to Ecology Begins at Home!
Make the world a better place, a little every day! Positive, practical, hopeful ways to make our world more sustainable one step at a time. Educational inspiration for building a healthier future for ourselves and the planet. Reflect, discuss, experiment and discover the joys of being a constructive force in the world! Downloads
lies in our hands!
Nature, the entire
planetary biosphere, is our life support system and
its health lies in our hands. We live in it and
are supported by it, just like the astronauts on a
space station, supported by their energy, food, water
and air supply systems. The astronauts cannot trash
their space station, nor fill it with more people than
it can support, if they want to stay healthy and well.
Likewise if we want to remain healthy and well, we
must insure that nature stays clean, productive and
healthy, and keep our numbers and our consumption
within the limits that nature can support on an annual
basis. With a footprint of 1.5 planets, humanity is
far above that right now. Thus, it is time to roll up
our sleeves, put on our thinking caps, and start
changing things, beginning at home.
1. Humanity's "trash"
(the waste products of all our production and
consumption), is trashing the planet with toxic and
non-biodegradable materials. We are slowly
poisoning ourselves and all of nature. Carbon
dioxide, one of many waste products, causes
global warming and an unstable climate. We need to
reduce our trash by reducing consumption, recycling
and lots more sharing, i. e., by voluntarily limiting
ourselves. Good for us, good for other species, good
for the planet.
2. Every square inch of
the earth’s surface has been taken for human use
today, crowding out animals, plants, forests,
etc. Many species have died out due to lack of space
(habitat), thus weakening ecosystem resiliency. All
the planet’s land, water, groundwater, minerals and
even the oceans have been conquered for human use. We
have no buffers, no surplus cushion to use in times of
drought, earthquake or stress. To guarantee survival
of most species and our own health, we can set aside
half of our planet's land and water as nature reserves
O. Wilson's book Half Earth).
3. Resources (forests,
fish, farmland, soil, minerals,
biodiversity,etc) are shrinking
because we take more from nature than grows back
each year. Soil blows away with the wind.
Climate change makes things worse because drought and
flooding reduce the amount of farmland and fresh water
available. Storms destroy property, crops, animals and
4. These natural physical
limitations (or planetary
boundaries, as they are also called) put a
limit on how much humanity can grow. We have
already passed the limits, creating crowded, unhealthy
living conditions and an unstable climate. The
instability grows when we try to solve poverty with
more growth. Instead, we need to reduce our
consumption by sharing more. We need to improve our
health and economy by setting decreased population as
a goal (see the online book Overdevelopment,
5. As we reduce
our demands on the common planetary resources,
we improve our situation and move
towards being within the limits. Health
and sustainability are achievable goals but require
profound changes in our lifestyles and in our
production and distribution systems. Technical
change and industrial efficiency can not alone
solve the problems (as far as "trash" goes,
technology is the problem). See fact
sheet Growth vs
Health and Sustainability. The rich in all
countries (this includes you and me) must take the
lead in reducing our consumption and restoring
ecosystem health—we are the leaders of
our own revolution. See Change begins at
6. Reducing our needs
and still living joyfully isn’t especially
difficult (see A secure, healthy future)
but requires a new way of thinking, thinking more of
our children's future and less of ourselves. Human
experience and research tell us that we can be happy
and fulfilled without high consumption. Our
parents were happy, weren't they, with only half the
consumption? In fact, above basic needs for
food, clothing, shelter, etc, science
and literature both tell us it is family,
friends, health and education that are most
important. Less consumption means less
work and gives more time to spend on valued
7. The United Nations
expresses our creative challenge for the 21st century
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 major
goals with 168 sub-goals. Underlying all these
goals are strong, resilient communities and a
healthy, stable nature (see system diagram
Sustainable Development Goals). When we know we
have healthy local agriculture, energy and
freshwater ecosystems that can provide our
basic needs indefinitely into the future, we can
truly feel hope and be satisfied. We can then help
others to achieve the same. Thus, our own community's
future, as well as the whole world's, truly lies in
Reviews of Ecology Begins at Home
—The most important single book any citizen of the planet can read on environmental issues… amazingly clear and simple… immensely empowering… bursting with creativity and the fun of exploring. Pierre Pradervand, author of The Gentle Art of Blessing, in Cygnus Books reviews, April 2009.
—An essential guide to low-impact living… easy steps we can all take at home to reduce our impact on the planet. Friends of the Earth, Scotland, 2006.
—Read it in one sitting and fell in love with it… fun, immediately rewarding, and easy enough to do right this minute, Community Regeneration, Rodale Institute, USA.
—Easy to read… practical little book. Archie use[s] the choices he makes to change the world. The Environment Centre, Swansea, Wales, 2009.
—An invaluable guide to reducing one’s impact… riveting… [for] even the most hardened environmentalist, Environment Magazine, UK, 2006.
—The best book yet on how to green your lifestyle… makes the whole subject very clear and understandable. Permaculture Magazine UK, 2005.
—Inspirational… within minutes I was implementing changes… If you are finding it hard to persuade family members, this book’s non-preachy methods might just work! Green Parent Magazine, UK.
—The most genially simple and concrete guide to practical ecology out today. Should be spread in massive editions, not the least to children, who easily understand it and who are usually less habit-bound than we adults. Swedish Library Service 1990.
Archie Duncanson, retired engineer and writer, lives in Stockholm, Sweden, and trained in economics, computers, optimization, statistics and systems theory at Berkeley, Stanford and UCLA. After a career as management consultant in industry, he began writing about how to solve the big environmental problems from the bottom up by taking personal responsibility. He believes teachers can be the most important people in life—as mentors, encouragers and by asking the questions that make you think!
Copyright 2005-2017 Archie Duncanson. Contact: Pokalvägen 6-5tr, 11740 Stockolm. duncansonian=at=yahoo.com. Såettfrö Publishers, Stockholm.