INTRODUCTION

Our Ecological Imperative

 

Our human destiny is integral with the destiny of the Earth.

Thomas Berry
The Dream of the Earth, 1988

 

This book aims to encourage a Democracy Movement: a peaceful revolution to put We the People in charge of our government and our future.  Our democracy is not functioning today. When eligible voter turnout is under 40 percent and a single industry pledges $889 million to influence one election cycle, we have fallen into plutocracy—rule by the rich.

A comprehensive intervention is needed. This is not about de­feating a pipeline, saving public education, or winning any particular skirmish. We need an overhaul that dismantles the power structure of the one percent and restores democratic governance for all.

Elite appropriation of political/governmental power is nothing new. But the backdrop to this situation is now a global emergency. The life-sustaining systems of the Earth are blinking red. Planetary ecosystems are being pushed beyond sustainable limits, toward a state of collapse that may be abrupt and irreversible. (Our ecological predicament is not just global warming or any singular trouble. Twelve factors that are contributing to this crisis are discussed in Appendix I, Current Ecological Trends.)

And there is a linkage here. The same force that is dismantling our democracy is also driving the ecological unraveling. The members of a tiny but ultra-rich minority have been advancing national policies to further boost their wealth, while discarding all ecological caution and plunging us headlong toward a worldwide catastrophe.

Our ecological problems slowly expanded with the Industrial Revolution, but began accelerating in the mid-20th century. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1963) boldly announced a major culprit: pesticides. But another momentous development of this era went largely unnoticed: the United States began establishing a global military empire, eventually spreading several hundred military installations around the world.

The US military empire is now continuously engaged in the resource wars and occupations required to sustain a fossil fuel-based energy system. Foreign policies of war are intertwined with energy policies anchored in fossil fuels, and the war and fossil fuel industries are reaping tremendous profits from this state of affairs. These profits are a major source of the money now dominating our political system and our government.

This whole system amounts to an enormous taxpayer subsidy to the war and fossil fuel industries. But our taxes can no longer shoulder this trillion-dollar-a-year endeavor, so the military-industrial proponents of this system are pushing austerity budgets. These budgets don’t touch Elite wealth, but they squeeze the populace in order to continue funding the military operations that are enabling fossil fuel corporations’ expansion into oil-rich nations.

We can change all this. United under a common vision of a vibrant society and a healthy planet, we can launch an unstoppable Democracy Movement. When our government is responsive to an engaged and well-informed electorate, we can design a healthy and sustainable world for ourselves and future generations. This is our Ecological Imperative. We need to launch a Democracy Movement and make this happen.

The Earth is in our hands.