her grandfather kept several hives
of bees on his small farm in rural Ohio. Like any little kid, she
was afraid of being stung and during summer visits would avoid
the large numbers of bees buzzing in the backyard under the long
grape arbor or clustering at the lip of a big birdbath. Holly's
grandfather didn't approve of her fear, so one summer afternoon,
when she was five or six, he taught her how to gently approach
the bees getting drinks from the birdbath, moving slowly and
either talking or thinking calm, friendly thoughts. In ten
minutes she was putting her hand near the water and letting the
honeybees climb on, a dozen at a time. They tickled, but they
didn't sting. Grandpa Dressel had great contempt for beekeepers
who were afraid of their hives. "If you move gently, if you let
them know you mean them no harm, they'll never sting you," he
said, and he demonstrated this to Holly years later when moving
two huge swarms. This lesson about mutual respect and
communication between humans and nature, to the benefit of both,
is one that any traditional hunter, farmer, or fisher can
confirm.

     When David was a young man, he was galvanized by Rachel
Carson's 1962 book, Silent Spring, and swept into the exciting
new environmental movement. David thought humans were taking too
much from their surroundings and putting too much waste and toxic
material back. He believed we could solve these problems by
establishing departments of the environment; passing laws to
protect air, water, soil, and species; and applying some
promising technologies. Over time, however, David saw that even
respected scientific experts didn't know enough about natural
systems to manage human impacts; another approach was needed. In
the late 1970s he had an experience that suggested what this
approach might be.
     He was documenting the battle over forests in Haida Gwaii,
where logging provided jobs for many Haida. So he asked Guujaaw,
a Haida leader, why he opposed logging when it brought economic
benefits to his community. Guujaaw answered, "Because when the
trees are gone, we'll just be like everybody else." To David this
simple statement opened a window on a radically different way of
seeing the world. Haida do not see themselves ending at their
skin or fingertips. Being Haida means being connected to the rest
of creation: the water, air, fish, and trees make the Haida who
they are. David says, "They taught me that Earth is our mother
and that we are created out of the four sacred elements: earth,
air, fire, and water. They are grateful to their 'relatives' -
other species that provide all we need to survive."

     Understanding our connection to other living things is key
when working toward a different world. It is all of life, the
biosphere, that allows us to live and flourish, that makes any
human economy possible. Protecting rich and intact ecosystems
should be our highest priority. In our research for this book we
found, as we did when we wrote Good News for a Change, that many
people recognize the need for functioning ecosystems. Around the
world, local and traditional methods of conserving habitat and
watersheds are gaining ground, and at the same time political and
economic strategies are reducing greenhouse gas emissions,
improving agricultural methods, and helping to control population
and promote green lifestyles.

     Because political will is so important, the first chapter in
our updated story of good news, "Viva la Revolucion," is about
how people are using political means to get a handle on threats
to the planet. This chapter outlines the sustainability criteria
contained in the first edition of our book and expands on the
importance of approaches that mimic nature, are flexible, allow
for the possibility that an underlying assumption about a natural
system might be wrong, involve bottom-up democratic management,
and set lofty and longterm goals. As well as revisiting the ideas
of William McDonough and reviewing the success of The Natural
Step movement, we talk about Scheer's Law in Germany, which is
revolutionizing the world's political approach to climate change,
and the new Bolivian constitution, which may do the same for
natural systems.

     Chapter 2, "Using Coyotes to Grow Grass," is about the
importance of maintaining biodiversity. We again discuss the
Adirondack Park model and Allan Savory's Holistic Management
approach, because these remain the foundation for the growth of
4c (Cores, Corridors, Carnivores, and Communities) movements
around the world. This chapter also contains some of the most
heartening news about the spread of effective wildlife and
biodiversity preservation.
     Chapter 3, "Avoiding Venus," is almost all new and focuses
on how to effectively address climate change. We carefully
analyze the many suggestions, most of them economic, political,
and technical, for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Some, like
public transport and energy conservation, are very promising,
whereas others, like first-generation biofuels and
geoengineering, could turn out to be worse than doing nothing. We
also assess a variety of renewable energy options and offer a way
to judge what will really clean up the air and stabilize the
     atmosphere.
Chapters 4, 5, and 6 focus on the forest and water ecosystems so
central to life on Earth. 

     In Chapter 4, "Listen for the Jaguar," we show how recent
ideas for local forest management have spread across the planet.
     In Chapter 5, "A River Runs Through It," we recount the
serious challenges affecting the sublimely necessary resource of
fresh water and outline the many ways in which present water
management must change. We also offer uplifting examples of how
very quickly watercourses can heal when we let them flow. In
     Chapter 6, "The Mother of All," we describe the grave plight
of our acidifying oceans, which are absorbing gases from the air
and gathering in all the wastes of human activity. Although
awareness of this crisis is growing and some real heroes are at
work, we must do more to carry the rule of conservation law into
international waters.

     Thankfully we have a happier story to tell in Chapter 7,
"Baking a Sustainable Pudding," where we describe the new organic
and locavore food initiatives that have spread all over the
world. The power of industrial agriculture remains a challenge
but one that is being met as national and v N agencies turn away
from agribusiness and toward "multifunctionality"-small, diverse
landholdings managed by local people to feed themselves and
others.

     Our last chapter turns to where most of us live. In "Green
Jobs in the City" we look at the new movement to "green" every
kind of job and create more livable, sustainable cities. We also
tackle two of humanity's biggest concerns: our growing population
and our obsession with financial wealth. How many people can the
planet support, and can we keep acting on the assumption that
money will buy all these people happiness? The answers may not be
welcome to everyone, but they offer humanity simple and
achievable solutions. They depend on our species' proven, but not
always practiced, ability to cooperate and to share.

     In this book we have tried to provide a blueprint for
healing a severely damaged planet. We have attempted to look
problems squarely in the eye and to assess solutions with
skepticism and suspicion as well as with enthusiasm and hope. We
can't deny that in the last several years the planet's ecological
crises have grown. That makes it all the more urgent that we
understand the examples provided here and follow the approaches
outlined for healing the biosphere and living within the limits
of nature's bounty.
     We hope reading More Good News will provide readers with
inspiration and energy for this hard, exciting, and supremely
fulfilling work.

Note: 

As in our former books, we often use the terms "First World" and
"Third World" to describe developed and developing nations. Our
contacts in developing countries have expressed a preference for
these terms, as they imply another approach to apprehending and
managing the Earth-a different kind of World.


POLITICAL WILL

TRIUMPH

What is the intention of [this] movement? If you examine its
values, missions, goals, and principles, and I urge you to do so,
you will see that at the core of all [these] organizations are
two principles, albeit unstated: first is the Golden Rule; second
is the sacredness of all life, whether it be a creature, child,
or culture.

Paul Hawken, "Blessed Unrest"


     Concerns about environmental problems have deepened since
the first edition of this book was written, and for good reason.
In the past few years the acidification of our oceans, the loss
of glaciers and ice caps, the destruction of forests and
agricultural land, and the increased instability of the planet's
weather have only gotten worse. Fortunately human responses to
this state of crisis have also mushroomed. Every day more people
are working to defend and restore ecosystems, share resources
more equitably with local people, and assess what constitutes
real human happiness and purpose, and some have achieved some
heady successes on the level of local ecosystem health.

     Back in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, many groups and
individuals were concerned about toxic waste dumps, increasingly
despoiled forests and farmlands, dead zones in the oceans, and
the discouraging diebacks of once-common wildlife like striped
bass, wild turkeys, bald eagles, and sea otters. Today all four
of those endangered species are recovering and even thriving,
thanks to remarkable efforts from individuals, combined with
tough protective legislation. All over the world laws have
prevented toxic waste dumps from growing, and now an
international treaty is in place to eliminate "the dirty dozen,"
the twelve most dangerous chemical compounds in existence.
     Almost every country in the world now has an environmental
department, and many municipalities have appointed environmental
or sustainability commissioners. People like David Day in Calgary
and Sadhu Johnston, Chicago's chief environmental officer, can
exercise authority within all branches of city government,
"making sure the green tint runs to the core." There is barely a
large supermarket left in the industrialized world without an
organic food section, and there are thousands of fully organic
markets right across our continent.
     In many parts of the world it's becoming common for farmers
to receive grants to reserve land as wildlife or wetland habitat;
poor countries like Bolivia and Ecuador are taking control of
their water and forests; and although the battle for the Amazon
still rages, some truly progressive legislation has slowed the
decimation of remaining tracts of boreal forest in Canada. This
legislation does not try to replace wild ecosystems with
monocultured plantations but is turning the forests over to the
indigenous groups that know best how to manage them. The first
clear understanding of sustainable habitat protection is the
"Cores, Corridors, Carnivores, and Communities" movement that was
just gaining steam in certain parts of North America a few years
ago. The 4Cs have now become the accepted standard of wilderness
and habitat remediation. Meanwhile the Slow Food and locavore
movements are delighting gourmets around the world by ensuring
that delicious foods are produced in ways that protect soil, air,
water, and wildlife.

     The list of accomplishments goes on. The growth in every
kind of sustainable building - from solar - and wind-powered
high-rises to tiny, 84-square-foot "eco-houses"--has been nothing
short of phenomenal. Hundreds of books and thousands of websites
are analyzing the pros and cons of a bewildering new array of
energy sources. Expanded geothermal and wind energy technologies
are becoming more sophisticated and available every day, and new
tidal and wave generators are generating relatively clean power
in New York's East River and off the coasts of Portugal and
Washington State. As for solar, the safest and most basic energy
source of all, large-scale technologies that go beyond panels
that heat water or generate small amounts of electricity are now
in place, using heliostats, solar troughs, parabolic dishes, and
solar power towers. Self-energizing cars that feed energy back
into the grid are finally coming onto the market.
     The last big push to save the environment through such
technologies was slowed by an economic downturn in the late 1980s
that seemed severe at the time but was far less so than the one
that started in 2008. After the heady moment of the Earth Summit
in 1992, the economy suddenly became far more important than
saving natural systems. Ecological concerns were pushed aside for
more than a decade, spawning runaway, unregulated financial
growth and industrial development. Today, with the unmistakable
signs of systemic ecological breakdown in evidence-the loss
of glaciers, the collapse of fisheries, and the alarming changes
in the chemical makeup of the planet's atmosphere and oceans-it
is impossible for intelligent people to think that the
environment and the economy are unrelated or that we can tackle
one without taking care of the other. People have recognized that
there can be no economic wealth without a productive biosphere.
They are taking action in response to this fundamental truth.


YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION?

What if our economy were organized not around the lifeless
abstractions of neoclassical economics and accountancy but around
the biological realities of nature?

Paul Hawken 


     Inspiration for some of the most fundamental mind-shifts in
recent years can be found in the work of a few seminal people,
including architect and designer Bill McDonough, the former dean
of architecture at the University of Virginia. He says that in
the West we've now had two industrial revolutions. The first was
about resource extraction and money. The second is happening now,
and it's about resource conservation and values. McDonough says
that if you were to articulate the First Industrial Revolution as
a design assignment to a class of students, you'd have to say
something like this: "Could you design a system that pollutes the
soil, air, and water; that measures productivity by how few
people are working; that measures prosperity by how much natural
capital you can dig up, bury, burn, or otherwise destroy; that
measures progress by the number of smokestacks you have; that
requires thousands of complex regulations to keep people from
killing each other too quickly; that destroys biodiversity and
cultural diversity; and that produces things that are so highly
toxic they require thousands of generations maintaining constant
vigil, while living in terror?"

     This is undoubtedly not the system that the people working
toward the First Industrial Revolution at the end of the
eighteenth century meant to create, but it's a pretty good
description of the one we got. McDonough says an industrial
system is now being designed on the basis of a new paradigm, and
he can describe how it will work: "The Next Industrial Revolution
introduces no hazardous materials into the air, water, or soil;
measures prosperity by how much natural capital we can accrue in
productive ways; measures productivity by how many people are
gainfully and meaningfully employed; measures progress by how
many buildings have no smokestacks or dangerous effluents; does
not require regulations whose purpose is to prevent us from
killing ourselves too quickly; it produces nothing that will
require future generations to maintain vigilance; and celebrates
biological and cultural diversity and solar income." 

     That's the revolution that's starting up around us and that
marks a real, systemic change in every level of society, all over
the world.
     In the current, clearly failing economic system, we have
typically been required to make hard, "either-or" choices: a new
factory and the jobs it will provide, or a clean river? Grazing
land for ranchers or local tribes, or habitat for wolves and
tigers? Pristine rivers and forests in northern Alberta, or a
devastated, toxic moonscape that brings immediate cash? Activists
get bitter when the crudest, most short-term economic human needs
win out over the long-term necessities of the biosphere almost
every time. They see that the net result all over the world of
separating economic from environmental or social concerns has
been dirtier rivers, lousier neighborhoods, dwindling numbers of
wild animals, and a frighteningly altered atmosphere. These
purely economic considerations-the bias to create factory or
infrastructure jobs and to manage nature for immediate,
short-term benefit-have preoccupied us ever since the First
Industrial Revolution, when people, especially in the Western
world, first began to slice nature into its component parts and
to see it as a machine to be managed piecemeal for human use.
     Throughout the long human past it has been frightening to
depend entirely on nature's erratic bounty, but we've done more
deeply systemic damage to natural ecosystems in the past three
hundred years than in the preceding hundred thousand. So, given
that we have managed to subdue nature quite effectively and
increase our own numbers and dominion beyond belief, the question
people have been asking themselves is whether we could have some
of both: paying, secure jobs and industries and a decent base of
natural systems to support them, instead of all one or all the
other. And this new attempt to combine our technical gifts with
our expanding knowledge of how the planet really works is what
the Second Industrial Revolution is about.

     Paul Hawken, former mainstream entrepreneur, founder of the
gardening company Smith & Hawken, and author of Natural
Capitalism, Blessed Unrest, and The Ecology of Commerce, says
that what's most exciting about the great variety of groups
involved in this Second Industrial Revolution is the fact that
"they agree, to an unprecedented extent, on an extremely similar
vision of the future." Hawken points out that one of the most
remarkable developments of the late twentieth century is the
"tens of thousands of NGOS [non-governmental organizations]" that
have spontaneously arisen in just the past few years. These
organizations address everything from social justice and
population to corporate and electoral reform, environmental
sustainability and renewable energy.

     The NGOS Hawken talks about keep in touch especially on the
Internet, by phone, and at meetings all around the world. They
work at local, state, and international levels, and they've all
been moving toward a vision of a truly sustainable world. They're
writing down their ideas, says Hawken, "creating conventions,
declarations, lists of principles, and frameworks that are
remarkably in accord," and then they pressure business and
government to adopt them. But most important, according to
Hawken, is his realization that, "never before in history have
independent groups from all around the world derived frameworks
of knowledge that are [so] utterly consonant and in agreement. It
is not that they are the same; it is that they do not conflict.
This hasn't happened in politics, not in religion, not in
psychology; not ever."

     Besides writing books that have changed the social and
environmental focus of many large companies, Hawken brought The
Natural Step (TNS) to North America. This ingenious system was
created by a Swedish doctor, Karl-Henrik Robert, who realized
that industrial toxins were killing his young patients. It sets
up four simple conditions that must be met if a society is to
achieve environmental health and sustainability. The first
requires that as little material as possible from underneath the
Earth's crust be brought to the surface (since so many of these
materials are poisonous to life). The second requires that humans
not subject natural systems to overly large concentrations of any
of the materials that they produce. The third stipulates that the
Earth's natural systems must not be systematically depleted
through overharvesting, displacement, or other manipulation.
The fourth condition, Hawken says, is the one that causes his
mostly corporate audiences to balk and underlines the difference
between their attitudes and those of the activists working for a
New Industrial Revolution: "Without social justice and fair and
equitable distribution of resources, there can be no such thing
as sustainability." Hawken says. "One of the most humorous
aspects of teaching The Natural Step in corporations is that when
you come to the Fourth System Condition ... businesspeople go
ballistic. They think it is socialist, communist, the nose of the
leftist camel slipping under the tent. Literally, some are
repulsed by it. We are in e country that was founded on 'liberty
and justice for all,' and if you raise that issue in the business
community, some executives will fall off their chairs."

     Social justice is a foundation of any sustainable management
system simply because if one group involved in, say, growing
timber, gets too many benefits and another gets too many
disadvantages, those profiting will overexploit and those being
left out will revolt. Both are common symptoms of unsustainable
practices, as the resource being managed becomes a bone of
contention instead of a steady source of renewable support. What
is interesting is that the incredulous businesspeople, when they
play the role of seriously designing workable, closed societies,
nearly always end up demanding the fourth TN s condition of
bottom-up equality they had initially rejected. Hawken concludes,
"In small groups, with appropriate goals and challenges, we all
know the right things to do. As a society within the world of
corporate capitalism, we are not very bright."

Over the hundreds of thousands of years we've been on this
planet, (Suzuki is an evolutionist - Keith Hunt) human beings
have developed many values and many ways to live. The current
paradigm of bringing every region and every political group on
the planet under the aegis of a neoliberal economy directed by
private corporations, an idea that has grown quite naturally out
of the precepts of the First Industrial Revolution, has spread
like a proselytizing religion throughout the world.

     It has assumed that its concept of values (money) and
lifestyle (everincreasing security and luxury) is the best, a
kind of pinnacle of social evolution, and that people will all be
better off and happier if they adopt these values, even if some
of those people reap a lot more of the benefits than others. But
like any dogma, it has fatal flaws, the most glaring being that
all its assumptions rest upon ignoring this planet's physical
laws. The finite amount of air, water, and soil on Earth means
only so much luxury and security can be supplied to the
ever-growing numbers of humans before these material comforts run
out.

     What the New Industrial Revolution of the twenty-first
century is already accomplishing, besides saving species and
legislating against pollution and resource waste, is building a
new system of values based not on ridiculous Scrooge McDuck
fantasies of unlimited riches but on the simultaneously limited
and miraculous realities of physics. And it is these realities
that are teaching us all about the real joys of being alive.

......

A fine encouraging book for our wonderful blue planet earth. Man
does have the ability, talent, and science, to bring back the
eco-crisis to harmony once more. There's lots yet to do, but man
is showing he can do it.

Keith Hunt 


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