Earth Is Learning and Teaching.
The evolutionary process is based upon trial and error, balance and chaos, creation and destruction, life-death-rebirth. Earth is inherently learning as it evolves, improving itself through greater complexity and diversity, keeping what works and discarding what does not. Mindfully re-engaging in the Earth Learning process means that humans can learn to do the same as part of our daily lives. By paying close attention, humans may recognize that Earth is constantly teaching; its living systems offer humanity a time-tested model for ecological sustainability.
Earth Is Slow, Culture Is Fast
Humans are the only species to develop the capability to change and dominate its environment on such a large-scale, rather than adapt to it. Adaptation is the key to the evolutionary process. Slow change is good for life. This is what Earth has been doing since its inception. Rapid change does not give humanity, any other species, or even the living Earth, time to adapt. It is time to slow down and rejoin the life community in the evolutionary process, and begin to adapt human lifestyles, so that they align with the planet’s natural rhythms and the life support systems that sustain the biosphere. This does not mean that quality of life must be sacrificed. Indeed, quality of life may improve considerably if the frenetic pace of modern life slowed down and allowed more time to reflect on what is truly important and to relate to the less tangible enjoyments of life.
Earth Is Primary, Humans Are Derivative
All beings, including humans, are ultimately dependent on Earth and its life support systems. No amount of technology can replace these living systems. Humans are products of Earth and yet they race to undermine the integrity of the living systems that sustain all life. At the core of the vast number of unsustainable patterns is the assumption that humans are the chosen species and should inherit Earth’s bounty at the expense of all others. Humans can adopt an Earth-centered mindset that generates empathy for and is inclusive of the other-than-human. This includes recognizing the inherent rights of all sentient beings to share in Earth community and their intrinsic value as members of that community. By adopting an Earth-centered mindset, humanity can begin to strengthen its connection, both spiritual and physical, to life. Human understanding of their place in nature is an essential thought for the transition to a more sustainable future.
Essential Earth Learning Concepts
The following is a summary of the most important and vital concepts for Earth Learning dedicated to the awareness and formation of a benign global Earth ethic that may very well be the most important step in human evolution.
There Is No Environment
To most people the word “environment” implies some object somewhere else. Yet, there is no environment separate from humanity. What is done to Earth is done to fellow humans and to the community of life that is Earth. The interconnectedness and interdependence of Earth’s life web depends on a complex diversity of species to function as a healthy community. The human body itself is a complex ecosystem.
Many of its functions, such as breathing and digesting, are assisted and performed by organisms that humans simply could not live without. Human outer skin often acts less like a barrier and more like a sponge. Just as a tree is not separate from the soil that feeds its roots, the water that flows everywhere inside and out, and the air it breathes. In Sustainable Living systems boundaries exist for purposes of identity, not separation.
Earth Is Alive
For centuries humans have believed that Earth was an object, a rock floating in space, with living beings on its surface. How, many believe that Earth is a living, breathing, self-sustaining and self-educating organism. According to current science, Earth is 4.5 billion years old. It is still changing and evolving with greater complexity and diversity in its life forms. It takes a diverse ecosystem to be resilient enough to withstand natural disturbances. Complexity and diversity mean that Earth is not putting all it eggs in one basket.
However, many assert that human impact on the natural world and the resulting loss of biological diversity are drastically diminishing Earth’s capacity to sustain life. The global extinction we are currently facing means that we are permanently loosing unique life forms at higher rates than during any of the previous five mass extinctions that have occurred on this planet combined. This phenomenon threatens the life-sustaining capacity of Earth.
Evolution Is Not A Theory
The Universe began at a given point some 13.7 billion years ago or so and has been expanding and increasing in complexity ever since. Earth continues to evolve within this context. Life has evolved here as an integral part of this planet. Humanity shares an inherent and inherited genetic memory, passed down from the first life forms. Yet, some humans feel threatened by the concept of evolution. They fail to notice two crucial things. The first is that the evolution of life is quite the miracle, with any one of a billion things that could have gone wrong along the way.
The second crucial issue is that evolution presents a far more powerful, deliberate, and awe-inspiring set of events than any one-time, instant creation. Teaching evolution as an integral part of Earth Literacy is a vital way of communicating that humanity is inextricably connected to Earth. By ignoring or rejecting evolution, many humans are basically saying that they do not belong on Earth. They, in effect, reject their rich and vibrant inheritance and their rightful place in the community of life.