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climate change








Values in a Finite World

In a future where we must operate within limits, our values must change. We will need to redefine the good life so that it does not mean a life filled with the endless production, selling, and buying of goods. Our prosperity can no longer be based on expansion because the planet will no longer tolerate our search for economic growth. Our ruling ideologies, which have roots in the 19th Century and assume that resources will not run out and that nature will continue to support us, desperately need rethinking.

Fortunately, we can find guidance in the teachings of our great religious and philosophical traditions, Eastern and Western, which have never identified the good life with self-aggrandizement or the accumulation of material goods. We may even find that a sustainable approach to life is more enjoyable and easier than we thought it would be. That is certainly the case with what we eat, as the essay "Eating for the Planet," argues. Fresh, local food, skillfully cooked, is always better for the palate and the body than the fast food which now makes up a great part of the Western diet and requires millions of tons of fuel and fertilizer to produce.

Changing our values is necessary, but it is not sufficient, as the essay, "Changing Separately and Together," argues. We also need large-scale policy changes which are discussed elsewhere in these pages.