Can We Regenerate the Earth?

Joe Brewer
Jun 12 · 3 min read

The world is already in overshoot-and-collapse. We have crossed at least four of the nine planetary boundaries that define a “safe” operating space for humanity. More than 75% of the land on Earth has already been degraded. It is now too late to make the transition to sustainability.

Or is it too late? Can we regenerate the life systems of Earth at planetary scales?

This is a question my colleagues and I are trying to answer with our collective actions. We have created the Regenerative Communities Network as a living laboratory for the design of bioregional economies. We are seriously attempting to do what seems impossible.

My question for you is this: Do YOU believe it is possible to regenerate the Earth? If so, what are you willing to do to transform your life to become a healer of ecosystems and steward of community health? If not, what would it take to convince you to change your mind?

We only have one chance to get this right. The next fifty years is when we need to fully transition away from all extractive models of economics and politics. It may already be too late — with methane releasing from melting permafrost and global warming inching closer to running away. Our societies today are crippled by information wars designed by elites and wealth hoarding on epic scales that enable them to keep us divided against each other.

So what do we do about it? The answer is that we learn how to be regenerators of landscapes. This goes way beyond agriculture to include how we regenerate health and wellbeing, the ability to discern and take effective actions, community trust and neighborly relations, and ultimately the belief that humans can be a force for good on a dying planet.

We need to BELIEVE in ourselves if we are to become the immune system of Planet Earth. Right now our cultures are functioning more like AIDS — an immune deficiency disorder that cripples Earth’s ability to regulate itself. This must change and it must change now.

But what is regeneration? Here are a few ways you might frame it. Regeneration is the capacity of any living system to continue its dynamic existence as being alive. It is the feedbacks and circulations that give nutrients to all parts of what is living. And it is how humanity must learn to think, feel, and act as part of the world from which our livelihoods spring.

We are launching the Design Institute for Regenerating Earth to create the capacity for this perspective to be applied far and wide. The Regenerative Communities network is already weaving bioregional regeneration efforts from as far north as Novia Scotia to the southern tips of South America. We have collaborations going in Buffalo, New York and Mexico City; Costa Rica and Brazil.

Come learn with us. Be part of the solution. Learn how to believe in yourself again. Embrace your humanity and heal the planet.

Onward, fellow humans.


Joe Brewer is the executive director of the Center for Applied Cultural Evolution. Get involved by signing up for our newsletter and consider making a donation to support our work.

Joe Brewer

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I am a change strategist working on behalf of humanity, and also a complexity researcher, cognitive scientist, and evangelist for the field of culture design.

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