Ed. note: This piece was first posted at https://www.permaculture.co.uk/earth-restoration-how-to-change-the-world-together. www.permaculture.co.uk is the site of Permaculture magazine International – publishing practical solutions for a regenerative planet for 25 years.”

“Crossing the river by feeling the stones beneath our feet”. This Chinese saying, that Deng Xiao Ping used in the 1980s as China was emerging from poverty and isolation, meant that we will have to improvise as we go because we have not been this way before.

It is a great idea for small groups to find purpose and meaning by living sustainable lifestyles and sharing and caring for each other. These are the daily skills that provide for living and they can lead to control of water, food, soil, atmospheric emissions which are just what we need. These are the skills that allow us to maintain and leave the Earth system clean and renewable. This is the way forward throughout the earth for all of humanity. The more successful the sharing of knowledge, the better we are at choosing simple but elegant choices and the better the outcome we will achieve.

At this point materialism in the developed world is so prevalent that it is leading us to the brink of extinction. It is impossible for the billions of people of the world to live like that so making it OK for some to accumulate obscene wealth or to suggest that the reason for living is to accumulate things … seems like a poor choice for individuals and for society.

The data sets are too pervasive and education systems that teach physics, advanced math, probability, logic and ethics too effective for many to continuously deny the rights of all living things, the existence of pollution, and above all the implications of climate change at a time when we have a huge population. So how can we change our vast human population from a liability to an asset?

If humanity is collectively engaged in Ecosystem Restoration it makes our lives meaningful and it just might save us from the worst possible outcomes of climate change. We need to understand that Ecological Restoration is not a competition, it is a collaborative effort by everyone that benefits everyone.

There is no need to extract endless amounts of the earth’s precious materials … we need to learn to live simply with just exactly what is needed. We are not consumers, we are human beings.

We don’t need more robots to produce more stuff. We don’t need to only have things that are mass produced. What we need to realize is that we are facing an existential threat. We must restore the Earth’s natural ecosystems, the forests, grasslands, rivers, wetlands and coastal regions in order to sequester as much carbon as possible, to regulate the water cycle, to moderate temperature, to increase the fertility of the soil, to feed everyone and to protect and encourage the optimal biodiversity on the Earth.

The zombie movies and visions of dystopia are the dark side saying that there is nothing we can do. We just have to accept the world as we find it. Many are now unable to see a way forward that will work. This is the root of Nihilism, Depression, and Terrorism.

After many years of trying to find a way to engage large numbers of people in ecosystem restoration, the camps have emerged as a way forward. I think we must take it one step at a time and one day at a time but still realize that our goal is to restore the entire Earth. This is not just a goal, however, it is a necessity. This is also not a selfish thought; it is a comprehensive one. The future of humanity will be determined by whether humanity is able to live within planetary limits. At Ecosystem Restoration Camps we do that and teach many how to do this.

High energy and high consumption are not the way forward. There is only life and the only time is now. The only way to have wealth is to share wealth, otherwise it really isn’t wealth, it is just stuff. Wealth is not vast amounts of numbers in a vault or vast amounts of things or power over others. Wealth is having time to think and do what needs to be done and the freedom to do it. Wealth is the ability to seek consciousness and to do and say what you know is right.

Currently we live in the transactional society in which many people fail and fall out of the society. Some benefit and many suffer because the current economic system is unjust and unsatisfying. Now science is telling us we are at the end of an era and must embrace transformational change. We must design and create the future we want to live in. This is not an individual path it is a co-creation of everyone who understands what this means.

A model of collective sustainability is what is needed and this must be made collectively and not as individuals. There is a growing tribe of people who live on the Earth that is working to restore the Earth. This is a selfish wish to have a wonderful intact planet and this is also an altruistic wish that our lives matter to the whole and not just to us as individuals but for humanity and the future.

Each day is a life’s lesson. Each day takes us toward the future. We are forced to work to do something that human society will support. I’ve chosen to work on ecosystem restoration and I’ve learned a bit about it from various parts of the world. My conclusion is that there are only functional and dysfunctional ecosystems. Functional ecosystems are dependent on the percentages and total amounts of biomass (living matter), and the percentages and total amounts of organic material in soils (the necromass created as each generation of life gives up its body to nurture the next).

Logic demands that we understand that human impact on ecosystem function is a physical issue and that we are going to have to alter our behavior to reduce our impact but more than simply reducing our impact we are going to have to restore the damage that has already been done to Earth systems over a long brutal human history.

How to learn to communicate and work together across age, class, and ethnic divisions is essential in our success. The Ecosystem Restoration Camps allow us act together and let us learn to respect, collaborate and co-create the world we want. We need to work on this and we also need to play and to practice perhaps more than work on it … so that we can experiment and find the answers to many perplexing problems.

We can’t spend too much time in cyber-space. This is not reality. We need to experience the elements and the weather. Adapt clothing to be appropriate for all climates. Use layering. Get outside and move around the Earth. It is a great world. Look at the landscape. Read it. All of history is etched in the sediments, the bodies of all the life that has gone before. This life feeds us. We are challenged at this time intellectually and physically.

We should not create a new dogma but create a trust society in which all people and all living things are understood to have equal rights.

We actually know what we need to do. All the watersheds that don’t flow need to be allowed to flow. This is determined by whether the vegetative layer and the soil microbial communities are intact. Restoring soil and vegetation is our most important work in the next few years. Large numbers of people should be planting as many forests as possible (not to mention grasslands, wetlands, and eatable landscapes.)

This means building fairly large but not impossibly large nursery systems. This takes many people collaborating to accomplish something that is somewhat difficult but that nevertheless is worth accomplishing and continuing to work on and on with it until it is perfected. We need to put our minds together and use our abilities for everyone.

Living in camps is very conducive to maintaining large nursery systems for trees. This can and indeed must be done all over the world. In the camps we can share the responsibility by each of us coming to camp for weeks or months at a time. All who understand this are allies because the only way to win is to work together. We need to connect those who are willing to work and those who are willing to make available the needed capital to manifest the outcome that is desired by all.

This is a long conversation and not something to banter about … we had better prepare to make things work for the next generations and ultimately forever. The task is to make systems that are self emerging co evolutions. these need to be begun by individuals who are early adopters and who can be part of groups that are optimized and duplicated everywhere.

We must decide and declare that we will restore the Earth.

Let’s discuss this broadly while at camp www.ecosystemrestorationcamps.org

Useful links

Earth restorarion peace camps

Watch: The keys to practical earth restoration with John D. Liu

Watch: Restoring ecosystems, preventing flooding and building soil

 

Teaser image credit: Original artwork by Jane Bottomley. Permaculture.co.uk.