Category Archives: Ecological Integrity

A Safe and Sustainable World: The Promise of Ecological Design (N.J. Todd)

Author

Nancy Jack Todd

Keywords

Food, Trees, Fishponds, Energy, Sun, Wind, Conservation, Education and Outreach, Shelter to Bioshelter, Consolidation, Restoring the Water

Abstract

In the late sixties, as the world was waking to a need for Earth Day, a pioneering group founded a small non-profit research and education organization they called the New Alchemy Institute. Their aim was to explore the ways a safer and more sustainable world could be created. In the ensuing years, along with scientists, agriculturists, and a host of enthusiastic amateurs and friends, they set out to discover new ways that basic human needs—in the form of food, shelter, and energy—could be met. A Safe and Sustainable World is the story of that journey, as it was and as it continues to be.

The dynamics and the resilience of the living world were the Institute’s model and the inspiration for their research. Central to their efforts then and now is, along with science, a spiritual quest for a more harmonious human role in our planet’s future. The results of this work have now entered mainstream science through the emerging discipline of ecological design.

Nancy Jack Todd not only relates a fascinating journey from lofty ideals through the hard realities encountered in learning how to actually grow food, harness the energy of the sun and wind, and design green architecture. She also introduces us to some of the heroes and mentors who played a vital role in those efforts as well, from Buckminster Fuller to Margaret Mead. The early work of the Institute culminated in the design and building of two bioshelters—large greenhouse-like independent structures called Arks, that provided the setting for much of the research to follow.

Successfully proving through the Institute’s designs and investigations that basic land sustainability is achievable, John Todd and the author founded a second non-profit research group, Ocean Arks International. Here they applied the New Alchemy’s natural systems thinking to restoring polluted waters with the invention and implementation of biologically based living technologies called Ecomachines and Pond and Lake Restorers. A Safe and Sustainable World demonstrates what has and can be done – it also looks to what must be done to integrate human ingenuity and the four billion or so years of evolutionary intelligence of the natural world into healthy, decentralized, locally dreams hard won – and hope.

Citation

Nancy Jack Todd, ASafe and Sustainable World: The Promise of Ecological Design (Island Press, 2006)

Book

A Safe and Sustainable World: The Promise of Ecological Design

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Integrity and Rights of Plants: Ethical Notions in Organic Plant Breeding… (E. Bueren and P. Struik)

Author(s)

Edith Bueren (Louis Bolk Institute, The Netherlands)
Paul Struik (Wageningen University, The Netherlands)

Keywords

Integrity, intrinsic value, natural aim, naturalness, organic breeding, organic plant propagation, plant rights, respect

Abstract

In addition to obviating the use of synthetic agrochemicals and emphasizing farming in accordance with agro-ecological guidelines, organic farming acknowledges the integrity of plants as an essential element of its natural approaches to crop production. For cultivated plants, integrity refers to their inherent nature, wholeness, completeness, species-specific characteristics, and their being in balance with their (organically farmed) environment, while accomplishing their “natural aim.” We argue that this integrity of plants has ethical value, distinguishing integrity of life, plant-typic integrity, genotypic integrity, and phenotypic integrity. We have developed qualitative criteria to ethically evaluate existing practices and have applied these criteria to assess whether current plant breeding and propagation techniques violate the integrity of crop plants. This process has resulted in a design of a holistic, scientific approach of organic plant breeding and seed production. Our evaluation has met considerable criticism from mainstream (crop) scientists. We respond to the following questions: (1). Can ethics be incorporated into objective crop sciences? (2). What is the nature of the intrinsic value of plants in organic farming? We argue that criteria to take integrity into account can only be assessed from a holistic perspective and we show that a holistic approach is needed to design such ethical notions in a consistent way. The ethical notions have been further elaborated by formulating human responsibility and respect towards crop plants. Responsibility and respect can only be shown by providing crop plants the right to be nurtured and to express natural behavior at all levels of integrity.

Citation

(2005) 18 Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 479-493

Paper

Integrity and Rights of Plants: Ethical Notions in Organic Plant Breeding and Propagation

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The Logic of Sufficiency (T. Princen)

Author

Thomas Princen

Keywords

Modern society, material security, citizens, ecological integrity, economic security, ecological constraint, sufficiency, consumption

Abstract

What if modern society put a priority on the material security of its citizens and the ecological integrity of its resource base? What if it took ecological constraint as a given, not a hindrance but a source of long-term economic security? How would it organize itself, structure its industry, shape its consumption?

Across time and across cultures, people actually have adapted to ecological constraint. They have changed behavior; they have built institutions. And they have developed norms and principles for their time. Today’s environmental challenges—at once global, technological, and commercial—require new behaviors, new institutions, and new principles.

In this highly original work, Thomas Princen builds one such principle: sufficiency. Sufficiency is not about denial, not about sacrifice or doing without. Rather, when resource depletion and overconsumption are real, sufficiency is about doing well. It is about good work and good governance; it is about goods that are good only to a point.

With examples ranging from timbering and fishing to automobility and meat production, Princen shows that sufficiency is perfectly sensible and yet absolutely contrary to modern society’s dominant principle, efficiency. He argues that seeking enough when more is possible is both intuitive and rational—personally, organizationally, and ecologically rational. And under global ecological constraint, it is ethical. Over the long term, an economy—indeed a society—cannot operate as if there’s never enough and never too much.

Citation

Thomas Princen, The Logic of Sufficiency (MIT Press, 2005)

Book

The Logic of Sufficiency

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Reconciling human existence with ecological integrity: science, ethics … (L. Westra et al)

Author

Laura Westra, Klaus Bosselmann and Richard Westra

Keywords

Ecological integrity; Global Ecological Integrity Group (GEIG); sustainability; the Earth Charter; ethics; global governance; emissions; pollution; global warming; human rights.

Abstract

Ecosystems have been compared to a house of cards: remove or damage a part, and you risk destroying or fundamentally and irreversibly altering the whole. Protecting ecological integrity means maintaining that whole dominating influence of humanity. This book, from the Global Ecological Integrity Group, is the definitive examination of the state of the field now, and the way things may (and must) develop in the future.

Written and edited by an international collection of the world’s most respected authorities in the area, the book considers the extent to which human rights—such as the right to food, energy, health, clean air or water—can be reconciled with the principles of ecological integrity. The issue is approached from a variety of economic, legal, ethical and ecological standpoints, providing an essential resource for researchers, students and those in government or business in a wide range of disciplines. It ends with a declaration of the principles the authors believe we must adopt if we are to avoid the destruction that is otherwise envisaged.

Citation

L. Westra, K. Bosselmann and R. Westra, Reconciling human existence with ecological integrity: science, ethics, economics and law (Earthscan, Padstow, 2008).

Book

Reconciling human existence with ecological integrity: science, ethics, economics and law.

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Environmental Justice and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. International and Domestic … (L. Westra)

Author

Laura Westra

Keywords

Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Eco-footprint Crime, ‘Biological/Ecological Integrity Model’, Environmental Justice, Cultural Integrity, Ecological Integrity, International Law, Cosmopolitanism, Natural Law, Individual, Community Rights, International Jurisprudence, World Bank, United States, ATCA Jurisprudence, Canada, Principles, Genocide, Eco-crime, Aboriginal Rights, Domestic Law, International Law, Arctic Peoples, Global Governance, Indigenous Human Rights, Obligations of State and Non-State Actors, Global Integrity, Environment; Human rights, Climate change, Global warming, Globalisation, Vulnerability, Environmental protection, Communities.

Abstract

More than 300 million people in over 70 countries make up the world’s indigenous populations. Yet despite ever-growing pressures on their lands, environment and way of life through outside factors such as climate change and globalization, their rights in these and other respects are still not fully recognized in international law.

In this incisive book, Laura Westra deftly reveals the lethal effects that damage to ecological integrity can have on communities. Using examples in national and international case law, she demonstrates how their lack of sufficient legal rights leaves indigenous peoples defenceless, time and again, in the face of governments and businesses who have little effective incentive to consult with them (let alone gain their consent) in going ahead with relocations, mining plans and more. The historical background and current legal instruments are discussed and, through examples from the Americas, Africa, Oceania and the special case of the Arctic, a picture emerges of how things must change if indigenous communities are to survive. It is a warning to us all from the example of those who live most closely in tune with nature and are the first to feel the impact when environmental damage goes unchecked.

Citation

L. Westra, Environmental Justice & the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. International & Domestic Legal Perspectives (Earthscan, Padstow, 2008)

Book

Environmental Justice and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. International and Domestic Legal Perspectives

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