Celebrating Earth Day – Reflecting on Our Environmental Victories and a Hopeful Future


De terra sum, ergo sum, “The earth is, therefore I am.”

Michael Shaun Conaway
Publishing Editor
April 22, 2023

The 17th-century French philosopherRené Descartes’s famous dictum Cogito ergo sum, “I think therefore I am”, laid the groundwork for our modern conception of self. It points to a self-contained reality. Descartes questioned the reality of everything. In his Meditations on First Philosophy, he asks how can we know if everything that we see and experience is not an illusion created by an evil-genius demon?

If that was the case, the reality of the senses is not to be trusted. What then to trust? He reasoned that if he doubted everything with a methodological skepticism, then he might be able to discover something real. Questioning his own existence, he found that doubt itself was thinking, and therefore beyond question. He called thinking an Undeniable Experience.

Thus, Descartes with a single phrase set the western world out on a new path, one where reality started with the self.

Three hundred and eighty five years later, we find ourselves living in a world where the focus on the self and the satisfaction of the desires of the self through “market economics” has become an existential crisis for humanity.

Driven by our insatiable appetite for fast fashion, fast food, and a fast life, we’re hurtling towards environmental devastation and self-destruction. The “I” in “I think therefore I am” has turned into a destructive cancer, infecting our ethical treatment of both each other and the environment.

It’s time we question Descartes and go our own way. It’s time to declare a new foundation for our conception of self, one that moves beyond self obsession and gives us all a chance to survive and maybe even thrive.

Going back to Descartes’ methodological skepticism, we can see that his rejection of the sensory experience of the world, anchored by his evil-genius demon argument, set him out on the path to the “I”. This rejection comes against the philosophy of Aristotle who believed that all knowledge originates from sensory experience. He emphasized the role of empirical observation and inductive reasoning in developing knowledge about the natural world.

Philosopher John Locke, who was born in the later part of Descartes life, worked to restore the reality of the senses, arguing that all knowledge comes from experience, and the mind is a “tabula rasa” (blank slate) at birth, to be filled through sensory input. Locke’s Empiricism went on to form the foundation of the modern sciences, and the scientific method.

Still, our idea of the self is stuck with a concept that the “I” is more important than the outside world. This is clearly not the case, yet we still struggle with what that means for our ethics.

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.” — Spock, Wrath of Khan

Spock points us in the right direction, but doesn’t quite go far enough. The flaw in Descartes and even Spock is the flaw of dualism, as if the needs of the one can be separated from the news of the many, or the needs of everyone and and everything. If we trust that we exist — Descartes, and that the world exists — Locke, then it is not such a great leap and trust that the two are actually one. I am a part of the world, not separate from it. I exist. The world exists. Together we exist, inseparable.

One more detail should be looked at. Which world are we speaking about? Our world, the Earth. We are inseparable from the Earth. With no Earth there would be no Earthlings, no humans, no evolution from the primordial soup. No evolution. No consciousness. No philosophy of being.

Perhaps on Earth Day 2023 we might consider a new foundation for our conception of being, a new dictum that recognizes this inseparability, one that would make it inconceivable that we hurt or destroy our planet. I propose to supplant Descartes’ cogito with:

De terra sum, ergo sum, “The earth is, therefore I am.”

You already know how to act in alignment with this dictum. When we protect our children, even at great peril to our own lives, we act as if they are a part of who we are, that we cannot live if they do not live. This shows up when we fight for a cause we believe is just and important, when we fight to protect others from oppression and harm, or when we fight to protect our environment.

If I am the Earth, then my survival is interwoven with the survival of everyone and everything on the planet. We are, because we are together.

Happy Earth Day 2023.

In the meantime, we’ll be looking for PROOF of a thriving future for humanity.

The Generative Futurist
Editor PROOF

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Proof 45 – Celebrating Earth Day – Reflecting on Our Environmental Victories and a Hopeful Future

What We’re Listening to –  BNS S3E1: Marc Buckley, Earth Advocate

Marc Buckley, Regenerative Futurist, SDG and Earth advocate joins Michael Shaun Conaway in a riveting and enlightening conversation about the pressing need for reform in the United Nations, particularly in climate negotiations, and the obstacles we face in achieving sustainable development goals. Marc, who has played a critical role in shaping the UN’s climate efforts offers insights on what need to happen to achieve our global goals and grand challenge. He highlights the urgency of a new economic model that prioritizes the well-being of all, not just a select few. Buckley delves into the failures of the UN, COP27, and Paris Agreement and the adverse effects of politics on the climate crisis. This podcast is not just informative but also a powerful call to action. With over 30 years of experience, Buckley provides actionable guidance on how to take action toward a sustainable future. So tune in and discover how we can make a meaningful impact and create a better world for ourselves, our planet, and our future generations!

May this information inspire you to generate a thriving future for humanity and a thriving life for yourself. For more resources please check out our Podcast and Youtube channel.

-The Bold.ly Now Team

BOLD.LY NOW is a movement of co-creative up-levelers who have a burning desire to step free of our collapsing world & take the most daring leap forward to a thriving world.

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The Generative Futures Initiative
Generating a Thriving Future for All

PROOF is a digital magazine published by Bold.ly NOW and the Generative Futures Initiative.  The mission of the magazine is to shine a light on people, organisations and ideas that stand as Proof of a Thriving Future.