Friday, 15 July 2011

Ecological Intelligence: Do Humans Have What it Takes to Survive? by Daniel Goleman

Excerpt from Daniel Goleman's book Ecological Intelligence :

Tibetans, of course, are not unique in their remarkable ability to find simple solutions to the daunting challenge of surviving, even thriving, in the most dire of environmental surrounds. From the Arctic Circle to the Sahara Desert, native peoples everywhere have survived only by understanding and exquisitely attuning themselves to the natural systems that surround them and designing ways of living that best interact with those systems. The tiny hamlet of Sher depends on three forces for its survival: sunlight, rainwater, and the wisdom to use nature's resources well.

Modern life diminishes such skills and wisdom; at the beginning of the twenty-first century, society has lost touch with what may be the singular sensibility crucial to our survival as a species. The routines of our daily lives go on completely disconnected from their adverse impacts on the world around us; our collective mind harbors blind spots that disconnect our everyday activities from the crises those same activities create in natural systems. Yet at the same time the global reach of industry and commerce means that the impacts of how we live extend to the far corners of the planet. Our species threatens to consume and befoul the natural world at a rate that far exceeds our planet's carrying capacity.

I think of the brand of wisdom that has kept that tiny Himalayan village alive for these centuries as "ecological intelligence," our ability to adapt to our ecological niche. Ecological refers to an understanding of organisms and their ecosystems, and intelligence connotes the capacity to learn from experience and deal effectively with our environment. Ecological intelligence lets us apply what we learn about how human activity impinges on ecosystems so as to do less harm and once again to live sustainably in our niche -- these days the entire planet.

Further information about Daniel Goleman