The Urgent Need for Shared Commitment and an Earth System Treaty

Geoffrey Holland | January 4, 2024 | Leave a Comment

The original article was published at Pearls and Irritations on December 19, 2023

Recently, on American television, political commentator, Anand Giridharadas, talked about the dangerous divide in American politics. To a more or lesser extent, a similar cultural divide exists in every part of the world.

Giridharadas saw one side of the divide as the aggrieved 40% or so of American voters who stand with Donald Trump. Despite the overwhelming evidence of his lies and criminal behavior, Trump followers – political conservatives and evangelical believers – see themselves and their beliefs as persecuted and fading in influence. They identify with Trump and see their interest in embracing his craven claims of being persecuted by the media and government authorities.

Giridharadas points out that Trump has used his constant litany of baseless outrage and deceit to rally his followers into a robust movement held together by their grievances toward what they see as misguided government authority fomented by corrupt political progressives. Despite the overwhelming evidence of his criminality, Trump’s followers see him as the only thing standing in the way of a troubled future led by political progressives. The biggest share of conservative voters have become the core of an American resistance movement. They see themselves as bound together protecting their own interests by looking out for Donald Trump. In essence, Trump has shaped his misguided believers into a political movement in denial of our unsettling reality.

In America, there is no equivalent movement of progressive voters and thinkers that binds them together beyond a common abhorrence and distaste for Donald J. Trump. That same kind of cultural divide holds true around the world. There is no planetary-scale movement that binds together people who recognize the looming threats that put all of life on Earth at unprecedented risk.

“You don’t defeat a movement with shame and finger wagging. You defeat a movement by building a bigger and better movement…. There is no pro-democracy movement in this country. There’s just outrage at Trump.” – Anand Giridharadas, Morning Joe, December 7, 2023

The Bigger Picture and Progressive Commitment

All of humanity – all gender identities, all ethnicities, and all nationalities – are bound together by the same global-scale existential threats.

In his recent book, How to Fix a Broken Planet, the esteemed Australian science writer, Julian Cribb identifies ten massive threats that put every person on Earth at ever-increasing risk. Every human alive at this moment has a stake in addressing these threats assertively. All of us must get beyond self-interest and tribalism and come together cooperatively behind common interests.

In response to this great need, Julian Cribb and his colleagues at the Council for the Human Future have presented the world with a beacon of hope called The Earth System Treaty.

When one looks at the urgent need for a movement that can galvanize the cross-cultural human community together, there has never been an idea better suited to building a global movement than the Earth System Treaty.

“Treaties have always been a powerful means of tempering self-interest with respect and cooperation with others. We need international cooperation like never before, to redress the damage we have collectively done to Earth’s life support systems. The Earth System Treaty is the first to elevate the interests of future generations and other species. It is a brilliant concept and I hope it becomes a rallying call for people to raise awareness and persuade their governments to take transformative actions. Such a show of unity is needed to reject pressure from the oligarchs to continue the rape and pillage of nature.”
– Jane O’Sullivan, Professor, Food Science and Policy, University of Queensland

Together in the Current Cultural Moment

Unlike at any time on Earth before now, all of humanity is connected. The internet and social media are a widely available presence across much of the planet. We have the capacity to share information, in real-time, across all the world’s cultures. We are in the midst of remaking ourselves into a human cultural commons. We now have the capacity to forge shared commitment as a conscious human whole.

“In 2021, over 5.1 billion people of a world population of 8 billion, used the internet. It is expected that by 2030 everyone will be online…The antidotes to ignorance and fear are knowledge and understanding. The internet is capable of supplying both.” – Julian Cribb, How to Fix a Broken Planet

Stories that Serve a Worthy Human Movement

We can find inspiration and purpose in the words of the great naturalist, Jane Goodall, who has said, “Stories have power. They help us understand ourselves. They help us understand others. They allow us to see things from new perspectives. They help us to laugh. They help us to cry. They inspire, enchant, and motivate. They teach us compassion, empathy, and humility. They give us hope.”

A clear pathway to a broadly realized, human commitment, something akin to a global movement, is through storytelling; storytelling designed to entertain and inspire.

We need stories that present a worthy vision of humans standing together behind an Earth System Treaty.

From How to Fix a Broken Planet: The Ten Existential Threats

1. Rapid decline of vital natural resources, like water, soil, fish and forests, driving a global crisis,
2. Collapse of ecosystems causing mass extinction of animals and plants
3. Massive human population growth, substantially exceeding the planet’s carrying capacity.
4. Global heating, sea level rise, and changes in the Earth’s climate imperiling our food supply and affecting all human activity.
5. Chemical emissions poisoning every human and living creature on Earth
6. Growing threats to humanity’s food security
7. A rising risk of nuclear war
8. New pandemics and untreatable diseases
9. Powerful, uncontrolled new technologies that will change and can ruin all our lives
10. On top of all that, there’s a flood of lies and misinformation leading to global failure to understand and act on these risks.

From the Council for the Human Future: The Earth System Treaty – Core Principles

• A universal ban on nuclear weapons
• An international plan to combat climate change
• An international plan to restore forests, soils, fresh waters, oceans, atmosphere and
biodiversity to stable, sustainable levels and end extinction
• An international agreement to operate a circular economy and end waste
• A plan for a renewable world food supply sufficient for all
• A plan to end universal chemical pollution in all forms.
• A plan to reduce the human populationvoluntarily to a sustainable level.
• A plan to anticipate and prevent future pandemic diseases.
• A Global Technology Convention to oversee the safe development and introduction of dangerous new sciences and technologies and minimise the harms they cause.
• A World Truth Commission, to combat and expose the lies and disinformation
• An Earth Standard Currency
• All 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals
• All 16 of the principles enunciated in the Earth Charter
• All of the Safe Global Boundaries described by the Stockholm Resilience Institute.


Geoffrey Holland is the lead author of The Hydrogen Age, Gibbs-Smith Publishing, 2007. He is a veteran writer/producer of long and short-form videos focused on clean energy and the environment. He is also the coordinator for the MAHB Dialogue series.

He has also signed and pledged his commitment to the Earth Systems Treaty. You can do the same by going here.

The MAHB Blog is a venture of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere. Questions should be directed to


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