Climate Crisis and Human Spirituality: Liberating Both Ourselves and Our Beautiful Earth

Climate Crisis. A chorus of climate scientists and environmental experts have predicted the possible extinction of humanity within the next century if dramatic, worldwide changes are not made in the way we treat our planet in the process of extraction, production, consumption, and disposal. Tipping point after tipping point (points of no return) is being passed. We cannot refreeze the arctic ocean. We cannot restabilize the ice sheet over Greenland. We cannot prevent the Antarctic ice-continent from further disintegration.

Already climate refugees by the millions of persons have left their native homes in search of a possible new livelihood because their homelands have been devastated by extensive flooding, disappearance of fresh water sources, severe drought, or massive wildfires (Central America, central Africa, southern Bangladesh, western Australia, etc.).  The climate is changing everywhere on Earth; the entire ecosystem of the Earth is readjusting as the temperatures everywhere continue to rise, disrupting the instinctual patterns of flight, foraging, and reproduction for higher animals as well as ecological systems that support all living creatures throughout the planet.

In my new book coming out in May 2021, Design for a Living Planet: The Earth Constitution Solution, I trace the several dimensions of a truly sustainable and regenerative design that are necessary if the Earth and its living inhabitants are to survive and flourish beyond the present century. Our inability to deal with this terrible existential threat to our existence and to the future of our children is comprehensive and includes the entirety of the human situation.  The transformations required are psychological, institutional, cultural, spiritual, economic, and political. As Albert Einstein, Carl Jung, and other great thinkers have declared: we cannot solve our most fundamental problems without moving to a higher level of existence and wisdom. In this book, I show that ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth is the key step necessary for accomplishing this fundamental transformation within the short time-frame yet available to us.

Spirituality Thinkers. We need to be living the fullness of life that has been gifted to us. We need to encounter the astonishing fullness/emptiness of the present moment so that our daily lives are lifted to the joy, love, and being present to ourselves and the world that is our true destiny. A chorus of psychologists and spiritual thinkers, such as Ken Wilber, Abraham Maslow, and Ervin Laszlo, have revealed stages of human growth toward this fullness of life.  As we move from egoism to ethnocentrism to worldcentric and cosmocentric levels of consciousness, we encounter evermore transpersonal dimensions, ever-greater compassion and universality of thought and being. Design for a Living Planet draws on these spiritual traditions of the world as fundamental to our planetary conversion to a holistic and compassionate world-system based on human dignity, equality, and freedom.  It shows that the Earth Constitution is not simply another option on the same level as the system of militarized, warring nation-states. Rather, the Constitution is both the result of humanity’s growing compassion and universal vision and integral to moving humanity to a higher level from which our spiritual destiny will become ever more clear.

 Failures of the World’s Political-Economic System.  The book also investigates our interrelated set of economic and political human problems at some depth.  It examines the hidden logic of the system of militarized nation-states that maintains the world as a war-system full of fear, hate, and distrust, thereby preventing coordinated planetary action to mitigate climate change. The present world political-economic system does not create the moral unity and human solidarity necessary to think of ourselves as a common human community. We must truly unite to deal with the entire nexus of lethal problems we are facing—from climate collapse to pollution of the Earth to the threat of nuclear holocaust to massive poverty and misery for at least one billion of the Earth’s citizens.

As spiritual thinker Raimon Panikkar expresses this in his book The Rhythm of Being: “We are all co-responsible for the state of the world. Today’s powers, though more autonomous and more diffused, are quite as cruel and terrible as the worst monsters of history.” Unless we can unite humanity as a common democratic planetary community, as a moral reality embracing the Earth, we will not be able to address the nexus of interrelated problems bringing us ever closer to perdition.  Our design for a regenerative and sustainable planet must embrace the whole of human life.  The solution is not simply technical, nor scientific. The problem involves the level of human moral and spiritual development just as much as it involves the structure of our economic and political system.

The failure of the United Nations.  Its half-century long inability to deal with the climate crisis is a failure of the U.N. system itself, not a failure of awareness of what is necessary. Since the first great U.N. climate conference in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1972, people have been aware of the planetary crisis and the transformations necessary to mitigate that crisis as much as remains possible.  But U.N. program after program has failed. The Agenda 21 Program that emerged from the great 1992 Rio de Janeiro Conference has failed, just as have the Kyoto Protocols, the Montreal Protocols, and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) emerging after the world environmental conference in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002. Today we have the new, more elaborate “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” formulated for the period 2015 to 2030.  Five years into these goals, it is everywhere evident that the world has failed to significantly transform in the direction of these goals. The SDGs will also fail, and our children will live in climate hell because we have not taken the actions necessary to give them a planet capable of supporting happy and flourishing lives.

Establishing a Common Human Moral Reality.  Uniting under the Earth Constitution establishes a common, planetary moral reality. The deepest political thinkers throughout history have regularly declared that the social contract by which we form government establishes a moral reality among the citizens of the contact that was previously missing. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, for example, declared that the moral reality created by the social contract allows us to “substitute justice for instinct” in our conduct and transform ourselves from being “a stupid and unimaginative animal” to “an intelligent creature and a man.” There is real insight here. Today, we have no global social contract. Like barbarians, we militarily fight and kill “enemies” across the globe and throw away trillions of precious dollars on war and “defense,” resources that should be spent fighting climate change and creating a decent world civilization.

We become more fully human, and our spiritual destiny becomes more evident, when we are truly united with all other human beings under the holistic framework of the Earth Constitution. The principle of unity in diversity constitutes the deepest core of our profound, cosmically grounded humanity. Uniting under this Constitution draws out our higher human dignity as thinkers like Rousseau have testified. It is this act of uniting under the common moral reality defined and elucidated by the Earth Constitution that is the deepest key to the integral transformations necessary for a flourishing human and planetary future.

Five Dimensions of Design. In the book, I endeavor to show that design for a living planet must include five comprehensive design initiatives that together transform our current broken world system and fragmented spiritual reality.

First, we must internalize holism. We must become deeply aware of the emergent holistic paradigm that derives not only from contemporary science but resonates with traditional wisdom about the cosmos and our place within it, including the deep interrelationships between our planetary geosphere, biosphere, and Noosphere (the sphere of human consciousness and activity).

Second, we must “establish ecological economics.” We must build an economy that benefits everyone while living within the parameters of the laws of entropy, renewability, and steady-state prosperity. The book devotes two chapters to prominent ecological scientists and economists with their visions about how we can transform planetary economic and political life to sustainability.

Third, we must “promote spiritual growth.”  We must design a world system that develops cognitive, moral, and spiritual growth, growth that nurtures those aspects of human nature that transcend selfishness, egocentrism, fear and hate, while promoting those aspects that include love, compassion, dialogue, mutual respect, and concern. The beauty and fullness of life on our precious Earth must be there for all to see.

       Fourth, we must institutionalize planetary applied science. We must create institutions – at the regional, national, and planetary level – that study and monitor Earth as a whole and that can respond in a timely fashion to maintain stability. Climate scientists must be empowered to manage our environment for health and stability. As Buckminster Fuller declared, this means seeing our planetary spaceship as a whole. The good news is that we now have the expertise and technology to implement regenerative and sustainable practices.

       Fifth, we must give the Earth a brain. We must generate a world Noosphere (mind-sphere) that includes a coordinating center, a brain, and a common consciousness representative of humanity and capable of protecting peace, stability, justice, and equity. This brain-center also must be capable of planning and acting for a stable, prosperous, and resilient future. To date, the world has no such coordinating self-awareness singularly focused on creating a decent and secure future for humanity. The democratic World Parliament and all the carefully designed organs of the Earth Federation government under this Constitution will create the brain that our planet needs to address these lethal problems.

    The Holism of Unity in Diversity. Design for a Living Planet shows the dimensions of the holism that we must embrace. This holism will not be embraced and humanity will not grow to the necessary levels of understanding and insight (in time to save us from extinction) unless we unite humanity within the moral framework embedded within the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. This book examines the dynamics of human spiritual and moral growth and it critiques today’s dominant planetary institutions that block and derail human spiritual and moral growth.

It delves into what the environmentalists, climate scientists, and ecological economists are saying to show both the limitations in their visions and the strengths that must be incorporated into our comprehensive plan for saving and redeeming the Earth.  The book explains the design of the Earth Constitution itself, showing how it is carefully planned to create a sustainable world civilization.

Design for a Living Planet brings something entirely new to the conversation about our planetary crises and how we can envision a possible future for humankind. It envisions and articulates a new perspective, a new life for humanity, a new world of peace, justice, and sustainability. It represents my many years of research, thought, reflection, and growth. I am older now and will not likely be around to experience the future.  But the whole of my being is committed to creating and protecting a decent future for all my brothers and sisters, and all the children, who are now facing an uncertain and endangered tomorrow. I have attempted to integrate this commitment of the whole of my being into the writing of this book.