Beautiful and Abundant

In order to create a vibrant, sustainable future, we must first visualize the world we want to create.

| February/March 2011

  • Kansas City Skyline
    The Kansas City, Mo., skyline. Imagining a healthy, thriving future is the key to creating such a future.
  • Bryan Welch
    Bryan Welch on his northeast Kansas farm, Rancho Cappuccino, with donkeys Buster and Beano.

  • Kansas City Skyline
  • Bryan Welch

We are unique and brilliant creatures. Humanity has expanded into every corner of the planet. With our extraordinary tools, we are stronger and faster than any other species. And we are improving. We are more powerful and more mobile than any previous generation. We can circumnavigate the Earth in 90 minutes. We travel to outer space and plumb the depths of the oceans. We accumulate information. We build on the knowledge of our ancestors. We record our ideas in colorful and astonishing forms. We are the brightest, loudest, most powerful living things. We are the most creative and potent creatures in the universe, so far as we know.

Generation after generation, we have visualized — and then realized — one astonishing invention after another. Wheeled vehicles. Agriculture. Sailing ships. Automobiles. Aircrafts. Smart phones. Every day, entrepreneurs bring new ideas to market that supersede a million previous good ideas. It seems that each generation can visualize some previously unimaginable goal, and reach it.

Ingenuity, Creativity, Joy

Humanity needs that entrepreneurial energy today more than ever before. We face a definitively human challenge that is testing human ingenuity. Our drive to expand our species is natural, but we also have the natural ability to recognize that our habitat’s resources are finite. We are increasingly aware that the planet’s capacities are limited. As our population has expanded, we have simultaneously developed technologies that consume natural resources more rapidly. These converging forces are damaging the natural systems on which we and all other living things depend.

Common sense tells us our expansion can’t go on forever, but no species has ever intentionally limited its own growth. In fact, we are the only species that can conceptualize its own impact on its habitat. No species has ever consciously recognized the limits of its habitat and adjusted its behavior to live within those limits. If we are to change our course before some natural calamity forcibly curbs our expansion, that change of course will be plotted in the human imagination.

Beauty and Abundance

Human ingenuity gets its energy from visualization. We need to be able to visualize a successful human future on this planet before we can create that future.

Recent global discussions about humanity’s future have been preoccupied with the immediate challenges we face. The environmentalist’s attention has been trained mostly on negative visualization. Conversations about the environment orbit around one prospective catastrophe or another. We don’t have a positive vision for our future, but we can picture a lot of different ways in which things may go badly for us and for the planet.

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