Why we do what we do

We seem to have got ourselves into a battle with nature, from which can emerge only one winner – nature. We can only ‘win’ in the way that a cancer ‘wins’. Victory will be pyrrhic; defeat inevitable. Living in harmony with nature, in a rational world, would be our top priority.

Humanity has a (roughly) 1.6-planet ‘footprint’ – i.e. we need 1.6 planets to maintain our current way of life. But of course we only have one, so it’s essential to bring our ‘footprint’ under one planet. Peer-reviewed ecologists are telling us that unless we change direction, we’re headed for ecological collapse and eventual extinction, and if you understand peer-review, you’ll know that we need to take this seriously.

[NB: since this page was first published in 2014, we’ve moved from a 1.6-planet footprint to a 1.7-planet footprint.]


The nature problem

You can contribute to changing direction, and we can help.

However, two very important points are often missed in the sustainability world:

  1. not enough people are interested in living sustainably; and
  2. we have an economic system that is geared towards making our footprint bigger.

So individual change, although essential, isn’t going to be enough. Policy changes could help – for example:

  • distributing land more equitably, so that more people can build a home on a few acres, live mortgage-free and produce food, fuel and other products for their family and community;

Land reform

  • stabilising the economy, rather than persuading us to consume more and more;

Steady-state economics

  • and basing the economy on small-scale, local, community-oriented production.

Small is beautiful

However, real power today is economic, not political. We have a ‘democracy problem’ that prevents the things above from happening.


The democracy problem

So ultimately, to live sustainably and democratically, we need to talk about system change.


Systemic change