Ideas for a Sustainable World: Envisioning Beauty and Abundance

In MOTHER EARTH NEWS Publisher Bryan Welch’s vision for a beautiful future, our water and air would be clean, human population would stabilize, every ecosystem would be preserved in its natural state, and we would tolerate nothing less.

| January 10, 2011

Rain Forest

Every natural environment is beautiful in ways we cannot imagine. We must preserve natural beauty for precisely that reason, because we could not conceive of natural beauty on our own without nature’s inspiration.


The following is an excerpt from Beautiful and Abundant: Building the World We Want by Bryan Welch (B&A Books, 2010). Through telling the stories of farmers, gardeners, inventors and entrepreneurs, Beautiful and Abundant cuts through the pessimism and denial that tend to pervade today’s discussions of sustainability, and challenges readers to visualize a verdant and prosperous future for humanity and all living things. This excerpt is from the epilogue, “As I See It: Idealistically, Unrealistically ...” 

This is a book about forming a collective vision. It is not meant to be a book about my vision of the future and the first version of its manuscript didn’t include this epilogue. I didn’t intend to get into my own idealized, unrealistic view of the future. Then a wise friend read it and pointed out that I’ve asked readers to go out on a limb without demonstrating that I’m willing to do the same.

Fair enough.

I want my great-grandchildren to live in a place that is ...


Anyone who has traveled in the developing world during the past 30 years has seen the vast slums that engulf the cities. Slums occupy decaying sections of old cities and newly built shantytowns that often surround more affluent urban areas. About a billion people, worldwide, live in slums today, and the United Nations expects that number to double by 2030.

saptarishi sage
11/7/2011 10:03:26 AM

Its a nice article in terms of questioning our prevailing assumptions. Also ,we cannot ignore the role of industry in sustainable development. Our race to attain economic prosperity has perpetuated such strong assumptions that we resist adopting an environment-friendly approach. A look at our past helps us understand the downside to our growth story and why industry should act as a harbinger of change. It is also important to understand that ‘Business-As-Usual’ will not deliver smart solutions needed to avoid devastating climate change.

2/25/2011 1:54:57 PM

Sounds like you're off an a fine adventure, John. I love Vancouver Island. It sounds like you're also off to set a fine example. Keep us posted on your experience.

john dunbar
2/25/2011 12:16:05 PM

I have just read this epilogue to your book and, as I read, I was thinking how alike your vision and my own are. One difference would be that I would aim to reduce the population back to the level it was when I was born, 2.2 billion. That's right, the world's population has more than tripled in my 71 years! And yes, we in the "developed" world are mostly to blame for the state of the world we will hand on to our descendants. Unfortunately, I don't think you have missed your target of being unrealistic. In a democracy, no one who is elected will ever "do the right thing" as this would guarantee that they would never be elected again. Perhaps the only positives I see in the world are the global disruptions which have taken place since 9/11. As tragic as the loss of life that goes with these events is, it pales in comparison to the 30,000 plus children who die each day from the effects of poverty. My wife and I are currently down-sizing our footprint by moving from the extremely desirable southern end of Vancouver Island to a small acreage near a small town in the central interior of British Columbia. We hope this will show the younger generations of our family that there is a better way to live.

rick vanhorn
2/23/2011 9:54:39 AM

Once again a bleeding heart who has tomuch time on his handsis telling us how to live in a perfect world. Hell,give me a hand so I can change my corner of the world! Oh, sorry I donot qualify for your type of help, imagine that. I guess I won't be buying your book either.

2/14/2011 12:37:32 PM

Hey Bryan, I live on less than $12,000 a year, far below the poverty level. Since I know you are a publisher and author who's income is well into the six figure range, could you give me $40 or $50 thousand dollars? You know, to help bring me up out of the squalor I live in. I want to experience the beauty of mother nature too. I mean you have so much and I have so little. Come on and start walking the walk not just talking the talk. I only have one kid too, how many do you have? You should try living out your "social justice" instead of preaching about it in books that you make hundreds of thousands of dollars on. Share you wealth brother.

1/27/2011 1:26:42 PM

The idea that people should be limited to a certain number of children is straight out of the totalitarian playbook, just look at China. What the author doesn't tell you is that in industrialized countries the birth rate is falling (Western Europe) or is flat (USA). Once the rest of the world is industrialized the birth rate will fall naturally. What the world "needs" is to get rid of all the busy-bodies like this author (Al Gore, Bill Gates, etc) who wish to mold the world in their image. Just as we did not need a bunch of buearocratic busy-bodies in the FHA trying to get all the "poor people" into "affordable" houses. It has been shown time and again that the best way for societies to lift themselves out of poverty is thru the free-market and capitalism. Just take a look at China, they started to become a strong economy when they started to adopt capitalism and private property 30 years ago. Another example are the pilgirms, it wasn't until they abandoned collective farming and adopted private plots that they started to grow food in abundance. Collectivized thinking is what dooms Communist countries and communes alike. If we leave people alone and let them keep what they produce then the world will be a better place for it.

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