Of all the issues we are concerned with at present the most basic issue, in my estimation, is that of human-earth relations. A multitude of interhuman issues at the national and international levels also confronts us; but even at their worst we can probably survive them much better than we can survive continued degradation of the earth in its basic life systems. The 20th century has eliminated the terror of the unknown darknesses of nature by devastating nature herself.

In mentioning our present situation we must also note that humans have, at least since the rise of agriculture at the beginning of the neolithic period some 12,000 years ago, been putting a certain stress on the natural world. This stress increased considerably with the rise of the classical civilizations of the Eurasian, African, and pre-Columbian American continents. Since the rise of the scientific technologies of the 1880s and the rise of corporate enterprises humans have gained an "ascendency," such that, with the coming of the nuclear age, we have finally developed the capability of determining whether the earth shall live or die in many of its major life systems. Thus, a unique situation has developed.

Ultimately it is not an American or European problem, but a species problem. How should humans live upon the earth in a mutually enhancing relation? How can progress be shared by all components of the planet? Can there be true or lasting progress, if it is not shared on a comprehensive scale? Are we really moving into a wonderland so magnificent that it is worth such a destructive presence to the natural world? Answers to these questions have been made by four groups that have developed in the past two decades.

The first and by far the dominant group is entranced with the sense of continuing progress, if not toward wonderland, then toward a constant improvement of the human condition through our scientific industrial processes. This group has almost no consciousness or sensitivity to the degradation of the earth that has been taking place in the 20th century, especially in the postWW II years when chemical engineering, electronic and nuclear engineering, space engineering, aeronautical and agricultural engineering took control of the North American continent and all its living forms.

When faced with the difficulties and dangers resulting as a consequence of the industrial process, individuals such as Julian Simon and Herman Kahn say that we should press on with our present industrial processes. Recently a new period of the entrepreneur has arrived and with the rise of new technologies comes a new mystique of the corporate enterprise. This mystique is absorbing the mythic and cultural language and even the attitudes and emotions formerly associated with our religious and humanist traditions. This absorption is reflected in such terms as corporate culture, the mythic meaning of the enterprise, the soul of the establishment, the belief structures. All of this attempts to overcome an instinctive awareness that the corporation is in the business of seducing the consumer while plundering natural resources and poisoning the environment – – not intentionally of course. That is the most poignant aspect of our times, the dedication of good and intelligent and competent persons to the improvement of the human situation, but individuals who do not understand the real consequences of what they are doing. They are totally dedicated but simply wrong in their judgment.

For those totally absorbed in the industrial cycle, however, these signs of the time point to an expansion of life into the future, rather than to a need for reintegration into the cycles of nature. Such is how one group is dealing with human-earth relations. This is the group presently in control of the earth and its resources, our consumption habits, our military and its destructive instrumentalities.

A second response to our present earth-human situation is a negative critique based on the humanistic and social consequences of our present technological-industrial processes. Among the most incisive and comprehensive of such critics are Jacques Ellul, Theodore Roszak, Ivan Illich, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, the socialist party of Norman Thomas, Lewis Mumford, The Papal Encyclicals — all these form a moral judgment upon the inequality in carrying the burdens and sharing the benefits of the industrial order. They also deal extensively with the deleterious consequences of the technological order for the humanistic and spiritual dimensions of life.

The consequences for the natural world, however, do not appear prominently in their critique nor in the critique given by the Labor Movement. The Labor Movement in Capitalist countries, the Socialist Movement and the Communist Movement are all heavily committed to the technological-industrial process.

A third way of dealing with human-nature relations is represented by those who critique our technological-industrial society because of its disturbance of the natural world in its most basic life systems. The ultimate source of evil in the existing order of life is its homocentric norm of reality and value. This third group insists that nothing very helpful can be achieved until we move away from a homocentric to a biocentric norm.

The effort to present and defend the biocentric norm of reality and value is widespread, but among the clearest and most direct defenders of the biocentric view is the Deep Ecology Movement begun by Arne Naess and later taken up by George Sessions and a number of others. Many of these individuals have thrown their activities, their scholarship, and their life purpose into saving the living world of nature from industrial-technological destruction.

In addition to these three is a fourth group, a group that is evolving the alternative program needed for healing the earth and fostering a mutually enhancing human-earth relation. This group sees the need for confrontational methods such as those used by green Peace and by Earth First, but it pursues a more positive program. These are the true heirs of Henry Thoreau, John Muir, and Aldo Leopold, the leading personalities who articulated the intimate functional relationship between the human and the natural world.

In the international realm a sequence of important events took place in the 1970s and early 1980s. In 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Environment took place without immediately evident results. Afterwards, however, on their return home the conference representatives led the way in establishing Environmental Protection Agencies in most of the nations of the world.

More immediate to our purposes here are the alternative models of human-nature relations that could remedy or at least modify our present dysfunctional industrial patterns. The most effective models function in the areas of food production, energy, housing, architecture, craft skills, waste disposal, sanitation, health maintenance, and forestry.

Rather than outline specific programs that have been initiated in various other areas of human activities, it might be best to present the basic principles that govern the new patterns that are being presented as a way of moving toward technologies that will be mutually enhancing for both the human community and the earth process.

The first principle is that human technologies should function in an integral relationship with earth technologies, not in a despotic or disturbing manner or under the metaphor of conquest, but rather in an evocative manner. The spontaneities of nature need to be fostered, not extinguished. Nature has, during some hundreds of millions of years through numberless billions of experiments, worked out the ecosystems that were flourishing so abundantly when humans and human civilizations emerged into being. It is a brash and destructive thing for humans to intrude on this system without carefully observing just how these ecosystems work and how humans might best function within this context.

Secondly, there is need to realize the order of magnitude of the changes that are needed. Here we are not concerned with some minor adaptations but with the most serious transformation of human-earth relations that has taken place since the classical civilizations were founded. The industrial age has so alienated and so conditioned the human that survival outside the industrial bubble in which we are enclosed is difficult. Yet we must learn survival within the context of a more intimate relationship with the natural world, since the industrial bubble cannot long endure in its present mode of functioning. The urgency is all the greater when we consider that humans through technological cunning have now for the first time attained the power of life and death over the planet in many of its most basic life systems.

Thirdly, sustainable progress must be progress for the entire earth community. Every component of the community must participate in the process. For humans to progress by eliminating, degrading, or poisoning other life-systems is not only to diminish the grandeur of earthly existence but to diminish the chances for human survival in any acceptable mode of fulfillment.

Fourthly, our technologies need to be integral. They need to take care of their waste products. Waste disposal should be associated with the process, either the immediate process or a related process. This law of integrity is among the most widely violated. The brazenness of industrial establishment — blasting their refuse into the atmosphere or pouring it into a stream or dumping the trash onto the fertile wetlands -is difficult to understand. This refusal to deal with its own waste is one of the most universal, most consistent, and most replusive aspects of our contemporary technologies.

Fifthly, there is need for a functional cosmology, a cosmology that will provide the mystique needed for this integral earth-human presence to each other. Such a mystique is available once we consider that the universe, the earth, the sequence of living forms, and the human mode of consciousness have from the beginning had a psychic-spiritual as well as a physical-material aspect. We do not need such extrinsic spiritual interpretations of the earth process such as are sometimes proposed. What we do need, however, is a sense of reverence, a sense of the sacred such as we find with the great naturalists or such as we find with some of the foremost scientists of our times, scientists such as Freeman Dyson, Sir Bernard Lovell, Brian Swimme, or Ilya Prigogine. Until technologists learn reverence for the earth there will be no possibility of bringing a healing or a new creative age to the earth.

Sixthly, nature is violent as well as benign. Our technologies have a defensive role to play. Nature with its sullen droughts, its devastating floods, its hurricane winds, its termites ready to destroy our dwellings, its plague-bearing animals, its malarial infections, assaults and challenges us, and we need all our skills and effective technologies to defend ourselves against such forces that are ever ready to destroy us.

Seventh, our new and healing technologies need to function within a bioregional context not simply on a national or global scale. The functional divisions of the human should accord with the functional divisions of the earth itself and its life forms. The earth is not given to us in a single global sameness. The earth articulates itself in arctic and tropics, in seacoast and mountain regions, in plains and valleys, deserts and woodlands.

Everywhere, however, life is established on a functional community basis. These distinctive communities can be designated as "bioregions." A bioregion can be described as an identifiable geographical area of interacting life systems that is relatively self-sustaining in the everrenewing processes of nature. Our future technologies must function primarily on this bioregional scale.

The integrating element in this bioregional context would be the bioregional culture. The poetry and song as well as the architecture and painting, the construction and the transportation — all would take on the distinctive features of the bioregion. The norm would not be the boxes of Gropius but the more intimate forms suggested by Ian NcHarg and Gary Coates. The earth itself would be seen as the primary architect, the primary scientist, the primary educator, healer, and technologist, even the primary manifestation of the ultimate mystery of things.

A person cannot doubt that the technologists of the present are profoundly aware of the nobility and the urgency of their work and also of their competence to fulfill their role in the creative tasks that are before us. We can do nothing adequate toward human survival or toward the healing of the planet without our technologies. Extensive scientific research is needed, if we are to appreciate the integral functioning of the basic life systems of the planet and enter into a mutually enhancing relationship.

Our Western scientific effort over these past few centuries is the most sustained meditation on the universe ever carried out by any human group. If for a while our science became alienated from and antagonistic to the more humanistic and spiritual interpretatiions of the existing order of things, this was apparently a necessary interlude, a need for distancing to attain a wider and more authentic understanding. After the distancing a new intimacy, after the mechanistic a more biological sensitivity, after damaging the earth a healing. We need only look at the surrounding universe in its more opaque material aspects; look at it, listen to it, feel and experience the full depths of its being. Suddenly its opaque quality, its resistence falls away. What seemed so opaque and impenetrable suddenly becomes radiant with intelligibility and powerful beyond imagination. In this way has the work of the scientist been spoken of by Brian Swimme in terms of a shamanic journey into a strange and distant world. As with the shamanic personality so too "the scientist has returned to the larger culture with stories, awesome and frightening, but stories that serve to mediate ultimate reality to the larger culture."

So in our times technologists are discovering ways of interacting with this awesome inner world of mysterious forces. What we might hope for is not that technologists refuse to enter this world but that, as they participate in its powers, they become increasingly sensitive to those larger patterns of life into which these powers are organized, not simply into individual life forms but into those living communities that are indeed resilient but also extremely vulnerable to disruption by insensitive humans.

When we ask the more comprehensive question of where the human fits into the earth process, the answer is simple: The human is that being in whom the earth community reflects on and celebrates itself in conscious selfawareness. The earth is a celebratory event. The end and purpose of all science, technology, industry, manufacturing, commerce, and finance is celebration, planetary celebration. This is what moves the stars through the heavens and the earth through its seasons. The final norm of judgement concerning the success or failure of our technologies is the extent to which they enable us to participate more fully in this grand festival.

Thomas Berry Ph.D., is Director of the Center for Religious Research, Riverdale, N.Y. Professor Berry is President of the American Teilhard Association and in the forefront of contemporary movements in ecophilosophy, bioregionalism and ecological spirituality. His article on bioregionalism appeared in the first issue of Ecospirit.