The Seven Goals For Our New Human Ecology
The scale of our destructive predation on Earth is unprecedented and unrelenting. Even with our unsustainable consumption of ecosystems, hundreds of millions of impoverished humans suffer the worst level of poverty with billions more remaining “poor”.
There have been great reductions in human poverty but at a devastating cost to ecosystems and all other species. There is a different approach we can take that is less violent, less destructive, and has a chance at approaching sustainability: we make choices in our personal behaviors that create the Seven Goals described below.
We must be objective and honest in looking at how we choose to live if we are to alter the present radical, dead-end direction we heading to today. These Seven Goals define those changes. They are do-able goals. All seven are interdependent and overlap the others. None of them can be left out.
- Healthy, intact, and recovering ecosystems dominate the global landscapes and seascapes where a biocentric humanity strives to minimize human intervention.
- A vegan, organic, and just consumer lifestyle oriented to sustainable efficiencies and relationships.
- Social and economic justice for all with transparency in public and corporate institutions.
- An immediate negative human population growth based on natural attrition and a woman’s choice that includes whether there are social, governmental, or economic support systems that make it possible.
- Economic systems that are ecologically sustainable and restorative while enabling social and economic justice within The New Human ecology.
- An increase in empathy, love, and compassion towards all beings, ecosystems, and self.
- Appropriate, sustainable, and equitable consumption of goods and services.
From the perspective of Green Vegans’ New Human Ecology, we recognize that our current collective human behaviors are not compatible with life on Earth.
Green Vegans advocates a wholesale transformation of wildlife “management” agencies and ending their pandering to the narrow interests of hunters, animal agriculture, trappers, fishers, and unsustainable resource extractors. Local, state, and federal agencies must be mission-driven to enable a sustainable, biocentric, and compassionate human ecology in the presence of nearly eight billion humans.
Green Vegans’ Seven Goals will shield birds, people, plants, mammals, insects, phytoplankton, and all aspects of ecosystems. With success, the Seven Goals of The New Human Ecology will free countless acres of wildlife habitat currently held hostage by animal agriculture’s grazing and its growing crops wastefully fed to billions of farmed individuals from other species. This will make it possible for conservation biologists to restore, to the extent possible, and protect biodiversity and ecosystems.
1) Healthy, intact ecosystems that dominate the global landscapes, airscapes, and seascapes:
Ecosystems have intrinsic value and beauty. They are sacred. They provide us and all the communities of species with life-sustaining services such as food, clean water, oxygen, medicines, pollination and seed dispersal, flood control, shelter, nutrient recycling and redistribution, raw materials for durable goods, biodiversity, climate regulation, personal renewal, and spiritual inspiration for starters. Ecosystems have their own needs: They cannot be contained within political boundaries; They must not be fragmented, and require being inter-connected to function; They have limited capacities of just how many humans they can support without driving other species to suffer and be forced into extinction.
Humans have been destroying ecosystems and causing mass extinctions for thousands of years. Today, there are several times the number of humans and we have learned how to be more thorough in that destruction.
A 2021 United Kingdom Parliament Report noted The 2020 State of the World’s Plants and Fungi estimated that 140,000, or 39.4%, of vascular plants, are threatened with extinction. The Living Planet Report 2020 highlighted that, on average, global populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles fell by 68% between 1970 and 2016. At the 2 million lower estimate of the total number of species that exist on Earth, between 200 and 2,000 extinctions are projected to be occurring annually.
When corporate entities cut down rainforests to grow soybeans and graze cattle, the forest dies, the wealthy grow wealthier, and the poor watch all of it exported as they are denied and go hungry. As the wealthy commercial fleets take far too much from the sea, artisanal subsistence fishers and others suffer.
2) A vegan, organic consumer lifestyle oriented to sustainable efficiencies and relationships:
In The New Human Ecology, animal agriculture is discarded. Veganism is commonly defined as a diet of plant-based food, the refusal to use animal products, and not to exploit them in any way. It is the pathway to a chance of saving the Earth and ourselves, from ourselves. If tied to the other Seven Goals, we can go forward knowing what we are doing will work.
The science-based nonprofit Our World In Data presents an excellent summary of food production and consumption impacts. They tell us that “Half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture, which is used to raise livestock for dairy and meat. Livestock is fed from two sources – lands on which the animals graze and land on which feeding crops, such as soy and cereals, are grown. How much would our agricultural land use decline if the world adopted a plant-based diet? Research suggests that if everyone shifted to a plant-based diet, we would reduce global land use for agriculture by 75%. This large reduction of agricultural land use would be possible thanks to a reduction in land used for grazing and a smaller need for land to grow crops.”
According to Faunalytics, some 70 billion land animals are slaughtered annually on a global basis. From another source, we learn estimates of 1–2 trillion fish [are] killed annually worldwide, excluding bycatch and discards. Intentional harms imposed on wild fishes through fishing are imposed through the use of nets, lines, hooks, gaffes, etc. Add to the fishing industry’s bycatch the hundreds of thousands of marine mammals, including dolphins, whales, seals, sea lions, and pelagic birds. Four hundred thousand seabirds are caught in gillnets and drowned every year, but at sea, there are not many witnesses.
A new estimate of animal agriculture’s role in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) cites a minimum of 16.5% of the total. GHGs cause Climate change [that] leads to more frequent intense weather events such as floods and droughts and will very likely impact agricultural food production, particularly in tropical regions like Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and other drylands…Because these regions already suffer the highest food insecurity, this change will likely aggravate the current global injustice in food security. Green Vegans’ Seven Goals are here for all humans because human ecology considers human and ecological outcomes.
3) Social and economic justice for all with transparency in public and corporate institutions:
Ecosystems require the presence of stability in human social and economic institutions. If denied access to capital and rights to land ownership, the poor are more likely to be locked into poverty. If food is not affordable to purchase, children leave school because the family money must be used to buy what meals they can instead of books and basic school supplies. Remember that basic crops like wheat, soybeans, and corn are sold on a global market. All of it goes to the highest bidder. Animal agriculture has more money to buy it to feed farmed animals from other species carelessly called “livestock” which competes with impoverished, hungry people.
When a “geo-political” region is poor, governments are less able to protect people and ecosystems and provide transportation systems for crops going to market. The less wealthy farmers have a difficult time gaining access to seeds, fertilizer, technology, and organic agricultural alternatives. Poor people are often not empowered people who can oppose dictatorial regimes, fight corruption, regulate resource use, or have control over their lives no matter where they live on Earth.
“Poverty is hunger. Poverty is a lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time. Poverty is losing a child to illness brought about by unclean water. Poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation, and freedom. For very poor people, reducing consumption from already low levels even for a short period has severe long-term consequences….” – World Bank
Like the “haves,” the “have-nots” live within economic systems that have already taken us beyond Earth’s carrying capacity. While some people remain mired in poverty and consume relatively little per person, the rest of us that serve as the unsustainable model of consumption are pushing ecosystems into bankruptcy. Every human success, every gain originates in ecosystems. We cannot end human poverty amid the broken and impoverished ecosystems we are creating. Within the Seven Goals are the other parts necessary for ending poverty including reformed economic systems like the Steady-state Economy and a reduction in the global human population.
4) An immediate negative human population growth based on natural attrition and a woman’s choice that includes whether there are social, governmental, or economic support systems that make it possible.
We recognize that proposals regarding population growth can be used as a racist platform. So we want to make it clear that the evidence points to when women gain control over their bodies, and economic justice is present, birth rates typically go down. This is a matter of choice that we support. Experts and international agencies generally agree upon several global population scenarios. There will be nearly 80,000,000 added to the net world population by year’s end of 2023. The total projected net populations are over nine billion in 2038 and ten billion in 2056. While the percentage of increase is decreasing, the decrease is a percentage of a larger population as you can see in the chart. Given the impacts of our current nearing-eight billion human population, imagine what wildlife on the land, in the air, and in the sea will be facing from us with those increases. Here is a link to a live “scoreboard” of population changes.
Human overpopulation is the dark multiplier of humanity’s environmental impacts. There were about one billion people on Earth for the first time around 1830 – 1850. In 2012, we were 7 billion. In 2018, with 7.624 billion humans before mid-year, we still confuse the joy of having children with the state of the Earth and remain unwilling to connect the two to reality. You can see the real-time population growth here. UN projections are based on assumptions about human behavior in the future. Here is some insight into the complex population growth patterns and even decline.
A lower population frees up more resources for fewer people and more for other species. Reducing our human population through natural attrition clears the way for “social and economic justice” and “equitable access to resources.” Fewer people mean more room for other species now desperate to find food, water, and space in “healthy, recovering ecosystems,” also included in the Seven Goals. Without immediately reducing our human numbers, none of that will be possible.
Us and Them, or Us and Not Them?
Other species have the right to exist and flourish in significant numbers as much as we do. Reducing our population can make that possible. This is part of defining what enough is. Enough people, enough personal consumption, enough petrochemical-fueled travel, enough individual wealth, and enough of everything we do that affects humanity, every species’ and the viability of Earth.
How acceptable is it to us that multitudes of other species will be reduced to biological insignificance and extinction? How many individuals will die, and in what manner? Starvation? Thirst? Depression? How many more intricately social elephants will suffer the trauma of seeing their family herd gunned down? How many wolves will have their social relationships ripped from the essence of who they are as their family packs are gunned down to protect animal agriculture grazing on public land? How many individuals from other species will be homeless when we cut down their forests for lumber and palm oil plantations?
For us and other species, quality of life counts. Apes have it. Amazon otters have it. Snow leopards have it. Pikas and Ganges River dolphins have it. The now extinct Great Auks, Passenger Pigeons, and Steller Sea Cows had it.
Our new human ecology means we are becoming different human beings. We are fulfilling our capacities to be just, compassionate, and—realistic. We honor life when we keep our populations relatively low, our quality of life high, and other species far more abundant than now.
HERE IS A GREAT RESOURCE we recommend for further reading and action.
5) Economic systems that are ecologically sustainable and restorative, enable social and economic justice, and operate within The New Human Ecology:
Economic systems today require endless growth. We know endless growth is neither possible nor desirable. “Growing the economy” is the thoughtless default used by governments and economists who seem to think it will all work out somehow. Do they not know what else to do? As a result, humans are led to believe by inference that the natural order is the same as an economic order. Economic systems are still failing to consider the most important ecosystem “services” like clean water and air as a value to be considered in the costs of production and pricing.
Though it may not be the final answer on things economic, Green Vegans endorses the Steady State Economy as proposed by the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy. Leading proponents have written this brief description: “The most distinctive trait of a steady-state economy is stable size. A steady-state economy undergoes neither growth nor recession. To be more specific, it has constant populations of people (and therefore “stocks” of labor) and constant stocks of capital. It also has a constant rate of “throughput”–i.e., the energy and materials used to produce goods and services…there are limits to productive efficiency imposed by the laws of thermodynamics and therefore limits to the amount and value of goods and services that may be produced in a given ecosystem. In other words, consistent with the ecological principle of carrying capacity, often denoted as “K,” there is a maximum size at which a steady-state economy may exist. Conflicts with wildlife conservation occur long before a steady-state economy is maximized. By “constant” we do not mean absolutely unchanging at the finest level of measurement. We mean mildly fluctuating in the short run…but tending toward a stable equilibrium in the long run….”
6) An increase in empathy, love, and compassion towards all beings and ecosystems:
Green Vegans advocates are guided by The Golden Rule throughout the Seven Results of the New Human Ecology. Worldviews have within them explanations about our place in the universe and on Earth, our reasons for existence, our source of being, and how we should behave. To survive from one generation to the next, worldviews have to create social and environmental adaptability and sustainability and that means it’s an evolving, always changing responsibility. That is the first principle of human behavior for survival.
We now have a vastly expanded awareness of the plight of other people, ecosystems, and individuals of other species. We see that their interests are also our interests. We understand they share enough of the same physical and biochemical makeup and that means we must choose going forward knowing that they, too, can suffer, enjoy and experience life as individuals.
The field of ethology is the study of animal behavior and includes cognitive and physical capacities that drive the behavior. Yes, they feel pain, joy, boredom, and much more. The further that research explores the issues of what individuals from other species experience, the further these states of being are in species such as bees and fish. Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is a treasure of information., including books and articles in Psychology Today. Other sources include: What Is Ethology?; Animal welfare: a driving concern.
Love and the Golden Rule apply to all harms, including how toxic pollution travels the globe, climate change, suffering ecosystems, and human poverty. If we do not expand our love and empathy to include the network of people, individuals of other species, and ecosystems around the world, the wealthy may only be the last ones to die after witnessing the most horrific fall of humanity. The stakes are that high since the collapse of ecosystems is already underway. We already know the best possible way forward can diminish pain and bring healing.
7) Appropriate, sustainable, and equitable consumption of goods and services:
A United Nations report notes that global hunger, once decreasing, is again increasing. In the recent past, Despite progress in reducing both the number of undernourished persons and the prevalence of undernourishment in recent decades, in 2019, almost 690 million people, or 8.9 percent of the global population, were undernourished. Furthermore, after more than a decade of steady decline, the number of undernourished people has been rising since 2014 and is now back at levels seen in the period 2008–2009. The stall in global progress against undernourishment has been driven by many factors, including economic slowdowns, armed conflicts, humanitarian emergencies, disease outbreaks, pest infestations, and adverse consequences of climate change, including drought and extreme weather events. The point is, progress in reducing hunger and poverty is always a fragile campaign. The current criminal war against Ukraine by Russian president Putin is impacting wheat crops so much that the poor are struggling with higher prices for basic foods like bread.
Of course, some populations of people are consuming many more resources per person than the impoverished people. It can be difficult to measure poverty. PPP stands for Purchasing Power Parity. It was developed to translate the actual purchasing power of a standard U.S. dollar equivalent in local economies around the world and is more accurate in measuring poverty than generalizing, as had been the practice. The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) gives a more exacting understanding of what aspects of poverty are limiting well-being such as access to medical services and education.
Food is not the only issue, of course, but key. The haves must consume much less, the have-nots more. Every one of the Seven Goals supports the justice of equitable access to resources.
No single or few changes in human behavior, our human ecology, will stop the loss of biodiversity, support progress in human social and economic justice, and move humanity into living The Golden Rule. Population reduction alone will not be enough. A vegan lifestyle alone will not do it nor will social and economic justice. Each one of the Seven Goals we have chosen to represent The New Human Ecology is entirely dependent upon the other six to succeed. All Goals are interdependent like communities of species and ecosystems. So, too, must be our human responses.
*Some material excerpted from This Is Hope: Green Vegans and The New Human Ecology.