Living with Earth

How can we meet the needs of 7 billion plus people while healing the generative systems of Living Earth?

About the Discussion

The money driven economy on which we presently depend on is destroying Earth’s capacity to sustain life. However, it is not sufficient merely to end the harm that our suicide Economy inflicts on the planet. Our future depends on replacing our destructive system we have with a living economy.

This monumental challenge implies more than rethinking our economic institutions. Our consumption patterns, built environment, and technologies must be redefined in the most fundamental ways. How can we build, eat and live, supporting a living economy rather than a destructive economy?

If you consider that life began 3.8 billion years ago -- whereas humans only been here for 250 thousand years -- there is certainly some wisdom to draw from nature. The human species indeed represents less than one percent of all the species that have lived on Earth. As opposed to us, all these species have managed to fit within ecosystems, respecting life’s principles and creating conditions for life.

What can we learn from other species? How can we design like nature does, as contributing members of Earth’s community of life?

This NET discussion tries to envision a New Economy that works in partnership with the processes by which Earth’s community of life maintains the conditions of its own existence -and ours.

  1.  David Korten (Co-chair NEWGroup) outlines the underlying Living Earth frame and connects the topics of each of the three main presenters to it.

  2. Jason McLennan (CEO Living Future Institute) then frames his vision of the built environment component of a living future in which every aspect of human physical infrastructure supports continuous natural regenerative flows of water, energy, and nutrients while meeting our human needs for shelter, contributing to food production, and supporting the natural reconnection of people and nature.

  3. Dayna Baumeister (Co-founder  Biomimicry 3.8 Institute) describes her vision of a world in which all human manufacturing and technologies mimic nature’s ability to meet the needs of Earth’s non-human living beings based on using sunlight, information, and nontoxic materials without the “heat, beat, and treat” methods characteristic of human manufacturing.

  4.  Denis Hayes (Organizer of the first Earth Day, president of the Bullitt Foundation, and author of COWED: the Hidden Impact of 94 million Cows on America’s Health, Economy, Politics, Culture, and Environment. describes a food/fiber system designed to employ and feed the world’s people while simultaneously restoring the health of the systems by which Earth maintains the health of its soils, its supplies of clean water, and the stability of its atmosphere.  

Suggested Background Readings

  1. Article- A Plea for Rio+20: Don’t Commodify Nature
  2. Artcile- What Would a Down-to-Earth Economy Look Like?

  • Jason F. McLennan

  1. Book- The Philosophy of Sustainable Design

  2. Article- In the Built Environment, the Tyranny of the Big, the Beauty of the Small

  3. Article- A “Living” Built Environment 


Youtube playlist

The Minutes for this NET Session

These minutes (PDF) contain not only the presentations shown in the main video above, but also question and answer sessions that took place throughout the session.

Additional Resources

  1. Article - Adapting to Climate Change: It's Not About Giving Up, It's About Getting Real
  2. Article- Restoring the Range: Can Beef Be Earth Friendly?


For questions and comments, see the forum for this NET Session

                                                             Part of the NET Discussion series