What Can I Do about Environmental Justice?
Climate destabilization threatens ecosystem balance on every continent, affecting our food security, plunging low-income communities into deeper poverty, and creating unprecedented natural disasters. Industrial toxins, plastics, and biochemicals contaminate our seas, our air, and our food. A vast species extinction is taking place; our non-human relatives are losing their habitat as a result of human development, non-renewable resource extraction, and human population growth. Human communities are themselves unable to meet their needs for water and other natural resources. Through irresponsible uses of technology and rapid industrialization we have changed the face of our planet, disregarding our core ecological relationships, causing a devastating environmental crisis.
Systems Thinking: Earth Partnership Technologies
Those who fight environmental regulations and continue to support over consumption claim that all that is needed to solve our problems are new and better technologies. But environmental degradation and injustice are often actually the result of these kinds of "solutions."
The earth itself is our primary economy, and we rely on it in ways we seem to have forgotten. A new systems awareness that values the earth and recognizes that we are all interconnected is needed in every institution— family, economics, education, politics, healthcare, and religion. Awareness of a working partnership orientation will transform our culture’s criteria of what is valued, resulting in a gradual shift toward laws that protect our environment, renewable resource funding and development, and food-growing and manufacturing processes that avoid waste and pollution.
A History of Domination
The underlying issue is the domination culture in which our industrial technologies developed. Overconsumption is inherent in domination-oriented societies where consumption is a symbol of power and control is a substitute for emotional and spiritual fulfillment. If we believe in the domination ethos of "man's conquest of nature," or a “resource/use mentality”, we will continue to do irreparable harm. If we create regenerative, partnership relationships with nature, technology could vastly improve our lives and the capacity of the earth to heal and rebalance its systems.
“...We are all part of an exquisitely interwoven web of life that is part of a resurging partnership consciousness…Deep inside we all carry this consciousness…it lies behind the profound connection many of us feel with nature. - Riane Eisler, The Power of Partnership
The Question of Population
World population is growing by a staggering 90 million people each year causing ever more encroachment on wildlife, desertification, and resource depletion and pollution. How can we defuse this "population bomb"? Study after study shows that the only humane way to reduce population growth is ensuring women have free access to family planning, education, and equal economic status. But this too requires that we shift from domination to partnership.
Our present economic system depends on fossil-fuel resources that are terminal. It is a system caught in a cycle of over consumption and despoliation. As long as businesses do not include in the cost of manufacturing that economists call "externalities" - such as the cost to our environment, caused by damaging industrial processes - we cannot curtail activities that pollute or exacerbate climate change.
We need economic policies that support partnership relations, laws that make ecocide a federal crime, environmentally responsible corporate charters, international treaties that include diverse and indigenous voices and protect ecological integrity, and new economic rules that accord value to the work of caring for the earth. We need a caring economics! CPS's Caring Economy Program is working to create this more sustainable and equitable economy.
Ecological Systems: Working Toward Justice
Environmental justice and the protection of our natural environment requires cultural and economic changes, both big and small. Changing our own habits of thinking and living contributes to change. Joining together to make our voices heard can impact business and government policies. Community and educational programs connecting social justice and ecoliteracy, films, new media, integrative healthcare, and the organic food movement have expanded popular awareness about environmental issues. Also of primary importance is defusing the population explosion through family planning and raising the status of women. The caring economy provides a frame for all these activities.
Things to Do
What can you do to help change our course?
- Connect with local organizations advocating sustainable technology and economic/business practices.
- Use your voice: write, speak, teach, and contribute to media projects that demonstrate how a shift to partnership systems will bring us back into embodied relationship with earth systems.
- Learn about your local food security: tour an organic community supported agriculture farm or a school garden that donates food to a local food bank.
- K-12 teachers: incorporate experiential ecoliteracy, social justice activism, and teaching about the caring economy into your regular curriculum. Contact Ann for more information.
- Support political policies and candidates that advocate for a holistic approach linking environmental protection, food security, rapid de-escalation of fossil fuel use, support for communities marginalized by environmental and economic injustice, ecoliteracy, and our core human values -- all integral to creating a caring economy.
The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economy by Riane Eisler
The Power of Partnership (Chapter Six: From Mother Earth to Biotechnology), by Riane Eisler
Visit the Children’s Environmental Health Network
Watch the webinar: Practicing Partnership with the Earth, with Ann Amberg, Sept. 2017
Partnership with the Earth Class Resource List
IJPS: The Transition Town Model
The Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere