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Our place in nature: past, present and future

part 3.

Preface

This document has been produced as part of the Biosensitive Futures Program of the Frank Fenner Foundation (FFF).  It is available as a booklet in hard copy from FFF.

The purpose of the booklet is to stimulate thought and discussion about the way forward to an ecologically sustainable, healthy and fair society of the future and it introduces the concept and vision of biosensitivity.

The booklet summarises

  • the biohistorical background to the present human situation on planet Earth
  • the major ecological causes for concern today
  • the essential characteristics of a biosensitive society

Interested readers are invited to express their views on the contents of the booklet and on the ways and means of achieving the social changes necessary to achieve biosensitivity. They can do so by contributing to Part 4 of this website www.biosensitivefutures.org or by writing to the Frank Fenner Foundation, GPO Box 11, Canberra, ACT, 2601.

FFF is a non-governmental organisation concerned with the future well-being of humankind and the natural environment. For further information

 

Prologue

We humans are living beings – products of nature and totally dependent on the processes of life, within us and around us, for our very existence.

Life processes underpin, permeate and make possible everything that goes on in our society. Keeping them healthy must be our first priority.

Obvious though these facts may seem to some of us, the dominant culture of our time has lost sight of their reality – with grave consequences for humankind and for the planet. [1]

The population explosion and the great intensification of resource and energy use and waste production by the human species are resulting in serious progressive damage to the ecosystems on which we depend.

The biosphere as a system capable of supporting civilisation will not tolerate this onslaught indefinitely. If present trends in human activity continue unabated the ecological collapse of society is inevitable. There is clearly a critical need for sweeping changes. We must move towards a new kind of society that is really in tune with, and sensitive to, the processes of life – that is, in tune with our own biology and with the living world around us. It will be a society that promotes the health of all sections of the human population and of the ecosystems of the natural environment.

In this document a society with these characteristics is called a biosensitive society.

However, there will be no significant move towards a biosensitive society until there comes about a new understanding, right across the community, of the processes of life, the human place in nature and the important ecological and health issues of the present day. We call this biounderstanding.

Biounderstanding must be part of the shared knowledge of all people. This is an essential precondition for the healthy survival of civilisation.

It is therefore an aim of the Nature and Society Forum – for example through this website and associated publications [2] to:

  • promote biounderstanding
  • promote the concept of a biosensitive society as the best hope for the future
  • encourage the constructive exchange of ideas about the practical ways and means of making the transition to an ecologically sustainable biosensitive society.

 

Notes


1. The word culture is used here to mean the information stored in human brains and transmitted through language. It includes knowledge of language itself, and general knowledge of the environment, history, the arts and technologies, as well as assumptions, priorities and religious beliefs. Our focus is often on the dominant culture – that is, the culture that largely determines the patterns of human activity in a society.

2. e.g. FFF’s book People and Nature: the big picture (2005) see under publications.