Here’s what there is to do: restore the Earth through rebuilding community.
It’s clear to most people that our lifestyles, particularly in America, are not sustainable. We have been consuming planetary resources faster than the earth can replenish them. And since these problems simply can’t be solved from the same level of consciousness that created them, we need to explore climate change, social conflict, and economic malaise from new paradigms. We’ve been doing just that, and have discovered and created some immediately practical solutions using familiar tools like money and credit, investments, financing, housing, community and business.
This website, PossiblePlanet.org, provides a context in which our individual projects come together as part of a coherent whole. We show how Regenerative Finance is working at the local level to save money through energy efficiency and renewable energy — and how it can work at the global level to avert catastrophic climate change. We’ll explore how people of all ages can thrive in Eco-Communities that enhance quality of life, health and happiness. And we’ll share the world of prosperity, equality and contribution that flows from the Cooperative Economy. These initiatives are happening now and they are paving new paths to the future.
A Possible Planet is also a book that we are writing to convey what we have learned and what we are learning that can cause a profound shift in our individual and collective thinking, and build a new future.
Our Founding Principles
We believe in restoring the Earth through rebuilding community. We believe every individual has the opportunity to make a positive contribution to the world around us.
The current paradigm of consumption and individualism is not sustainable. We must start restoring ecosystem services faster than we are depleting them.
We create new paradigms by taking familiar frameworks like money, credit, investments, and housing, and thinking about these frameworks differently.
Stand with us, and together we can create a better world for all.
Along with others, we intend to change the course of history. Audacious? Yes. Impossible? No.
“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)
Restoring the Earth
Currently we would need 1.6 Earths to support the world’s population, and that’s without improving living standards or adding population. What we have to do is to start restoring ecosystem services faster than we are depleting them. Using scientific and bio-intensive methods this is possible. But first we need to change our thinking.
For several years we’ve been doing just that, and have discovered and created some surprisingly practical solutions using familiar tools like money and credit, investments, financing, housing, community and business.
Possible Planet is about creating new paradigms for humanity to live and thrive in harmony with each other and with the Earth. We’re interested in building the future, not trying to fix the past.
We’re offering an awakened vision of what’s possible for the world and for ourselves, and we invite you to join us on this remarkable creative adventure. If you want to explore our projects, visit our Initiatives page.
Finding Practical Solutions for People + Planet
The idea for this site grew directly out of our effort to articulate the core vision of our nonprofit work, which has often seemed to consist of several disparate initiatives and projects, and to begin to create a book to convey this vision, titled A Possible Planet. Everything we’ve learned has led us to the conviction that we must transform our economy, and in order to do that we must shift our collective thinking in profound ways. The central goal of our economic activity should be to restore the Earth and regenerate community, not simply to create monetary profit for the owners of capital.
Our First Priority: Investing in a Clean Energy Future
The basic understanding that had shaped our thinking early on was the recognition that moving greater amounts of capital into sustainable investment was essential if we were going to have an impact on our ability to withstand the more adverse effects of climate change. So our first project was bringing PACE, Property Assessed Clean Energy, to the state of New Jersey. (Learn more about this at New Jersey PACE.)
Financing Energy Improvements: PACE, DREAM, and NICE
PACE, now the fastest-growing segment of the investment lending sector, is one of a handful of techniques for getting more capital into conservation, renewable energy, and resiliency. But it’s not the only one. Stymied in our efforts by Governor Chris Christie’s vetoes, we came up with our own model, which we called DREAM Financing, which stands for “Dead-related Resiliency and Energy Affordability Measures.” The idea was to use this to jumpstart the PACE market, and start getting improvement projects proceeding through the funding pipeline.
This was further developed, with the help of a major Impact Investing group, to become NICE, “New Intercreditor financing for Clean Energy.” With that concept we could finally begin financing new energy conservation, renewables, and resiliency projects, and we are going to be reaching out to more than 6000 companies, groups, and individuals to fill our deal pipeline.
Restoring the Earth, Regenerating Community
But this is not all that we’re doing. While these tools are important, our goal is to foster the kind of cleaner, more prosperous, and more sustainable community that such investment would make possible, and begin to shift to a more fully regenerative model of 21st century human civilization. This in turn requires us to think about that model: what would a regenerated community, state, and planet look like?
Some answers to this question are suggested at this site and in our book, but of course they’re by no means the only ones possible. Indeed the title of the book is meant to open up a larger set of questions, a field of inquiry, about creating the world we want—“the more beautiful world,” in Charles Eisenstein’s words, “that our hearts know is possible.” A world that is merely sustainable might not be one that many of us would want to live in, and it’s not an option in any case. Humans naturally aspire to greatness, while in practice often falling far short of what most of us would considerable even minimally acceptable. We need a world that is thriving, at peace, yet continuously innovating and seeking to overcome to limits to even greater wellbeing.
This seems obvious, yet most people spend most of their time coping with no-win situations, both publicly and privately. They lead less than fulfilling lives, yet this unsatisfactory existence is nevertheless more and more rapidly threatening the biosphere. There are today more than 7.5 billion of us living on the planet, and we are projected to be more than 11 billion by 2100. Unless that 11 billion has acquired the capacity of existing in synergy with nature we will witness widespread misery even if we do not cause life as we know it to collapse. Famines, epidemics, and conflict will intensify, not diminish. We must find and implement solutions that work for individuals, communities, and populations.
We call these “appropriate” or “regenerative” solutions. Decades ago we recognized that there was such a thing as “appropriate technology,” i.e. technology appropriate to people’s lives and their situations, and the same is true of every other element of human society. What’s appropriate for each of us has to be brought into line with what’s possible for all of us, so that everyone has an opportunity to self-actualize.
Self-actualization at a community level and a global level as well as at an individual level is the very much the ultimate goal. By self-actualization we mean the fulfillment of both our individual and our collective potential. We are, intellectually, willing to accept that that potential is unlimited, but we don’t act that way. We continue to imprison others and ourselves in outmoded frameworks and solutions, institutions that are dysfunctional and exacerbate conflict, ways of life that are toxic, dissatisfying, and ecologically harmful.
A Framework Based on Our Relationship to the Planet
What we need therefore is to lay out a framework that life-enhancing, satisfying, and sufficient to the meeting the continuing needs of the biosphere. There is no question that we can seriously degrade the local environment; the question is whether in repeatedly doing so we have seriously disrupted the Earth’s environment as a whole. The evidence suggests that we have, that the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases we’ve put into the atmosphere is reaching a level that will melt the oceans and raise the global temperature by several degrees. Temperature is an important limiting factor for all organisms; while some microbes can survive intense heat or near-zero cold, mammals, including ourselves, cannot. We need our bodies or our dwellings to keep us at a comfortable level, and this applies to all animal and plant populations as well.
This framework is one that looks at the whole, which is to say the planet, or Gaia. There is still considerable scientific argument as to whether we can consider the Earth to be a sort of “living organism,” but it is a self-sustaining, life-sustaining ball of rock that is hurtling through space, circling the sun as part of a solar system that is light years from any other such system. It is more than the cradle of life; it’s a thin shell around a blue-green planet that is teeming with life.
While we’re moving at more than a million miles an hour through space, and while our atmosphere is in a constant state of disequilibrium, it is nevertheless self-renewing and remains more or less intact. James Lovelock, the originator of the Gaia Hypothesis, believed that the Earth was a more or less homeostatic system, and would seek to restore itself; but that our assaults could cripple it. The scientific evidence suggests that they may already have done so.
Operating and Maintaining Spaceship Earth
What we need, then, is something like a Starfleet Federation approach to operating our modest Spaceship Earth. We are all both passengers and crew, neophytes and experienced officers, specialists and intuitives and unsung heroes. We are boldly going where no one has gone before. Our challenge is to prove that we are worthy to carry the banner of life forward into the future on this miraculous planet. If we are not then evolution will, rightly, leave us behind. And the first thing that’s required is the operation and maintenance of our vehicle and our home.
So far we are the most intelligent and advanced species on Earth, and therefore the one with the greatest responsibilities. And amongst humans, the challenge is to elevate the highest principles and aspirations, to give power to the wisest amongst us, and to continue pushing into the next frontier. The world of the future may not look much like that of today, but our goal should be to have the best of who we are now preserved for that future; and to leave the worst of who we are behind, as we have done with slavery, and debtors’ prisons, and burning people at the stake for their religious affiliations.
Let us imagine, then, how our planet might look to future interstellar travelers once we have our act together…
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