Homo sapiens is thought to have been in existence for around 300,000 years. During the past 200 years, which is about 0.07 % of this time, there has been a massive growth in the human population, and an even more explosive increase in energy use and waste production by humankind, with ever-increasing impacts on the ecosystems of our planet. Climate change is at present the most critical issue, but there are many other anthropogenic threats to the sustainability of the living systems that underpin our existence. If present trends continue unabated, the collapse of civilisation is inevitable.
The only hope for our future lies in a radical cultural transformation, leading to a different kind of society – a society that is truly in harmony with the processes of life within us and around us. I refer to such a society as a Biosensitive Society. The term Biosensitive is introduced because there is a need for a single word to describe a society with these characteristics. The expression ‘ecologically sustainable’ is commonly used these days. Of course, society must be ecologically sustainable – otherwise in the long term it cannot continue to exist. But ecological sustainability is surely the bottom line. We must aim for a society that is not merely sustainable, but that also positively promotes health and wellbeing in all sections of the human population, as well as in the living systems of the biosphere.
However, there is no way this biosensitive society will come into being unless the prevailing cultures across the world come to embrace understanding – of life on Earth and the human place in nature. This new understanding will lead to a shared worldview that:
– Holds profound respect for the processes of life that gave rise to us and on which we are totally dependent;
– Perceives the achievement of harmony with nature as supremely important – to be given the highest priority in human affairs and placed right at the top of political and social agenda; and
– Harbours a vision of a society of the future that is sensitive to, in tune with and respectful of the processes of life.
This biosensitive worldview will be the most significant difference between our current society and healthy and ecologically sustainable societies of the future. It is a necessary precondition for the social changes that will be necessary to achieve biosensitivity, and therefore for the survival of civilisation.
For those of us who share the views expressed above, the critical challenge today is to do all we possibly can to bring about the wave of new understanding across the cultures of the world.