Economy

"Our human destiny is inextricably linked to the actions of all other living things. Respecting this principle is the fundamental challenge in changing the nature of business."
- Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce

 

The Birth of a Sustainable Earth Economy in the Moray Firth Region of Scotland

1995 - 2015

Presented to the Findhorn International EcoVillages Conference,

October 1995

In 1995, there was a growing awareness that the way economic growth was happening on the Earth, there might not be much of a new millennium to celebrate in 5 years time unless some pretty serious changes were put in motion to do things differently. The cumulative effects of the fundamental clash between the economy and the ecology of the Earth were beginning to manifest themselves in a host of worrisome ways.

In October of 1995, there was a major international conference on EcoVillages at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland, and as a result of conversations during the conference, a small group of local people got together who shared a deep desire to build a sustainable Earth-Economy in the Moray Firth Region of Scotland.

When they first met, they stuck a poster of a quote by Margaret Mead on the wall, saying "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has". Then they said "It's got to happen - so let's do it !".

They decided to devote 1996 to gathering information about state-of-the-art thinking on sustainable economies from around the world. They set up a Sustainable Economies Dialogue on the Internet, and invited people all around the world to tell them about positive, hopeful initiatives. They also ran a weekly Sustainable Future discussion group, which grew as people discovered that the founders had a deep commitment, which inspired them to join. The group included a local councillor, an investment adviser, a farmer, several academics, a bank manager, two businessmen from the local Chamber of Commerce, a local landowner, and an officer from the local military base.

Over the course of the year they ran into a huge range of people over the Internet, including some of the world's leading new economists and progressive business people, and they explored a virtual ton of positive sounding initiatives. At the end of the year, they hosted a seminar to share their results.

"What have we learnt ?" they said. "Overall, three things."

"One, that things are much worse than we thought they were. Our economy is fundamentally hostile to Nature in the way it operates. Almost without exception, each act of economic growth is accompanied by an equivalent act of ecological loss. From Nature's perspective, the economy is behaving like an alien organism preying on the Earth. It takes what it needs without any understanding of the ecology, spews its waste into the air, soil and water, and dumps the final debris."

"At a profound level, the solution lies with a substitution of intelligence for matter, a decoupling of economic growth from growth in the input of material resources. The Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado and the Wuppertal Institute in Germany are saying that we should build a 'Factor Four economy', one that is four times more efficient in its use of energy and raw materials, and then go on to build a Factor Ten economy; in so doing, we will strengthen our economies and make them more sustainable, ecologically."

"These Sustainability Curves indicate the shift we must make. Curve A shows the typical exponential growth of Earth's economy as it heads towards the limits of Earth's ecological existence, and its rendezvous with disaster. Curve B shows how this growth consists of two curves, one representing our ever-growing consumption of material resources, the other the growth of embodied intelligence, through science, engineering and the development of social and cultural wealth. Curve C shows how our consumption of material resources must be rapidly turned around and stabilized, while the curve of intelligence, which is also the curve of spiritual and invisible wealth, continues to grow, since it is not bounded by any physical limits."

Fig 1 : The Sustainability Curves

"The second thing we have learnt is that people are working all over the world to change the way the economy works, to remodel it so that it works in harmony with nature. There are initiatives in government, businesses, banks, communities, households, farms, forests and international agencies. The economy cannot be treated like a 'thing' which can be fixed by economists. The economy is an expression of a interconnected, cultural whole, with links to our food, our energy, our homes, our communities, our values and our children, as well as to our businesses and trading relations. Throughout this wholeness a massive turnaround is in process, which offers us a host of opportunities."

"The third thing we have learnt involves a spiritual dimension. Many people who are involved in these initiatives are motivated by a belief that Earth and Nature are sacred, and that they have a profound personal duty to stop the assault and heal the damage. Unlike other movements for economic reform, this one has roots in a sense of the sacred. As a group," they said, "we share that sense of the sacred. When we look at the Earth and Nature, we are filled with wonder. Whatever practical initiatives we get up to over the coming years, it comes down to this : we love this Earth which is our home very deeply, and we want to reshape the Moray Firth economy in a way which will reflect our love".

In January 1997, half the group devoted itself to launching Moray Firth Businesses for Social Responsibility. They spent six months attracting members from the local business community with a variety of speakers, and launched a program called Green-Up, offering practical environmental advice to help local businesses develop eco-friendly ways of operating. The BBC was interested, and produced a series of TV programs based on the businesses engaged in the program.

The rest of the group devoted the year to mapping out a complete picture of what the Moray Firth economy might look like in the year 2015, if it was to grow in a new direction, towards Earth-Sustainability. They needed such a picture in order to back-track, and plot which initiatives and changes would be needed if their goal were to be achieved.

During 1997, they held some very fruitful meetings with activists involved in 'Local Agenda 21' planning for the Grampian and Highland regions, who were committed to seeing that the global goals of the 1992 Rio Earth Conference were implemented, particularly relating to biodiversity and global warming. They also took a trip to Holland, where they met planners involved in the Dutch Green Plan. They were impressed with the fact that the Plan took a 50 year perspective, and worked closely with businesses in key sectors of the economy. They were excited by the Plan's use of goals, indicators, and four-yearly progress reports in areas such as pesticide use, carbon dioxide emissions, wildlife protection and recycling. The Local Agenda 21 people came with them to Holland, and on their return they held a series of meetings with people in local government. Together, they decided to devote 1998 to a series of meetings to share the idea of a Green Plan with the wider community.

At the end of 1997, the nations of the world met at Kyoto, Japan, and agreed on a series of binding targets to reduce greenhouse gases. Later, the scientists from the International Panel on Climate Change said that if the world truly wanted to avoid unprecedented climatic and ecological disasters, they should be aiming for an 80% reduction in C02 emissions, not the 5% reduction below 1990 levels which they had agreed on.

In the summer of 1998, Nature delivered a blistering 5-month-long drought which had everyone on stand-pipes by the end of July. Greenpeace launched a campaign with the slogans 'Drive a Car, Starve a Whale', and 'Drive a Car, Drown an Island', which shocked people with the realization that increasing carbon dioxide emissions were raising the ocean temperatures, melting the ice-caps, threatening to flood a number of Pacific islands and causing a decline in algae on which the krill fed, starving the larger whale species of their habitual diet. Many young people were moved to sign a pledge that they would never purchase a fossil-fuel-powered car, which triggered a profound shift in awareness. People began to look on cars as they did cigarettes, as a source of suffering, pain and death.

Some sceptics wrote to the press saying how people had fallen for the fear-mongering of the environmental long-hairs, but in January 1999 the Grampian and Highland Regional Councils put their name to an ambitious 25-year Green Plan for the area, including an 80% C02 reduction goal. "If the next 5 years tell us we are being unnecessarily cautious," they said, "we can easily change." The first five-year plan included a 25% cut in pesticide use, a 25% reduction in the waste stream and a 25% increase in energy efficiency. To encourage recycling and the re-use of recycled materials, the Councils established Recycling Market Development Zones, based on the success of the program in California, encouraging companies working with recycled materials to locate in the zones. They also established an electronic Moray Firth Resources Exchange Circle, designed to turn the region's industrial and commercial wastes into a saleable commodity. The Green Plan also called for the planting of 250,000 trees, the fencing of 1500 square kilometers of ancient Caledonian forest to restore the forest by protecting it from deer, the restoration of salmon habitat, a 25% reduction in the flow of treated sewage, and an end to ocean dumping into the Moray Firth.

Having set the ambitious goal of 80% C02 reduction, the Regions invited Moray Firth Businesses for Social Responsibility to set up a C02 Reduction Task Force to advice them on how they could achieve the goal.

In the spring of 2000, the Task Force came back with its recommendations, covering energy, reforestation, transportation and urban design. On energy, they recommended legislation that would oblige anyone selling a house to retrofit it to an agreed standard of efficiency and insulation. To make the retrofits easy, they recommended setting up a Retrofit Partnership between the energy utilities, the retrofit companies and local banks to create a single retrofit package, financed by a bank loan to be repaid out of the savings on future fuel bills. They also recommended the creation of Energy Bonds to finance the retrofitting of larger industrial and commercial premises, and the development of solar, wind, ground source and other kinds of renewable energy.

When it came to transportation, they reminded people that the average motorist pumped 4-5 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Encouraged by the widespread discussion in the media about the problems of global warming, they proposed a package of measures to wean people out of their cars :

• Mandatory trip reduction programs for larger employers

• True cost parking, to discourage free and subsidized parking;

• A network of cross-country trails for cycling, hiking and horse-riding.

• Free annual bus and rail passes, pre-paid out of local taxes;

• Restoring old railway lines where they offered good commuter routes.

• Digging up some urban side-streets, replacing them with parks, gardens and footpaths.

• Introducing a feebate which penalized fuel-inefficient and rewarded fuel-efficient vehicles.

• Electronic road-pricing

• Increasing the gas/petrol taxes

• A carbon-tax on aircraft fuel

• Using the revenues to support public transit, cycling and clean fuel research.

The Task Force's proposals were championed by environmental groups and non-conservative councils, but the motoring organizations accused the Task Force of being manipulated by conspiracies of doom-mongers who had a hidden agenda to destroy free democracies. The environmental movement organized like never before, and then in the winter of 2000 massive storms flooded huge areas of Holland and eastern Britain, driving home the realities of climate chaos, providing the political support necessary for the proposals to be adopted.

The third part of the Task Force's report dealt with urban design. They focussed their attention on a new piece of software called the C02 Profile, which could calculate the CO2 impact of different urban designs by inputting data on street layout, housing density and local employment opportunities. They recommended that only settlements with low CO2 profiles be approved, and proposed a shift to ecovillage settlements, with clustered car-free housing and protected greenspace.

As the proposals were implemented over the next five years, the price of used cars plummeted and the motor industry went into crisis, with thousands of layoffs. Car sharing co-operatives flourished, and telecommuting became a regular way of life.

Meanwhile, the Moray Firth region was continuing to experience a stubborn level of unemployment. The closure of the military base sent shockwaves through the region at a time when the technological revolution was replacing people with machines. New businesses started, but many of the jobs came pre-automated. Some households had had no breadwinner for ten years or more. A quarter of all school-leavers were unable to find work, and many young men were angry and alienated.

Unemployment had been around for so long, however, that few people in government or in the media paid it much attention. Government schemes came and went, and there was an attitude of resignation. "The unemployed will always be with us" was the attitude - and the unemployed themselves shared the hopelessness.

In the year 2000, this suddenly changed. A new movement grew up among unemployed people, focussed around the demand for worksharing. "Why should you work 5 or 6 days a week, when we cannot work at all ?" they said. "Why can't we all work 4 days a week, enjoy a 3-day weekend, and let unemployed people get back into the workforce ?" They had studies from economists that showed that with a 4 day-week or an 8-day fortnight, productivity would rise, employers' contributions for national insurance could be eliminated and average pay cut need be only 5%. "A 20% cut in working hours for a 5% cut in pay," they said, "isn't that a smart move ?" To back their proposals, they produced opinion polls that showed that 70% of the population supported such a move.

The idea had been around for years, but in the year 2000, groups of unemployed people took it up as a cause and started organizing rallies, marches, and pickets of offices and factories, saying to the workers "Share the Work !". The unions resisted, but over the year, as the logic of the move sank in, they began to acknowledge that they had a social obligation to unemployed workers, and began to accept the need for change.

The environmental movement had never paid much attention to unemployment. The unemployment debate focused on ways to increase growth, irrelevant of the environmental consequences, so there was little shared interest. When the unemployed took up the demand for worksharing, however, the connection with simpler living sank in. Then when a group of unemployed people took their protest to Greenpeace's in London, hanging outside windows on ropes to protest the 6-day weeks that their staff habitually worked, Greenpeace capitulated. In 2002, the government legislated a national move to a 4-day week, backed by a major investment in training to help unemployed people fill the worksharing vacancies that opened up. Over the next five years, 50% of the unemployed were able to find regular jobs, and people all over the country began enjoying 3 and 4-day weekends.

Worksharing alone was not enough to heal the wounds that decades of unemployment had left, however. It remedied the central ailment, but left numerous communities mired in poverty and alienation. It took the widespread adoption of Community Trusts to tackle that. The Trusts took their inspiration from the movement for community economic development that had begun in the 1970s, and the community businesses that flourished in Scotland the '80s and '90s. The Trusts came of age when they were given government support for the work of local economic development, and full control over the budgets for local welfare, unemployment benefit, training and business assistance. With these powers, and by using community banks, local currencies and sustainable technologies to build local trade, and by instituting a year of community service for all young people under 25, they were able to integrate the various pieces and rebuild shattered communities. It is a work that will need many years before completion.

By 2005, the Green Plan was well into its 25-year program. Progress was steady but patchy. In their first 5-year period, local farmers achieved a 25% reduction in pesticide-us, but the amount of pesticides being used by householders was still growing. So a local woman started a group called 'Mothers Against Cancer in Children', and they sought court injunctions to have major Garden Centres closed on the grounds that they were contaminated sites because of the volume of hazardous chemicals they contained. They started promoting local pesticide by-laws, and within a year, 5% of Scottish councils had approved the bylaw, banning chemical pesticides in people's gardens. A consortium of agribusiness companies fought back with a legal challenge, but it was thrown out by the courts, and the following year the government imposed a 30% ecotax on all chemical pesticide and fertilizer products, the income going to a conversion fund for organic farmers.

Worldwide, the corporations were responding by moving into biological pesticides. It helps to know that bt (bacillus thuringiensis) is a biological pesticide, used widely by organic growers. In 1998, Monsanto, one of the largest agribusiness corporations in the world, had moved into the bt field. They took a variety of bt that was known to kill the Colorado potato beetle, and genetically bred a potato with the bt inside it. Colorado beetles attacking the spuds would die from the bt, and Monsanto would get a lucrative harvest from their monopoly on the potato. The trouble was that if only two beetles in ten thousand had a bt resistant gene, within a few years all Colorado beetles would be resistant to bt, and the organic farming movement would have lost one of its most valuable biological pesticides. The movement fought Monsanto bitterly, and the potato project was put on hold, but another multinational, GrowEx, started marketing genetically-bred bt vegetables, threatening again to destroy bt as a natural pesticide in exchange for 5 or 10 years of increased profit.

For Moray Firth Businesses for Social Responsibility, GrowEx's actions presented a profound dilemma. Ever since the beginning, they had promoted the idea that businesses had to adopt new standards of social and ecological responsibility. "So how do we respond to a corporation like GrowEx,", they asked themselves, which shows no trace of responsibility and acts like an ecological psychopath, solely in the interest of its shareholders ?" They asked the same question over the Internet, and found themselves engaged in a major debate with people all over the world. Throughout the planet, multinational corporations were blackmailing governments, buying politicians, relocating their offices, minimizing taxes and spending millions to get laws reversed, all in the name of increased profits.

The information put some of the group's members into a major depression. The work they were doing in this small corner of Scotland seemed like gnat's pee, compared with the deluge of unsustainability being practiced by corporations around the world. What was the value of their own work, when faced with such a deliberate ecological holocaust ?

Their internet dialogue was also full of solutions, however. In the USA, a movement was building which challenged the State Charters which gave the corporations their legal existence. Some corporations changed their behaviour when threatened with a full legal challenge to their right to exist, and responding to the public feeling, the state of Vermont passed a Social, Environmental and Employee Responsibility Act, which offered tax-incentives to corporations which adopted worksharing, telecommuting, employee-shareholding, public environmental and social auditing, community directors, and a ceiling on executive salaries. It was a good move for Vermont, since smart, young, ecologically aware companies chose to locate in the state.

Jumping ahead to complete this aspect of the story, by 2009 anger and impatience against the world's largest corporations had reached breaking point. A major UN Conference was organized, and a Global Treaty signed which called on all multinational corporations to abide by a Global Code of Social and Environmental Conduct. Within a year, the Treaty had obtained the necessary number of signatures to become binding. When corporations tried to ignore the Treaty, they were taken to trial at the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Like slavery, the systematic injustices and ecological destructions that had been done at the hand of the corporations were finally being brought to an end.

Back in Scotland, there was a growing interest voluntary simplicity. This was more than a vague desire to get back to a simpler lifestyle. People were doing detailed financial planning, minimizing their expenditures, maximizing their savings and then reducing their paid work to one or two days a week, living a simpler life on a lower income, while devoting their time to their families, and things they enjoyed. People were leaving professional careers which had been high on income but low on meaning, and devoting their lives to making a positive difference on the Earth. Their influence cannot be underestimated when assessing the changes that happened over the early years of the millennium.

One of the indicators of their influence was the spread of cohousing initiatives and ecovillages, enabling people to live with more sharing, co-operation and resource conservation. As well as the ecovillages being designed for sustainability, the ecovillages made it easier for people to share equipment such as tools, cars and dishwashers, trading quantity for quality.

In the summer of 2005, news broke in California of a plant virus which was not responding to any known pesticide. "THE BUGS ARE WINNING !" the headlines screamed. A month later, news broke of drought in China, and food prices started to climb. By October, the world's food surplus had fallen to 5 days, and fish stocks around the world were disappearing as a result of overfishing and ultraviolet penetration of surface waters. China had stopped exporting grain in 1994 as the Chinese used their new found wealth to eat more pork and eggs. From 1998, China had been a steady importer of wheat. In the space of one month, world food prices tripled. In Scotland, families on low incomes or welfare saw their money disappearing in front of their eyes. Parents dug up every patch of spare land they could find, and planted vegetables the following spring. Playing fields and waste lands were converted for food-growing, collective kitchens and canning co-ops were set up, and there was a renewed shift to vegetarian diet as people realized that land used to raise food for livestock could be used to raise grain for people.

As 2006 dawned, the government in Edinburgh announced that they would be replacing taxes on income and employment with ecological taxes on energy, water, solid wastes, pollution, and natural resources such as timber. Businesses which had prepared for the change began hiring resource efficiency consultants to advise them on ways to save energy, eliminate wastes, and redesign products for longer life-cycles and maximum recyclability. The government also announced that it was replacing GNP with a new accounting system known as GPI, Genuine Progress Indicators. GPI widened the popular understanding of what constituted 'wealth' by including include social and ecological assets and ills, pollution, leisure time, clean air and an absence of stress.

By 2010, a cultural shift of major proportions was underway. The third phase of the Moray Firth Green Plan placed its emphasis on the role of technology in assisting companies to meet sustainability goals. Ground source solar heat pumps, which extracted heat from the earth and converted it into useable energy, and solarvoltaic tiles were hot sales items. In general, the culture was shifting from technologies of matter to technologies of light. A Moray Firth Futures Fund was launched, enabling people to invest in companies producing sustainable technologies through Sustainability Bonds, known as Billy Bonds. Communities were beginning to adjust to the new realities and the weather abnormalities when they were hit by a new shock.

It started with an outbreak of antibiotic resistant streptococcus bacteria in a Glasgow hospital. The hospital was sealed off, but some patients escaped, and outbreaks were soon being reported at five other hospitals in the region. It took three months and 352 deaths before the outbreak exhausted itself, but the nation's approach to health care would never be the same again. People rushed for whatever kind of alternative medicine they could find, from herbs to homeopathy, and the healers with the greatest success had to hire security guards to keep order among the queues that formed outside their houses, day and night. The big drug companies watched as their shares collapsed, and a company that sold immune system bio-feedback technology saw its shares oversubscribed 25 times. Meanwhile, a small centre that taught pranic healing found its staff giving daily tuition over national television.

Overnight, a small group of scientists who had been working on the relationship between the human immune system and the power of healing energy found themselves propelled into the spotlight, and pushed to publish their paper on the relationship between matter and consciousness. Their theory was that evolution was not propelled by random mutation, as all universities taught, but by an inherent directionality within the formative consciousness of matter, which pushed all physical and biological forms towards survival, greater internal coherence, and greater self-expression. "The nature of evolution as we know it is significantly enhanced by this new understanding of directionality," they declared. "Far be it from us, as biologists, to comment on the relevance of this understanding to the modern world condition, but we share the belief, based on our scientific work, that it is spirit itself, biologically speaking, which is the driving force behind evolution. If this is true, then our world may actually be evolving towards wholeness, and a level of fulfillment that is far beyond our current capacity for hope."

The significance of the breakthrough for the way we understand the economy took a while to register, but as people played with the new ideas over the internet, a new realization began to filter through. "Our economy", it said, "is itself an expression of our evolution towards spiritual and planetary wholeness. In the industrial age, it gave expression to our hunger for material prosperity. Within the sustainability movement, it expressed itself through the new economics, which provided the basis for sound ecological housekeeping. In the new evolutionary context, the economy becomes the vehicle which can help propel us towards fulfillment. Even while we are working to secure an economy of permanence, we must work to establish an economy of spirit to propel us into the next stage of our evolutionary journey."

In the forests, glens and valleys of the Cairngorms and Grampian mountains, the new economics was of only passing interest to people who had established ecovillage-style hamlets deep in the forest. The story of how they were established, through partnerships between the landowners, the Moray Firth Land Trust and local government planners, will have to wait for another day.

The hamlets' residents worked as ecoforesters, protecting and harvesting the forest on a tree-by-tree basis, using horses to pull the trees from the woods, and small custom mills to cut the wood to order for builders and furniture makers who specialized in ecologically certified products. They educated their children at home through the new global cyberschools, and offered workshops and retreats to supplement their income. In their spare time, they worked with their neighbours and other stakeholders to develop the new Strath Spey Watershed Stewardship Council. The Council represented the first time that all the players in the forests had come together to discuss shared interests, and develop land-use policies which would ensure the long-term sustainability of the forest. Foresters, fishermen, wilderness guides, naturalists, wildlife management experts, water company representatives and local government staff attended the meetings, and four times a year they shared a camping trip through the watershed. To them, this was Nature's economy at its most beautiful, most primal and most efficient, and it was up to them to ensure that it stayed that way, and to see that human activity within the watershed enhanced, restored and deepened the ecological wealth of the land. The crisis of ozone depletion, combined with the chaotic seasonal patterns of drought and flood, were causing the forest considerable stress, and it was their work to help the forest survive until the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere should return to normal and the chlorine in the ozone layer should finally disappear.

In places where the ancient pine trees still grew, they fenced the land to keep out the deer, and watched as the seeds grew slowly into trees, restoring the ancient Caledonian Forest. Several landlords signed Wildlife Covenants, agreeing to stop hunting and shooting on their land, except for an annual deer cull. In return, the Stewardship Council provided them with an ecological inventory of their land, using student help, and helped build wildlife trails and bothies for naturalists and hikers.

At this point, these reflections on the past 20 years must draw to an end. This tale of economic restoration and transformation is a complex one, and there are many issues to which this brief report cannot do justice. There is space only for the briefest mention of the new tax on international currency dealing which is being used to tame the markets and finance sustainable developments around the world; and how the gargantuan problems of Third World debt have been finally brought under control through a binding UN treaty that requires the banks to write off the worst debts and swap the others into sustainable equity funds in their countries of origin.

Globally, there is still a massive way to go. The effects of ozone depletion and global warming will be with us for another 50 to 100 years, in spite of the turnaround in emissions. Rainforests and fish stocks will take time to recover, and some species of whale may be lost forever. As the regional economy in the Moray Firth area, we have rounded the corner. Most of our sustainability indicators now point towards the stabilization of the economy around ecological principles. There are new jobs in the sustainability and human resources sectors, and the ecovillage being built on the edge of the air-base outside Forres is making up for the loss of the airbase.

In conclusion, what should be said ?

The first is that looking back, the task of re-aligning the world's economy to harmonize it with nature has been a massive task, which will take another 50 years to complete. In perspective, however, it has been no greater a task than the industrial revolution, or the scientific revolution before it. They both sought the transformation of the world; the Great EcoRevolution, as historians are now calling it, had no less a task. Both of the earlier revolutions saw enormous struggle, sustained creativity and resistance from the status quo. This revolution has been no different. In the process, we have reshaped our culture, restored hope to the hearts of millions and created a global democracy which is able to contain the corporate accumulation of power and money .

The second observation is more profound, and concerns the future direction of our planet. When I look at those sustainability curves (p 3), I cannot help but notice that the curve of material progress, which rushes upwards and then pauses, turns and finds harmony with the Earth, is like a booster rocket, assisting the curve of intelligence and spiritual progress to get beyond the gravitational inertia of the realities of scarcity. That curve's destination is far beyond us - who knows where ? We have developed the technologies we need for ecological balance - but we could never have developed solarvoltaics, solar aquatic sewage treatment or telecommunications in the middle ages. We needed the dirty, Earth-polluting technologies of the Industrial Age to get us to the place where we can create the spiritually enhancing technologies of light and nature. In the process of transition, we came close to blowing it altogether, but the prevailing wisdom no longer questions the imperative of ecological harmony : we are past the danger point.

I will end with the words of Teilhard de Chardin, written in the 1930s, long before most of us were alive to dream that possibilities like this would one day come to pass :

"Today, something is happening to the whole structure of human consciousness. A fresh kind of life is starting. Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world are seeking each other, so that the world may come into being."

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

THE END