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Earth Manifesto

Earth Manifesto

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This Manifesto has been published in the quarterly journal: ‘Biodiversity’ Volume 5, No. 1, pages 3 to 9, January/March 2004. The journal is owned by The Tropical Conservancy, a charitable organization whose address is 94 Four Seasons Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, K2E 7S1.

This Manifesto has been published in the quarterly journal: ‘Biodiversity’ Volume 5, No. 1, pages 3 to 9, January/March 2004. The journal is owned by The Tropical Conservancy, a charitable organization whose address is 94 Four Seasons Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, K2E 7S1.


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BIODIVERSITY 5 (1 ) 2 0 0 4
A Manifesto for Earth
Ted Mosquin
P.O. Box 279 Lanark, ON Canada K0G 1K0Email: mosquin@
Stan Rowe
 June 11, 1918 to April 6, 2004Canada V0G 1S0Email: stanrowe@netidea.com
Ted Mosquin
has a Ph.D. in Systematics & Evolutionfrom UCLA. He spent 12 years as a research scientistwith Agriculture Canada, Ottawa, and has taught at theUniversity of Alberta, and the University of Califor-nia, Berkeley
He served as editor of 
The CanadianField - Naturalist,
and of 
He is the au-thor or co-author of four books and of some 100 sci-entific and popular articles on ecology, natural his-tory, endangered species, biodiversity, and environ-mental ethics. A recent article:
The Roles of  Biodiversity in Creating and Maintaining the Ecosphere
http://www.ecospherics.net/pages/MosqEcoFun5.htmlsummarizes part of the ecological foundation for thisManifesto. Ted has served as President and Director of several national and regional Canadian environmental or-ganizations (More bio details at: www.ecospherics.net/ pages/aboutauthors.html).
Stan Rowe
was educated in ecology at the Universities of Alberta, Nebraska and Manitoba. He has spent equal timeas a research forester with Forestry Canada, as a teacherat the University of Saskatchewan, and since 1985 as anemeritus Professor. A geo-ecologist and environmentalethicist with a background in silviculture and terrain(landscape) ecology, Stan authored
Forest Regions of Canada
(1959), and
 Home Place: Essays on Ecology
(NeWest Press, Edmonton, 1990; reissued 2002), as wellas numerous articles, book chapters and reviews. Someof his articles on ecology and ethics are posted atwww.ecospherics.net. He has served on provincial andfederal environmental advisory councils. (More bio detailsat: http://www.ecospherics.net/pages/aboutauthors.html).
Many artistic and philosophical movements have producedManifestos, proclaiming truths that to their authors wereas manifest as their five-fingered hands. This Manifestoalso states self-evident truths, as obvious to us as the mar-vellous five-part environment – land, air, water, fire/sun-light, and organisms – wherein we live, move, and haveour being. The Manifesto is Earth-centered. It shifts thevalue-focus from humanity to the enveloping Ecosphere –that web of organic/inorganic/symbiotic structures and pro-cesses that constitute Planet Earth.The Ecosphere is the Life-giving matrix that envelopsall organisms, intimately intertwinedwiththem in the story of evo-lution from the begin-ning of time. Or-ganisms arefashionedfrom air,water, andsedi-ments,which inturn bearorganicimprints.The com-position of sea water ismaintainedby organismsthat also stabi-lize the improbableatmosphere. Plantsand animals formed thelimestone in mountains whose sediments make ourbones. The false divisions we have made between liv-ing and non-living, biotic and abiotic, organic and in-organic, have put the stablity and evolutionary poten-tial of the Ecosphere at risk.Humanity’s 10,000-year-old experiment in mode-of-liv-ing at the expense of Nature, culminating in economicglobalization, is failing. A primary reason is that we haveplaced the importance of our species above all else. Wehave wrongly considered Earth, its ecosystems, and theirmyriad organic/inorganic parts as mere provisioners,valued only when they serve our needs and wants. A cou-rageous change in attitudes and activities is urgent. Di-agnoses and prescriptions for healing the human-Earthrelationship are legion, and here we emphasize the vi-sionary one that seems essential to the success of all oth-ers. A new worldview anchored in the planetary Eco-sphere points the way.
Everyone searches for meaning in life, for support-ive convictions that take various forms. Many look tofaiths that ignore or discount the importance of thisworld, not realizing in any profound sense that we areborn from Earth and sustained by it throughout ourlives. In today’s dominating industrial culture, Earth-as-home is not a self-evident percept. Few pause daily
EARTH, thedynamo of LIFE, withits swirling clouds, itsrunning rivers andocean currents, itsslow-moving crustalplates and, in the midstof it all, the OrganicDance!
to consider with a sense of wonder the enveloping ma-trix from which we came and to which, at the end, weall return. Because we are issue of the Earth, the har-monies of its lands, seas, skies and its countless beau-tiful organisms carry rich meanings barely understood.We are convinced that until the Ecosphere is recog-nized as the indispensable common ground of all hu-man activities, people will continue to set their im-mediate interests first. Without an ecocentric perspec-tive that anchors values and purposes in a greater re-ality than our own species, the resolution of political,economic, and religious conflicts will be impossible.Until the narrow focus on human communities isbroadened to include Earth’s ecosystems – the local
The Ecosphere is the Center of Value for Humanity
The Creativity and Productivity of Earth’s Ecosystems Depend on their Integrity
The Earth-centered Worldview is supported by Natural History
Ecocentric Ethics are Grounded in Awareness of our Place in Nature
An Ecocentric Worldview Values Diversity of Ecosystems and Cultures
Ecocentric Ethics Support Social Justice
Defend and Preserve Earth’s Creative Potential
Reduce Human Population Size
Reduce Human Consumption of Earth Parts
Principle 10
Promote Ecocentric Governance
Principle 11
Spread the Message
and regional places wherein we dwell – programs forhealthy sustainable ways of living will fail.A trusting attachment to the Ecosphere, an aestheticempathy with surrounding Nature, a feeling of awefor the miracle of the Living Earth and its mysteriousharmonies, is humanity’s largely unrecognized heri-tage. Affectionately realized again, our connectionswith the natural world will begin to fill the gap in liveslived in the industrialized world. Important ecologi-cal purposes that civilization and urbanization haveobscured will re-emerge. The goal is restoration of Earth’s diversity and beauty, with our prodigal spe-cies once again a cooperative, responsible, ethicalmember.
Principle 1. The Ecosphere is theCenter of Value for Humanity
The Ecosphere, the Earth globe, is the generative sourceof evolutionary creativity. From the planet’s inorganic/ organic ecosystems organisms emerged: first bacterialcells and eventually those complex confederations of cells that are human beings. Hence, dynamic ecosystems,intricately expressed in all parts of the Ecosphere, ex-ceed in value and importance the species they contain.The reality and value of each person’s ecological or outerbeing has attracted scant attention compared to the philo-sophic thought lavished on humanity’s inner being, thelatter an individualistic focus that draws attention awayfrom ecological needs and neglects the vital importanceof the Ecosphere. Extended to society as concern onlyfor the welfare of people, this homocentrism(anthropocentrism) is a doctrine of species-selfishnessdestructive of the natural world. Biocentrism that extendssympathy and understanding beyond the human race toother organisms marks an ethical advance, but its scopeis limited. It fails to appreciate the importance of thetotal ecological “surround.” Without attention to the pri-ority of Earth-as-context, biocentrism easily reverts to achauvinistic homocentrism, for who among all animalsis commonly assumed to be the wisest and best?Ecocentrism, emphasizing the Ecosphere as the primaryLife-Giving system rather than merely life’s support,provides the standard to which humanity must appeal forfuture guidance.We humans are conscious expressions of theEcosphere’s generative forces, our individual “alive-ness” experienced as inseparable from sun-warmed
Herds of Wildebeestand Zebras on theSerengeti Plains of Africa testify to theinnate generativecapacity of Earth’snatural ecosystems.(Photo by Tim Clark,London, U.K. Website: http:// www.wildlifetravel.net).
BIODIVERSITY 5 (1 ) 2 0 0 4
air, water, land, and the food that other organisms pro-vide. Like all other vital beings born from Earth, wehave been “tuned” through long evolution to its reso-nances, its rhythmic cycles, its seasons. Language,thought, intuitions – all are drawn directly or meta-phorically from the fact of our physical being onEarth. Beyond conscious experience, every personembodies an intelligence, an innate wisdom of thebody that, without conscious thought, suits it to par-ticipate as a symbiotic part of terrestrial ecosystems.Comprehension of the ecological reality that peopleare Earthlings, shifts the center of values away fromthe homocentric to the ecocentric, from
 Homo sapi-ens
to Planet Earth.
Principle 2. The Creativity and Productivityof Earth’s Ecosystems Depends on their Integrity
“Integrity” refers to wholeness, to completeness, to theability to function fully. The standard is Nature’s sun-energized ecosystems in their undamaged state; forexample, a productive tract of the continental sea-shelf or a temperate rain forest in pre-settlement days whenhumans were primarily foragers. Although such timesare beyond recall, their ecosystems (as much as we canknow them) still provide the only known blueprints forsustainability in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries.Current failings in all three of these industrialized en-terprises show the effects of deteriorating integrity;namely, loss of productivity and aesthetic appeal inparallel with the continuing disruption of vital ecosys-tem functions.The evolutionary creativity and continued productivityof Earth and its regional ecosystems require the con-tinuance of their key structures and ecological pro-cesses. This internal integrity depends on the preser-vation of communities with their countless forms of evolved cooperation and interdependence. Integritydepends on intricate food chains and energy flows, onuneroded soils and the cycling of essential materialssuch as nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus. Further, thenatural compositions of air, sediments, and water havebeen integral to Nature’s healthy processes and func-tions. Pollution of these three, along with exploitiveextraction of inorganic and organic constituents, weak-ens ecosystem integrity and the norms of the Ecosphere,the fount of evolving Life.
Principle 3. The Earth-centeredWorldview is Supported by Natural History
Natural History is the story of Earth unfolding. Cos-mologists and geologists tell of Earth’s beginnings morethan four billion years ago, the appearance of smallsea creatures in early sediments, the emergence of ter-restrial animals from the sea, the Age of Dinosaurs,the evolution with mutual influences of insects, flow-ering plants, and mammals from which, in recent geo-logical time, came the Primates and humankind. Weshare genetic material and a common ancestry with allthe other creatures that participate in Earth’s ecosys-tems. Such compelling narratives place humanity incontext. Stories of Earth’s unfolding over the eons traceour coevolution with myriad companion organismsthrough compliance, and not solely through competi-tiveness. The facts of organic coexistence reveal theimportant roles of mutualism, cooperation, and sym-biosis within Earth’s grand symphony.Cultural myths and stories that shape our attitudes andvalues tell where we came from, who we are, andwhere in the future we are going. These stories havebeen unrealistically homocentric and/or other-worldly.In contrast, the evidence-based, outward-looking nar-rative of humanity’s natural history – made fromstardust, gifted with vitality and sustained by theEcosphere’s natural processes – is not only believ-able but also more marvelous than traditional human-centered myths. By showing humanity-in-context, asone organic component of the planetary globe,ecocentric narratives also reveal a functional purposeand an ethical goal; namely, the human part servingthe greater Earth whole.
Desert ecosystemscover huge regions of Earth. Here picturedare two scenes of theMojave desert,California. Deserts areoften characterized byhighly specialized deeprooted shrubs, a greatmany annual,ephemeral plant generaas well as the mostunusual animals withunique adaptations forsurvival.(Photos byTed Mosquin).

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