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The crossroads of humanity across scales - inner to global transformation

by Phoebe Barnard, for the Club of Rome's Council on the Human Future Roundtable, July 2024

 

Photo credit: NASA Earth Observatory.


These are certainly the crossroads of humanity - and it’s time that we recognize it, talk about it, and decide which way we are going from here. 

 

We are fast getting to the end of this civilization. headed into an unknown next one.  Most people don’t yet realize it, but for everyone’s sakes, it’s best that they do.  This predatory western civilization – still aggressively promoting its seductive, hyper-consumptive self all over the world – is falling. And this is leading to different experiments all over the world. 

 

These experiments – some small, some growing, some perhaps dead-ends – will often be kinder, wiser, more humble, more regenerative, more collaborative and more sustainable. But many will be autocratic, fascist, corporate and fear-based.  The choice is ours.

 

And at this most challenging planetary and societal crossroads, we must of course focus not on symptoms, but on the root causes of our human predicament.

 

In my own view, these root causes of ecological overshoot are three-fold:

·      our numbers (population)

·      our appetites (consumption)

·      our mindsets and economies (of extraction, entitlement, and domination).

 

We started the global Stable Planet Alliance in 2021 to shift social mores on each of these from the bottom up (by starting media and other conversations and stories to break taboos) and the top down (by influencing global and national policies on population, consumption and behavior). I see that as a demand-side effort: reducing human demand on our planet.

 

A supply-side effort which I started with John D. Liu in late 2022, the Global Restoration Collaborative, is a convening process. It aims to shift civilization complementarily by increasing the number, impact, visibility and strategy of regenerative changemakers.  We bring together people from eight previously siloed global fields which were not talking with each other, but need to be, on the shift to a new restoration economy and civilization. These fields are ecosystem restoration, climate restoration, biodiversity conservation, rewilding, social reconnection, youth leadership, women’s leadership, and indigenous cultural bridges.  This collaborative is directly strengthening global restoration plans and initiatives by integrating the power and voices of diverse, energized people and paradigms.


Solutions:

  • Shift civilization complementarily by increasing the number, impact, visibility and strategy of regenerative changemakers.

  • Unify eight previously separate global fields to shift towards a new restoration economy and civilization. These fields are ecosystem restoration, climate restoration, biodiversity conservation, rewilding, social reconnection, youth leadership, women’s leadership, and indigenous cultural bridges.

  • Strengthen global restoration plans and initiatives by integrating the power and voices of diverse, energized people and paradigms.


 

Phoebe Barnard is a co-founder and founding CEO of Stable Planet Alliance | co-founder and co-convenor of the Global Restoration Collaborative | global campaign advisor for the Global Evergreening Alliance | affiliate full professor of environmental and societal futures and conservation science at the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and Center for Environmental Politics, University of Washington | research associate at the African Climate and Development Initiative and FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town.  See also Phoebe’s Wiki profile.

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