Saving nature without sacrificing modern life is the preeminent challenge of our time. Here’s how we do it.

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Solarpunk Flag; Wikimedia Commons

Saving nature without sacrificing modern life is the preeminent challenge of our time. It is a complicated problem that must be attacked simultaneously from multiple angles. Failure to act on one angle will invalidate efforts on other angles.

This problem must be addressed in two distinct phases. First, we must stop living in a manner that actively harms both ourselves and the natural world. Then, we must learn how to create a world where both nature and humanity thrive. …


Saving nature without sacrificing modern life is the preeminent challenge of our time. Here’s how we do it.

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Thread and Needle; Wikimedia Commons

Saving nature without sacrificing modern life is the preeminent challenge of our time. It is a complicated problem that must be attacked simultaneously from multiple angles. Failure to act on one angle will invalidate efforts on other angles.

This problem must be addressed in two distinct phases. First, we must stop living in a manner that actively harms both ourselves and the natural world. Then we must learn how to create a world where both nature and humanity thrive. …


We have before us a choice that cuts to the heart of what it means to be human. What path will we take?

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Milky Way Galaxy; Wikimedia Commons

“Do we choose to live in and create a life-affirming world built on a foundation of love or a life-denying world built on a foundation of fear?”

This is the question that cuts to the core of every major issue facing us today. At present, our civilization is on a suicidal path to ecological collapse. We know this. What is more difficult to describe is why and how. Why is our civilization faced with a quite literal existential crisis? And how can we best navigate it while keeping our humanity in tact?

Some Historical Context

To understand this, we have to understand our…


Agriculture is a leading cause of deforestation, global emissions, and nitrogen run-off. What might a sustainable food system look like?

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Farms in Kansas; Wikimedia Commons

Agriculture consumes more land area than any other human enterprise on the planet. Humanity’s demand for food is growing alongside increasing pressure on the environment and climate instability. To best preserve biodiversity means making space for biodiversity, but this is at odds with humanity’s demand for cropland and shrinking arable regions. …


Building a sustainable world means transitioning to a sustainable economy. Here’s what that might look like.

The extraction, allocation, and production of goods and raw materials are critical for the functioning of modern society, but are also profoundly destructive in our present engagement. Dictated by market demand structured on continuous economic growth, resources are extracted only to be consumed and discarded into an ever-growing waste stream. Those who consume and discard these resources are also least likely to be adversely affected by said waste streams.

This is made possible because we have an economic system that is centered on the interests of capital rather than the interests of humans. If we are to build a sustainable…


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Far side of moon over Earth, illuminated by sun; DSCOVR mission NASA

Humans relate to the world around them by altering and reorganizing their environments. In ecology, we recognize that some species alter their habitats so profoundly that entire ecosystems develop around their alterations; they are referred to as ecosystem engineers. Two examples come to mind: beavers and coral reefs. I would like to introduce the idea that we are ecosystem engineers as well, propose lessons we can learn from nature, and how those lessons can reshape our relationship with nature.

Beavers cut down trees and saplings, bring streams of flowing freshwater to a halt, and flood the immediate vicinity of their…


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Pyramids of Giza; Wikimedia Commons

We are a young species. If we are to make the “Anthropocene” worthy of the title and H. sapiens sapiens worthy of our species name “the wise ape”, we have to understand just how dramatic a departure from our past we need to make and how rapidly we must transition to a renaissance of ecological integration. We can only appreciate the scope and scale of our required transition within the context of deep time. Attempts to prioritize short-term gain will result in our failure, enormous human suffering, and countless branches lost from the tree of life forever.

Some cultures and…


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Denali; credit to Wikimedia Commons

Wilderness is both necessary for and the default state of both the world and the human soul. In nature, it manifests as a terrible beauty that can swallow you if you are not careful. In humans, wilderness manifests as all that is untrammeled and untamable within the human soul. Our modern lives have all but eliminated wilderness from the world and our spirits, to the detriment of all. It is time to begin the process of “rewilding” both ourselves and the world as an extension of ourselves. Our survival as a species depends upon it.

I am not arguing for…


There seems to be a persistent myth within the environmental movement; if we find and speak the right words, then everyone will acknowledge that acting on the climate crisis is the right thing to do. This is a serious and most egregious mistake.

It is built upon two flawed assumptions. The first is that most people are unaware of climate change. The second is that our inaction on climate change is due to that lack of awareness.

We must refocus our efforts from communicating that climate change “is a problem” to “it is a problem that requires us to act…

Charles Whitaker

Charles is a passionate environmentalist, with a background in ecology. He also indulges in making gourmet vegan cheeses, skiing, and mountaineering.

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