Is any Civilization Sustainable?

END:CIV examines our culture's addiction to systematic violence and environmental exploitation, and probes the resulting epidemic of poisoned landscapes and shell-shocked nations. Based in part on Endgame, the best-selling book by Derrick Jensen, END:CIV asks: "If your homeland was invaded by aliens who cut down the forests, poisoned the water and air, and contaminated the food supply, would you resist?"

The causes underlying the collapse of civilizations are usually traced to overuse of resources. As we write this, the world is reeling from economic chaos, peak oil, climate change, environmental degradation, and political turmoil. Every day, the headlines re-hash stories of scandal and betrayal of the public trust. We don't have to make outraged demands for the end of the current global system — it seems to be coming apart already.

But acts of courage, compassion and altruism abound, even in the most damaged places. By documenting the resilience of the people hit hardest by war and repression, and the heroism of those coming forward to confront the crisis head-on, END:CIV illuminates a way out of this all-consuming madness and into a saner future.

Backed by Jensen's narrative, the film calls on us to act as if we truly love this land. The film trips along at a brisk pace, using music, archival footage, motion graphics, animation, slapstick and satire to deconstruct the global economic system, even as it implodes around us. END:CIV illustrates first-person stories of sacrifice and heroism with intense, emotionally-charged images that match Jensen's poetic and intuitive approach. Scenes shot in the back country provide interludes of breathtaking natural beauty alongside clearcut evidence of horrific but commonplace destruction.

END:CIV features interviews with Paul Watson, Waziyatawin, Gord Hill, Michael Becker, Peter Gelderloos, Lierre Keith, James Howard Kunstler, Stephanie McMillan, Qwatsinas, Rod Coronado, John Zerzan and more.

The Essence of Sustainability

July 17, 2003by Starhawk

To create a culture and a sustainable society, we need to change our understanding of how the world works.

The mechanistic world model that underlies many of our unsustainable practices sees the world as something fixed and static, consisting of separate parts that interact through simple cause and effect reactions.

To create not only sustainability but continued abundance we need to understand that the world is a network of dynamic relationships that exist in all communities and nothing is isolated.

A part of the community cannot benefit at the expense of another community and expect  to last.

We cannot guide our economy, agriculture, forestry and science to produce benefits for a few and expect our system to survive.

But if we consider how to create beneficial relationships between all aspects of a community, the health and wealth of the entire system will increase.

A forest is not just a factory of trees, is a community of plants, animals, birds, insects, soil microorganisms, mycorrhizal fungi and humans.

A business is a community that includes the entire biological community that creates the resources used, which do the work and decision-makers and those who ultimately use that has been created.

I practice permaculture, the art of designing systems to produce beneficial relationships modeled on natural systems in my house and my garden and find it a good "lens" to look at any system.

Also practical magic: "the art of changing consciousness at will."

One tool I find useful for thinking about sustainability is the magic circle of the 4 elements, air, fire, water and earth with the spirit center.

When making a decision can ask:

How will this affect the air and the climate?
 The birds and the insects? Will it bring fresh inspiration?
How much energy will it use and from where will it come? Will it consume more energy than we produce?   How much human energy will it require? Will it provide us energy or will it drain us?
How will it affect the water? The fish, marine life and water creatures?  Will it use more water than we have? How will it affect us?
How will it affect the earth?  The health of the soil? The microorganisms and soil bacteria? What will it mean for the plants and the animals? To the woods?
How will it affect our human community? Will it really benefit the poor and disadvantaged among ourselves? Does it reflect and promote our deepest values? Feed our spirit?

Sustainable Development?

Much time & energy has been wasted in debates about the (supposedly) inherent "contradiction" in the expression "Sustainable Development".  The expression certainly has been used in the most ridiculous ways, to justify yet more exploitation, and much of the things that have been done in its name are just business as usual.

But the term is not the problem.  The debate  is only created if one assumes that 'development' = growth
(which is effectively what is assumed currently in the 'traditional' framework in terms of economy, development, etc.).  

Yet it is precisely the point the paradox that the Brudtland Comission (which coined the term "Sustainable Development") proposed to us: we have to re-think our definition of 'development', because it is exactly there that we went wrong.   

"Development" suggests improvement & could (should) mean improvement of life. And to an ethical being that means improvement for ALL life, not just humans (or privileged humans).

In the same was that a person stops growing physically when they become an adult, but keeps developing (hopefully) in all sorts of other ways, until they die.     Then it is also possible that societies can (& must) follow this same natural development pattern (which we find in all sorts of organisms) - & stop growing physically, at some point, but keep developing more intelligence, creativity, knowledge, wisdom, adaptation abilities, beauty, culture, ... etc.    

And also end, get composted and transformed in whatever else comes afterwards.   It is up to us how we design (or not design) the energy descent & this culture's end and composting.   

For basic Definitions 
of Sustainability, 
please see 
the Presentation