In this book Paul Hawken not only provides a comprehensive overview of the environmental movement, but also reveals the connection between the environmental movement, the civil rights and indigenous movements. They are all defending the rights of life. When people all over the world are threatened by forces that destroy their livelihoods, such as poverty, corruption, pollution and injustice, they rise up and organize themselves to defend their rights.
Man and Nature
Unless man experiences the connection and interdependence between himself and nature, he will not value nature and strive to protect nature as he would protect himself. Paul Hawken observed that there is a relationship between portrayal of beauty and the passing of legislation. Photographs and paintings of natural beauty have played an import role in the preservation of the wilderness in the US, including Yosemite and other national parks.
On the other hand, man’s attempts to commune with nature often result in the disruption, exploitation and eventual destruction of nature. The tourism industry have turned many beautiful natural wonders into market places/circuses, where people can not contemplate and be rejuvenated by nature. The lesson from Aesop’s fable “The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs” may very well apply to man’s relation with nature.
The Sierra Club helped block several proposals by the Bureau of Reclamation to dam portions of the Grand Canyon. Director of the club, David Brower, accused Floyd Domini, the head of the Bureau of Reclamation, “of wanting to make the Grand Canyon a bathtub, a phrase that stuck. When Domini responded that boaters would be able to explore the canyon walls more easily, Brower shot bask, … asking whether we should flood the Sistine Chapel in order to get a better look at the ceiling.”
The Value of Business
Business argues that it creates value, but it doesn’t give account for the natural resources that it has destroyed or the lives of people that it has cheapened, in terms of wages, conditions and worker health. It is inevitable that businesses that have profit as their ultimate goal will always destroy other values? What should be done so that large corporations can be held accountable for their practices?
The diversity of species, of language, of culture and even food. Diversity directly corresponds with adaptability and sustainability. Globalization without proper regulations and processes in place to protect diverse cultures and local (regional and national) economies will polarize the world population into the minority of the rich and the vast majority of the poor.
The Gaia Hypothesis
The Gaia Hypothesis “asserts that the earth, in creating conditions favorable to life, exhibits qualities of self-organization and self-regulation that are similar to those of a living organism”. Hawken compares the current movement to the immune response and suggests that we may be able to learn from nature in dealing with the current crisis.