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                         An Open Letter to President Obama and the American People

        December 12, 2012

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, D.C.    20500


President Obama and my fellow Americans,

The purpose of this letter is to introduce the online Earth Manifesto, and to make you aware of its primary message that humanity needs to be more responsible by choosing to leave a fairer legacy to future generations.  We are already pursuing courses of action that will leave our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren a legacy of depleted resources and damaged ecosystems.  To compound this inequity by leaving our descendents a burden of enormous debt obligations is foolish.

We stand before a great crossroads in the history of our country.  Daunting challenges lie before us, many of them highly complicated and contentious.  Many of the substantive issues that face humankind were not discussed at all in the 2012 presidential campaign.  The failure to talk about crucial challenges is dangerous to our collective well-being, and to all people in future generations.  We should stop burying our heads in the sand and begin to pay close attention to big problems during our elections and in American political discourse in general. 

These challenges include resource conservation, protecting the environment, reducing greenhouse emissions that are causing ominous changes in global weather patterns, and dealing with global poverty and malnutrition, overpopulation, overfishing of the oceans, and the destruction of coral reefs, rainforests, and other vital ecosystems.  Many domestic problems also require committed attention, like improving public education, coping with segregation by race and class in schools, dealing with foreclosures in the housing market, preventing risks associated with corporations becoming too big to fairly regulate and “too big to fail”, reducing the high levels of incarceration in U.S. prisons, stopping the war on drugs, and reducing the unaffordable costs of America’s military, security state, and wars.  We need to talk about these things, and boldly deal with them!

Professor Jared Diamond makes a valuable observation in his insightful book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.  He contends that we need a paradigm shift in how our leaders think.  America needs leaders with “the courage to practice long-term thinking and make bold, courageous, anticipatory decisions at a time when problems become perceptible, but before they reach crisis proportions.” 

Two starkly diverging choices were presented to the electorate in the last national elections.  Unfortunately, both Republicans and Democrats are allowing giant corporations and rich people control to our economic and political systems and to increase the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few. 

Also, both political parties have been ineffective in preventing enormous costs from being externalized onto society and future generations.  We need to  begin to address these detrimental trends and make the world a better place for all.  If we continue to let the forces of greed, exploitation, power abuse, fraud, fear, dishonesty, denial, shortsighted expediency, hubris, reactionary social conservatism and religious fundamentalism dominate our societies, then the future will be more bleak than necessary.  Instead, we should boldly embrace fair-minded, farsighted, honorable, progressive, pluralistic, and common sense initiatives to create a more just, more peaceable, and more likely sustainable world.

This Earth Manifesto could easily change the world, and make it a better place.  First of all, it could help progressive politicians get elected.  Second, it could help chart a way forward that could become a common-sense consensus guideline for our great nation in the coming decades.

The United States is engaged in a titanic struggle between competing interests that all are striving to maximize their own perks, privileges and power.  In the process, the greater good of humanity, and of people in future generations, is being sacrificed to unfair economic and social policies, short-term-oriented expediencies, unaccountable prerogatives for giant corporations, deceitful political skullduggery, and profligate deficit spending. 

The Earth Manifesto provides overarching guidance to our national and international decision-making with the following ideas and understandings:

·                    A Proposed Bill of Rights for Future Generations

·                    Sustainability Index:

                           An Assessment of Progress toward Sustainable Existence

·                    Uncommon Sense and Fair-Mindedness

·                    A Clear-Eyed Patriot Issues a Clarion Call for a Second American Revolution

·                    One Dozen Big Initiatives to Positively Transform Our Societies

·                    Intelligent Precautionary Principles Enunciated -- Holy Cow!

·                    Radically 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

·                    A Progressive Agenda for a More Sane Humanity

True good leadership involves a willingness to honestly address difficult issues, and NOT to sweep them under the rug.  It seems to me that denial and deceit, especially by Republicans, are masking the real nature of the unsustainable trends in our economy.  It is disturbing that Mitt Romney was effective in the first presidential debate on October 3, 2012 by glossing over his stated positions and the extreme inequalities and ideological stances of Republican candidates. 

It would have been folly for the American people to trust such a devious candidate who pandered to the right wing so slavishly to get his Party’s nomination, and then tried to put a smiling face of fair-mindedness on his positions.  His Etch-a-Sketch shifts in promises were highly suspicious, and he seemed to be willing to say anything to get elected.  He represented positions on taxes, women’s rights, corporate prerogatives, opposition to environmental protections, and unfair increases in the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few that are highly negative to the future well-being of the American people and life on Earth.

“There is nothing more important in a democracy than a well-informed electorate.  When there is no information or, much worse, wrong information, it can lead to calamitous decisions that clobber any attempts at vigorous debate.”

                                                           --- The character MacKenzie in HBO’s The Newsroom

Ecological insights similar to those of the Earth Manifesto were revealed in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and also in the provocative film Home that was produced by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, the renowned French aerial photographer and ecologist.  The film has visually stunning images, evocative music and a compelling narration by the great actress Glenn Close.  Watch it online!

The film Home begins with these words: 

“Listen to me, please.  You’re like me, a Homo sapiens, a wise human.  Life, a miracle in the Universe, appeared around 4 billion years ago and we humans only 200,000 years ago.  Yet we have succeeded in disrupting the balance that is so essential to life.  Listen carefully to this extraordinary story -- which is yours -- and decide what you want to do with it.” 

There is a provocative segment in the film about Easter Island and its Rapanui residents who completely decimated the native forests on their remote island, leading to an ecological collapse and the near extinction of the Rapanui people. The parallels of our human trajectory today, on a global scale, are daunting.  We should adopt visionary precautionary principles, and stop going down a similar path to the one that had such catastrophic consequences for the Rapanui.  Crucial understandings like this are also explored in Chapter #7: A Vast and Rash Uncontrolled Experiment in the Earth Manifesto’s Comprehensive Global Perspective – An Illuminating Worldview.  Recognition is given therein to the foolish risks that humanity is taking by our rashly indulgent experiment. 

Just after the segment of the film about the Rapanui, Glenn Close makes the following observation:  “Since 1950, the world’s population has almost tripled, and since 1950 we have more fundamentally altered our island, the Earth, than in all of our 200,000 year history.” 

These are some of the reasons why revolutionary changes are needed in the way we are living on the planet.  The ideas in the Earth Manifesto represent a positive and auspicious way forward, and one that would be much fairer to people in future generations than either the status quo or conservative ideologies.  It is my hope that these overarching considerations are heeded in all future national decisions, reforms, and the formulation of new policies.

THANKS for your consideration!   


          Dr. Tiffany B. Twain         

               Contact at: SaveTruffulaTrees@hotmail.com