How to Restore Our Relationship to Earth

(Photo: 12019 / 10279 Images; Edited: LW / TO)(Photo: 12019 / 10279 Images; Edited: LW / TO)

To have a viable human future on this overstressed planet, it is essential that we build a solidarity economy that seeks material sufficiency and spiritual abundance for all in balance with a living Earth. We must join in common cause to build local relationships of caring and equitable sharing across the lines of race, religion, and class. Strong and healthy local relationships, however, are only one element of the larger economic transformation required to rebalance our relationship to Earth and achieve a radical redistribution of access to and control of the essentials of living.

Three key statistics reveal the current grim reality:

1. According to the Ecological Footprint Network, we humans currently consume at a rate 1.7 times what Earth’s generative capacity can sustain — and the gap is growing. Consumption at a rate above one further depletes Earth’s capacity to support life.

2. According to Oxfam International, the financial assets of the world’s eight richest individuals now exceed those of the poorest half of humanity, 3.8 billion people. These eight people have ever-growing power to engage in obscene displays of self-indulgent consumption, dictate political outcomes that favor their further enrichment, undermine the legitimacy and credibility of governing institutions, and deprive billions of respect and essential means of living.

3. Our current population of 7.5 billion people is expected to stabilize at 11.2 billion in 2100 — a 50 percent increase. All will need food, water, shelter, energy, and other essentials, further intensifying competition for Earth’s dwindling resources and condemning additional billions to lives of desperation.

As drought, storms, floods, fires, and rising sea levels render more areas of Earth uninhabitable, we face a virtually certain future of death, displacement, and growing waves of desperate refugees, threatening the future of every person irrespective of class, color, gender, or…

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