Earth Manifesto Introduction and Overview
March 2012 Introduction to the Earth Manifesto is followed by the Introduction: Serendipitous Epiphany of the original Earth
Manifesto from October 2004.
Zen masters and
ecological philosophers both concur that everything is interconnected and
interdependent. All things are hitched
together in infinitely intricate ways. The
implications of this most fundamental of all understandings about the
underpinnings of existence run so deep that they simply defy any possibility of
our fully comprehending them.
In the province of
ideas, any one organism, idea or issue is hitched to all the rest, so any place
provides a valid point of entry into everything else. Take, for instance, the story of Tyrants and Damsels. I love this particular story. It concerns ‘lichen symbiosis’.
heatedly debated the nature of this evolutionary phenomenon. Understand that, for all practical purposes,
there are three Kingdoms of life on Earth:
Plants, Animals, and Fungi. Of
the approximately 75,000 scientifically identified species of fungi in the
world, this narrative deals with the subset of fungi known as lichens, of which
there are about 17,000 species. These
life forms consist of a tough and incredibly drought-resistant outer fungal
layer called a cortex, and inner algal partner cells. These algal cells provide sustenance for the lichen by producing food
through the process of photosynthesis.
Long ago, deep in evolutionary
history, these fungi and algae were independent life forms. Algae are plant species that love moisture. They are able to use water and energy from
the sun to transform carbon dioxide and minerals into food energy. Fungi and algae have co-evolved in this
symbiotic relationship in a kind of cooperative win/win adaptation of formerly independent
life forms. They have generated lichens
that are inextricably linked in their genes, a development that has been
mutually beneficial to the descendents of the former fungi and algae.
Scientists had a
spirited debate about this relationship for many decades. This controversy was centered on an anthropocentric
theory: the tough protective fungus is
like a Tyrant master that holds the Damsel algae captive. The tyrant fungus was regarded as a ruthless
exploiter of the algae’s vulnerable and productive propensities. I don’t think they’ve actually been able to
assign sexes to the fungi and the algae, but I’m sure the process by which the
lichens reproduce is significantly less interesting than that which pertains
between an eager and comely young lass and some handsome dude. But that’s neither here nor there; this story gives us a peek into one of many
awe-inspiring survival ‘strategies’ that have unfolded throughout the long
history of biological evolution on planet Earth.
Let’s try to imagine
the fullest context of the Universe and the evolution of life. Energy and matter have been emanating
through space and time practically forever.
Constant motion and continuous change characterize this emanation at all
levels from visible light and subatomic matter to macrocosmic phenomena. All motion and all matter seem to conform to
physical ‘laws’ of the Universe that appear unchanged since the beginning of
As far as we know,
life began in the Universe almost 4 billion years ago on planet Earth, “an
inconspicuous outpost of the Milky Way”, as Bill Bryson points out in his
fascinating book A Short History of
Nearly Everything. At every moment
since life began on Earth, every species of life has been required to adapt to
endlessly transforming conditions and on-going environmental changes on the
planet, or else perish.
An infinite number
of significant changes have taken place in habitats and microclimates
everywhere on Earth throughout the long course of geologic history. Planet-wide changes have also occurred over
the eons, like the ones that caused periods of mass extinctions, or those that
resulted in ice ages which as recently as 15,000 years ago locked up so much
water in continental ice sheets and alpine glaciers that the level of the
oceans was 300 feet lower than it is today.
These changes have
been caused by a variety of things, including devastating meteorite impacts, eruptions
of supervolcanoes, the phenomenon of “orbital forcing”, shifts in ocean
currents, mountain-building episodes, glacial ice sheets, interglacial warm
climatic periods, and changes in the gaseous composition of the atmosphere.
Whether changes take
place slowly or suddenly, life forms have had to adapt and re-establish themselves
in competitive and cooperative balance with the rest of the web of life. Every species of life in existence today has
had ancestors that somehow managed to survive every episode in this eons-long
series of challenges and closing doors.
Change and adaptation and extinction ensure that, at every point in time,
all species which survive are adequately well adapted to the conditions
prevailing in the habitats and ranges that they occupy.
Chief Seattle was an American Indian chief of the
Suquamish tribe in the Pacific Northwest.
He once warned the United States government against the misuse of land,
water, air, and animal life, reportedly proclaiming in 1844, “Whatever happens
to the Earth, happens to the children of the Earth … All things are connected,
like the blood that unites one family. Mankind did not weave the web of
life; we are but one strand within it. Whatever we do to the web,
we do to ourselves.”
will be reeled back to the web in this Introduction, because everything is
inextricably hitched together. The principal
purposes of these words will soon be clear.
We humans are quite
fascinated with ourselves, and we are always struggling to figure out who we
are, and why we do what we do. Sometime
we even glimpse the value in trying to determine what we should really be doing
to connect with our authentic inner selves.
During times of introspection, we wonder ‘What Really Matters’?
In the novel Sweet
Thursday, John Steinbeck described his female character Fauna, writing: “It was Fauna's conviction, born out of long
experience, that most people, one, did not know what they wanted; two,
did not know how to go about getting it; and three, didn't know when they
had it." Ah, sad but true!
To me, far-sighted
ideas are important. It is vital that
we collectively begin to live our lives in ways that are true to our authentic
inner selves. At the same time, we
should do this in ways that are consistent with the greater good. This is why the Earth Manifesto writings
have been created to advance ideas that will help us achieve these goals.
The primary themes of all Earth Manifesto writings are ecological sanity,
Golden Rule fairness principles, win/win solutions to problems, the well-being
of our communities, strategies for peace, and the advancement of personal
freedoms. Wide-ranging and farsighted
points of view have been assembled from an extensive diversity of sources in
order to explore ideas that are aimed at helping to achieve an epoch-defining
transition to sustainable existence. My
goal in setting forth these thoughts is to broaden the understanding of
humankind with the hope that this undertaking will contribute to a more
propitious collective destiny.
The search for
wisdom in America takes us back to the beginning of time, like some sweeping
saga by author James Michener, who started all his epic novels far back in
prehistory. (His novel The Source, for instance, begins a tale
of modern Israel and conflicts in the Middle East with an exploration of the
history of the development of Western civilization and the great religious and
cultural ideas that have shaped our world, and then proceeds to tell an epic saga
of love, strength and faith in the Holy Land.
The Source traces Michener’s version
of the long and intriguing history of the Jewish people.)
The web of life on
Earth is infinitely complex, and it began within 500 million years of the
formation of our solar system about 4.5 billion years ago. Scientists have compelling evidence that life
existed only as single-celled organisms for about 3 billion years from the
moment it began. The remains that
period in the fossil record are not well preserved because life during all of
those years consisted of fragile little things that did not have backbones, skeletons
or shells or any durable things that would have had any chance of having their
traces preserved long into posterity.
The fossil record
shows that about 540 million years ago, the biological evolution of life on
Earth took a startling turn: a
relatively sudden and astounding proliferation of life forms took place in
which single-celled organisms and colonies were transformed into a wide variety
of multi-celled organisms. Through a
process of evolutionary radiation and diversification, life evolved into dozens
of principal categories -- phyla -- of multi-celled organisms, and then within
a relatively short period of geologic time, almost all of the 36 phyla of
animals that exist today came into being.
These organisms began to contain more durable parts, so the fossil
record became more distinct.
A phylum is a term
of biological taxonomy which is a type of mega-clan classification of life
forms. Each phylum is a grouping of
species based on a general body plan.
Human beings, for instance are classified in the phylum Chordata, which
includes all creatures with an internal skeletal structure. This includes classes of animals like
sharks, fish, frogs, toads, snakes, turtles, birds, mammals, reptiles, and many
now-extinct species of dinosaurs.
The proliferation of
life that took place about 540 million years ago is known as the Cambrian
explosion, or the Cambrian radiation.
The evidence of this period is found in a deep and ancient layer of
rocks in the Earth’s crust that is called the ‘Primordial Strata’. This stratum of rocks consists of a layer of
lithified sediments that was deposited over a span of about 5 million years. In this rock, extensive fossil evidence reveals
the formative appearance of multi-celled forms of life which had shells or
skeletal structures. These
characteristics made the remains of these early animals more durable, and hence
more often preserved as fossils in sediments that were later lithified into
that the ancestors of almost all the main categories of animal life came into
existence in such a relatively short period of geologic time, there has been
much debate about how this came to be. A
theory that I find quite credible is posited by one author who cites extensive
convincing evidence that the genesis of this rapid change may have been
selective pressure exerted on all species by the evolution of photoreceptors
in primitive forms of predatory aquatic animals. In other words, as primitive forms of vision evolved in various
marine organisms, the pressures of predation radically intensified. To survive, marine animals that were subjected
to these dramatic new challenges were forced to develop protective shells and
other defense mechanisms, or else go extinct.
evolution of vision was as revolutionary a change as almost any biotic development
in evolutionary history. It is right up
there with the early introduction of corrosive oxygen into the atmosphere by
photosynthetic plants, or the devastation on the biosphere caused by meteorite
impacts, or episodic climate changes that resulted in ice ages and even a
“Snowball Earth” period of extreme cold.
Hundreds of millions
of species of life have come into existence and perished in the 540 million
years since the Cambrian explosion.
Amazingly, each and every one of the animal species fits into one of the
36 animal phyla in existence today, all of which appeared in those ancient
times of the Cambrian explosion.
Similarly, every species of life, including all plants and fungi and
bacteria, has a similar basic cellular structure.
Mammals are a subset
of species in the phylum Chordata. Human
beings share membership in this broad category not only with sharks and snakes
and sheep, but with some 100,000 other known species. The body plan of Chordata species is characterized by having some
kind of vertebrae; this distinguishes
us from phyla such as those which contain sponges or mollusks, for instance. Sponges are distinguished by having bodies
full of pores that allow water to circulate through them, and mollusks are distinguished
by having a muscular ‘foot’ that is used for attachment, locomotion, and the capture
One of the main ways
that our species differs from all other mammals is the size of our brains. The old reptilian part of our brains, the
amygdala, is the region of our brains that is most closely associated with quick
responses to stimuli and emotional memories and fear. It may be particularly responsible for the human propensity to
harbor superstitions and fears that hark back to times long ago in our
evolutionary history. The amygdala remains
hair-trigger ready to flee, or to react to threats by fighting if necessary. It apparently still harbors memories of
fears of giant lizards and dangerous wild animals stalking around the fire at
night. It may be responsible for
nightmare dreams of monsters and dragons and impersonal forces of sudden
All human beings are
descendants of peoples like those in the ‘Clan of the Cave Bear’ and other
precursor tribes. Our heritage of
mysterious subconscious sociobiological impulses is still very real in our responses
to situations. In our insecure world, most
people suppose that explanations of the Universe require supernatural
beginnings. Many even believe in on-going
supernatural influences and interventions of invisible deities, despite the
lack of any real evidence at all.
Twain was fascinated by humankind’s place in the universe, as well as by the
absurdities of religious myths and dogmas.
He wrote at least part of the witty and scathing satire, Letters from the Earth, just before his
death in 1910, but it was not published until 1962 because his daughter Clara
was concerned with the sensitive and sacrilegious nature of its contents.
It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't
understand that bother me,
the parts that I do understand.
--- Mark Twain
Letters from the Earth gives readers entertaining insights and
perspectives into the absurd nature of orthodox religious dogmas and inflexible
religious doctrines. It is an incisive,
logical book that ridicules preposterous contentions contained in ‘holy books’.
Ambrose Bierce defines holy book
scriptures in The Devil’s Dictionary as “The sacred books of our holy religion,
as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths
are based.” That’s a problem with holy
Pinker poignantly points out in The
Better Angels of Our Nature that there is an astonishing absurdity for “… different people being unshakably
certain of the truth of their mutually incompatible beliefs.”
Fifty years have now
passed since Letters from the Earth was
published. Today we can see that this
written ridicule has proved to be inadequate in mitigating the harm that
religious fanaticism is causing around the world. Terrorism in response to economic, social and military injustices
is, in fact, making the world a more dangerous place. It is doing this not only by posing threats of attacks to many nations
in the Western world, but even more significantly by provoking an incomprehensibly
costly and domineering and violent reaction from the hubris-enveloped and spending-drunk
American military machine. The huge
cost of military interventions, preemptive wars, and global standing armies,
navies, air forces and marines threaten to bankrupt the United States. The economic turmoil which will likely
result, without saner priorities, would create an even more unstable world and
The time has come
today for us to come to grips with the emerging challenges that face us, and to
effectively deal with them in a properly prioritized fashion.
from the Earth
The original Earth
Manifesto was first published online in October 2004. It was scanned in so that it could include some of the emphatic calligraphy
that was characteristic of the versions of these ideas that arose before they
were put on the Internet. This first
computer version of the Earth Manifesto consists of 121 one-page Soliloquies. They still reside in their entirety in Part
Seven of the online Earth Manifesto, in addition to being included here in Book
One Soliloquy has a
long elliptical circle at the top with the title in it: Letters
from the Earth. A rotund
page-filling dark blue circle was appended below, and it contained a
three-paragraph communiqué, signed at the lower right by “Mother Earth”. Here is the important perspective that Mother
Earth imparts to us in this Soliloquy:
“Lovely to have you
human beings around! Life has finally
achieved a self-reflective state of consciousness after so many eons, meaning
great recognition for yours truly Mother Earth -- for my awesome beauty and for
the extraordinary context of my geophysical existence in the Universe. As a part of physical Nature, I am naturally
utterly indifferent to judging or favoring any particular circumstance or
changes, but I must make one thing perfectly clear: My Gaia aspect -- the sum total of all of my living systems --
loves itself. I love my beautifully
balanced ecosystems, teeming with life in infinite niches, and my topography of
magnificent mountains and vibrant valleys and superb seas. Please don’t ruin everything by hunting all
the animals to extinction, or by poisoning my life-supporting waterways and
atmosphere, or by myopically modifying and destroying my habitats.”
“My living systems
are fabulous sources of materials for your prosperity and sustenance, things
like food, fish and timber -- but they are also vitally valuable in a healthy
state for the services they provide to the human race. Forests help provide clean water, flood
management, erosion control, water storage, regeneration of the atmosphere, and
buffering against extremes in weather patterns. Likewise, wetlands, rain forests, wilderness areas, riparian
habitats, coral reefs, symbiotic communities and other healthy ecosystems are
critical for your survival, so I recommend that humanity whole-heartedly embraces
the ideas expressed by Tiffany Twain, and begins to move boldly towards
sustainable and restorative activities.”
up, humanity, your home planet speaks!
You would be wise to rediscover your native reverence for Planet Earth, and
the respect and appreciation that were once so germane to your awareness, your
hearts, your souls, and your existence.
You must, for your own good, begin a dramatic Ecological Revolution, and
enact positive environmental, economic and social changes worldwide. Commit yourselves to a transformation of
human activities that will be consistent with both your own long-term
well-being and that of the Earth; and
also strive to develop more effective international institutions to help ensure
peaceful coexistence amongst all of your peoples and nations.”
--- Mother Earth
A Strategy for Breaking Through
Mark Twain has been described as North America's greatest
Renaissance Man. “He traveled the
planet, observed and assessed with insight and precision. Nothing he wrote is obscure and little of
his work is outdated.” I aspire to
leave equally important writings; they borrow
from his genius and incorporate many of his ideas, as well as those of scores
of others. The Earth Manifesto is
primarily an accomplishment of good organization, and a competent and thorough
gathering of ideas. It is a creative
interpretation of history that utilizes a wide swath of the body of human
thought and philosophy to bring together visionary understandings of the human
race, and of the dilemmas we face.
My goal is to help
humanity break through to more enlightened understandings that embrace more
sensible ways forward. How can one
individual make a significant difference in the world? In contemplating this question, the words of
one of California’s greatest writers, Jack London, come to mind:
“And then, in splendor and glory, came the great
idea. He would write. He would be one of the eyes through which the
world saw, one of the ears through which it heard, one of the hearts through
which it felt.”
--- Martin Eden, in
Jack London’s semi-autobiographical novel, Martin
threw himself into the undertaking of improving himself and educating himself
and striving to make himself worthy of Ruth Morse, a young woman who had inspired
him with passionate intensity. Daunted
by Ruth’s alluring presence, Martin was “like a navigator adrift on a strange
sea without chart or compass.”
are all a bit lost, in a larger sense.
I seek in these words and ideas to help provide a chart and compass by
which we can better steer toward sanity, flourishing, fairness, mutual
security, long-term prosperity, and survival.
The Earth Manifesto is a product of my own passionate aspiration to create
philosophical essays that millions of people might eventually read.
inspiration is the belief that far better societies are within reach. I feel that it is high time people demanded
them -- and helped to actualize them. It
seems as though humanity, given a comprehensive and perceptive perspective of
existence, might be able to use these insights to transform their cultures and societies
into more sane and sustainable ones.
These words could contribute to great debates that might result in a more
unified consensus on how we should all strive to more positively get along and
to create norms for healthier societies.
This would improve everyone’s prospects on Planet Earth, especially including
all people in future generations.
roll! There will be enough challenges
for the human race as it is, in the future, since our explosive population growth,
resource depletion and hyper-competition are driving us into resource wars and
desperately violent struggles for supremacy.
Insights into Competition and Cooperation
Competition is a curious
phenomenon. Free-market competition is
a marvelous mechanism for creating wealth and jobs, and for compelling people
to work harder and harder. The system
is set up primarily to benefit wealthy people and the investor class. The buying power of the average worker’s
wages has been essentially stagnant since the days Ronald Reagan and the
conservative movement embraced economic elitism and began to dismantle the
initiatives that built a strong middle class in America. Rapid inflation in the cost of living has been
an especially severe hardship for the majority of working Americans, particularly
for essentials like food, housing, heating, gasoline, and health care.
Rapid increases in the
costs of food highlight the fact that unintended consequences result from all
actions. In the effort to become less
dependent on fossil fuels, the United States has given large subsidies to
producers of grains for use in making ethanol, a biofuel. This policy has stimulated demand for corn
and other grains, driving up the global price and creating significant and
growing hardships for millions of people.
Inflation in the
costs of basic necessities dramatically diminishes the economic security of untold
numbers of men, women and children. In
contrast, economic insecurity is of little or no real practical concern for the
wealthy. These trends of inequality should
not only be bemoaned, but reversed.
Progressive and far-sighted policies are required, and NOT stubborn
adherence to regressive and shortsighted plans.
In an even larger
consideration, cut-throat competition can often be seen to be a primary cause of
the deterioration of the global commons.
Cooperation is what is most needed to protect the commons -- natural resources,
topsoil, lakes, rivers, wetlands, coral reefs, old-growth forests, oceans and
the atmosphere. The commons must be
managed in ways that ensure future generations will have an equal opportunity
as current generations to prosper and survive.
sustainable fisheries, for instance, quotas must be agreed to and established
and enforced. Likewise, the practice of
sustainable forestry requires that we collectively manage forests better and
protect old growth stands and make sure that more trees are planted than are
harvested. Also, as the anthropogenic production
of greenhouse gases begins to have serious and ominous impacts on weather
patterns around the globe, we must clearly recognize the valuable role that
forests play in using up carbon dioxide and thereby mitigating the build-up of this
greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.
are very fortunate to be living at a time in history when there is still such a
marvelous cornucopia of resources on Planet Earth. There are so many wonderful resources to enjoy, so many delicious
animals to eat, and so many yummy crops to consume or to feed to the animals we
keep for meat, milk or companionship. There
are, of course, compellingly good reasons for people to shift toward more
vegetarian diets – but that is another story.
For more information, see the Observations about a Vegetarian Diet in Tiffany
Twain Entertains: A Philosophic
There are about one
trillion barrels of crude oil left in global reserves. This still allows hundreds of millions of people
to jet around the planet in unprecedented numbers every year, but it is
preposterous to presume that we can continue to stimulate our ravenous demands
without severely diminishing this cornucopia.
The failure to intelligently deal with all of these challenges will have
daunting consequences for future generations.
Stereotypes, and the Relativity of Perception
The Tyrants and
Damsels story at the beginning of this Introduction
makes it clear that we tend to see the world in dramatically anthropocentric
ways. This is the frame of reference
for our worldviews and our existential belief systems. Because of the nature of self-referential
perceptions and our human-centered ways of seeing things, we tend to project
our beliefs and feelings onto the world, and to ignore larger perspectives.
Our roles in the
world are powerfully affected by such projections -- both outer ones, which are
known as stereotypes, and inner ones, which are known as archetypes. Consider the attributes of the goddesses and
gods of ancient Greece. These deities
were characterized by distinct expressions of collective instinctual behavior
patterns that have been projected from the collective unconscious onto mythical
Greece was the most
advanced civilization in Europe at the time that people believed in these
deities. These gods and goddesses
represented the dominant spiritual, cosmological, and religious explanations of
existence at the time. Today we demean
these deities, calling them merely myths, and we fail to recognize that our own
religious stories fall equally short of reality or probable truth.
There is significant
value in studying Greek deities, because the pantheon of Greek deities together, female and male, continue to exist
as archetypes in us all. Their
characters and interrelationships are a valuable key to understanding our own
inner selves and our interactions with others.
Check out Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book Goddesses in Everywoman to understand this. It is worthwhile reading for personal
development, as well as for the purposes of cultivating wise perspectives!
People from time
immemorial have similarly projected human-centered ideas of motivations,
behaviors, emotions, attitudes and appearances onto deities. These projections all have their genesis in
the human imagination. We humans tend
to anthropomorphize a lot, projecting our sensibilities and human qualities and
feelings onto animals and inanimate objects and forces of nature. We then perceive the world in such ways that
we think this actually represents reality.
When a violent storm harms people, we describe it as vicious or
malevolent. Is it really?
Aesop’s Fables are a
classic form of the anthropomorphization of animals. These fables involve simple moral lessons that are illustrated
through the projection of human traits and feelings onto animals. Is the coyote wily? Is the dog loving? Is the lion noble? Is the
owl wise? Is the ass stubborn?
Such reflections of
myth and fable make one wonder if our anthropocentric deities are really the
way we picture them. If there is a God,
is it likely that ‘He’ gets jealous and angry?
Does God really crave recognition and worship and adulation and glory?
reinforce the realization that “everything is relative.” We recently had a lovely day of rain where I
live. There is something about falling
rain and rushing water that deeply accords with our souls. Since drought is a threat affecting many communities
worldwide, there is an almost thrilling and sublime affirmation in falling
rain. Yet, to a traveler visiting from
abroad, the rain might seem like an unfortunate inconvenience. And to a homeless person, rain and wind and
cold could seem quite miserable. A
fierce rainstorm with violent winds can lash out with its power and seem to be malevolent
in its destructive potentiality. Yes, everything
is relative! (Einstein even proved it,
on a physical plane.)
particularly rich illustration of the relativity of perception is contained in
the great book by Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba
the Greek, in which Zorba says:
depends on the way you look at it… Look, one day I had gone to a little
village. An old grandfather of ninety
was busy planting an almond tree. ‘What, granddad!’ I exclaimed. ‘Planting an
almond tree?’ And he, bent as he was,
turned round and said: ‘My son, I carry on as if I should never die. I replied: ‘And I carry on as if I was going
to die any minute.’ Which of us was
at me triumphantly and said: “That’s
where I’ve got you!”
silent. Two equally steep and bold
paths may lead to the same peak. To act
as if death did not exist, or to act thinking every minute of death, is perhaps
the same thing.”
In considering the
relativity of perspective, think about the fact that geologists regard the
phenomena we call earthquakes as sudden ruptures which take place when tension
is released that has built up as a tectonic plate of the Earth’s crust moves
past or under another plate. Since
there is great friction between rocks, movements of the Earth’s crust are not
lubricated, so the plate boundaries are ‘stuck’ -- until they finally
if there will be another “Big One” along the San Andreas Fault, which lies in
the border area between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate. Californians wonder this, even though the
evidence is clear that there have been thousands of periodic Big Ones as the
San Andreas Fault opened up the Gulf of California and formations like half of the
Pinnacles and the Point Reyes Peninsula moved far north of the positions they
occupied millions of years ago.
The 1906 earthquake
in northern California caused the Point Reyes Peninsula to jump northward by
about 16 feet in a few minutes. I’ll do
the math: with such earthquakes
occurring on average once every 150 years, that makes almost 7,000 Big Ones
every million years, and something like 100,000 Big Ones over the span of the
next 15 million years. The beautiful
Point Reyes Peninsula will become an island in less than a million years, with
Stinson Lagoon joining Tomales Bay, and the area where Los Angeles is now, on
the Pacific Plate, will eventually move north of San Francisco, which is on the
western edge of the North American Plate.
This will take place in less than 15 million years. Unimaginable? Incomprehensible? Check
out the science!
This last paragraph
provides a provocative perspective:
geologic time is practically eternal.
In contrast, time rushes headlong past us in our daily lives, and we are
collectively driven by incredibly myopic perspectives and short-term planning,
especially with regard to consumption activities and environmental protections.
In human affairs,
change is accelerating. Population is
exploding. Resources are being
depleted. We are essentially staggering
and blundering into the future. Our planning
timeframe barely envisions next year or five years from now, and certainly not 100
years from now. It makes me think to
myself: “Self …”
Why do the same old
strategies remain dominant when there is so much we should and could be doing? A principal reason is found in the fact that
established vested interests set all of the most important aspects of our
national agenda. A powerful resistance exists
that prevents us from changing the rules of the game and setting more
intelligent goals and priorities. Risks
mount as progress is impeded, and conflicts intensify, and bankruptcy looms. Conflict escalation is inevitable as long as
we continue to cling desperately and half insanely to the same old thinking and
policies that we’ve been stubbornly pretending are right and optimum, or at
least impossible to be reformed, for so many years.
A spectre is
haunting Planet Earth -- the spectre not only of ideologies that promote narrow
interests and inegalitarian activities, but the spectre of obstacles that
appear to be nearly
insurmountable. We are in the desperate
final throes of allowing old ways of thinking to dominate. We still let the powers-that-be advance
their prerogatives and gain ever-more influence. We allow the international ‘corporatocracy’ to perpetuate a
short-term orientation and obstruct new ideas that could be leading us toward a
fairer and more sustainable future. And
we allow Big Money to completely dominate our politics. The new Super PACs authorized by the narrow
5-4 majority on the Supreme Court are already causing havoc on our politics and
further corrupting our political system.
Many people were deeply
concerned when the United States was about to enter a recession in 2008. The Federal Reserve and the White House and
Congress were moving quickly to try to forestall a slowdown in growth. It should be pointed out that, as certain as
it is that big earthquakes will rock California again in the future, there will
be economic recessions and depressions again, and there will be ones that are international
in scope. Our failure to address the
speculative causes of the Great Recession, and the boom-and-bust nature of our
economy, and the unprecedented debt financing of our national budgets, all
together foolishly increase the likelihood that the next episode will be
To forestall such
eventualities, it would have been wisest in the years from 2001 to 2008 to use
the ‘economic good times’, such as they may have been, to invest in America’s
human capital with better and more affordable higher education, and to invest
in infrastructure repairs and smart innovations designed to achieve greater
independence from our addiction to fossil fuels. But instead, we indulged in gigantic amounts of deficit spending,
and created unprecedented trade imbalances, and squandered hundreds of billions
of dollars on wars and overly-generous tax breaks for the wealthy. We clung stubbornly to extremely
inegalitarian ‘trickle-down’ economic ideologies, and deregulated financial
markets, and unsustainably stimulated housing bubbles and allowed imprudent
levels of leveraging in a wide variety of speculative risk-taking.
The Executive and
Legislative branches of government have indulged in power grabs. Rich people, lobbyists, banks, corporations
and Wall Street entities have helped exacerbate these problems. As a result, good governance measures and
transparency and proper accountability and trust in government have atrophied. Very little serious consideration has been
given to legislation that would strictly
limit the interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment to give “personhood”
rights to giant corporations, even though the corporate prerogatives associated
with such interpretations have highly detrimental impacts of our communities, our
nation, and the global environmental commons.
We have collectively failed to formulate ways to ensure that good
citizen goals are achieved because our leaders are so busy favoring conflicting
goals of wealthy investors and bargain-loving consumers.
If we sorted through the ideas in the Earth Manifesto and implemented
just 10% of the best ideas, our nation and the world would be in far better
shape. These ideas are found throughout
these writings, and are extensively summarized in Book Two of the Earth
Manifesto, and in Part Four online. Check
Simple Ways to Make America Fairer, and to Fix Both Social Security and Health
Care So We Can Move On to Address Much Bigger Issues; and, One
Dozen Big Initiatives to Positively Transform Our Societies; and the Progressive Agenda for a
More Sane Humanity.
I hope these ideas will contribute to a more expansive national and
international discourse, and make a positive difference in the world!
Dr. Tiffany B. Twain
4, 2012 (originally published May 1, 2008)
Contact at: SaveTruffulaTrees@hotmail.com
Introduction --- Serendipitous Epiphany
The Earth Manifesto fortuitously provides valuable
insight into the diversity of worldviews and perspectives that influence human
societies. It aims to launch our
American Ship of State in a new direction -- and to set our enormous fleet of
Ships of Selves on new courses which respect fundamental ethical and ecological
truths. These truths must encompass a
wholesome connectedness of all people to each other, and to the Earth. They should also be consistent with fairness
in honoring the Golden Rule, religious tolerance, true justice, balanced
budgets, peaceful conflict resolution, constraints on corporations as well as governments,
and greater ecological sanity.
Manifesto is dedicated to the proposition that we should “pay forward”
some good deeds to the future. We
should redesign our economic and political systems in order to ensure a wiser,
fairer, and more genuine caring for the well-being of our societies and a
healthy planet. This can be achieved
rather simply, by investing in our societies more intelligently and by using the
positive reinforcement of smart incentives.
It will not be easy, however, due to the powerful resistance of forces that
defend the Status Quo.
Big Business, wealthy people,
and Big Government prefer to grab more power and short-term benefits for themselves
at the expense of the people, and of future generations. They do this by
borrowing from the future and passing on a gigantic and rapidly growing national
debt, as well as by depleting resources and causing a serious fragmentation of ecosystems. In addition, those who have the most power
in our political system are allowing the costs of pollution and worker
well-being and climate-disrupting greenhouse gas emissions to be foisted onto
society instead of being sensibly included as one of the real costs of
Powerful people are also
contributing to the defense of economic and political systems that are
characterized by increasing injustices, greater inequalities of privilege and
opportunity, ever-increasing crowds, Big Media dominated by large corporate
entities, curtailed civil rights, and more authoritarian violence on both the
domestic and global stage.
Some argue that the end of the Cold War left the United
States as the only superpower on Earth, and that we must boldly and resolutely
advance a neoconservative “Project for a New American Century.” This vision insists that the U.S. must pursue
aggressive global leadership with strategic objectives that emphasize American
principles and interests over all other considerations. Others say that this project, launched in
June 1997 by radical “conservatives”, was effete until it was able to hijack
the catastrophe of the 9/11 attacks.
Once it seized this opening, neoconservatives used manipulative
marketing and people’s fears to get policies implemented which grotesquely
caricature responsible leadership. American
power seems unhinged from many restraints. As such, it is a great danger in itself to world order and justice
World opinion is arguably a second superpower on Earth. Through it, a balance of the abuses of power
by “Rogue Nation” America must evolve. The
Neoconservative movement is directly contrary to the principles embodied in our
Constitution, which recognized that a centralized federal government almost
invariably strives to increase its power and to abuse that power at the expense
of its citizens.
The time has come today to take
a step towards greater sanity by rejecting Neoconservatism and economic
fundamentalism and right-wing politics. We must begin the difficult process of healing the Earth, as well
as our relations with other nations.
And we could all use a little civilizing therapy when it comes to
improving our interpersonal relationships.
Please peruse this Earth
Manifesto in its varied aspects and trains of thought, and let us together
find ways to engage in courageous and constructive dialogue. Our goal should be to achieve greater
balance, reason, fairness and moderation in human affairs.
Thank you for your attention to these ideas.
Twain, October 2004