By Mike Nickerson

The biggest news on planet Earth today is that the human family has grown to fill its habitat. While this situation effects every issue from economic stagnation to climate change, it is actually good news. Realizing that we are now mature as a species clarifies the task of adapting to our mature state by creating a culture that acknowledges and works within planetary limits.

How do we get a society that has been growing for ten thousand years to realize that it’s grown up now and that more growth isn’t the most important thing we have to do?

A fundamental change has taken place in the relationship between people and the earth.

It requires an equally fundamental change in how we manage ourselves.

While humans had little impact on the Earth for hundreds of thousands of years, this has changed. We now affect almost everything on the planet.

There are only two laws in nature that we must obey to avoid a trial in the Court of Natural Selection. One prohibits drawing more resources than the Earth can provide. The other governs our tolerance to waste.

If our society can stay on the right side of these laws, our descendants can enjoy secure lives long into the future. Enjoying living is a big part of the solution. Once we have the material necessities of nutritious food and comfortable shelter, we get far more satisfaction from the three L’s: learning, love and laughter, than from any material acquisitions. By focusing on living, rather than possessing, we could be having so much fun that we wouldn’t have time to harm the planet.

When we accept responsibility for our new maturity, our duty as good citizens will change.

Instead of striving to earn and spend as much money as possible, we will aim to live as lightly as possible on the Earth, to enjoy living to the fullest and to manage the world in ways that will assure successive generations their place under the sun.

It is a question of direction.

Nickerson is presently traveling with his book, Life, Money and Illusion; Living on Earth As If We Want To Stay and spoke at an OPIRG event on Wednesday, Nov. 21 at McMaster. 

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