“We can restore all the degraded lands on Earth – and that needs to be the central intention of human civilisation. If it’s not, then we don’t know what we’re doing.”
John D. Liu hinting there perhaps that we don’t know what we’re doing…
He is the founder of the Ecosystem Restoration Camps, which are “repairing the Earth” by “bringing everyday people together, to restore degraded ecosystems from the ground up”.
And when he looks at what consumes so many people, he sees a web of delusions, humans trapped in thoughts of owning each other, bits of the planet, or in believing that nuclear weapons are a good idea.
Speaking to me on Inside Ideas John laments this and says it “can’t be the basis of human civilisation”. Instead, he says, “the restoration of the Earth’s systems must be the great work of our time”.
And experience tells him that “when we do restoration it works much faster than anyone would imagine and it works well”, something he learned when the World Bank asked him to document the spectacular rehabilitation of the Loess Plateau, which he did with the Green Gold documentary that changed his life.
His question now is “how do we go from me to we?” – to making restoration the main focus.
“How do we put at the centre of human civilisation a collective intelligence, a collective intention, and how do we define that collective intention?,” he asks. “I would say that means restoring all the degraded systems on Earth because if we did that, we would address toxicity, food insecurity, soil infertility, air quality, water quality, we would reduce dramatic weather events. And we would be in harmony with one another and the Earth.”
Scaling new levels of consciousness, he believes, is the only way to create this harmony.
“We must have a tsunami of consciousness which transforms the central intention of human civilisation, from shopping to restoring ecological function on a planetary scale. And we must make sure that all human beings are treated justly and equally. And that all other species have their place and are treated equally, so that it’s not about the accumulation of material things or the domination of other people, it’s about survival.”
And if we ditch the shopping and the senseless priorities, choosing instead to restore ecosystems, then John believes “everything is possible”.
Something his documentary on the Sekem initiative in the Egyptian desert taught him. In 1977 Dr Ibrahim Abouleish’s dream of producing agricultural and societal abundance from desert land was dismissed as a pipe dream but it is now a flourishing reality.
Catch up with my podcast with John for more on how we can all support the shift to abundance.