A Biorenaissance

Heading for the gurgler

The species 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.

Biosensitivity – A way forward

The only hope for our future lies in a radical cultural and social 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, and to the cultural transformation as the Biorenaissance [1].

In a biosensitive society, human activities will be on a scale and of a kind that promote health and wellbeing in all sections of the human population as well as in the ecosystems on which we depend. Biosensitivity will be a guiding principle in all spheres of human endeavour.

The first essential step in the transition will be a wave of new understanding sweeping across the culture of the world – understanding of the story of life on Earth and the human place in nature. I refer to this kind of understanding as Biounderstanding, and to the story life on Earth as the Bionarrative.

The bionarrative is of overarching significance for every one of us and for society as a whole. Yet it is known and understood by only a minority of the population. If it were understood by the majority, the prospects for humanity would be much brighter.

Shared biounderstanding will lead to a new biosensitive culture and worldview. It will be a 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

– 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 by far 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

The new understanding and worldview will generate a global reform movement, leading eventually to the achievement of biosensitivity worldwide (see below). It will mean healthy people on a healthy planet[2].


For those of us who share the views expressed above, the crucial challenge today is to join forces and do all we possibly can to bring about the wave of new biounderstanding across the cultures of the world.


[1] I define Biorenaissance as the cultural and social transition to a society that is in harmony with, and respectful of the processes of life on which we depend. The term is appropriate because many hunter-gatherer and early farming cultures in the past embraced a deep respect for the living world, based on appreciation that we humans are living beings, part of nature, and completely dependent on other forms of life for our wellbeing and survival. This 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 widely 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 only 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.

[2] The bioperspective also has meaning for many aspects of the human condition other than ecological sustainability and human health.  For example, it highlights the gross insanity of warfare and the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction, and it throws a different light on the never-ending conflicts, sometimes deadly, between people of different political or religious persuasions. 

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