The present trajectory of life on this planet is unsustainable, and the underlying causes of our environmental crisis are inseparable from our social and economic systems. The massive inequality between the rich and the poor is not separate from our systems of unlimited growth, the depletion of natural resources, the extinction of species, or global warming. As climate predictions continue to exceed projections, it is clear that hopelessness is rapidly becoming our worst enemy. What is needed—urgently—is a new vision for the flourishing of life on this planet, a vision the authors are calling an ecological civilization. Along the way they have learned that this term brings hope unlike any other. It reminds us that humans have gone through many civilizations in the past, and the end of a particular civilization does not necessarily mean the end of humanity, much less the end of all life on the planet. It is not hard for us to conceive of a society after the fall of modernity, in which humans live in an equitable and sustainable way with one another and the planet. This book explores the idea of ecological civilization by asking eight key questions about it and drawing answers from relational philosophies, the ecological sciences, systems thinking and network theory, and the world’s religious and spiritual traditions. It concludes that a genuinely ecological civilization is not a utopian ideal, but a practical way to live. To recognize this, and to begin to take steps to establish it, is the foundation for realistic hope.
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