The Living Earth Ethical Principles

Editor's Note: In the last issue, Research Associate Erik Assadourian described a new kind of environmental movement-one based in building nonprofit social enterprises and social service providers that teach recipients a new way to relate to the Earth and, from this, a new system of ecological ethics that will help us to live more sustainably. Here he continues with an overview of the system's 10 ethical principles, which will be described in more detail in future issues.

Every day there is more news about floods, fires, hurricanes, acidifying oceans, bleaching coral reefs, drowning polar bears. Scientists and journalists increasingly point to climate change as the root cause. But what's at the root of climate change?

In a word: consumerism. This dominant socioeconomic and cultural system encourages us to define our success, our very happiness, through how much we consume, how much we travel, how rich our diet, how big our house, how fancy our car, and on and on. On a finite planet (particularly with a population of 6.7 billion humans), this system is an impossibility, though one that is hard to resist. Yet deep down, many now grasp that the consumer system is fatally flawed, making people fat and sick, shortening lives, increasing stress and social isolation, and wreaking havoc on the global and local environments.

What we need is a new socioeconomic/cultural system, namely an ecological-ethical-social-entrepreneurial system, where people work decent hours, for decent pay, in jobs that are designed to do good, not exploit people or the planet (like most jobs do today). I described what this system could look like in the last issue. But how do we get there? To start with, we will need an ethical code that can mobilize people to work toward this cultural reboot.

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