Platform for Developing Sustainable Earth "Vision"1
Global Citizens Envisioning the Future
(draft--updated, at times, online: www.ModelEarth.Org/seed.html )
(Print brochure -
sustainable world can never be fully realized until it is widely
envisioned. The vision must be built up by many people before it is
complete and compelling." (Meadows 2004, p273)
"You never change things by
fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new
model that makes the existing model obsolete"*
(attributed to Buckminster Fuller, though I have not been
able, so far, to find the source)
We have to
know what kind of a world we want to live in, if the one that we
live in now we don't like.
The challenge is to come up with an idea of a world that would
optimally suit us all; an ideal that all of us on Earth could focus
on and strive for--a harmonious, truly sustainable co-existence of
us all on Earth.
It has to be an ideal accessible, discussable, and amendable by
every- and any-body at all times--the germ of a true global (and,
of course local at the same time) governance--a government where
the governing would be done by the means of a "vision"1
in common worked on, held and striven for by all continuously.
The valid competition would be to improve on the ideal , and to
find better ways of achieving this ideal, instead of competing for
advantage over others to the detriment of the whole, as has the
prevalent practice been till now.
There would, eventually, cease any need for "leaders" and
"followers"--everyone would have the potential to take a part in
embodying their own ideas (in concert with the wishes for an ideal
existence of all others) in the continuously being shaped
collective vision. The resulting collective vision would not be
static--an ideal could not remain an ideal without the possibility
of improving on it perpetually. It would be a space to resolve any
differences, controversies, conflicts, and any complaints that
there ever might arise among us; it would become a superior way of
a collective self-rule.
What is being referred to in the quote at the beginning of the
article--the "envisioning" and "vision" of the ideal to be
realized--are indeed essential for achieving that which is being
"... Vision without action is useless. But action without vision is
directionless and feeble.Vision is absolutely necessary to guide
and motivate. ..." (Meadows 2004, p272).
The vision, indeed, " ... must be built up by many people before it
is complete and compelling. ..."--But how to do this? How to allow
a vast number of people (potentially all who live on Earth and have
a stake in the future of this world, each perhaps with their own
vision) to co-operate on creating one vision of one Earth's
This mind staggering task might stop many from even ever
contemplating such an undertaking--an assumption validated by the
lack of any progress in presenting a platform on which to unite all
of the possible visions of a sustainable Earth ever since Donella
Meadows' passing away (2001).
Despite Donella Meadows' "visioning"/"envisioning" being taught at
many places in the world, the one thing needed for starting to work
on a to all acceptable future--a place where all could relate their
ideas with the ideas of everyone else--is missing. Where is it that
anyone could compare their vision with the visions of others?
On a local level it might be possible (even though it is not done
properly anywhere, to my knowledge--correct me, please, if you know
otherwise), but how about co-ordinating all the local visions with
the vision for the whole world?
There is, possibly, a way that would allow to accommodate all of
our visions globally, but, only as long as we can all agree that we
all want to live truly and provably sustainably.
Imagine an Earth where humans exist in zero population growth
communities situated amidst wild, by humans unregulated nature,
where all the other species that we share this planet with live
untroubled by humans.
These communities could exist at what-so-ever level of complexity
of sustainability (from "hunter-gatherer" way of life to anything
more complex), as long as those communities would be transparently
and demonstrably sustainable, so that their way of living would not
adversely affect the existence of other human communities and other
life on Earth.
The basis of this "platform" for developing a vision that would
encompass all possible sustainable life-styles would be an Earth
populated by hunter-gatherers who would have a more than ample room
to live in, with a plenty of safety margin that would allow for
any, even now unforeseeable exigencies. In this way there would be
no need for having to accommodate all other species sharing the
Earth with us in any special way--those would always live in
balance with humans who would not be able to inflict much damage on
Any communities at a level of sustainability more complex than that
of hunter-gatherers within this universal vision would be "evolved"
from the least complex one possible step by step, demonstrating
that each more complex level of sustainability would indeed be
sustainable ecologically and socially in every aspect, all
communities together making sure not to exceed the total population
level of humans on Earth that would always remain fixed at what it
would be if all humans lived as hunter-gatherers--this as a safety
measure in case that people, if not satisfied with higher
complexity level of sustainability, would always have the
opportunity to fall back to living at less complex levels of
I imagine that people (both--in constructing the vision, and in the
sustainable world that would be the vision realized) would be able
to "vote with their feet"--at any time when they would feel that
they would like to live, either at a different place, or at a
different level of sustainability, they would just
re-group/re-locate. In this way social sustainability would be
ensured--no one would be forced to stay at any place, or at
any level of complexity of sustainability.
It must not be understood that I advocate that all the
billions of people on Earth that there are now should become
hunter-gatherers and then tried to work their way to the level of
complexity of sustainability that they would like to live at in
real life! All this above would be happening in models (of any
appropriate kind, e. g. "gedanken experiments, etc.) for the
purposes of getting a practicable "vision" together.
The what-so-ever model(s)/vision(s) that would be arrived at should
not be anything less than a portrayal of an as perfect as
possible situation. (However--"visions" should never be considered
as being static; they would evolve along with the evolution of
thoughts on the subject.) The model(s) arrived at should not be
impeded by what might be considered possible, or impossible, in our
current, very imperfect world that we are forced to live in
means imagining, at first generally and then with increasing
specificity, what you really want. That is, what you really want,
not what someone has taught you to want, and not what you have
learned to be willing to settle for. Visioning means taking off the
constraints of "feasibility," of disbelief and past
disappointments, and letting your mind dwell upon its most noble,
uplifting, treasured dreams." (Meadows 2004, p272)
The ideal should not be limited by what might be thought of as
being "possible", or "impossible" at any given
"... In order to conceive of what
you truly want to create, you must separate what you want from what
you think is possible. ..." (Fritz 1984, p71)
The ways of
achieving the ideal depicted in the "visions"/"universal models"
should start suggesting themselves as soon as the model would
appear to be practicable enough.
A great number of variations on this "vision" suggest
themselves--the result would still be a humanity that would
harmoniously exist with itself and all other life on Earth,
providing that humanity would adhere strictly to the
"zero population growth" policy, and to living demonstrably and
A way of providing a satisfactory definition of
"sustainable"/"sustainably" would be to demonstrate transparently
in models (of any appropriate kind) that any situation would, or
would not, indeed be "sustainable", that at no point there is
anything that would be deleterious to the comfort of other humans
or other species.
There is a need for such a model of what the Earth should ideally
look like that would be freely accessible by anyone on Earth, so
that everyone can, at any point, see what progress is being made
towards the ideal at any time, so that there is a reference
available for any undertaking that might concern the welfare of
anyone on the planet.
"Model" - definitions:
"... 10. a simplified representation of a system or phenomenon, as
in the sciences or economics, with any hypotheses required to
describe the system or explain the phenomenon, often
A representation of a system that allows for investigation of the
properties of the system and, in some cases, prediction of future
outcomes. Models are often used in quantitative analysis and
technical analysis, and sometimes also used in fundamental
The "vision" in the title harks back to Donella Meadows'
"visioning"/"envisioning", which owes its being to Robert Fritz's
"Technologies For Creating" (TFC). What "visioning"/"envisioning"
is for Donella Meadows, Robert Fritz calls a "choice". Fritz'
The Path of Least Resistance (Fritz 1984) is a necessary
reading for anyone who wants to understand what Donella Meadows'
I think that "model" could be a more fortuitous choice of a term in
the context of this writing.
Donella Meadows' "Envisioning a Sustainable World", in which she
explains what "visioning"/"envisioning" is, is online:
and so is what I wrote that touches on what her
"visioning"/"envisioning" concept is:
"Visioning": Global Citizens Designing a Sustainable World Together
In Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update the authors write
about the "sustainable revolution", the next biggest social change
coming. (Meadows, et al. 2004, chapter 8, p273)
The "Universal Platform for Developing Sustainable Earth Vision"
is a basis for a complete, all-encompassing vision of a
sustainable Earth; Complete, because any sustainable
life-style can be accommodated within the model, as long as that
"life-style" indeed is provably sustainable.
What is needed now is to make this all-encompassing vision of a
sustainable Earth "compelling".
1984 The Path of
Least Resistance. Salem, MA: DMA Inc., ISBN:
Meadows, Donella H., Jorgen Randers and Dennis Meadows
2004 Limits to
Growth: The 30-Year Update.
Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company
A synopsis of Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update. Online
at the Sustainability Institute (founded by Donella Meadows):
The Systems Thinker--"Moving Toward a Sustainable Future."
includes chapter 8 from Limits to Growth: The 30-Year
Update: www.thesystemsthinker.com/V16N9.pdf (accessed
*) copied from http://www.siberg.net/2009/09/buckminster/
You might also, perhaps, look at what I wrote about R. B. Fuller's
"World Game" -
Buckminster R. Fuller's World Game and ModelEarth.