Rewilding Earth

Internationally esteemed economist Jeremy Rifkin has a new narrative for how our species will thrive on a rapidly changing planet.

The viruses keep coming, the climate is warming, and the earth is rewilding. We are awakening to the fact that our human family has no playbook to address the mayhem unfolding around us. 

Rewilding Earth

If there is a change to reckon with, argues the renowned economic and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin, it’s that we are beginning to realize that our collective humanity never had dominion over the earth:  “The agencies of nature are far more overwhelming than we thought, while our species seems much smaller and less significant in the bigger picture of life on Earth, undermining our long-cherished world view.”

The Age of Progress, once considered sacrosanct, is on a deathwatch while a powerful new narrative, The Age of Resilience, is ascendant.

During his session at the Sustainability Symposium 2024: Existential Solutions  Rifkin rethinks how we conceptualize time and navigate space, setting the context for a total paradigm shift. 

2024 Sustainablity Symposium

“During The Age of Progress,” Rifkin asserts, “efficiency was the gold standard for organizing time, locking our species into the quest to optimize the expropriation, commodification, and consumption of the Earth’s bounty, at ever greater speeds and in ever-shrinking time intervals, with the objective of increasing the opulence of human society, but at the expense of the depletion of nature. Space became synonymous with passive natural resources, while a principal role of government and the economy was to manage nature as property.”

According to Rifkin, this long adhered to temporal/spatial orientation has taken humanity to the commanding heights as the dominant species on Earth and to the ruin of the natural world. 

“In the emerging era,” says Rifkin, “efficiency is giving way to adaptivity as the all-encompassing temporal value while progress has succumbed to resilience as the overarching societal worldview. A younger generation is already pivoting from growth to flourishing, finance capital to ecological capital, productivity to regeneratively, hyper-consumption to ecostewardship, globalization to glocalization, nation-state sovereignty to bio-regional governance, and representative democracy to citizen assemblies and distributed democracy.”

Future generations, suggests Rifkin, will likely experience existence less as objects and structures and more as patterns and processes and come to understand that each of us is literally an ecosystem made up of the microorganisms and elements that comprise the hydrosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. 

“The autonomous self of the Age of Progress is giving way to the ecological self of the Age of Resilience,” insists Rifkin  “The now worn Scientific Method that underwrote The Age of Progress is also falling by the wayside, making room for a new approach to science called Complex Adaptive Systems thinking. Likewise, cold detached reason is losing cachet while empathy and biophilia become the norm for understanding consciousness.”

At a moment when the human family is deeply despairing of the future, Rifkin gives us a window into a promising new world and a radically different future that can bring us back into nature’s fold, giving life a second chance to flourish on Earth. 

To learn more about Rifkin’s riveting vision, join us at the Sustainability Symposium 2024: Existential Solutions on April 17 & 18 from 12-3 ET each day.  It’s free and virtual!