“We are Nature — Nature is us; what we do to it, we do to ourselves.”
The next day, following her sunrise exercise and meditation routine on the forward trampoline and before the other passengers had come up onto the deck, Lua confessed to me that she felt deeply heartsick at the great number of people she had met over the years that see the world in the same way that Tucker does. Earth and all of its living creatures are nothing more than input sources and output sinks in service of the human economy. She believed this was the fault of our narrowly focused and obsolete programs of industrial-era education.
The education required for thriving in the 21st century will need to be radically different than what we have become accustomed to, she insisted. It will have to draw on ecological design intelligence and systems thinking to understand the full context in which we live and to deal effectively with the complex and interrelated problems we will face.
We have created a world that is always recklessly in overdrive where people are living longer, producing and consuming more, inhabiting more space, burning more climate-destabilizing fossil fuels, and generating increasingly more waste and greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history, where 75% of all land and two-thirds of the world's ocean areas have been severely altered by human actions.
Many fragile ecosystems are collapsing and biodiversity is shrinking. As many as one million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction. These drastic changes present a real danger to our future civilizational existence, Lua warned.
We must transcend 'human supremacy', Lua proclaimed. This hubris of human exceptionalism is the delusional belief that we are somehow outside of Nature, that we are free to ignore the same biological laws as every other species on the planet. It is this delusional and dangerously detached exceptionalism that deceives us into pursuing unchecked economic growth and into callously sacrificing countless other species in our pursuit of more.
For the sake of preserving a bountiful, diverse, life-rich planet; all science education programs must philosophically embrace the core paradigm of 'biospherism'. She described it like this,
"Biospherism implies unity and connection. It addresses underlying root causes, not superficial symptoms. It values Nature's beauty and strives for ecological balance. And it makes this one truth crystal clear: We are Nature — Nature is us; what we do to it, we do to ourselves."
More generally, the education required to deal with our complex challenges will require that we think much more broadly and critically, that we treat new holistic approaches and ideas with attention and respect, and that we perceive systems and patterns accurately as they actually are, not as we wish for them to be. We must consider the long-term effects of our actions in the living world to help create healthy, durable, resilient, just, and prosperous human communities that maintain thriving, regenerative land and sea ecosystems and sustainable food supplies.
Education in this new century requires a completely new operating system, as it will have the daunting task of preparing us to deal effectively with mounting complex ecological challenges that are now global in scale. It will also need to equip us with the new problem-solving, co-creating, and leadership skills that will be required to safely navigate a more-likely-than-not fiercely difficult future.
I felt just as concerned as Lua about our lack of preparedness for dealing with our mounting ecological challenges — for I too had been following these disturbing ecocidal trends for many years.