Earth Manifesto Insights
Dr. Tiffany B. Twain
is this simple: we must redesign our
societies. We must do this because the
number of human beings on Earth is on track to increase from 6 billion to 9
billion in the first 50 years of this century.
Simultaneously we will consume essentially all of the remaining 50% of
known reserves of oil worldwide. Our consumer
economy is not sustainable. We are
depleting renewable and non-renewable natural resources, and we are creating
great quantities of pollutants, toxins and wastes. We are upsetting the balance of nature with our unsustainable
development, urban sprawl, topsoil depletion and destruction of forests and
wetlands. We are ruthlessly exploiting
fisheries and damaging coral reefs worldwide.
We are overusing aquifers, and having radical impacts on habitats and
biotic conditions. These activities are
causing both intentional and inadvertent assaults on wildlife and biodiversity.
can no longer blame God, or superstitiously expect ‘His’ intervention to help
us. God does not meddle in human
affairs. The South Asian tsunami of December
2004, and the recent Gulf Coast and Latin American hurricanes, and the
devastating earthquake of Kashmir are natural disasters. They are caused by geophysical events, not
divine beings. The tsunami and
earthquake are natural phenomena caused by the same movements of Earth's
tectonic plates that have been occurring for millions of years, as was shown by
the existence of marine limestone from the Indian Ocean seabed in the tallest
mountains in the world, the Himalayas. Geologists
now know that the India Plate of the Earth's crust has been slowly colliding
with Tibet on the Eurasian Plate over the last 50 million years, with
occasional earthquakes to release the stress of the movement of the plates
against each other.
unusually intense hurricanes this year are a function of normal weather
patterns, combined with the ominously increasing influence of global warming
that is being caused by mankind's heedless pouring of billions of tons of
carbon-dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year.
a very real sense, we are choosing our own destinies. There will be no End Times for planet Earth,
not in any case until our Sun explodes in a supernova a billion years or two in
the future. The human race may drive
itself to extinction, or more likely devastate our home planet and drive a
large proportion of other life forms to extinction in our desperate struggle to
achieve a sustainable balance and equilibrium of our population with the
ecological carrying capacity that provides for our survival and well-being.
human race is in desperate need of better awareness and clarity of thought. We need to be open to new ideas and greater
wisdom and enlightened understandings. A
radical transformation in our activities, behaviors, and economies will be
necessary in order to achieve a sustainable future. Our societies and institutions must be redesigned to be flexible,
adaptable, courageous and better prepared.
We must use our foresight, not myopia, to face the challenges of the
cannot continue with "business as usual" strategies any longer, nor
can we let vested interests ruthlessly defend the status quo. We cannot allow greedy, selfish, shortsighted
special interests to make all the decisions that affect our social health and
the prospects of our descendents.
social, political and religious institutions must change. A rapid "greening" of America, and
the world, is urgent. The longer we
embrace ignorance and denial in the service of vested interests, and fear and
superstition in the service of evangelical religious beliefs, the more
difficult the challenges will become.
my fellow Americans, there may be wonderful and comforting reasons to cherish
beliefs in virtue, sin, Heaven, Hell, life after death, salvation, and
"rapturous End Times". But to
the extents that these beliefs are socially detrimental, they must be
reexamined and rejected.
the radical right is using religious conservatives to help give them the power
to support the dominant paradigms of special privilege, regressive and
discriminatory domestic policies, aggressively militaristic foreign policies,
and destructive and unsustainable environmental exploitation. In other words, established religions are
prostituting themselves to those in power in order to gain power themselves,
and they are using this power to harm people, and impinge on the freedoms of
others, and damage the social and environmental fabric of planet Earth.
America was settled by waves of European emigrants seeking freedom and
opportunity. Many of them were fleeing
religious oppression and social intolerance. The experience of the colonies before the Revolutionary War of
1776 gave Americans a very strong distaste for British colonial imperialism,
and for taxation without representation. It inspired strong convictions that States and communities needed
to maintain power that is not centralized, and to sensibly limit federal
a result, the United States was founded on principles of strong protections of
individual rights, States rights, and guaranteed freedoms for its citizens. The ‘Founding Fathers’ sought to establish
inalterable protections from the tyranny of a power-abusing federal government.
This is why our Constitution has a Bill
of Rights, and a system of Checks and Balances between the Executive and
Legislative and Judicial branches of government. And this is why the separation of Church and State remains an
extremely important principle.
United States Constitution was visionary enough to embody lofty ideals into a
framework that was brilliant and flexible enough to allow the progressive
evolution of democratic idealism, and to allow the extension of civil rights to
all American citizens, including blacks and women. Some day, despite the current vindictive power of social
conservatives, even gay people will be accorded fair and equitable civil
great deficiency of government has always been the sacrificing of the public
good to the private greed of small ruling groups. "Strange as it may seem," said Josiah Quincy in 1774,
"what the many, through successive ages, have desired and sought, the few
have found means to baffle and defeat."
right-wing "conservative" movement of the last 25 years has done its
best to turn back the clock on progress, and to give more and more special
privileges and tax breaks to rich people and giant corporations. They have done this with the collaboration of
religious fundamentalists, assuring the believers that they will champion
social conservatism in trade for support of these anti-egalitarian,
anti-democratic, and anti-environmental policies. They fight truth, honesty, and fairness at every turn to advance
their wrong-headed ends.
incipient democracy in 1776 made a Declaration of Independence, whose purpose was
to create institutions that are fair, egalitarian, tolerant of differences, and
concerned for the general welfare. The
Declaration of Independence states:
hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they
are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these
are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights,
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the
consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes
destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish
it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles
and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to
effect their Safety and Happiness.
indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed
for light and transient causes; and
accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer,
while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to
which they are accustomed.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations,
pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under
absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such
Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. - Such has
been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity
which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history
of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and
usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute
Tyranny over these States. --- John
Hancock, The Declaration of Independence (emphasis added)
enough, abuses and usurpations of power by our current leaders have indeed
become destructive to the ends of protecting the inalienable rights of
Americans, so it is our right, and our duty, to demand dramatic changes in our
government. Democratic fairness of
representation has been undermined; propaganda,
suppression of dissent, and deceit have been used ruthlessly to hijack our
government into advancing retrogressive social policies and aggressive foreign
policies. This must end.
must reject the Cheney/Bush regime’s current attempt to stack the Supreme Court
with lifetime appointees that are right wing conservatives who are outside of
the judicial mainstream. We cannot let
them turn back the clock on the progressive evolution of our civil rights and
Americans, hear these words clearly! We
are investing a great amount of capital in emotional arguments about such
Design vs. evolution;
God vs. someone else's God;
Father discipline vs. Nurturing Mother permissiveness;
use" vs. sustainable use of resources;
vs. open support for contraception;
rights of fetuses vs. the rights of women;
marriage vs. civil rights; and,
States vs. Blue States;
disputes distract us from far more important issues and practical undertakings.
We cannot allow our leaders to set
neighbor against neighbor, rich people against poor people, conservatives
against progressives, and religious people against all others.
can barely be denied that we would be intelligent and wise to immediately begin
to redesign our institutions and societies to be more sustainable and fairer. We must begin to seek grounds for consensus,
rather than focusing on points of disagreement. We must seek areas around which we can unite, rather than issues
that divide us. Specifically, we must
redesign such things as our business incentives, system of taxation, campaign
finance laws, environmental protections, military-industrial economy, fossil
fuel dependence, emergency preparedness plans, budgetary priorities, government
spending activities, educational system, public transportation, urban planning
codes, infrastructure maintenance priorities, agricultural practices, roadless
and wilderness area protections, and wildlife refuge sanctity.
is irrational, irresponsible, and terribly shortsighted to structure our economies
around unsustainable consumption, reproduction without restraint, the
clear-cutting of rainforests, overfishing of the seas, and the uncontrolled
spewing of global-warming gases into the skies without bold programs to
counteract the consequences.
the balance and damaging the health of natural ecosystems upon which we
completely depend is NOT sane!
must reevaluate the worldviews that oppose such clear understandings. We all share common interests. The most prominent amongst our common interests
should be a concern for our communities, our safety, our children, our
country's fairness, and the future for all. A strong argument can be made that we must eventually find international
mechanisms whereby people work together to deal with both natural and
man-made disasters, which the world will face with increasing frequency as our
human population approaches 9 billion the year 2050.
whole of humanity is not yet in completely desperate circumstances, but it is
arguably likely that we move closer to predicaments whose implications are
calamitous beyond imagination when we allow more and more billions of people to
slide in that direction.
we want the human race to survive for another 100 years? One thousand, anyone? Ten thousand? How can we help assure this survival?
the current rate of over 25 billion barrels of oil burned per year on our
beautiful planet Earth, all known remaining reserves -- 1 trillion barrels --
that we have not already used up will be practically gone in the next 45 years.
Let's see … 9 billion people, and no
gasoline or heating oil. What a pretty
picture! Shall we rush to wastefully
use up all of the irreplaceably valuable oil reserves, or should we maybe
boldly conserve its use, and really search hard for alternative energy sources?
technological transition to new forms of energy to power our societies will
require vast amounts of fossil fuels, so we would be smart to start moving
towards alternatives SOON, while we still have 50% of the original total of
known petroleum reserves!
is not just "a sign of personal virtue", Vice President Cheney. It is a future necessity. Do you not give a damn about our children and
the prospects of the human race in the future?
Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed is an
illuminating book. It observes that the
risk of social collapse increases greatly when a privileged elite loses touch
with the common citizen and is insulated against the impacts and undercurrents
of environmental failings. Today's
gated communities, extremes of wealth and poverty, and stagnancy and relative
decline of the middle class are all factors that bode ill for American society
and for our resilience in coping with social and environmental challenges.
is a bad idea to allow the encroaching domination of politics by giant
corporations. This constitutes a great
danger to democracy, to fair competition, to free markets, to the intelligent
use of resources, to the safeguarding of public assets, to the protection of
the environment, to conservation initiatives, and to long-term prosperity. The stakes are far too high to allow business
as usual to continue is narrowly focused emphasis on profits to the exclusion
of all other values!
say that a lack of awareness, and ignorance, and denial of reason are principal
causes of environmental harm. But it is
clear that there are far greater factors: greed, power abuse, reckless exploitation for short-term profit,
and clever right-wing think tank doctrine and corporate propaganda.
who have an ownership stake in a home generally work hard to make the home
nicer, to maintain it, and to protect it from deterioration. They rarely let it become dilapidated, and
they do not actively undermine its charms and foundations. Creating societies that are characterized by
extreme inequalities has the following detrimental result: privileged people have a greater stake in the
society, and underprivileged have a smaller and diminishing stake, so the rich
are increasingly motivated to aggressively defend the way society is, and all
others are less motivated to support it, and more forced to oppose it. This leads to despair, social instability,
and greater threats to the establishment, making everyone less secure.
consequence of unfettered crony capitalism is the ascendancy of militarism and
the military-industrial complex in political power. Making and selling armaments and munitions is the biggest industry
in America. It is no wonder that we
have so much difficulty in achieving peace.
war in Iraq has been an extraordinarily expensive one, by every measure. It has cost the lives of 2,000 young American
soldiers. It has cost hundreds of
billions of dollars. Serious social and
economic upheavals have resulted. Workplace
dislocations have been serious because the National Guard has been enlisted
into active combat duty. Veterans
injured in the war are already in the process of being abandoned by society,
just as Vietnam War veterans were.
use of faulty intelligence to rationalize an opportunistic Crusade in oil-rich
Iraq has also been an international diplomatic calamity. And it has been an epoch-defining moment of
arrogant American presumption and preemptive aggression.
World domination through militarism did
not prove successful for Adolph Hitler. It is entirely likely that it will prove to be deleterious for
America in the 21st Century. Let's give
peace a chance!
the world needs now is a champion of peace, and billions of supporters -- not a
cheerleading War President and millions of narrow-minded followers. What the world needs now is love, sweet love
--- but unfortunately the Jesus-impulse in our society has been throttled and
co-opted and perversely subverted into a greedy self-righteousness, instead of
being transformed into broadminded empathetic caring and concern for our fellow
human beings and the wildlife and other creatures with whom we share the
planet. This must change.
salvation of society can be found only in social justice, not in charity and
not in ruthless Stern Father militarism. Our goals as a society must be to begin bettering our democracy
and making the world a better place for people and life. We must stop being so quick to violate other
nation’s sovereignty and to interfere in the affairs of others.
honorable Dalai Lama observed years ago that what the world needs now is a new
religion, a secular one that respects Nature and other forms of life, one that
recognizes that sustainability and the quality of life are the most
important things, and that voluntarily limiting the growth in the number of
human beings being born will be necessary to facilitate those goals.
honor of the perspectives and causes discussed above, I consecrate these ‘Evolutionary
of Mark Twain's favorite forms of recreation was making himself conspicuous. I regret to announce that in this respect,
Tiffany Twain is much more shy and retiring, and for this reason I have limited
my autobiographical disclosures to those on page 121 of the original Earth
Manifesto. (See Part Seven, if you are interested.)
"To affect the quality of the day is the
highest of the arts."
--- Henry David Thoreau
ideas contained herein encompass as broad a scope as the author could widen her
perspective to include. Understandings
were channeled by an osmosis of sensible thoughts expressed by thousands of
people. Thanks for all who have been
formative influences! --- Dr. Tiffany