Developing an Ecomind to Save the Planet

By developing an ecomind, an outlook in which we shed certain “thought traps” of environmentalism, we can better implement a plan to heal our ailing planet.

| August 20, 2013


"EcoMind," by Frances Moore Lappé, aims to forever change our understanding of the roots of our environmental and poverty crises.

Cover Courtesy Nation Books

In EcoMind (Nation Books, 2011), Frances Moore Lappé — a giant of the environmental movement — confronts accepted wisdom of environmentalism. Drawing on the latest research from anthropology to neuroscience and her own field experience, she argues that the biggest challenge to human survival isn’t our fossil fuel dependency, melting glaciers or other calamities. Rather, it’s our faulty way of thinking about these environmental crises that robs us of power. Lappé dismantles seven common “thought traps” — from limits to growth to the failings of democracy — that belie what we now know about nature, including our own, and offers contrasting “thought leaps” that reveal our hidden power. The excerpt below comes from chapter 1, “Our Challenge — Developing an EcoMind.”

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Ecomind.

Developing an EcoMind

“So where are we going? And why are we in a handbasket?”

12/20/2013 1:16:15 AM

Most people on this planet are too busy with just surviving, they will not even ever hear about "ecomind", let alone try to "develop" it. What would work though would be all of us trying to develop a commonly held vision of what this Earth should look like at its optimum, so that we all have an idea of what we should strive for. As it is now, we all work for different kinds of futures that, in most cases, are not even compatible with each other--no wonder that collectively we are on a road to perdition. More on this at www.ModelEarth.Org . Thank you, Hearthstone.

12/18/2013 5:01:06 PM

What a bunch of BS, and I'm paying for this reporting.

12/18/2013 1:10:40 PM

While we all know the green issue is just not even logical at times. There are areas of the US that are completely devastated and frankly raped. Google the Southeastern area of Ky, Hazard, Ky and surrounding area, take a look at the cleared and naked mountains. This is the work of those millionaires who are not affected by this horrific problem, they live hundreds of miles away. Cancer is ramped there, the water is polluted. Oh, yes they replant, making little ponds of pollution. Roads are everywhere for the huge machinery. The average citizen is being cheated and deceived of the natural resources that have been on their land for centuries. Being told that the mineral rights were sold long before they were born, that the coal company owns the lease. This is a part of the corruption long since in the business. I think you are going to be surprised when you look at this area.

8/26/2013 8:52:49 PM

Wow, what a bunch of Malarky, I hope people don't fall for this stuff. The statements above are simply not true, but people like this spew out these fictional figures and expect no one to look into it. I just looked up the quote about warmest temperature in 650,000 Yeats and it is not true. Please stop publishing this crap!

8/26/2013 8:52:01 PM

Wow, what a bunch of Malarky, I hope people don't fall for this stuff. The statements above are simply not true, but people like this spew out these fictional figures and expect no one to look into it. I just looked up the quote about warmest temperature in 650,000 Yeats and it is not true. Please stop publishing this crap!

marvin double
8/26/2013 2:04:27 PM

Before his death, the comedian George Carlin did a show in which he cynically rebutted the entire idea of saving the planet. He made his argument, rather un-poetically, by pointing out that the planet can continue along just fine without us, as it has for billions of years before we got here. The earth can in fact be rather hostile to humans. While it is entirely true that we have done, and continue to do terrible things to the environment, by measure the earth can create so called disasters on a scale we can scarcely imagine. It's a sobering thought to consider the effect which would result from the eruption of the super volcano slumbering under Yellowstone National Park. If it should come to life, that event would entirely destroy most of the Western US and create a nuclear winter which would threaten most of the life on earth. With such a prospect some justify the destructive tendencies of humans to be rather trivial concerns. George offered the opinion that, many who want to save the planet are most specifically interested in saving their little piece of it. His pragmatic view of all this was that saving the world was more an exercise in feeling good about ourselves, than doing something to ensure our survival. In his own way George obviously wanted to bring a sense of perspective to the whole issue of environmentalism. He did so by saying aloud what so many others may hold as a secret unspoken thought. For my take on his routine, I think George was getting down on what I'll call self-serving do-gooders. What some have called such folks chequebook environmentalists. But I think perhaps George was disenchanted with anyone who thought of themselves as being green. I could see his point, but that's not to say I agree with it. There are lots of us in the world who lead a rather privileged lifestyle, supported by layers of energy using, world killing technology we never see, and still claim to be green, at least in thought. The truth is most of us like to be well fed, warm, dry and comfortable in a world that can be down right nasty. Our ancestors passed down to us certain ideas and attitudes based on the human experience over virtual eons of time. Those experiences are buried within the collective consciousness of all humans, and embedded in our cultures. What drives us to make certain decisions is a kind of survivalist mentality in which we see ourselves in a battle against nature. The very fact that we flock into cities where nature is subdued and replaced with a world that is mainly artificial, is evidence of that idea. To some extend the notion of saving the planet flies in the face of what has for generations been an adversarial relationship with our natural world. George offered up his opinion that, for some in the environmental movement, saving the planet meant saving their little part of it. In one sense environmentalists, would be wise to take that point into consideration. Yet, the man-made environmental issues we face are so large, that, like a super volcano, they threaten everything and everyone. yet to acknowledge that is to quickly become overwhelmed, even discouraged. Faced with such cognitive dissidence, its easy to see that changing the behaviours or our fellow humans can feel like trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon. Perhaps then George, in his own way was just stepping back to offer up some perspective about the reality we face as a species. It is true obviously that we are not acting in our own best interest, and naturally we continue doing what we have been, at our own peril. George's point was simply that, the earth is indifferent. It will continue orbiting the sun even if there are no humans left to witness the event. In that regard, George was correct. Neither factually or accurately we can't argue the point. However the other side to the coin is equally relevant. The environmental alteration and destruction we have created in the world has come from a lack of true understanding and insight. This way of thinking about the natural world may also be the result of a kind of collective human indifference, bread from a long history of living and dying at the apparent whims of natural forces beyond our control. If we are to evolve a new ego-mind and the new paradigm from which it rises, we must also take this part of our human experience into account. There a many who think exactly like George. They see the earth as a hostile place, indifferent to the plight of humans. For them the world is place which we need to subdue, not save. Sadly they see environmentalists as being unrealistic, idealistic, bleeding hearts. This contrasts sharply with environmentalists who see the earth as the cradle of life, with natural systems which support and nurture. They will tend to so those holding opposing view as being selfish, foolish, disconnected or simply ignorant or uncaring. There is of course a third way of seeing the world. It is an understanding that to survive here we must deal with both realities. The earth is indeed a hostile place as well as one with natural systems which support life. We humans, as is the case of all other life forms balance between those two extremes. The truth is that, over the course of human existence we have survived by adapting. Those who failed to adapt failed to survive. Such as always been the case. But we human seem to have a remarkable capacity to live in denial. At the governmental level at least, adapting to changes seems to progress at a snails pace, if at all. It is true that some adaptation is taking place. Clearly the environmental problems which have already been identified require a more rapid and robust reaction if solutions might be possible. For me at least, I think science has presented us with various scenarios for the future of the planet. Mass global extinction is one such scenario. So to is human generated global warming, rising sea levels and dramatic climatic events, super storms, flooding, drought etc. So long as we look to the development of bio-fuel, electric cars or the wide spread use of LED lights, I think the future is uncertain. For me the reasonable approach must come through small local changes which collectively have a larger impact over time. As a simple example: As a vegan I am aware that large scale animal agriculture is responsible for creating more greenhouse gas than all the cars in the world combined. Reducing demand for meat, automatically reduces greenhouse gas. It is a simple personal choice, but if enough people were to become vegan, the impact would be enormous. Yet in so called developing countries, demand for meat increases as incomes and apparent affluence rise. Likewise moving away from chemically based intensive farming, towards sustainable methods which employ permaculture techniques, would also reduce demand for water and chemically based fertilizers. This shift in thinking would immediately reap tremendous environmental benefits. Creating an eco mind across society can only occur as a grass roots shift in behaviour. Adopting a self-survival mentality focused on, what I would call an informed approach would be key to this shift. As such ideas infiltrate the culture change is possible. The development of a collective eco-mind may already be underway. However at this moment, there isn't the momentum to create the massive changes needed to make a significant and noticeable difference.

siegfried holle
8/26/2013 10:17:22 AM

break the fear pattern -thanks for the mind jog

8/26/2013 7:28:35 AM

What a bunch of misinformation.

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