Topic 3:
Environmental Resesarch Foundation (ERF) puts out an electronic edition titled "RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH NEWS Weekly" . These articles are accurate, timely, well researched, and provide complete bibliographies. These newsletters are copywrite free, and can provide lots of material for discussion:

Several editions review the environmental movement. This topic dovetails with the following topics of social change

From Environmental Research Foundation:


Topics 4), 5), 6), 7), and 8) are all related to the concept of a change in human behavior:

One of the main points to surface in our first discussion was that a change in human behavior would appear to be very important for the long term well being of the earth and its inhabitants.

We discussed the idea of a spontaneous shift in human behavior which would result in more harmonious behavior between human beings and the natural world.

4) Marilyn Ferguson, in "The Aquarian Conspiracy", discusses a new, ecologically friendly paradigm shift, which is a spontaneous change in consciousness and perception. This change of perception, the book argues, would bring about a total renewal of our society.

OPTION: Read the first chapter of the above book "The Conspiracy",
18 pages.


5) Edward O. Wilson, in "Consilience", argues that the enlightenment, with its emphasis on rationality and science, basically had it right. He supports the enlightenment concept of unity of knowledge, based on reductionism, as the best means of protecting the environment, as well as humanity. Wilson is among the most respected and honored of scientists, as well as one of the most dedicated to environmental stewardship. His views are in direct opposition to some ecology movements: specifically Deep Ecology.

OPTION: Read the Chapter "Enlightenment" in the above book, especially the last half, which discusses the fall of the Enlightenment concept of rationality as a solution to social (and ecological) problems


6) Fritjof Capra in "The Turning Point", argues away from the science of the Enlightenment espoused by Wilson.

In chapter 1, "Crisis and Transfor- mation", he presents a sketch of the current problems, including the military budget, nuclear arms, environmental degradation, environmental and chronic health problems, crime, economic disruption and gross maldistribution of wealth, and notes the inability of the academic mainstream to offer any solution. He discusses the Toynbee and Sorokin cycles of evolution, and notes that Sorokin predicted the socal uphevals we are now witnessing as a sign of a major cultural transition. The coming transition, he argues, may be more dramatic than any preceding one, because the changes are global, and several transitions are coinciding: The decline of patriarchy, the end of the fossil fuel age, and Sarokin's predicted paradigm shift away from materialism. Capra sees the developments in modern physics as pointing the way to help make this transition less difficult.

In chapter 9 "A Systems View of Life", Capra puts forth some further ideas to help aid this transition.

Fritjof Capra received his Ph.D. fom the University of Vienna, and has done research in high energy physics at several European and American Universities. He has written and lectured extensively on the philosophicsl implications of modern science. .

Chapter 1 "Crisis and Transformation", will be on line soon.

Chapter 9 "A Systems View of Life", is already on line at:


7) Ken Wilber, in "Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution", basically presents the spirit of science as "ego", and the spirit of the environmental movement, including deep ecology, as a reactionary "eco". He gives some credit to the "ego" movement of science as having good intensions, but condemns both the "eco" and "ego" movements as failing to rally to the higher levels of human developement that are possible.

Ken Wilber, philosopher and psychologist, highly controversial, is considered by many to be a genius in his field.

This is a rather long and difficult, but interesing book

OPTION: Read what you can


8) Abraham Maslow, in "The Farthest Reaches of Human Nature" Maslow says:

"it is quite clear that no social reforms, no beautiful constitutions or beautiful programs or laws will be of any consequence unless people are healthy enough, evolved enough, strong enough, good enough to understand them and to want to put them into practice in the right way.

"To summarize briefly, the loss of the basic-need satisfactions of safety and protection, belongingness, love, respect, self-esteem, identity and self-actualization produces illnesses.....Taken together these can be called neuroses and psychoses. However, basically need satisfied and already self-actualizing people with such metamotives such as truth, goodness, beauty, justice, order, law, unity, etc., may suffer deprivation at the metamotavational level..... [producing] general and specific metapathologies."

OPTION: Read the chapter "Towards a Humanistic Biology"


I just threw this in because it gives an interesting perspective on nature and society:

9) David Abram, in the book Ecopsychology, in the chapter "The Ecology of Magic" "I had traveled to Indonesia on a research grant to study magic- more precisely, to study the relationship between magic and medicine, first among the traditional sorcerers, or dukuns, of the Indonesian archipelago, and later among the djankris, the traditional shamans of Nepal. But the focus of my research gradually shifted from a concern with the application of magical techniques in medicine and ritual curing, toward a deeper pondering of the traditional relation between magic and the natural world.

OPTION: Read the chapter "The Ecology of Magic"


This topic is related to the issue of addictive substances, which was mentioned in the first discussion:

10) Ralph Metzner, in the book Ecopsychology, in the chapter "The Psychopathology of the Human-Nature Relationship" applies standard psychological concepts, such as addiction, dissociation, autism, amnesia as metaphors to beter describe or understand human alienation from nature. He discusses the "addiction" metaphor, which has been applied not only to drugs, but to other substances including gold, silver, sugar, and fossil fuels. Other authors have associated these addictions with the spread of the capitol accumulating, growth oriented industrial society from the 16th century onward. (Ralph Metzner is a proponant of deep ecology)

OPTION: Read the chapter "The Psychopathology of the Human-Nature Relationship"